The sun was out and the hot August sky didn’t have a single cloud in it. Needless to say, I had some reservations about ditching the baseball hat in this kind of unrelenting solar radiation — especially for a 7.5-mile hike up to 12,013 feet. But the team at Onus Optics insisted their shades would be all the protection I needed. So I decided to throw caution to the wind and relied solely on my sunglasses to protect my nose from sunburn.
Yes, my sunglasses weren’t just protecting my eyes from the sun’s glare; they were literally shielding my schnozz from sunlight. I had a bandana to cover my forehead and ears, and I slathered my neck and nape with sunscreen.
Then, like a superhero donning his mask, I put on my Onus Optics sunglasses and hit the trail.
It didn’t take long to realize that I’d be just fine. The characteristic attribute of Onus Optics’ unique design — the “Nosebrella” — was performing as advertised, protecting my nose. And I probably would have forgotten entirely that it was even there if it hadn’t been for the unending stream of comments I got along the way.
“Woah, what are those things?“
“Cool sunglasses, bro.“
“You look like Batman.“
For nearly 4 hours of hiking, every single person I made eye contact with seemed to have something to say. But when I got back to the car and took them off, my nose wasn’t even the slightest bit pink. In fact, I almost had a goggle tan.
In short: The Onus Optics sunglasses were designed by three friends to do one thing — protect people’s noses from sunburn. And they do a damn fine job. The rigid magnetic nosepiece is removable, so you can wear the shades normally, or clip it in and voilà! For hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, climbing, or any other outdoor sport, these mask-like sunglasses have a place. You will turn heads and get comments. But if you don’t mind that, this is a highly functional design for a pair of active eyewear.
The Onus Story
Onus Optics is the brainchild of two brothers — Doug and Mike Bennett — and their best friend, Nickon Hemati. According to the brothers, their father “probably never put on sunblock” and was an avid outdoorsman who grew up in the ’70s. Eventually, they said, he had to have multiple surgeries to remove cancerous skin tissue from his face.
That was in the back of their minds when the trio designed their entrepreneurial epiphany.
“Mike picked up an existing sunglasses frame,” Doug recalls. “He literally folded a Post-It, stuck into the middle of it was like, ‘This is a thing.'”
They decided to see where the idea took them and began tinkering and toying with the prototype. They made 15 different prototypes over the next several years until, finally, they had zeroed in on the product’s final form.
Onus Optics Sunglasses Review
I wore these sunglasses on hikes, trail runs, bike rides, and even just around town over the summer. I spent a lot of time in the sun in these shades and I can say, safely, that my nose did not burn once while wearing them.
The TR-90 plastic removable nosepiece is impenetrable to UV rays. Six vents in the nosepiece offered ventilation when I was working up a sweat. It attaches to the sunglasses frames with three “rare-Earth magnets” on double wings that extend from the nosepiece out along the bottom of the frame.
Attaching or removing it is as easy as snapping it into place, or pulling it off. And the seal is perfect — something the inventors said was extremely hard to execute.
That makes a huge difference. Had the nosepiece been even slightly wobbly, or loose, it would have been rattling around on my face constantly. As it was, though, when the nosepiece was attached, the sunglasses felt like a single unit. There was no play between the two pieces.
If you’re wearing a baseball cap with the Onus Optics sunglasses it feels a little redundant. Essentially, Onus put a brim on your sunglasses so you don’t need one on your hat. But no one’s stopping you from doubling down if you really want to (I did for a few of these photos).
I did notice that if I was hiking with my head down, I could feel the weight of the sunglasses hanging on my face. That’s not something I normally notice with sunglasses, but these are heavier than your average pair of shades — at least with the nosepiece attached. The arms have rubber contact points on them, though, so they never actually fell or slid off my head.
And when the nose piece is off, the weight and style of Onus Optics are almost indistinguishable from a typical pair of active sunglasses.
Lenses and Frame
While it’s easy to get hung up on the “nosebrella” feature of these shades, the guys at Onus put a lot of thought into the frame and lenses as well.
The multilayer composite TAC lenses are polarized, lightweight, impact-resistant, and scratch-resistant. They’re dark, which is ideal for high-intensity sun activity. I found it somewhat hard to see if I was running on a trail that changed from sun to shade frequently. It took a second for my eyes to adjust in the in-between, but that’s no deal breaker.
Because Onus Optics designed these sunglasses for active outdoor sports, the brand made sure they were burly enough to hold up to some abuse. The TR-90 plastic is flexible, ultralightweight, and durable. They made the attachment point between the arms and the lens frames wide, which helps block peripheral sunlight.
They also used a spring-loaded hinge so the arms could bend outward a little. That helps them accommodate a wide variety of head sizes.
I ate dust hard one time while wearing my Onus Optics, you know, for testing purposes. I was jogging downhill and my toe caught a rock I hadn’t seen and I went head over heels off the trail. The tumble was violent, but not serious.
I thought for sure the sunglasses would have separated from the nosepiece — which I likely would have quickly lost in the thick grass and brush. But the magnets had held strong, and the sunglasses remained intact. I can’t promise that the nosepiece will stay in place for everyone who crashes. But they did for me.
However, the fall did expose one flaw in the Onus Optics design, and it is a tricky one to get around. Even though my nose shield didn’t come off, I did get some dirt in the crease between the frame and the nosepiece. That dirt stuck to the magnets and the next couple of times I tried to attach and reattach the nosepiece, the connection wasn’t as strong and the seal wasn’t as tight.
I washed them in the sink and the problem was resolved. But loose dirt can definitely gum up the magnets on these. It is just something to be aware of. I would not recommend setting them down in the sand on a beach.
Aside from that, the biggest gripe I could see people having with these things is the look. They’re kind of silly. But that’s part of the design.
It’s hard to take yourself too seriously in these glasses, and at a certain point, I just accepted the goofy look and owned it. It became kind of fun. And if nothing else, they were a conversation starter everywhere I wore them.
Onus Optics: Final Word
Sunglasses have been the same for a long time. It isn’t often that someone comes along with a legitimate design update or addition. I wouldn’t say that Onus Optics “reinvented the wheel” with this pair of shades. But they certainly put spokes on it.
I liked wearing these sunglasses. They aren’t my typical style — in fact, I’m not sure whose typical style they would be — but they were fun to wear and they protected my nose from sunburns.
Every time I was asked about them, I watched people’s expressions change from puzzled to understanding as I explained the design. There is a functional use for Onus Optics sunglasses.
And if you’re constantly getting your nose burned, or if you’re worried about skin cancer (or both), these are really great shades to wear outdoors. Even if you aren’t worried about your skin, these are a fun pair of shades to own. They’re different. And you can bet that I’ll be busting them out for some spring skiing gapper days this winter.