Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: Maui Jim Hot Sands sunglasses

Bottom line: a lightweight, performance fit combined with Maui Jim's precision polarized optics makes this new model perfect for hours and hours of running. 

I am a big fan of Maui Jim sunglasses.  However, I think it is fair to say that their lineup is largely targeted toward fishing, golfing, and the beach.   For some time, I've been looking for a model that would be suitable for serious running, so I was pretty psyched to learn about a new style they introduced this year, the Hot Sands.

Now if you are looking for funky frames, strange lens shapes, or colorful coatings, you may need to look elsewhere.  With the Hot Sands you'll get a choice between four frame/lens combinations, any of which you could easily wear with a suit if you were so inclined:

Hot Sands: four choices
  • Gloss Black with Neutral Gray lenses 
  • Blue with Neutral Gray lenses 
  • Rootbeer with HCL Bronze lenses
  • Translucent Matte Gray with Maui HT lenses

Personally, I think that the Blue frames with Neutral Gray lenses look particularly fantastic.  However, this isn't a choice to be made based on which pair are most styling; with Maui Jim each color of lens is designed for a different purpose.  I have a pair of Kahunas and I can testify that neutral gray lenses are made for preserving rich color in direct, bright sunlight.  However, since I tend to start my runs early in the morning, and often will continue running until the late morning or afternoon, I opted for a pair with the HCL bronze lenses, which have a warm brown tint, and are the most suitable for a wide variety of lighting conditions.  (The Maui HT are strictly for early morning and late afternoon).  

Out of the box, I could tell immediately that these sunglasses are solid.  They hug my face well, are very comfortable, and they stay put.  They are super light: the frames are made from Grilamid, a flexible polymer that is lighter in weight than the material used in traditional frames.  The temples have rubber inserts and the nose pads are adjustable, all of which makes for a secure fit.

But the most important thing is the lenses.  While Maui Jim makes a lot of their lenses out of glass, these are made of lightweight polycarbonate.  Frankly, I thought the optical quality was just as fantastic.  In the early morning, the tint is light enough that I can make out the details of the trail clearly, but they still provide major relief from the mid-day sun.  The lenses are also polarized, and when I wore them while jogging across a snow colored field, I found they were terrific at cutting glare.  Other features to take note of is that they treated to repel water, and to resist smudges and scratches.  I'd still keep them in the case when not on my face, though.

Here's what you get
Speaking of the case:  the Hot Sands come with both a hardcase and a soft bag that doubles as a cloth for cleaning the lenses.  The bag reflects Maui Jim's Hawaiian heritage, and while its bright tropical pattern reduces the chances that you'll misplace it, I do wish it was more discrete.

But that's a very small quibble that can easily be forgiven, especially given that I recently took them out on a five hour run and they were so light, so comfortable, that I barely knew they were there.  I'll certainly be wearing them at the North Face Endurance Challenge 50-miler in June.

The Hot Sands aren't marketed exclusively toward runners, but they provide everything that this runner is looking for.  But quality doesn't come cheap: Maui Jim prices them at $189, which is just a little bit less than some of the most popular high-end running sunglasses out there.  In my opinion, though, they are worth every penny.

yours truly


  1. Replies
    1. At Great Falls Park. Credit goes to Eric for the photography!

  2. They are too sticky on the nose

  3. For my part, I like sunglasses to stick to my nose when I'm running. That way I can forget about them. It's sure better than having them bounce or slide down. There's nothing worse than having to reach up and readjust something every five minutes while running.

  4. Thank you for this review on these glasses. I just googled "running Maui Jim sunglasses" and your blog surfaced. I want lightweight sunglasses that wrap somewhat and disallow the most sunlight. :)

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