Review: Rudy Project Defender Sunglasses
The Defenders combine a unique aesthetic, safety features, and photochromic lenses. That's a good combo.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
It should come as no surprise that the Defenders have a somewhat outlandish look. That’s been Rudy Project’s modus operandi for years, and if you flip through the catalog of time, the Defenders are actually quite tame. You’ll make the call whether the aesthetics work for you, but know there’s plenty of substance beneath the angular appearance.
It’s all built around a photochromic lens that darkens and lightens automatically in changing light conditions. It works well, if a bit slowly. Don’t expect the lenses to change rapidly if you go from light to shadow and back again on a high-speed descent, but if you’re riding all day and the sun starts falling, the lenses will indeed lighten.
The lenses are also impact- resistant, which means if you crash, they shouldn’t shatter. On top of that, the frames feature a bumper around the bottom of the lens, which theoretically protects your face from cuts in the event of a crash.
The bumpers are vented, which Rudy Project says should help reduce fog buildup on the lens. It’s hard to imagine these tiny vents actually accomplish that; the lenses themselves didn’t fog up any more or less than other glasses we’ve tried, and it’s more likely that any venting that occurs actually comes through from the tops and bottoms of the Defenders in the gap between the glasses and the face. These vents seem largely aesthetic.
The frames feature an adjustable nosepiece and earpieces, both of which made it easy to dial in a good fit on the Defenders. The earpieces are curved toward the ends, which makes it easy to mate these glasses with most helmets, even ones with a low fit system that would otherwise interfere with your glasses.
The Defender’s frames do cut down slightly on peripheral vision, which won’t be all that noticeable if you’re switching from another full-frame set of sunglasses. Frameless sunglass users may find this annoying, though.
Changing out the lenses is a pretty easy affair; just disconnect the lower bumpers and pop out the lens. The photochromic lens should, in theory, reduce or eliminate the need to swap out lenses anyway, but if you’re the type who likes a lot of lens options, suffice it to say you’ll be able to accomplish the job with little hassle.
Rudy Project also offers prescription lens adapters for the Defenders. The insert clips into the inside of the frames, positioning it like a shield in front of the lens itself. It’s not the most svelte solution, and it will certainly add weight to the setup, but it’s still a fair accommodation for those that want performance glasses with a prescription option.
At 28 grams, the Defenders aare competitively light, and they more or less disappear on your face. We didn’t notice any sliding or shifting during our rides. If the aesthetics suit you, Rudy Project has made a durable and comfortable pair of performance shades worth investing in.