Bajio Roca Sunglasses Review
For the vast majority of my fishing life, I wore nothing but cheap sunglasses with grey lenses. It didn't matter if the skies were cloudy or sunny; I never experimented with anything else. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure if I ever owned more than one pair at a time! While grey might not be the optimal lens color in a lot of scenarios, they worked well enough for me, and that included an awful lot of sight-fishing in both fresh and saltwater...so why change?
When I started reviewing fishing and outdoor gear some years ago, this kind of "forced" me to finally break my old ways and sample some higher-end sunglasses with different lens colors. I can't resist making a corny pun here, but that was quite an eye-opening experience! A higher-quality lens in a color more closely matched to the conditions at hand truly does make a noticeable difference. Although I've now reviewed several types of sunglasses, none of them have included rose-mirror lenses. That all changed recently when I received a pair from Bajio!
Launched at ICAST 2021, Bajio (pronounced bah-hee-oh) is a very young company in the world of optics. However, there is no lack of experience here, as Founder and CEO, Al Perkinson, previously spent just over 11 years as Vice President of Marketing at Costa. Bajio exudes a hip, adventurous, carefree vibe and couples that with a huge emphasis on carbon neutrality and sustainability.
"Bajío offers castor-based bioplastic frames, coconut husk-based frames and we are currently working on frames made from recycled water bottles as well as recycled nylon frames made from ocean trash and carpet remnants. Stay tuned for more information as we test, retest and offer new materials."
The Bajios I received were the Roca frames, which coincidentally won the "Best Eyewear" award at ICAST 2022. The XL size designation is no joke; these are BIG and offer a ton of protection. Although these are the largest of all my sunglasses, the comfort and protection are absolutely superb. I've recently become a true fan of "oversized" frames like these, but the Rocas are at about the upper limit of what I'd want to wear size-wise.
The Roca's bio-based nylon frame is derived from plants and is said to be lighter and stronger than traditional plastic. Overall, the design structure is quite ergonomic and has notable features like wide temples, flexible hinges at the temple-to-frame joint, top/bottom/side sun ledges to cut down on glare intrusion, vented nose pads and side shields, and adjustable temples that sport textured rubber tips with keeper holes.
All of Bajio's lenses are equipped with their LAPIS technology which is stated to "...block 95% of blue light up to 440 nm and the majority of intense yellow light at its peak of 580 nm. This means no more hazy days and no more color interference." In fact, Bajio claims their glasses block more blue light than any other brand. Additionally, lenses get a special protective coating to resist scratching and allow for easy cleaning.
Roca glasses are designed specifically for sight fishing and are available with glass or polycarbonate lenses—my pair has the latter. The rose-mirror lenses were honestly not my first choice because I wasn't confident how this new-to-me color would perform, but my contact at Bajio reassured me that these were an excellent choice...I'm glad I listened to him!
In addition to constantly wearing these while driving and just doing general "stuff" outside, I've worn them when fishing on local beaches and freshwater canals. The high-contrast lenses are said to be great in "all skies," but I've found them to be equally excellent for all waters, too.
My Rocas not only look incredibly slick, but they have proven to be a solid all-around choice for sight fishing. I've had no trouble spotting snook and freshwater species while fishing under clear or partly cloudy skies and in waters ranging from clear to lightly-stained. On my face, they stay put very well and the hinges are stiff enough so that they can securely be worn on my shirt collar when not in use. One of my favorite aspects is the extreme comfort during long days; the lightweight wrap-around design coupled with the smooth, pleasant frame surface makes them a joy to wear for hours at a time.
I wasn't expecting the Roca to top my other sunglasses, but these have earned the spot as my new personal favorites. On or off the water, they provide the necessary clarity and protection, all while looking damn good at the same time.
As mentioned, Roca sunglasses come with glass or polycarbonate lenses and are available in three frame colors and seven lens colors. Each pair includes a plant-based protective case that's made from cactus leather. Bajio Roca sunglasses are priced at $199 (as tested) and go up to $249.