An attractively priced, comfortable and stylish-looking pair of sunglasses, suitable for all kinds of sub-alpine adventures in the sun – just be sure to treat them carefully, because they can’t cope with much rough and tumble.
Relatively low cost
More fashionable style
Quite brittle frames
No side coverage
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BLOC Eyewear Pilot Sunglasses: first impressions
The versatility and general functionality of the BLOC Eyewear Pilot Sunglasses earned them a spot in our roundup of the best sunglasses for hiking and mountaineering, but they do have their limitations.
• List price: $45 (US) / £40 (UK)
• Weight: 30g / 1oz
• Category: 3
• Frame colors: Black / Gun
• Lens colors: Black-Gray / Tort-Gray / Red Mirror
• UV protection: 100%
• VLT: 8%-18%
• Extras: Soft pouch
• Suitability: Everyday adventures
Found at a fairly pocket-friendly price – comparatively speaking – these sunnies are metal-framed, aviator-style glasses, about the size of a pair of average reading spectacles. This is a less sporty look, which suits social wear as well as active use on trails and hillsides.
Available in category two and category three versions, and in a wide range of colors, the BLOC Pilots can be worn on sea-level walks, hill hiking adventures and in the peaks up to a point, but they are not suitable for high-altitude mountaineering.
There is no case included, but they do come with a cloth pouch that offers some protection from accidental scratching.
BLOC Eyewear Pilot Sunglasses: on the trails
I trialled a category three version of the BLOC Eyewear Pilot Sunglasses over several weeks of walking and winter mountaineering on the west coast of Scotland. On test I found they felt lightweight and minimalist on my face, and the metal frames are very smooth, making it easy to get them on and off.
Although the frame materials do not seem to have much give in them at all, the nose pads are adjustable, allowing some flexibility in fit, and are also hypoallergenic. Having a small point of contact helps to reduce sweat, and I could feel plenty of airflow getting to my face as I hiked and scrambled, which meant the glasses didn’t steam up.
The impact-resistant XTR Karbon8 optical class one lenses provide good clarity and protection, and I found them to be pretty effective at blocking glare, but, because of their style, they are quite small and there is no side coverage to block out excessive light in very bright situations (learn more about why you need to protect your eyes on the trails in our sunglasses for hiking feature).
The only quirk is that at certain angles of light, other people can sometimes see your eyes through the lens – or, weirder for them, one of your eyes is visible, while the other remains hidden behind the reflective surface.
The three-star rating is due to durability. Within a few months, one of the arms had broken off at the hinge. Although the metal itself is durable, the hinges are a weak point – only minor squishing in a rucksack caused the arm to snap off at its join to the lens frame, just next to the hinge.
An adventure writer based on Dartmoor, England, Emily is an active member of Mountain Rescue and a summer Mountain Leader, but loves all things adventure – before her third birthday she had lived on three continents. Founder of Intrepid magazine, she works to help break stereotypes about women in the outdoors. Her expeditions have included walking all Dartmoor’s 119 tors in a single two-week outing, cycling to Switzerland and back, and riding the Rhine from source to sea.