Funny story. I was helping a woman pick up my brother’s bedframe from Craigslist, and we got to talking about her son’s soon-to-be-launched sunglasses company, Ombraz.
“Sunglasses without sidearms. That sounds cool,” I said, “I imagine a lot of ultimate players may find that interesting.”
Little did she know that she was talking to the founder of Skyd Magazine.
On the suggestion from his mother to look into ultimate frisbee, I received an email from Ombraz founder, Jensen, pitching me on his new shades. After laughing about the amazing coincidence, Jensen and fellow co-founder Nikolai told me more about their company, how they’re planting 20 trees for every pair of shades they sell, and Ombraz unique, armless design. They asked if I’d give their product an honest review as an ultimate player and world traveler in anticipation of the launch of their Indiegogo campaign. What was a recovering sunglasses collector since high school to do?
I’ve been wearing and testing my pair of Ombraz now for two weeks. I took them skiing with me in Colorado, I’ve been hiking and running around with them in Minneapolis. They’re dangling from my neck as I write this review.
So What’s The Deal?
Okay, sunglasses…so what? SO WHAT!?! My recovering shades addict shouts. Okay…okay…calm down. Well in my years of collecting shades, Ombraz have a pretty unique design feature. No sidearms. Instead, Ombraz’s sidearms have been replaced with an adjustable cord that fits snugly around your head.
Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical about the functionality and fit. I have a notoriously small face (I prefer not to talk about it) and I have to make an extra effort to find shades that fit and look decent on me in the first place. But Jensen and Nikolai assured me that their shades would compliment my stunningly beautiful, albeit small, facial features (my words, not theirs)…and they were right.
So how do Ombraz work? Do they work for ultimate?
Ombraz work well. At WCBU 2015 in Dubai, I was really concerned about my shades falling off and getting trashed in the sand. I bought a special cord that attached to the back of the arms. It didn’t end up working too well with my hat, but the shades stayed on. Ombraz takes that concept one step further, and yes, they really do stay on your head.
The cord attached to Ombraz is really well designed for something so simple. The cord includes a couple beads that make adjusting the fit go smoothly. It doesn’t even require an especially tight fit for the frames to stay on securely. After playing with Ombraz for a couple of week and doing many exaggerated movements, I can’t get them to fall off.
Further, Ombraz have the added benefit of being able to be worn as a necklace. Traveling for episodes of Ultimate Globe Trotter, it’s a silent frustration of mine to deal with putting my sunglasses in a bag and grabbing them again when I need them. In flying to and from Colorado, I instantly recognized how this little novelty made my life a bit easier.
The band itself has so far held up to any attempts for it to get tangled or knotted. It’s easy to tighten and retract, but a bit less so with one hand. I haven’t yet perfected the art of one hand removal which sidearms still have a one-up on.
Additionally, with shorter hair, I’ve felt a couple pinches when fastening the shades around my head. It’s likely an avoidable occurrence, but something I noticed from time to time putting them on.
So how about for ultimate?
There are a handful of high-level ultimate players who wear shades when they play. Honestly, I’m surprised that this is the case, but shades with grass ultimate have been a cultural no-no since I’ve been playing. But finding myself playing more and more beach ultimate, sunglasses have become an absolute must to combat the sun reflecting up from the sand. Ombraz will absolutely hold up to the impacts and movements on the ultimate field.
Granted, sunglasses band attachments like this do exist for normal sidearmed shades, but those bands don’t hold the shades on your head.
Ombraz fit surprisingly well. The frame is shaped to sit on the bridge of the nose, and the adjustable cord makes it so these can even fit snuggly over hats. The cord itself is soft and non-abrasive.
While wearing a pair of Ombraz feels a little different than wearing a pair of standard sidearm sunnies, you quickly get used to them. I have certainly worn more comfortable sunglasses (the bridge could potentially be softer), but these frames feel solid. Further, often discomfort for me comes from the sidearms which Ombraz have completely eliminated.
The frames themselves fit my face well, which is hard to do.
Looks through Ombraz is crystal clear. I wasn’t expecting such a high quality, let alone polarized lens from a small sunglasses startup but Ombraz delivered. These lenses held up to the bright Colorado mountain while skiing and in the short time I’ve owned them, haven’t scratched a bit.
This is critical. Do Ombraz look good? Yes, yes they do. Sunglasses startups often have a few kinks to work out as they finalize their materials and design. I’m sure Ombraz will continue to evolve but I’m a fan of their matte tortoise aviator frame. It looks like a high-quality product right out of the package and I could see these frames being worn anywhere from the trails to the red carpet.
The cord itself is fine. The material works well but doesn’t wow me from a style perspective. The cord beads (while notched and designed with a purpose) appear to be made out of an economical material. That may be the look that Ombraz is going for and I do suspect this band and adjustment beds will evolve in future iterations of Ombraz and will come off a bit more polished. Further, Ombraz has a huge opportunity to offer alternative band colors that can further highlight the slick design of the frames and fit many unique personal styles.
While I haven’t decided to run over my shades in a truck or jump on them (as Ombraz demonstrates in their videos) for a travel and sports purpose, Ombraz seem very durable. I have total confidence in them hanging around my neck as I doze off on an airplane or fumble with my bags. I absolutely see them holding up to the bumps and cuts of an ultimate field, grass or sand.
I do worry that the band will be the first thing to deteriorate, but I don’t have enough data on it at this time.
Now, I’m maybe an outlier that’s willing to pay a lot for a quality piece of eyewear, but Ombraz are just that. Quality. Starting at $79 on their Indiegogo, Ombraz are well worth their initial price tag. I see Ombraz becoming a go-to pair of sunglasses for me, and getting reliable quality for $79 is absolutely worthwhile. Their list price of $140 does feel a tad steep for an unfamiliar brand, but it fits well into the pricing category for this quality of sunglasses. Include a replacement band of an alternate cover and $140 seems warranted to me.
Having worked with a couple sunglasses brands and being an avid collector for over a decade, I was not expecting the quality of product that Ombraz delivered from first-time sunglasses developers. Considering they’re going in a new direction for shades by removing sidearms and replacing it with a functional band, Ombraz knocked it out of the park. They deliver on their promises of adjustable fit and staying on your face. They deliver on lens quality and have a professional and solid look off the bat.
I absolutely see these becoming a go-to pair of sunglasses for me, especially while traveling. I’ll be taking these with me to Copa Tanga in Barcelona next month and could see myself playing in them on the beach comfortably.
If Ombraz develops alternate colors for their bands, and adapts a version of the sporty Oakley Razor Blades they’ll win my heart forever and I will likely be buried in them.
As a former collector of high-quality and rare sunglasses, I know quality when I see it and I don’t take this recommendation lightly. Ombraz deliver on quality and functionality for outdoorsy, sporty, travelers.
Grab a pair on their website and they may be the last pair you ever wear.