This past June, on a trip to the Alps, I toured a factory in Linz, Austria, on a rainy day. The company, Silhouette A.G., was a high-end optics manufacturer that is most known for its minimalist and fashion-oriented glasses frames. But assembled next to the company’s everyday eyewear line, sports and outdoors glasses, including the new TERREX FAST model by Adidas Eyewear, are produced by the thousands and shipped around the world.
At Silhouette the white factory floors glimmered even with the rain and low clouds outside. The company’s assembly center had a distinctively clean-room feel. I watched a machine mill out to micron-level preciseness the arch on a frame, little bits of material raining off like sawdust.
Soon, a pair of glasses from the Linz facility would be on my face. GearJunkie.com received an early production model of the TERREX FAST, and since June I have worn the sporty outdoors frames on a dozen adventures — climbing Kings Peak in Utah (you may have noticed my white shades with orange lenses in the video we produced), hiking 65 miles through Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, during two adventure races, as well as for everyday fitness keeper-upper activities like road biking and running around urban lakes.
The adidas brand (official company syntax is a non-capitalized “a” with the trademark) is a new entry into the U.S. outdoors market and perhaps incongruous with consumers. A few months back, we interviewed the director from adidas Outdoor on this very subject line. My FAST glasses come from a different division, adidas Eyewear, which also plays heavily in the outdoors space. The glasses were a part of my kit this summer alongside many pieces from traditional or “core” outdoor brands and I got a lot of comments along the lines of “what’s up with the shades?”
What’s up is that the TERREX FAST, which come to market this fall, fit well and do the job in the outdoors. The unique design, which we awarded as a “Best in Show” product last month at Outdoor Retailer, includes interchangeable lenses, screw-less temple bows (they snap out), a switch-in elastic strap and foam face piece (explained below), and a removable nose piece that fits an Rx insert for prescription wearers like myself.
In a six-hour race this summer, in the woods of Wisconsin, I inadvertently put the glasses’ polycarbonate lens and its unique snap-out temples to a test — a stick to the eye while running in the forest was deflected by the adidas lens, and the frame on cue “collapsed” to protect my eye. Basically, the lens bow snapped off, and that offered a bit of a buffer to the blow. It was designed to do this. I had to stop and search for the errant bow in the bush, but once located the piece snapped easily back in place, and I, unhurt but a bit frazzled, got on the move again.
Further distinguishing characteristics with the FAST glasses include a modular system that has a removable foam-pad piece that clicks into place behind the front part of the frame. This lets the glasses hug the face like a ski goggle. The company includes a snap-on elasticized strap that wraps around the back of the head and holds the glasses on tight. The foam piece plus the strap create an entirely new feel and new functionality for the FAST glasses, switching the frames from a fairly normal wrap-around sport glasses style to something you might wear when climbing K2.
My frames are white, which give the glasses a stand-out look and a slight Euro vibe. Adidas offers four frame colors in this model. Lenses for the FAST come in four tints, all offering the expected light-spectrum protection needed in the mountains or anywhere outdoors. I love the LST Bright lens for nearly all light conditions; the orange tint adds clarity and brightness to a scene.
Starting at $210, the TERREX FAST glasses have for me proven to be true performers. In a field of strong competition, adidas and Silhouette offer something different this fall with these funky, functional new performance glasses.
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie.