Tracking your data can be the perfect way to bolster your performance whether cycling through your favorite routes or running down a new best time. Especially for endurance athletes, these measurements can aid in maintaining proper pace and cadence throughout training and competition. Unfortunately, though, the tech used to track these stats isn't conducive to maintaining a proper form — i.e., you need to pause or alter your focus in order to read your outputs across your smartphone, cycling computer or running watch.
To help keep your eyes on the road and your focus locked into your activity, there are some wearables that utilize heads-up display modules within sunglass frames, keeping all your precious data within your field of view. These sunglasses have taken a major leap when it comes to combining tech and fitness, but one that's really caught our eye as of late has been the all-new Engo 2 from Engo Eyewear.
Released earlier this week to the general public and taking full advantage of the lightweight ActiveLook HUD display unit, these sunnies promise to provide athletes with a more natural data tracking experience without unwanted distractions like weight, stops and cadence alterations.
But is this impressive tech a breakthrough for your training needs? How convenient is the in-eye display when compared to other data tracking services? To find out, I wore the Engo 2s throughout multiple running sessions in varying light conditions, highlighting their effectiveness and accuracy throughout my workouts. I also wore these sunnies through a recent 8k race to see how effective the data metrics could be in the throws of competition. In all testing scenarios, I made note of the frame's durability, charging capabilities and (of course) fit, because after all, you want your running gear to be somewhat stylish, right?
Here's what you can expect from the all-new Engo 2 sunglasses.
What's Good About the Engo 2 Sunglasses?
Setup is pretty intuitive, especially for Apple users.
According to Engo, the Engo 2s are compatible with Apple, Garmin and Suunto products, which gives this eyewear plenty of versatility for athletes — you don't need a specific watch or computer to utilize the heads-up display. Initial setup is conducted on the ActiveLook smartphone app, where you set and place your data display, as well as fine-tune any settings, like the convenient hand gesture toggling feature. I did appreciate the fact that once setup is complete, you don't need to ride or run with your smartphone to effectively track data, making for less weight and distractions when out on the road.
Once your field of view is set, syncing the Engo 2s to your favorite smart device is simple enough — just remember to unpair them from your phone to allow for Bluetooth syncing to a new device. I tested these sunglasses with both a Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar running watch, as well as an Apple Watch Series 7. There are perks to both pairings, but I did notice that setting up the Apple Watch relationship was much more intuitive. Just a few selections and you're ready to go. The Garmin, on the other hand, took a few more steps, but offers much more customization and support when it comes to setting up your data fields and displayed metrics.
According to the brand, Suunto pairing is closer to that of Garmin, but also offers navigation support. There isn't a wrong answer as to which is the best, but for my needs, I think I prefer the more customization baked into the Garmin setup.
Metrics remain visible regardless of light conditions, eliminating stop-and-go training.
Upon wearing the Engo 2s for the first time around my house, I was easily able to read the display fields from the confines of my abode, but did have some concerns about the changing light conditions I would experience when running outdoors. We've all had that experience of trying to decipher a poorly backlit smartphone or watch in less than ideal conditions, so I was nervous that this experience would pose a problem when trying to monitor my cadence during early morning or late afternoon jaunts. Thankfully, though, Engo had thought of these changing conditions, including an Auto Adjust feature that automatically changes the brightness in accordance with your surroundings.
I really appreciated this feature during my 8k experience in Philadelphia. Running through varying openings and underpasses across the racecourse gave way to varying light conditions, and I was especially mindful of my pace with the hopes of setting a new PR. The tracked metrics were always within view, which allowed me to maintain a solid cadence en route to the finish line.
What's Less Than Ideal About the Engo 2 Sunglasses?
The sunglasses can fall out of place, especially during longer, intense sessions.
Wearing the Engo 2s isn't a cumbersome ordeal and I never noticed the HUD display module across my nose. I do think the brand hit it out of the park when it comes to packing so much tech into these lightweight frames. That is, if you can keep them in place across your dome.
The arms of the Engo 2 frames don't feature an aggressive bend to them, which limits how secure they are while running. There is some grippy rubber at the ends, but it doesn't have as much tack or stability as some of my other favorite running sunglasses. I particularly noticed the slipping and jostling when my mileage began to surpass the four-mile mark; it was here when sweat began to develop and I spent a handful of strides sliding the frames back into position. I would recommend pairing the Engo 2s with a sunglasses strap (which, thankfully, Engo includes in the base packaging) for premier stability at the back of your crown.
Navigational support is only limited to Suunto users.
The one feature I would have loved to test would be the navigation feature, but unfortunately, this service is only available to athletes wearing Suunto running watches. According to other reviews, the feature gives you a countdown and directional guidance when running along a pre-planned route, so there's no huge developments or breakthroughs that would help you navigate through an unknown roadway. Still, I would have appreciated it if other athletes not donning Suunto wearables could partake in this function — it would make early morning runs when your brain is still a little foggy much more bearable.
While I didn't have a problem using the navigation services across my Apple Watch or Garmin, it would have made pacing easier had I just been able to look at the corner of my lens to see when my next turn was, rather than relying on the vibration sensor on my wrist.
Engo 2 Eyewear: The Verdict
After running with these sunglasses for multiple weeks, I can easily say the Engo 2s are one of my favorite running accessories to launch this year. You don't realize how convenient a heads-up display is until you've tried it, and now that I've become used to it, it's hard to imagine just how many times I altered my pace for brief moments to check my wrist for data purposes before.
The Engo 2s are available online for roughly $330 in both standard and large shield silhouettes. Is the tech worthwhile for every athlete? I'll admit, it may be overkill for the average weekend warrior. But for the true data hounds or those looking to mine out the absolute best when it comes to training, it's clear to see how these shades can help you achieve your fitness goals.