Friday, June 25, 2010

Oakley Paddling Gear: Water Jacket Sunglasses and Control Board Shorts

Here's two new pieces of stand up paddling equipment that I'm totally endorsing: Oakley's Water Jacket Sunglasses and their unnaturally comfortable, four way stretch, Control boardshorts

Oakley Sales Rep. Andrew Pate spent a good deal of time listening to me describe the needs of stand up paddlers- especially paddlers who are surfing and traveling in the tropics. I like talking to Andrew, he's been on the road chasing surf all over the world so he understands what it's like to spend four to six hours in the water every day. We talked for awhile and he came up with a couple of suggestions and then put me into some gear. I've been abusing this stuff for the past two months and I'm stoked to put my stamp of approval on them.

Photo: Oakley surf gear... Water Jacket amphibious sunglasses and Control Board Shorts. Sweet stuff

Water Jacket sunglasses: If you've ever been down in the tropics, you know that the afternoon sun is brutal- especially if you're on a stand up board and particularly if it's glassy. The sun beats down on you from above and it also reflects back up at you from below. It's easy to sunburn your eyes when you're pulling three sessions a day. Additionally, I've begun to worry about the toll that all that sunlight is taking on my eyes- pterygiums are a real threat. So, I've been experimenting with different types of amphibious sunglass options.

I've tried a few different brands- most have fogged up so much that they've become more of a hindrance than anything. I've also blown the lenses right out of the frames and lost the glasses completely. In the end, the best option was to bungee a set of regular glasses to my head, wear them in between waves and then yank them off right before catching one. Functional but not ideal.

Photo: Oakley Water Jackets... the back strap is integrated into the frame. Check out the venting on both the lenses and the frames... fogging is minimal to non-existent.

Ideally, the perfect set of glasses would remain fog free, produce enough contrast so that you could wear them while surfing and hopefully be so comfortable that you'd forget you've got them on. In all these criteria, the Water Jackets have excelled. Oakley provides a hydrophobic coating solution that basically keeps water from filming over the surface of the lens- I've taken a lip in the face and still been able to see enough past the beaded water to keep surfing. A quick shake of the glasses and they're water free. 

The glasses are feather light, super comfortable and they come fitted with ear and nose pieces that seem to suction cup onto your face. In addition, the glasses come with a back strap that can be tightened around your head and a tether to secure them to your wetsuit. Best of all, the glasses come with venting on the lenses and frame that prevent fogging- though fogging can occur if you over-tighten the strap and wear them too close to your face. I wear these glasses for all of my flatwater paddling lessons- they're tough, functional and comfortable. So far, they have surpassed all the other amphibious type glasses I've tried. Pick these up at SurfRide in Solana Beach ($250).

Photo: My new, favorite trunks. These pass the, "I-could-live-in-these" test.

Control Board shorts: I have a problem with trunks, I destroy them. I haven't met a pair that I haven't somehow ripped, popped a seam, unraveled a thread or worn through. I did like the Patagonia Paddler Shorts but after two trips to mainland Mexico three sets of their trunks have fallen apart on me (in a weird move, they decided to replace their zippers with sewn on buttons... bad decision, those things pop off like a seventh grader in Sex Ed.).

Photo: Control board shorts in action... moving with you, not against you. Sweet. Photo credit: Jeff Wallis

Andrew passed along a pair of Oakley's Control board shorts for me to try. Now these are something much different than I've experienced before... they're gooey. The trunks are made to stretch in four directions- so as you go from sitting to standing, the fabric doesn't grab at your thigh, it just stretches with you. It took a little getting used to but now that I've been living in them for a few weeks, I'm sold.  They are ultra-comfortable and you will not find a standing, abrasive seam in sight- the things  just slip over your skin.

Thankfully, there's not a sewn on button is site- in fact, there's really nothing to break on the trunks at all. A cool feature that really suits stand up paddlers is the wax pocket which has been move to the back of the waist band.  It's higher up, out of the way and is a perfect size for stashing a water proof ipod (for the racers and cruisers out there). These are great trunks and again I wholeheartedly recommend them. The trunks ($75) are available at the following San Diego surf shops: Emerald City (Coronado, 619.435.6677), Rail 2 Rail (Mission Beach, 858.717.6077), South Coast (Ocean Beach, 223.7017) and Surf Hut (Imperial Beach, 575.7873).

Conclusion: I hadn't had much experience with Oakley's surf products but am now going to be paying a little closer attention to what they've got going on. Somebody in their surf-research department is pretty clued in. I'd like to thank Andrew Pate for taking time to listen to me and for providing the demo products for this review- let's do it again soon!


cameron said...

ALways wanted to try this! You make it sound great! :)

John Ashley said...

Both the trunks and the glasses work really well- I'm bringing them down to Cabo with me next time I'm there.

Better Yeti said...

Been following your blog for a couple months now. I dig it. Thanks for doing it.

John Ashley said...

Thanks Mr. Yeti!

More good stuff coming up...