In September of this year, I had the opportunity to visit my friends at the Chronicles of EMS booth at the Tak Response Conference in San Jose, CA. While I was there checking out the other booths, I ran across the ESS Eye Pro booth.
What drew my attention immediately were some lenses that appeared dimpled on the counter. They were similar to what is pictured here on the right. I met and spoke to the ESS representative on site, Scott, and asked him to explain what I was looking at. Scott told me their high-grade, extra-thick polycarbonate lenses can resist impacts…and in the case of the what I was looking at, the lenses were blasted from a Remington 12-gauge shotgun firing #6-shot from 10 meters.
Now, make no mistake, I’m certainly not planning on getting shot in the face; however, we don’t always know what the day ahead has planned for us. In the high risk employ that I and so many others choose, being prepared is the name of the game. We wear vests and carry guns. Lots of us wear shades, but how much protection are we truly getting?
Scott provided me with some different styles of shades to demo for a few weeks. About two months have come and gone. I’ve tried all three styles with varying lenses (a very cool feature I will explain) and frames. I think I stumbled upon an entirely new demographic Scott and his cohorts at ESS may have overlooked…the Motorcop.
Check out the picture to the left. This is the Suppressor frame. It was originally designed for use under hearing protection for the range. As most of us know, ear protection can sometimes be bulky if you use the earmuff style. Well, the thinner frame of the Suppressor was designed to be more comfortable and create less pressure when wearing something that basically squeezes one’s head. A fine job of engineering, if you ask me. However, what is bigger and holds one’s head even tighter? A motorcycle helmet. I wore this style for three solid weeks and I was amazed at how comfortable they felt. Just about any style of shades are wearable with a helmet for a short period of time. After a while, though, it can get uncomfortable. I never felt a moment’s discomfort wearing the Suppressor. (I think Scott was quite happy to hear that, by the by…)
If there is a downside to the Suppressor, it’s that without something holding them on (ear protection, helmet, etc.) they are liable to fall from your head if you make too many quick movements. The solution? An easily interchangeable frame system. Notice the thicker frame. ESS has engineered an easy way (with a learning curve, mind you) to change out the frames. There is a notch at the middle top of the frame that flips up, essentially unlocking the lenses. This allows you to either switch the lenses to a different frame or change the style of lens (clear, smoke gray, hi-def copper, and hi-def yellow). I found the interchange a little cumbersome initially, but with practice, I was able to do it with little problem.
The style of the lenses on both the Suppressor and Crossbow was a little too reminiscent of Terminator for me, so Scott was kind enough to provide me with the their CDI Max. This style was much more up my alley. The frames are obviously much thicker, but as luck would have it, they fit well inside my helmet. There are five different colors of lenses available and either black or desert tan frames.
The lens interchange with the CDI Max is simpler than the either the Crossbow or the Suppressor. All one need do is fold back each side of the frame and slide the lens out. When the frames are not folded, they serve as a lock on the lens, so it won’t come out. All in all, a great design!
There are a number of different products available at the ESS website. They support law enforcement as well as the military. There have a selection of sunglass styles, eye shields, goggles, and prescription inserts for all of the above.
I am happy to give the MC Seal of Approval (now I have to invent one) for the professionals over at ESS and their outstanding products.