Review: Costa Del Mar Hamlin Sunglasses

Costa Hamlin

Costa Del Mar made its reputation on the water. For years, Costa sunglasses have been a top choice for pro anglers, and certain styles are even named for famous fishermen, like Captain Ron Hamlin. But Costa sunglasses aren’t just great for sport fishing. Over the past several months we’ve found that Costa’s lightweight, comfortable Hamlin sunglasses allow outstanding vision for hiking, globetrotting, driving around town for everyday errands and even exploring New York City and Disneyworld.

Here are a few things we liked about the Hamlin…

The clarity is awesome, and they really reduce glare

The Hamlin sunglasses we tested were outfitted with the company’s 580P lenses with a copper tint, and this proved to be a good choice for all sorts of travel situations, from walking through Central Park to hiking Georgia trails to driving all day to reach Walt Disney World.

While Costa sunglasses provide 100 percent protection from harmful UV rays, the 580P lenses also cut out the yellow light in the spectrum to reduce glare significantly. During a Florida trip, we walked in bright sunlight for hours and hours, and our eyes didn’t feel strained at the end of the day.

In general, copper or gray lenses work best when you need one pair of sunglasses to get you through a wide range of activities. But keep in mind that you might need a more specialized lens for certain pursuits. For example, yellow lenses work best for snowsports and activities on rivers and streams; while blue lenses work especially well for ocean sports. (All Costa styles are available in a wide array of lens colors.) Also, note that a copper lens won’t perform as well was in really low light conditions. Often, we would remove our Hamlins while driving in late afternoon or on very gray, overcast days.

One other important note: Costa has a broad range of styles to fit different face shapes, and we chose the Hamlin because it fit best for our tester who has a wide nose bridge. Also, this style shields a wide area around the eyes, and helped block out reflected light when our travels involved kayaking. The tradeoff with this large frame is that you might feel like Bono or the Terminator when you first don the sunglasses, but they’re perfect when you want lots of protection.

They’re built for serious use

You don’t have to baby your Costas—these things are designed to handle the hard knocks of outdoor sports. We liked how the earpieces flex a lot at the hinges, so they won’t snap easily. Also, the lenses have a special protective coating, and we found it was easy to clean off sweat, sunscreen and other grime and gunk you pick up outdoors. And big bonus—we haven’t scratched these lenses yet.

The Hamlin is lightweight and comfortable

We chose 580P plastic lenses because they’re lighter than glass lenses. Also, we knew plastic lenses would be less likely to break when we inevitably did something careless, like shove the sunglasses in a pack without putting them in a case. (Hey, we’re tough on gear.) Made of nylon, the Hamlin frame is also lightweight, and its soft, smooth surface won’t dig into your skin. Also, we liked how the rubber strip on the bottom of each earpiece prevented the sunglasses from slipping when we were sweating.

Living in the Southeast, we’ve witnessed the rise of the Costa brand, and they’re practically part of the uniform for outdoorspeople on the Gulf Coast—throw in a Southern Marsh shirt, Mountain Khakis shorts and a tattered ball cap, and you’ll blend right in. But there’s a reason for the popularity, and it has as much to do with performance as it does with style.

Traveler’s Notebook

Retail price: $169

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