They’re the clearest lenses out there AND they help save the ocean? We’ll see. Our online editor takes a close look at Costa’s “Untangled” sunglasses.

Founded in 1983 by Ray Ferguson in Daytona Beach, Florida, the Costa Del Mar has since grown into the fourth largest sunglasses supplier in North America. The secret to the company’s success has to do with the fact its polarized lens technology cut down on excessive glare and made it easy for anglers and boaters to see below the surface. The company has also been active in the charity realm, organizing beach cleaning initiatives and creating #OneCoast, which offers relief for residents of coastal climes affected by natural disasters. Costa’s latest initiative is to join forces with product development company Bureo to help rid the ocean of plastic pollution. The “Untangled” collection of sunglasses is the result.

The author’s wife wearing the Costa Caldera sunglasses in a mountain garden far away from the company’s birthplace of Daytona Beach, Florida.

Snapshot: Costa Caldera Untangled Sunglasses

    1. Pros: These sunglasses incorporate plastic made from recycled fishing nets.
    2. Cons: They ain’t cheap.
    3. Price: US$219
    4. Who Should Buy: Environmentalists as well as anglers, boaters and recreationalists who spend a lot of time near the water because the polarized technology is excellent.
    5. Who Shouldn’t Buy: Soulless fashionistas more interested in the latest style than a pair of sunglasses with a conscious.
    6. Helpful Hack: Costa has its own repair division so scratched lenses, broken hinges, etc can be fixed for less than the cost of buying a new pair.
    7. Author’s overall rating: 8/10

The Test

Let’s face it, sunglasses are jewellery that rest on your nose. At least, that was my take until Costa sent me a pair of Caldera glasses from its Untangled collection. The literature that came with them said, “We’ve partnered with Bureo, the pioneer in recycled fishnet products, to turn discarded fishing nets into quality sunglass frames. Identified as the most harmful form of ocean plastic, discarded fishing nets and gear account for ten percent of ocean plastic pollution, which grows by an estimated 640,000 tons every year.” That’s really cool. Instead of adding to the plastic pollution problem with frames that’ll end up in sea turtles in five years, Costa is looking to solve the issue.

The program works this way: Bureo pays fishermen for their old nets; they’re washed, shredded and made into pellets; Costa purchases these and injects them into the moulds of its “Untangled” collection, which now includes five different styles like the Caldera. Over the six months I’ve now had the sunglasses, my wife and I have used them on canoe trips, hikes, while lounging on the beach, and while gardening in our yard.

The Verdict

The first thing I noticed when I put on the Costa Cardera sunglasses are how clear the lenses are. I’ve reviewed over a dozen sunglasses and goggles during my career and these are hands-down the clearest I’ve ever looked through. According to the company its proprietary “580° technology offers 100% polarization plus UV A, B and C protection” and “selectively filters out harsh yellow light for superior contrast and definition and absorbs high-energy blue light to cut haze and enhance
sharpness.” I think more impressive than all that is the quality of materials that go into their lenses – they’re like looking through a Carl Zeiss camera lens versus some generic brand.

As for fit, the Carderas didn’t really work for me, which is why I couldn’t give them a higher rating. I have a small face and even their medium-sized frame enveloped half my head. But they fit my wife well and she too was impressed by their clarity. Especially when she worked out in the field. She’s a fish biologist and finds herself out on lakes a lot and she says, “With the sun shining, these sunglasses allow you to see well into the depths.” I hope other sunglasses manufacturers start paying attention to the type and amount of plastic being used in their production processes. Kudos to Costa for taking the lead with its Untangled product line.

Costa Caldera Untangled Sunglasses – The Deets

    • MSRP: US$219
    • Made from 100% recycled fishing nets
    • Lens material: 580° Polarized Glass
    • Lens colour options: Blue Mirror; Grey; Copper; Copper Silver Mirror
    • Fram colour options: Net Grey With Blue Rubber; Net Grey With Grey Rubber;
    • Prescription lenses available