I’ve been using Chums eyewear retainers for years to keep glasses safely attached and comfortably steady, so I was very happy to test their Cotton Original retainer and Switchback silicone retainer.

Confession: I’m functionally blind without contacts or glasses, so I have a lot of glasses–readers, prescription eyewear, sunglasses for when my contacts are in, and loaner sunglasses for family and friends. It’s just not possible to have too many Chums. I need to have the right glasses with me for every situation.

 The universe remains a blurry unknown without my glasses or contacts, and sadly, neither surgery nor recombinant DNA are options in my case. Large SUV piloted by a teenage-texting driver that’s wobbling in and out of the bike lane at high speed? Without prescription eyewear correcting my vision or sunglasses protecting my contacts from wind or dust, I have no clue what’s heading my way. Even with good  eyewear, bumps that make my head shake, rattle, or roll can make my glasses move around. How cool that a secure, comfortable retention strap, the Switchback, keeps my glasses stable!

Now that I’m nowhere near as young as I used to be, reading small fonts while receiving new shipments at my bike shop requires the dreaded old guy readers. Not good when the readers disappear during the daily workflow or fall onto the shop floor while I’m trying to identify thread pitches or espresso machine buttons. Grubbing around on my hands and knees, looking for something small that I can’t see no matter how close I get,  good indication that I might need some eyewear retainers before Pixar snaps me up for the lead in the Mr. Magoo remake. Having Chums Cotton Original retainer allows me to keep my reading glasses handy all day long. Having a variety of Chums retainers also helps me organize my many pairs of glasses when they’re not on my head. They all hang on hooks by my front door, securely anchored with their respective Chums retainers keeping them organized and safe from dropping or scratching until I need them.

The one-piece Switchback silicone retainer comes in eleven colors, weighs next to nothing, absorbs nothing, has a bit of stretch, and is hypoallergenic. It fits glasses with wire-thin temples and with extra thick temples because there are two separate ports on the ends of the retainer. Skinny frames fit snugly in the upper port; medium and thick frames fit into the lower port.  I’d recommend the Switchbacks for any hardcore action sports with lots of sweat, mud, or icy cold conditions.

I also found the Switchback silicone retainer  very comfortable hanging onto my readers while working on the computer or doing fine detail work in the bike shop. For most activities, sticking the Switchback over the ends of the temples worked fine. I found excellent comfort and retention in the ultra-secure position as well (i.e., end tab slots rotated upside down and pushed all the way to the hinge points on the frame) kept the lenses securely centered with minimal bouncing on the roughest single track with no noticeable pressure under my bike helmet.

Chum’s Original Cotton retainers come in 52 colors and 12 mixed color variations. Made of two 20” cotton tubes flat-lock stitched into a small nylon tab/label in the center, the cotton covered, rubber grippers on the open ends stretch over small and medium sized temples easily, making a durable, functionally stylish, secure leash. I really like the smooth adjustable slider: on the fly, one-handed pulls make it easy to hang them around my neck or over the rear view mirror in the car so the razzle-dazzle sunglasses don’t get crushed or scratched and are readily at hand.

I like that the minimal thickness and cotton covering don’t create a pressure point behind my ear. If they have any drawbacks– the Original Chums can absorb sweat during bouts of activity–if an arctic low rolls through during xc ski workouts–that sweat can freeze and make little tubes of ice behind my ears. Securing the Chums outside my ski hat solves that issue pretty easily. Another caution: tossing the Original Chums into a dryer on high heat can melt the enclosed rubber ends and degrade the Chums cotton material prematurely. Hand washing and hang drying is recommended–the cotton Chums dry fast.

Bottom Line: I love running, biking, boating, skiing, and getting up for breakfast without breaking a toe. If my glasses bounce, aren’t where I left them, or worse, get scratched or break from falling off my face that’s not a fashion inconvenience–it’s Ragnarok. Chums are made in the U.S.A., and come in a range of colors, styles, and comfortable fits.

Manufacturer’s Site: Chums

buy-now $6.99 (Original Cotton), click to shop at Amazon. $9.99 for Switchback Silicone Retainer (click here to shop).