Sunglasses Retainers Compared

October 12, 2009 By: zmatthews

chums.jpgI once dropped a $200 pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses in a small creek in the Smokies and watched as they were swept away. The culprit was the $5 set of Wal-Mart sunglass retainers I had foolishly trusted to keep my expensive shades safe. Apparently the fine people at Wal-Mart thought it’d be a good idea to use a water-based glue for the rubberized strap end, and when that rubber end gave way, bang! Bye bye, shades.
Since then I’ve paid a lot more attention to the straps I attach to my shades. I’ve also watched other anglers, and I’ve noticed several types.

First, you have your fly line strap, probably the cheapest for us anglers and darned effective. The downsides with tying fly line to your shades are (1) you might need to drill a pair of holes in the sunglass stems, (2) you’ve got bulky knots catching in your hair (assuming you have hair) and (3) you get a ton of questions.
Then you’ve got your grannie straps, the kind with the little clear plastic ring tightener, that hang perpendicularly from the sunglass stem. I like these in theory, because the retainer hangs naturally instead of sticking way out in the back. Unfortunately, we’re back in Wal-Mart territory here – do you want to trust your $200 polaroids to a tiny rubber gasket?
I also see a lot of those all-neoprene jobs that fit tightly to the back of the head. I’m not going to lie to you: I hate these. They’re too tight, so my glasses constantly fog up, and I find them hot. They’re also not long enough to let the glasses hang out of my way; I feel like I’m wearing a bib.
Finally (and this list is by no means exclusive), I see a lot of what I’ll call internal-gasket fabric retainers, most commonly made by Chums (but usually re-badged as a promotional product). These are my favorites; they are typically hollow tubes of fabric with a length of rubber tubing sewn inside. The tubing stretches over the thick end of the stem, but then compresses nicely around the thinner part. Because the inside of the gasket is also fabric-covered, you don’t have to lick or otherwise lube them to get them to slide on, and being hollow, the fabric is limp enough to hang straight down and not get hung in your car’s headrest, etc.
What kind of sunglass retaining strap do you prefer? Let us know in the Comments section!