“The right eyewear is crucial to the success of my expeditions”
OT talks to the world-record breaking adventurer, Chris Ramsey, about eye protection, partnering with Coral Eyewear, and his upcoming expedition
09 July 2022
How many pairs of sunglasses do you own?I currently own three pairs of sunglasses. I have two pairs of Coral Eyewear ‘Albacore’ sunglasses, one with tinted lenses, and one with polarised lenses. The other pair are my old aviator sunglasses, which I have had for many years and are a bit worse for wear. I haven’t worn them in a very long time so I am currently looking into ways that they can be recycled or reconditioned so that someone else can enjoy them.
What have you typically looked for in a frame and how has that changed over time?Not needing to wear glasses has meant that sunglasses have really been a fashion accessory for me over the years. During my teen years aviator sunglasses were all the rage and it was during this period that I got my first pair. Big oversized dark lenses with a dark grey frame, they were far too big for my face and kept slipping off of my nose whenever I turned my head too fast, but I didn’t care as they made me feel cool. Reflecting back now, I looked anything but. However, the sunglasses gave me confidence, and outside of the eye protection that’s what wearing sunglasses can give me.
Who would you pick as your style icon when it comes to sunglasses?I progressed into my teens during the 1980s, so my choice of eyewear was heavily influenced by celebrities of that time. My music of choice was Guns N’ Roses and the lead guitarist, Slash, wore a very cool pair of aviators.
Tom Cruise was the icon that seriously influenced my eyewear choice at the time. A little movie called Topgun came out in the 80s and, being a pilot, Cruise was always wearing his aviator sunglasses. Like most teenage boys at that time I rushed out to buy a pair of sunglasses to look like Maverick from the film. I mean, what teenager didn’t want to be Tom Cruise back then?
While it is important that your eyewear provides the correct level of protection, it is also an extension of you and how you express yourself to the world
How important is eyewear to reflecting your personality?Having eyewear that you like and feel comfortable in is hugely important. While it is important that your eyewear provides the correct level of protection, it is also an extension of you and how you express yourself to the world. Have you ever found yourself having a conversation with someone where they say, “oh these are just a cheap pair I picked up, I don’t really like them but they protect me from the sun”? That topic of conversation then ends pretty quickly.
However, when you speak to someone who invested in the right sunglasses for them, a pair they like and reflects their identity, the conversation is completely different and they can talk for ages about how much they love their eyewear, where it came from, and who influenced their style.
Eyewear is just like your favourite jumper, trainers or jeans, so I would encourage people to invest in their eyewear just like they do in other areas of fashion. I would also recommend choosing from a sustainably manufactured brand as your style can change over the years.
What does good vision and eye health mean to you?Maintaining good eye health is extremely important and I actively encourage everyone to get regular eye checks – even if you think your eyesight is good. 80% of what we perceive comes through our sight, and through my career as an overland adventurer using electric vehicles, it is critical that I make sure that I protect and look after my eyesight the very best that I can, or I would not be able to explore the amazing planet the way that I do.
It is critical that I make sure that I protect and look after my eyesight the very best that I can, or I would not be able to explore the amazing planet the way that I do
How important is having the right eyewear for your expeditions, and your personal life?The right eyewear is crucial to the success of my expeditions, as I travel across some of the hottest and harshest environments on the planet. Having polarised lenses, for example, plays a huge role in protecting my eyes from the intense sun. Not just when I am driving, but also when I am filming in front of the camera, which is another reason why it is important that the sunglasses reflect my personality, because at times my audience don’t get to see my eyes. The glasses are my representation to the world.
For your previous expeditions, such as the Guinness World Record Breaking e-bike adventure, what are the key features that you looked for in the frames you needed?Comfortable, lightweight, and with frames large enough to cover my whole eye area. These are the three simple things I look for, especially when I completed my eBike Guinness World Record. I cycled for 12 hours around an oval circuit and I needed to feel like I wasn’t wearing any eyewear at all. I needed to stay focused on my performance and not have to worry about a simple thing like sunglasses irritating me. 12 hours is a long time to put up with something that doesn’t fit right.
What are your top three tips for selecting the right pair of frames?
- Be open-minded about the style that works for you. Don’t just buy eyewear because someone famous wears them; this is about being you
- Always feel 100% comfortable when wearing them. Don’t settle for something if it’s not comfortable as you will no doubt just end up casting them aside and buying another pair
- Think practically. Your glasses will experience many different environments and activities, so ensure that they are robust enough to survive the challenges you put them through.
Making a positive impact
Could you tell us about your upcoming Pole to Pole Expedition?In March 2023 I will be setting off from the South Pole in a fully electric car, driving 17,000 miles though South, Central and North America and finishing at the Magnetic North Pole in around May the same year. While this is something that no other form of vehicle has ever attempted before in history, completing this in an electric car is just half of the story. Along the way we will be engaging with schools, non governmental organisations, and inspiring individuals who are taking action to tackle climate change. And every aspect of mine and my team’s kit will be made up of sustainable products. We will be highlighting to the world, not just how viable electric vehicles are for everyday use, but how the simplest of consumer choices can help make a positive impact in the world.
Could you tell us about your partnership with Coral Eyewear? How does this support your aims through the Pole to Pole Expedition?
I have known about Coral Eyewear and George [Coral Eyewear’s co-founder] for a few years now. I followed his company’s progress with interest and to see their sustainability credentials stacked up in real life – I wasn’t disappointed. Sustainability is at the core of what they do, especially given their full range is made from recycled plastics. Lessening my impact on the planet in both my professional and personal life is extremely important to me.
Some people may think that my relationship with Coral Eyewear is a commercial one, but this is not the case. I am proud to wear their eyewear because it completely reflects who I am as a person. It also reflects the ethos of Pole to Pole and showcases simple changes to live more sustainably. Imagine if just 10% of sunglasses bought worldwide were made from recycled and reclaimed plastics. Something so simple can make such a huge and lasting impact. Those buyers will then go on to influence the people around them, and before we know it sustainable eyewear could be the first choice of consumers globally.
Just like myself, the entire team has replaced their eyewear with Coral Eyewear frames that suit them. Crucially, for the Polar regions all eyewear is being fitted with polarised lenses as we will be travelling through these regions in summer which means 24/7 daylight and intense glare off of the ice.