Reviewed by trail runner Jen Ferriss (pictured below) for the American Trail Running Association.
Do you like to listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks when you run alone? Revvez sunglasses from OptiShokz transmit sounds by hooking the speaker around the outside of your ear, instead of a standard earbud or full ear speaker. By conducting the sound through your ear cartilage, the wearer can hear what is being transmitted from their phone as well as ambient noise from the trail or road so that you are more aware of your environment and thus safer.
I rarely get the opportunity to run alone, so this was a treat to throw on a pair of Revvez shades and listen to an audiobook during a mindless weekday run on my country road. Upstate New York is in a state of flux…tall snow banks melting and refreezing on the roads and the trails still require snowshoes unless you want to be that person who leaves their footsteps as a rutty reminder to the next runner, fat biker or skier who wants to enjoy the spring snow during the days of thaw and nights of refreeze.
On the road I am a sunglass wearer, but on the trails of New York, Vermont and Massachusetts I tend to wear a hat. These glasses work well to block the sun and sit firm to the face when running. During trail running season these would not be an option for me when the trees and brush fill in. Honestly, I enjoy the sounds that nature has to offer – including my breath so the Bluetooth speakers would not be needed.
Pairing the glasses to my iPhone was easy once I figured out which button to push and how long to hold it. With bare hands it was easy to change the volume and pause the audio by feel. Once I was on the road with thin gloves, I had a difficult time differentiating between the 3 buttons. At one point the interchangeable lens popped out because I was trying to run, change the volume and shift the glasses on my face at the same time. If you are anything like me when you run – keep this in mind, you may actually have to stop for a less than a minute and adjust. What I loved is that I could have the volume up and hear the cars, birds and even a flagpole clanging. Since I tend to adjust sound and outerwear while in motion I was finally free from fidgeting with my earbuds and the wire that tends to pull if not placed properly through my shirt down to my running belt. I know, I am a bit behind on going to sporty Bluetooth headphones.
If I was to have one gripe about the product it would be that the hard case does not include a loop to attach a carabiner or gear ties. If I am going to bring the case designed to protect the glasses, I would want to attach it to my vest or back pack in order to secure my investment. I have lost expensive gloves, glasses and even a small camera thinking a deep pocket was ok or to find my zipped pocket just a bit undone allowing some contents to escape onto the trail.
The claims that you can drive and bike with the sunglasses on due to a general awareness of the sounds around you, really would vary for each individual and your route – I think you are taking a risk. I tried to run with the music blaring, and I was lost in the tunes. I tried driving and listening to my audiobook and I have no idea what was said. I will test this on a bike ride once the snow clears, but I would rather be safe and aware then blindsided because I was too busy rocking out and keeping the beat with my pedal stroke.
I know that there are other Bluetooth sunglasses on the market, and I can’t compare them myself but you can read more about specs and check out the chart on Indiegogo.com. I think the safest use of these sound shades are on a bike path, a sunny trail run in the desert or through an open field. If you wanted to sneak in audio during a road race, go for it, no one will know. As a runner, I get annoyed when I ask to pass and the person in front of me is wearing earbuds or playing their music too loud to hear me – the Revvez would solve this issue because you can hear people talking, birds singing and even the wind blowing.
OptiShokz was established in 2018 by the world’s leading bone conduction technology brand, AfterShokz. The company is redefining sunglasses with its new shades designed specifically for athletes that combine performance optics and premium audio through AfterShokz’s patented bone conduction technology. OptiShokz is committed to developing innovative products that enhance people’s lives, while prioritizing safety.