Switch Tioga Sunglasses review
One of the coolest, most innovative things I saw at the Outdoor Retailer 2012 Summer Market was the Magnetic Interchange System by Switch. These sunglasses seemed to solve the problem of hard-to-install interchangeable sunglass lenses that can sometimes make you worry you’re about to break the frames. Of course, changing lenses can be a necessary evil for us outdoorsy types, as we need different lenses for different activities, from blinding snow glare to shaded singletrack in a mountain’s thick pine forest. After the OR show, I took a pair of Switch Tioga sunglasses on outdoor adventures from mountain biking to peak bagging, as well as simply driving around the city to see how well these magnetic lenses work.
So about those magnets. Yep, Switch put tiny magnets on the edge of the lenses, as well as inside the frames. That way the lenses can be removed and different lenses put in very fast. In fact, while I stopped my bike on the new Pinecone Ridge Trail to change into lighter-colored shades due to incoming storm clouds, the lenses practically jumped into the frames! Within no time at all, I was back on my bike hauling down the trail. Aside from the magnets, the lenses are quality, shatterproof, scratch resistant, and optical grade. Plus, the extra lenses are stored in magnetic “LensPods” so you can carry them around in a pocket or backpack.
Ok, so the big question here is this: are the magnets strong enough to keep the lenses in the frames during, say, a massive ski crash or endo on a mountain bike? While I luckily never had any major crashes to test that out, I can say that through normal wear not once did the lenses come out. For further testing, I purposefully shook them around as if I were flying through the air toward a hard landing on razor rocks, and the lenses stayed put. I could even vigorously clean the lenses without having them pop out onto the floor. Indeed, the magnets are strong, and I have full confidence that if they did fall out during a crash, then the wreck would have to be violent enough to break any pair of sunglasses.
Along with the Switch Magnetic Interchange System, I also like the styling of the Tioga. I’ve never been a blades kind of guy, even when riding my bike, so I appreciate how these guys are worthy of outdoor adventure, while still looking good while driving or walking the streets without screaming “bike geek” like blades shades do. The lenses have two magnets each to ensure a snug fit in the frames, yet are super easy to remove. They also come with a second set of lenses (low light rose amber) and can be used with a wide range of other lenses that can be ordered online.
My only gripe with the Switch Tioga sunglasses is that they feel a bit on the heavy side. Other similarly framed sunglasses I own are noticeably lighter. However, the weight difference isn’t so much that the Tioga are uncomfortable.
Overall, I think this new magnetic lens interchange system will be a hit, and perhaps we’ll see more of it proliferating through the market. The idea is sound, it works, and therefore it’s never been easier to go from dark to light in a moment’s notice when recreating outside.