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Rudy Project Rydon

I’ve used a pair of Rudy Project Rydon Stealth glasses as sun and safety glasses for about five years now. They’re a great eye protection system for active wear, and I think are especially attractive for those who require prescription eyewear. The Rydon offers an adaptable system with interchangeable lenses and full coverage, in a lower profile compared to popular tactical eyewear systems like the Revision Sawfly, Oakley M Frame or ESS ICE.

Rudy Project Rydon System

The temples and nosepads of the Rydon are made from an pliable rubber material that lets the user adjust them however they want. You can have straight temples or hook them down behind your ears. You can move the nosepads to get the right height and clearance on your face. I find that both adjustments largely stay in place after being set. If they do move, it is simple to reset them.

Safety & Durability

The only difference between Rudy’s “Stealth” and non-“Stealth” line is the ANSI Z87.1 rating applied to the frame. Z87.1 is the standard for eyewear protection that will be familiar to anyone who has worn safety glasses or so-called “tactical” eyewear. It describes, among other things, impact resistance. The Rydon lenses are interchangeable between Stealth and non-Stealth variants, and certain lens selections have their own Z87.1 ratings. The Stealth frames are made from a different material than non-Stealth. The non-Stealth Rydons fail to meet Z87.1 standards due to how they shatter1.

Unfortunately, Rudy has not certified the Rydon for MIL-PRF-32432, the military specification for ballistic eyewear.

As you might expect, the Rydon have proven to be very durable. I’ve used them regularly over the past five years. I shoot in them, I crash bikes in them, and I’ve been punched in the face more times than I can count in them. They’re none the worse for wear. Certain lenses have minor scratches, but none that I notice when I’m actually wearing them. The frames themselves are like new. The rubber material does not absorb sweat and odors, which is a complaint I’ve heard of Oakley’s “unobtainium” rubber temples.

ImpactX

Rudy is well known for their ImpactX lenses. They describe it as being a “bullet-proof, transparent, and light-weight material capable of providing superior protection, reliability and longer lasting performance than polycarbonate”. It is what Apache windshield panels are made out of, which makes me feel good about myself2.

ImpactX is actually just Rudy-branded NXT. NXT is a variant of Trivex. I’m not sure what the difference is between NXT and Trivex. It may be that NXT is just a specific branding of Trivex. I do know that the Z87.1 impact protection that NXT/ImpactX claims is a property of the Trivex. Trivex gives equal protection.

Trivex is a polymer that was introduced as an alternative to polycarbonate. Traditionally, most safety glasses are made out of polycarbonate. When you get a prescription insert from Revision or ESS and have them fill the prescription, the lenses they’re putting in are polycarbonate. “Plutonite” is Oakley’s proprietary brand of polycarbonate. Trivex offers equal impact protection, but has a lower Abbe number than polycarbonate, which translates to superior optical quality.

Trivex is slightly more expensive (polycarbonate costs ~$40, Trivex ~$50). Trivex also has a slightly lower refractive index, which translates to Trivex prescription lenses being slightly thicker than polycarbonate. But Trivex has a lower specific gravity, so the Trivex lenses will be slightly lighter than the equivalent polycarbonate, despite the added thickness.

There’s nothing rare or special about Trivex. Everyone does it. You can bring any set of frames into any optometry office and tell them you want to put Trivex lenses in it. As long as your prescription fits the frame, they can do it. The resulting lenses will meet or exceed Z87.1, even though your optometrist likely isn’t going to get them certified for the Z87.1 stamp.

Photochromic

The ImpactX lenses, in addition to offering impact protection, are also photochromic. Photochromic lenses darken when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Having a clear lens in a pair of safety glasses is critical for indoor work, and being able to use the same lenses as sunglasses outdoors keeps the overall price down. It is also helpful for transitions. If you start out in the sun and then go inside, or the clouds roll in or the sun sets, your optics quickly respond without you needing to take time to remove the glasses or swap lenses.

When I first purchased the Rydon system, one of the lenses I included was the ImpactX photochromic clear-to-black. This is a neutral lens that offered 18-78% light transmission. A few months ago, I purchased Rudy’s ImpactX-2 photochromic clear-to-black lenses. These offer 9-74% light transmission. In addition to the change in light transmission, ImpactX-2 also reacts faster and is supposed to respond slightly better to non-UV light3.

Other Lenses

While the ImpactX lenses are the only offerings from Rudy with the Z87.1 stamp, the company does offer some other lens options.

Rudy’s Polar 3FX is their polarized lens solution. Polarized lenses reduce glare, which is useful on water and snow. I have a pair of Polar 3FX brown lenses. At 15% light transmission, these offer about the same protection as my old Julbo Micropore glacier glasses. They’re a great supplement to the ImpactX photochromic lenses, and are light enough that I am happy to carry them as a secondary option on backpacking trips for use above the tree line.

The third lens I went with is what Rudy calls Racing Red. These are a high contrast red lens with 28% light transmission. A contrast lens in something like red or yellow is a great option for hazy days when it isn’t bright out and you don’t want much light reduction, but you find yourself squinting from the glare4.

Of the three lenses (or four, since I now have two of the photochromic clear-to-black lenses), I use the Racing Red least of all. They’re great in certain conditions, but the ImpactX(-2) lenses work well in all conditions, so I find that I can just leave them in the frame all the time and never think about it. Plus, Z87.1.

Prescription

Rudy has a few options for people who need prescription lenses. The option that I’ve gone for is the Optical Insert. I used a similar setup back in the day with Revision Sawfly eyewear and their insert, but I think Rudy does it better. While this kind of dual lens system does result in a slight degradation of optical quality, it means that you only pay for the prescription once. Being able to purchase multiple non-prescription lenses that sit in front of the prescription lens is the only thing that makes this kind of multi-lens system tenable.

Rudy offers two different carrier styles: a full metal frame and a “rimless” option.

When I first purchased the Rydon system I went with the full metal frame. It has served well over the years. Like the Rydon frame, it still functions like new. Occasionally a punch in the face will cause the insert to be knocked out of the Rydon, but that hasn’t caused any damage to the carrier, and it only takes a second to pop it back in.

This past spring, when I bought the new ImpactX-2 lenses, I also wanted to purchase another carrier to have my new prescription put in it. This time around I tried the “rimless” model. The “rimless” carrier is not actually rimless: the lenses are held in place by a thin wire that goes around the circumference of each lens. This can result in a thicker lens. With a rimless carrier, the lens need a groove cut into it to accept the wire. Prescription lenses are thinnest on the inside (near the nose) and thickest on the outside. If your prescription is weak enough that the outside of the lens is not already thick enough for the groove to be cut, the thickness will need to be increased.

I’ve not found that the lenses in my rimless carrier appear any thicker than the ones in my old carrier, but that’s something that you may want to keep in mind when deciding between the two carrier options.

When you’ve received the carrier, you can take it to any optometrist to have your prescription lenses filled. Finding an optometrist who has some experience with this kind of setup — whether they are actually a Rudy dealer or offer some other sport brand with an insert system — will like behoove you. With my first pair, I used a Rudy dealer. The optometrist that I used when filling the new carriers this year was not a Rudy dealer, nor had they ever dealt with something like this before. However, they actually grind their lenses in house, which is something I’ve never seen before. When placing the order I was able to talk with the lab manager who would actually be making the lenses, which gave me confidence that I wouldn’t be wasting my money5.

For the prescription lenses, I went with polycarbonate. With a dual lens system like this, both weight and thickness are a concern. While Trivex would have been lighter, we decided that the thinner polycarbonate would be better suited for my prescription. The polycarbonate prescription lenses would be behind the Rydon’s ImpactX(/NXT/Trivex) lenses, so I don’t have much concern about the lower impact resistance.

This time around I went with an anti-fog coating, which I did not have previously. While it was rarely ever an issue, I did occasionally experience fogging with the old lenses. It usually happens when walking into a sweaty gym when it is cold and dry outside. It’s not really the time of year for me to be able to evaluate if the anti-fog coating is doing anything on the new lenses.

I think an anti-glare coating on the prescription lens is unnecessary. The tinted Rydon lenses should take care of that problem whenever necessary.

I did also go with an edge polish on the new prescription lenses. Previously I opted to forgo that option with the old metal carriers, but with the rimless carrier I thought that it would help maintain a lower profile look — both from the outside looking in and the inside looking out. I think it was a smart decision.

Notes

  1. Personally, I think that wearing sunglasses which are not Z87.1 rated is stupid and a waste of money, outside of certain specialty requirements. Eyes are important. You can’t fight what you can’t see, unless you are a time travelling samurai.
  2. When you get down to it, why wouldn’t you protect your eyeballs with the same technology used in gunships?
  3. Traditionally, one of the shortcomings of photochromic lenses is that they don’t work well in cars. Windshields filter UV light. ImpactX-2 is supposed to handle that a little better. I can’t comment on that — I spend very little time in cars.
  4. I also believe that having a contrast lens that you can wear when it isn’t necessarily bright enough for normal sunglasses is useful to combat color-based advertising intended to condition us to better suit our extraterrestrial overlords.
  5. With most optometrists you end up dealing with the people who sell lenses. Talking to someone who actually makes the things lets you dip into a different knowledge base.

A Personal Micro-Cut Shredder

I purchased the AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Micro-Cut Shredder a few months ago. For the price I think it’s a good buy. The CD shredding is a bit of a joke (use scissors), but it handles paper and cards admirably, cutting them into 4mm x 12mm pieces that will foil the casual antagonist. The 8-sheet capacity, compact size, and low cost make it a good choice for personal document filing. Tis the season.

Micro-Cut Shredder

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Everyday Carry OC

This past summer I attended Paul-E-Palooza. One of the courses I attended was Chuck Haggard’s Less-Lethals for the Concealed Carrier, which was all about OC (oleoresin capsicum) or pepper spray. Chuck is a Lieutenant in the Topeka, KS Police Department. He’s been training with OC for a long time and has a lot to say on the subject. I’ve been sprayed with OC before in training, but have not consistently carried it myself or incorporated it into any of my defensive training. After Chuck’s course I decided to rectify that.

OC

I’ve tried a handful of different cans from brands like Sabre Red, Fox Labs and Aerko. They’re all effective products, but I failed to find one that both came in a pocketable form-factor and had a safety design that I felt comfortable with — until I tried an ASP Defender.

The Defender series come in a variety of sizes, but are all long and skinny. This roughly pen-like form factor makes them easy to carry and also usable as a lightweight Kubotan. They feature a safety that inspires confidence in its ability to prevent an accidental discharge, while still being easy to actuate when needed. The capsules are replaceable, and ASP sells inert capsules for training in addition to the live “heat” capsules. They discharge a solution of 10% of 2,000,000 SHU oleoreson capsicum.

ASP Palm and Key Defenders

  • ASP Palm Defender: Inert and Live Cartridges
  • ASP Palm Defender: Disassembled

I purchased both the Key Defender and Palm Defender models. Both are 0.6” inches in diameter. The Key Defender is 5.75” long, while the smaller Palm Defender is 4.5” in length. The Key Defender capsule contains 4 grams of solution. The Palm Defender capsule contains 3 grams.

The stated range for the Key and Palm Defenders are 5 feet and 3 feet, respectively. In my trials I found that the difference in range between the two models was negligible: I achieved 4-5 feet with the Palm Defender, and about 5 feet with the Key Defender. This was outdoors, with the heat cartridges and a small amount of wind. The primary difference was in the number of shots. While the Palm Defender offered 4 cone-shaped bursts of about 1/2-second each, the Key Defender gave me 7.

Given the small differences between the Key and Palm Defender, I personally opt for the smaller form-factor of the Palm Defender for my EDC. My only complaint about this model is that, given the length, I find that I need to grip the body slightly lower so that my fingers do not interfere with the outward swing of the safety. This puts the opposite end of the Defender into my palm. Because of this, once I have disengaged the safety I need to readjust my grip slightly, so that the business end of the Defender is just beyond the edge of my hand — where it needs to be for both striking and discharging the OC. Ideally I would like to see a model in between the Key and Palm Defenders in length. As it is, this is a minor complaint, which I can train around and which does not dampen my enthusiasm for the Palm Defender.

ASP Key Defender: Business End

While the aluminium body of the Defenders is knurled for grip, the safeties are smooth. I addressed this by placing a small strip of grip tape over them, making it easier for me to disengage the safety with my thumb.

  • ASP Palm Defender: Actuating Safety
  • ASP Palm Defender: Safety Disengaged

I have been EDCing the Palm Defender in the front, support-side welt pocket of my pants. My preference would be to find a pocket clip for it — which I imagine is doable, since the Defender is roughly the size of a large pen or marker — so that I could have the option of moving it to other pockets or onto a belt. I’ve also experimented with carrying it on one of Chris Fry‘s Pocket Shields (via a tactical hair tie), but as of yet I have not integrated the Pocket Shield into my daily carry.

The EDC Keychain

Below the Maxpedition Keyper I connect a quick-release fob. This adds enough length to the setup that the keys can be silenced in my pocket, but still securely attached to my belt via the Keyper. The side-release buckle provides easy, one-handed access. The fob attaches to the Keyper via a normal split ring.

For most of the 8 years that I’ve used the fob, I’ve attached the keys to it via another split ring. I tried a cable ring from CountyComm for some time, but it was too large and the closure unscrewed itself frequently. Later, when the FREEKey came out, I gave it a shot. It worked well enough but I found that it offered no practical advantage over a normal split ring. Finally, last March I learned about the Flex O Loc Key Ring from Brian Green. I bought a pack of them and have been using one on my keychain ever since. I find that they’re perfect: the right size, easy to open, and secure when closed.

EDC Keychain

On the keychain itself I carry three keys: an apartment key, a work key and a bike lock key. Next to the keys is a Kingston DataTraveler SE9 (16GB). I find that the DataTravelers are a good combination of performance, durability and price. I consider this my “dirty” stick: it holds no personal information and is formatted with FAT32. I’ll stick it in pretty much anything. It used to hold Liberté Linux, but unfortunately that project seems largely abandoned now. Next to the USB stick is a Photon Freedom Micro LED light with a green beam. I’ve lost count of how many years I’ve had this. It doesn’t produce a significant beam, but it frequently comes in handy. I like to know that I always have a light source attached to me. Next on the ring is the pit for my Pitlocks. This is a specially keyed nut that is needed to remove the Pitlock skewers on my bike. It increases the difficulty of stealing a wheel. The final item is a SERE V Cutter. I consider this more of a toy than a tool. It does cut cord very well, but so does a knife. I wouldn’t buy it again, but as long as I have it I figure I might as well use it, and it is small and light enough that I can put it on my keychain and forget that it’s there.

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Alternative Carry of the ESEE Candiru

The ESEE Candiru is another nice knife that suffers from a terrible sheath.

In fact, it is a great little knife. Unfortunately the only sheath that the Candiru comes with is a simple Cordura pouch. I threw this away immediately upon receiving the knife and replaced it with a horizontal belt sheath from Dark Star Gear. The Dark Star Gear sheath first came to my attention on pistol-forum.com. At the time I hadn’t purchased the Candriu, but horizontal carry of a small fixed blade at about 11:00 on the belt impressed me as a great idea. I knew I wanted to give it a shot.

Dark Star Gear Sheath

I considered ordering the sheath for my Izula, which is the knife I usually carry when I want a fixed blade, but I was concerned that it would be a little too big to conceal horizontally on my waist1. Instead I decided to purchase the ESEE Candiru, which Brian Green had raved about last year, just for this carry method. (I actually ordered the sheath before I ordered the knife.)

I’m extremely pleased with both purchases. The Candiru is not quite as general-purpose as the larger Izula, but it performs all the functions that I require of an urban EDC blade, and provides yet another option for an EDC fixed blade. This is something that I have come to prefer over a folder since I purchased the Izula about 4 years ago. The Dark Star Gear sheath allows me to carry it comfortable and conceal it with nothing more than a t-shirt, while still providing for a quick draw. The sheath has also exposed me to the idea of carrying at 11:00, which is a very nice piece of real-estate on the belt that I have previously overlooked.

ESEE Candiru / Dark Star Gear Sheath

  • ESEE Candiru / Dark Star Gear Sheath
  • ESEE Candiru / Dark Star Gear Sheath

I have carried the Candiru in the Dark Star Gear sheath as my primary knife for about 2 months now. Up until a few days ago the Candiru’s handle had been cord wrapped2. I just recently purchased and installed the optional Micarta slabs. The Candiru does suffer from a small handle — a necessary evil for a knife this size. It can use all the extra bulk it can get. My initial impressions of the Micarta slabs are that they greatly improve the feel of the knife in the hand without any negative impact on the ability to easily conceal the knife in the Dark Star Gear sheath.

For a second carry option I also purchased a Kydex neck sheath for the Candiru. This is the sheath that the Candiru should ship with. The size of the knife makes it a great option for those who find the Izula a bit too large for comfortable carry around the neck3, but still want something a bit more functional than a tiny CRKT RSK Mk5 or Nemesis Hellion. I carry the knife around my neck when I run, since for that activity I’m not usually wearing a belt appropriate for the Dark Star Gear sheath. Adding the Micarta slabs does make the Candiru a bit heavier and bulkier around the neck. If you intend to use the Candiru primarily as a neck knife, I would stick with a cord wrap on the handles.

ESEE Candiru / Kydex Neck Sheath

Notes

  1. While bigger folk could probably conceal an Izula in the Dark Star Gear sheath, I’m confident that this was the right choice for me. I feel pretty sure that the Izula handle would stick out too far on my small waist.
  2. The handle was wrapped with Technora Four Hundred Cord. I had bought a hank of this cordage a while ago to play around with and found that the smaller diameter worked better than paracord (gutted or non) on the Candiru’s small handle.
  3. The Izula is at the upper-end of my size range for comfortable neck carry.