From a distance, they looked like a gimmick. Handsome, but not practical. Like the classic Julbo glacier glasses I'd wanted to swat off the face of a college friend who was, at best, an infrequent rock climber. Function without a place has no function at all, I thought. And then the Aether guys dropped me a line and told me they'd be showing off the new line of sunglasses they'd cooked up with kick ass optical company Salt. And it was a slow Monday. And their shop is close to my place. And I went. And I was impressed.
The Aether guys get it. They ride motorcycles to the office. They organize friendly group rides from their shop on La Brea, formerly a dead zone for Los Angeles motorcycle culture. They jet out on long-legged work vacations to Canada on adventure tourers and get stoked about work again. This collaboration was in good hands.
There are curtains along both lenses, and while they should be great at keeping wind and gravel out of your eyes, I was concerned about their impact on my field of vision. Not to worry. They're perforated. Those little holes don't seem like much, but they're cut at an angle and so close to your eye that you don't loose much peripheral vision. Clever solution. Cleverer still, because the Salt + Aether collaboration managed to make the two classic aviator frame shapes work well with the shroud. They also made them light.
The lens frame is titanium, the nose pads are titanium. The temples are beta titanium, which I'm told is the springy indestructible stuff favored by orthodontists. The thin arms slide like magic over helmeted ears. Or regular ears. As you like.
The Scout frame shape has an angular aviator shape, similar to my much loved American Optical sunglasses. Think Yeager in the days of the Bell X1 and you'll get the drift. The Explorer shape leans toward Ray Ban's take on the aviator. More of the Tom Cruise, Top Gun look. Both frame styles block wind, keep light out of the side of your eye and keep mud and dust and grime out of there as well. Either frame is as comfortable around town as it would be behind the wheel of a lakester, or a Miata, for that matter.
Salt held up its end with excellent Zeiss optics and Japanese build quality. Tint-shifting photochromic polarized lenses are available, which are killer in changing lighting conditions. You won't be surprised to hear all that lightweight metal and fancy glass is going to ding your wallet. The Salt + Aether line will be available soon at for $600.