You'll know all about Salomon's range of trail footwear all right and there's a good chance you also know that the French brand also produces outdoors clothing and packs, but what you may not realise exists is the company's range of Salomon Eyewear.
I had no idea they made shades until the UK distributor of Salomon Eyewear reached under the counter at this year's OutDoor European trade show and produced a very small black case. Inside was a pair of Salomon's super neat Bubble sunglasses, proper outdoor eye wear that fits, when stowed away, into the palm of your hand.
They work like this. First the glasses are hinged so they fold in the middle, then the flexy side arms pivot round to sit in front of the lenses. It's all super ingenious and results in an incredibly compact pair of shades.
All of which is good, but utterly pointless if they don't work. The good news, if you fancy a pair, and have the dosh to buy them, is that this summer, they've been excellent. I normally don't get on with sunglasses as large as these, but the Bubbles have a brilliant, close-fitting, wrap-around design that means they sit really close to your face and are really comfortable over your ears and round your temples.
The rubbery, grippy stuff seems to stay stuck to your face even when sweating hard and/or running, helped by the close fit and springy arms.
And because the frames are large and close in, the frame doesn't interfere with your vision of the ground either when running or cycling. They're optically great as well, no distortion or weird effects on spatial judgement I've had with some cheaper shades and the brown tint on the polycarbonate makes the world a mellower, nicer place and seems useable from quite low light levels through to full-on UK summer glare... Salomon rate them as having a 'protection index' of '3', offering protection from UV in even strong sunlight.
I haven't used them in the high mountains, but the close fit should also minimise the amount of spare light getting round the edges of the lenses on snowfields. There are downsides to the close fit though, hammering a road bike over Holme Moss in warm-ish conditions, the lenses steamed up from the prodigious levels of sweat production - to be fair, most shades will do this when provoked, but the close fit means less ventilation and they seem to clear more slowly than some other glasses we've used.
Other than that, they've been flawless in a 'put them on your face and get on' with it sort of way. And it's nice, when you do want to stow them, that they fold up so small. Good talking point too...
So they work very well, they look, erm, different and they pack away in a really neat way, but there is, of course, a downside, which is the price, a rather scary £180 or so... Gulp.
You could buy three-and-a-half pairs of the really rather capable Ryders Throttle shades we've been using most of the summer without any complaints for the same amount. Are the Salomon's worth three times the amount? Your call - in a nut-shell, very nice, but very expensive, up there with the likes of Oakley, adidas and the like.
More about the Salomon Eyewear range at www.salomoneyewear.com.