Monday, July 18, 2011

Review of ESS Crossbow Sunglasses

Sometimes I wonder if my opinions do any good. I mean, one man's trash is another man's treasure, right? I may not like a product, but someone else may think its terrific, or vice-versa.

Then I find something that actually is different. A product that makes a difference to me as an umpire and that I can't wait to share with my brothers in blue. The ESS Crossbow sunglasses is such a product.

Using sunglasses on the plate has been taboo in the past, but this prejudice is falling away. We all know that sunglasses can protect your eyes from ultra-violet light, wind, and dust. However, working the plate with sunglasses can be challenging. Clarity of the lens is paramount, but sweat and fogging can be obstacles to plate work.

I came across the ESS Crossbow sunglasses after researching different types of sunglasses that may be used on the plate.  As you may suspect, there isn't a lot of information out there. The ESS Crossbows were recommended by several shooting forums. The ESS website states they are fog and scratch resistant, have 2.4mm polycarbonate lenses, and contain 100% UVA and UVB protection. They are also authorized for use by the US Army.

I contacted the company about reviewing the Crossbows and Ari Drougas at ESS sent me the Crossbow 2X Dual-Eyeshield Kit, which includes:
  • (1) Standard, black Tri-Tech Fit Crossbow frame with a Clear lens
  • (1) Standard, black Tri-Tech Fit Crossbow frame with a Smoke Gray lens
  • (1) Rugged zippered hard case
  • (1) Micro-fiber pouch
  • (1) Snap-on elastic retention strap
  • (1) ESS sticker
  • (1) Crossbow instruction booklet
Yep, you read it right. Two complete pair of glasses. The retail price is $105.00.
Actually Ari sent me a pair of Crossbow frames and a pair of ESS Suppressor frames to test.

The Crossbow Tri-Tech Fit frame is very comfortable. There is no pinching or pressure points. The glasses stay put and do not slide around.  The frames use a locking system called DedBolt Lens Lock, which pivots up for easy release, then clamps down for rock solid retention under impact.

The ESS Crossbow Suppressor is designed to be used with ear cup hearing protection and communications devices. Ari believed that some umpires using a hockey style helmet would prefer this sleeker design. The Suppressor frame is compatible with all Crossbow lenses and also features the same DedBolt Lens Lock device used on the Crossbow.

I did not have any issue with the Crossbow frame with my traditional mask. While the Suppressor is slimmer, my preference is the Crossbow even with a HSM. The Suppressor tended to slip a bit while the Crossbow frames did not slip.

The Crossbow features polycarbonate lenses, a tough lightweight plastic which is about ten times more resistance to impacts than normal glass or plastic lenses. The Crossbows offer 100% UVA and UVB protection.

I was a little skeptical about the anti-fog lenses. You know what? They don't fog! I have worn the Crossbows in extreme 100 degree heat and also extreme humidity. No fogging!

I have also been very surprised by the anti scratch lenses. ESS states that this is due to the "ClearZone FlowCoat technology, engineered to eliminate fog inside and prevent scratches outside."  All I know is the Crossbows do not fog and do not scratch.

My vision through the ESS was very good. I have worn Gargoyle, Maui Jim, Bolle, Oakley, and Peakvision, and I rate the ESS as good as the best. These lenses are distortion-free and I have no trouble tracking the baseball from hand to glove. There are also no blind spots with these glasses.

[Ari and the folks at ESS do not know this, but I liked the ESS Crossbows so much, I purchased a pair of Crossbow frame and copper lenses a la carte ($50.61 shipped, but I could have used the discount below and saved 15%). I will update this article with how I like the copper after I test them.]

The ESS Crossbow 2X Kit can be purchased directly from ESS for $105.00. ESS is offering a 15% discount for readers of Midwest Ump now through September 15. Go to and use the discount code UMP15.

Fair or Foul?
The ESS Crossbow sunglasses are excellent. First, they are substantially cheaper than most top of the line eye wear.  Second, they are fog proof and scratch proof. Third, they are equally as good in clarity as the best sport glasses available. Finally, they have been (literally) battle tested and positive reviews can be found all over the internet. 
I call the ESS Crossbow sunglasses absolutely FAIR!


Arik said...

Let us know about the copper lenses. I use the Native Sport interchangeable sunglasses. They come with a black lens, a yellow lens for for low light, and a clear pair (which I never wear). I would love to have a newer pair of glasses that I can use. But I dont like the clear lenses as they dont do much for me.

T-rav said...

I just purchased these, per your recommendation. I'm umpiring a LL state game Friday and hope that they will arrive in time, so I can try them out.