Arclite Optics: ETHOS VLD Glasses
Cory Mince 11.06.19
It’s always nice to get a piece of gear that exceeds my expectations and surprises me by how functional it is, and how much I enjoy using it! This is especially true for gear I don’t really like to use, namely, PPE. I recently acquired a pair of ETHOS VLD glasses from Arclite Optics after seeing a number of my shooting partners using them, and some having used them for years.
From the moment I put the VLDs on, they did exactly what I need shooting eye protection to do: protect my eyes, keep my vision clear, and be comfortable enough to forget that I’m wearing them. In fact, they were so comfortable, and so unobstructive to my vision that I laid down in my sleeping bag forgetting that I had them on – oops!
Arclite is a company based in Salt Lake City, Utah where the majority of their design, sewing, molding and assembly work is done. They are Buy American and Berry Amendment compliant. All good things.
Let’s review the specs (as per Arclite):
- Patented Flexible Thin Conformable Earpieces which provide the best comfort under cycling helmets
- Interchangeable Lenses with 2 Directional Lens/Earpiece Interlock
- Exceptional Vertical Field of View
- Full Continuous Wrap Around Protection
- Permanent Anti-fog Inner Lens Coating
- Durable Scratch Resistant Easy to Clean Outer Lens Coating
- Light Adaptive Photochromic Lens Included
- High Contrast Trail Lens Included
My kit included 3 lenses: clear, vermillion, and photochromic. I began by using the photochromic lene, which, if you didn’t already know, automatically adjusts the level of tint based on the amount of ambient light. This is a particularly nice feature when you’re on the range or in the field long enough for the sun to change its relative position. If possible, I’d like to use the same lenses for day and night shooting, which is exactly what I did with the photochromic lenses. Hours of shooting in a moonless night to a cloudless midday, the photochromic lenses worked excellent.
The clear lense is as you’d expect: clear. There was no change to my perception of color or glare, and they were clear as can be. If you’re transitioning quickly from light to dark (mid-day outside then going into a structure) the clear lenses make a lot of sense. The photochromatic lenses transition quickly, but not quick enough to keep your vision unobscured upon entering a dark area.
My last few range trips have been in sunny but cold conditions, and I haven’t had a good opportunity to test the Vermillion lenses, and will update this article as soon as we get some cloud cover.
Although Arclite doesn’t manufacture corrective lenses for their glasses, they do have have the option of using a UPLC (Universal Prescription Lens Carrier) compatible nosepiece.
Fogging is an issue that can be annoying in the best of circumstances, and deadly in the worst. I’m not just talking about combat either. If you’re driving a vehicle, walking a firing line, or clearing a weapon system, unobstructed sight is absolutely essential, and foggy lenses can screw you.
I transitioned from cold environments to warm, and warm to cold (70* truck and 25* outside) multiple times without issue. I also did quite a bit of shooting and moving under load (que heavy breathing jokes) and didn’t have an issue with fogging there either. I’m sure you can get these glasses to fog, but I’m not sure how to do it. Needless to say, I was very impressed.
The lenses are great, but the real highlight of these glasses for me are the frames. To me, the true test of eye protection is the duration I can stand wearing them. Am I stepping off line after the first 20 minutes to give my face a break? If so, I probably won’t wear them as much as I should. I primarily use over-the-ear hearing protection, and thick, rigid arms tweak my already goofy ears. Eye protection can become super uncomfortable super quick, and if I’m just shooting a bolt gun, I’ll often forgo eye protection all together. If I happen to move to the pistol range, well, I may forget to put my eye protection back on. I know I’m not alone here.
The arms of the Arclite ETHOS VLD (and really all other Arclite glasses) are super thin, tall, and flexible. All of these features contribute to minimizing ear deflection, spreading out the applied pressure, and allowing conformance to my head and ears. I can wear these things all day, literally. Although I have only made 3 range trips with these glasses, I have worn them for over 24 hours, with the longest duration being nearly 12 hours.
Eye protection is important, and for a while I liked to pretend it was less important in order to justify my lack of use. Finding a functional and comfortable set of eye protection is difficult, but I think if you are in the market, and maybe even if you aren’t, giving the Arclite ETHOS VLD a look could save your eyes.