Japanese startup Zygospec launched some unusual eyewear on Kickstarter: sunglasses that ‘hover’ above your nose, not on it. We put it to the test.
How does one test “floating” sunglasses? And I mean floating on your face, not in water. This I ponder as I open a bright yellow DHL box containing newfangled AirFly shades. The sunglasses shipped internationally from Zygospec, the Japanese manufacturer of AirFly, to align with the brand’s Kickstarter.
It’s an interesting concept — Zygospec claims that its patented design, which does away with nose pads in favor of two small rubber cheek pads, makes the glasses more comfortable, more stable, and less apt to fog.
As soon as I put on the AirFly, I recognize these will no doubt polarize users; some will swear by it, some will just swear at it. I honestly wasn’t sure how I felt, but I committed to wearing the Zygospec AirFly for some bike rides and some runs around Denver to nail down an opinion.
In short: For such an unorthodox design, Zygospec actually pulls off what it sets out to do well. The glasses indeed “float” above the nose, not touching it.
And while the AirFly definitely has some upside over its traditional counterparts, expect the cheek pads to be too big a change for some users. For those willing to try something new, however, the AirFly offers some benefits worth considering.
Zygospec AirFly ‘Floating’ Sunglasses: First Look Review
At first glance, the AirFly sunglasses look like many of the active lifestyle models we’re familiar with. Narrow wraparound lenses carry a sporty aesthetic, and lean arms curve up over the ear.
But put them on, and you’ll immediately notice these don’t feel like any other sunglasses. I tried them on and thought something was wrong. Intuitively, I was waiting for the glasses to contact the bridge of my nose to signal they were on.
But that doesn’t happen with the AirFly. Instead, two horizontal pads sit just beneath your eyes, on the outside of your cheeks. This holds the glasses in place (along with the arms) and the lens never contacts your nose.
Of course, if you push enough, you can finagle the AirFly to sit on the bridge of your nose. But it naturally hovers over your nose when worn correctly.
Adjust the Fit
Zygospec includes a small instruction card with the AirFly that illustrates how to dial in the fit. It isn’t strictly necessary, as you’ll probably figure out that the cheek pads and earpieces are flexible rubber you can shape to your face.
First thing is to try on the AirFly and see how it fits right out of the box. If it’s sliding down your face, or if the lenses contact your face, it’s time to adjust!
I had to push the cheek pads in a bit, so they made more contact and kept the lenses off my nose. But once I had it set, I never had to alter or reset it.
Stability During Activity
The idea for the floating design came from Zygospec’s founder, Masaki Yoshimura, himself a triathlete. So, these sunglasses have running and cycling in mind.
To be sure, the AirFly sunglasses feel weird at first. And they feel weird for a while, but you do get used to them. And what kept me from hanging them up was the fact that they are noticeably more stable during activity than many of my traditional glasses.
The cheek pads seem to do a better job preventing the sunglasses from jostling and bouncing than nose pads. I found the best application here was for running, as there’s generally less bouncing when cycling on road or gravel.
Now, here’s where things begin to get a little conflicted — at least, for me. Zygospec lauds the AirFly for inhibiting moisture and fog on the lenses. And, in short, they do. I did not experience fogging during exercise, but I also was wearing these in 80-90-degree weather.
And yes, I was thankful that the floating design helped prevent the dreaded sweat smudge I often see near the nosepiece on my traditional glasses. So, point and point for the AirFly.
But, there’s a drawback. When riding a bike, I noticed the lack of a nose pad and contact with my nose allowed air to seep under the lens and tickle my eyes. Anyone who’s biked with ill-fitting sunglasses knows this feeling.
This was not a deal-breaker, however. It’s predominantly noticeable at the beginning of a ride when you’re just getting going. But once you get up to pace and you’re leaned forward in a more aggressive posture, with your head down, they feel like any other sunglasses.
The Zygospec AirFly costs $128. That’s not outrageously expensive, but it’s certainly not a budget pair of sunglasses. And with its unique design, that’s understandably a big investment just to see if you like them.
As someone that enjoys traditional sunglasses, I can tell you it was a small adjustment for me to become accustomed to the feel. I will 100% wear these on longer runs in hot weather — no question, they are more stable.
For cycling, I expect I’ll wear them sometimes, not all. On evening or morning rides, I prefer photochromic lenses that work better in low light. But if the mercury is high and sweat is inevitable, I can see the AirFly being a better choice for me.
You can learn more and snag a pair for the early-bird price of $89 on the AirFly Kickstarter here.