Review: Ryders Trapper Photochromic Sunglasses

Between bright sun, UV rays, flying debris, and the occasional tree branch, protective eyewear is a must-have for any serious mountain biker. Ryders makes a dizzying array of sunglass models, and within most of those models they also offer different lens choices including standard, polarized, and photochromic. This review is for the Trapper model, with photochromic brown lenses and the “streak demi” colorway.

2014-10-08 ryders


The Trapper model is listed as a men’s style but the coloring, in my opinion, makes them a bit feminine-looking. As such, I have let my daughter model them for the purposes of this review. At a glance, these glasses have the appearance of a stylized pair of safety glasses. Large, rectangular lenses handle the optical duties while wide side bows block ambient peripheral light. The brown lenses and two-tone brown frames are well-matched to each other.


Technical Deets

Tint: Photochromic is a fancy word for lenses that lighten and darken automatically based on available light. Years ago this technology existed only in real glass lenses, which are heavy and not well-suited to sports due to glass tending to shatter on impact. In recent years, this process has moved into the world of plastic lenses. For the Trapper model, the tint varies from 19% to 46%. This means that at their darkest, they allow 19% of visible light to pass through, and 46% at their lightest. Along that spectrum, they constantly adjust, and I found them to react very quickly to light changes–and they do so smoothly enough as to be almost unnoticeable.

Lenses: Ryders uses a polycarbonate thermoplastic that is shatterproof and blocks 100% of UV rays. Polycarbonate is used in a variety of product such as bulletproof glass and astronaut helmets. It is also very lightweight, which makes it well-suited to sports sunglasses. The UV protection is especially appreciated when riding at higher elevations, and they are also optically correct, which helps prevent eye fatigue when wearing them all day. While the base material is already quite hard, Ryders also puts an extra scratch-resistant coating on them to make them even more durable.

Frames: For the frames, Ryders uses a Swiss plastic called TR90 which is light, strong, and somewhat flexible. Contact areas at the nose and temples use a hydrophilic (water absorbing) rubber compound. This type of material gets grippier when wet or sweaty.


Out on the Trail

Despite a somewhat bulky appearance, the Trappers fit snugly and provide a ton of coverage, both ahead and to the sides. For daytime riding that varies between sun and shade, or with changing weather, the photochromic lenses adjust quickly and provide just the right amount of tint for most situations. One note, however, is that they do not lighten enough for night time riding. You’ll still need something with clear lenses for that.

The sticky nose pieces and temples work fairly well, however you will want to periodically clean them with water and mild soap and water to restore the grip.

In addition to excellent light blocking, the large-ish lenses also provide wind blocking for high speed descents or windy days.



As mentioned, although these are listed as a dude’s model, they are decidedly girly-looking. However they do offer the exact same pair in matte black if you want to preserve your man-cred out on the trail. The only other issue with these is that they are not suitable for driving to and from the trail. I repeat, do not wear these while driving… that wide side piece that blocks peripheral ambient light also creates a huge blind spot. On may way home from the trail when I first got these I nearly ran some poor lady off the road when changing lanes.


Bottom line

With a list price of $79.99 Ryders has managed to pack a bunch of high tech features into a pair of glasses that are as stylish as they are functional. The tint levels are good for all but the darkest of conditions, and the inherent safety features are all there.

As a side note, I have never been able to get my daughter to wear any riding glasses consistently, but she loves these and wears them on every ride now.

Thanks to Ryders for providing the Trapper Photochromic sunglasses for review.