Gunnar Humboldt Review - Traditional and Classy 34534

Gunnar Humboldt Review – Traditional and Classy

Earlier this year GUNNAR Optiks surprised players by announcing the Arbor collection. These two frames, with Groot joining shortly after, were a welcome step towards a more fashion focused direction. This is something they continued with the newly announced Strata collection, and will likely keep going as the year progresses. While Humboldt, and Muir allow people an eco-friendly alternative to traditional glasses, their most exciting aspect is the addition of Clear Pro 20. This lens is the fruit following years of effort to deliver a lens capable of blocking blue light, with the hopes of delivering “true color rendition.” Given the bold claims, do they meet expectations, or do they fall short?

Prescription Experience 

Prior to talking about the glasses themselves, I want to cover on the prescription aspect since it won’t apply to everyone. Before I was able to get either pair of glasses I had to submit a current prescription. It was nice to see them verify it was current since the last time I bought glasses they didn’t even verify I had a prescription. They also requested I download a mobile app to measure my head/pupil distance. It took about 20 seconds, gave them the numbers, and they did the rest.

Gunnar Humboldt Review - Traditional and Classy 3453

Since my last eye exam my prescription changed, so I can’t compare these glasses to another pair I obtained elsewhere. However, I can say with absolute certainty they’re a lot clearer than my old pair. For this reason I would personally trust them to make lens with the right prescription.

I will also note the glasses featured in this review are not prescription.


For those unfamiliar, Gunnar recently changed their packaging to reflect the companies new direction. Instead of having a simple white box with the company name, they feature a grayish blue and white box that matches the recently revamped website.

Inside is the glasses case, which contains everything included with Humboldt.


I have mixed feelings about the Arbor Collection’s “eco-friendly” case. While the inside features the same soft protective material I’ve come to expect from Gunnar, the outside is made of cardboard, or similar material. My concern with this is longevity, and the potential for accidental damage.

It’s simply not the type of case I would want on my person in the event it rains/snows, or a wide variety of situations. All it takes is a single slip up and it goes from pristine to damaged. This is less of a concern with their usual cases, as they have a silicon/rubber coating that protects them. It’s an annoying situation given a second case defeats the cohesive experience that is great to see in sustainable products.

That said, I appreciate the thought that went into every aspect, including said case. This starts with obvious things, like the aforementioned cardboard exterior, to subtle touches like the case being noticeably thinner than their usual square holders.

With Humboldt I also received a cleaning cloth, and pouch in Gunnar’s revamped style. Neither are as fun as the various collaborations, though they’re perfect for any fashion forward person. Both are also listed as being “Eco-friendly,” though I am not sure what, if anything, is different about this version.


Like other glasses in the Arbor Collection, these are made out of wood. Specifically, “sustainably harvested ebony wood material laminated to carbon fiber.” Gunnar went so far as to even name them after Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

The dark shade gives them a delightfully retro vibe that is essentially free of branding. Outside of a barely visible stamp on the side, and the laser etched Gunnar logo on the lens, they just look like wood frames.

I also want to touch on the wood itself. I actually appreciate the design has some slight imperfections. These range from small nicks and divots, to minor scratches that are only visible in the light. I like this because it shows these are real pieces of wood, and there is more of an emphasis on the environmental side. Too often it’s a premium for the sake of it, which is not the impression I was left with.


Since these are made out of wood there are a number of unique considerations. The first is there are more concerns about longevity. I know how sweat will impact plastic, though I can’t comment on ebony. I imagine it will be fine provided proper hygiene practices are followed. However, much like the case, I fully understand this being another concern someone might not want to deal with.

Such a Classy Shade

The other is how wood feels. As someone sensitive to touch, I did not consider how this natural texture would feel against my skin. At first I didn’t care for the smooth feeling. Contrary to plastic, it’s a sensation that is always present. Gunnar attempted to mitigate this by smoothing the points that touch one’s skin, yet it’s still present on some level.

Surprisingly, I found myself preferring the natural feel after an hour or so of use. There is something soothing about it. The only thing that persisted was the annoying sound it made when sliding against my hair. Due to the texture there is more of a scraping sound compared to my usual plastic frames.


Let me start by saying this review is simply based off my personal experiences with Clear 35, Clear Pro 20, Amber 65, Amber Max 98, and a pair of Blokz I obtained years before. I can also confirm I’ve worn a pair of Gunnar glasses every day for over a year now.

Gunnar Tokidoki Year of the Dragon Glasses Review - Practical, and Stylish 34534

The supposed benefits of blue light blocking glasses include reduced digital eye strain, and better sleep-wake cycle. These root issues can also cause additional problems, such as headaches. 

While I strongly believe these helped with my frequent headaches, I saw no additional benefits with any Gunnar lens. Even after going down to Clear Pro 20, my sleep-wake cycle didn’t feel any different. In fact, I’d be legitimately surprised if there was any difference compared to Clear 35, even if I took detailed logs.

Lens Differences

As mentioned in the opening, the Arbor collection stands out by adding Clear Pro 20 lens to the line up. These are supposed to deliver some blue light protection without adding some kind of tint. Generally speaking, as the tint increases, so does the effectiveness. I can also say it’s obvious Clear 35 has a slight amber, even if pictures don’t convey this.

After using Clear Pro 20 for about a month I can say I believe the claim that these do not add a tint. I tried looking at them side by side, swapping between Clear 35, and asking other people with the consensus being they accomplish this goal. Now, to be clear, I would not say my ability to spot color imperfection is anywhere near the level of a professional these lens were designed for, but I genuinely believe they’re worth a try if this is a concern.

Clear Pro 20 vs Normal

The pictures above give an idea of how these lens perform next to our white theme. Even after giving them a rather hard look I just don’t see any perceptible difference.

In the event you prefer a different lens shade you can see the differences below. Please note, Clear Pro 20 is not currently available with prescription at the moment, and will be Clear 35 instead.

Gunnar Vertex (Clear 35) vs Normal

Having worn Clear 35 for a months, it’s surprising how quick the adjustment period is. How much of a difference it makes ultimately depends on what you’re looking at. The orange deskmat that can be seen in the photos looks identical. When fixating on a black object, such as my keyboard, there is a slight difference. The only thing that is immediately noticeable is a white background, which gains some hints of yellow. 

Gunnar Vertex (Clear 35) vs Gunnar Vertex (Amber 65)

The difference between Clear 35, and Amber 65 is less pronounced than one might think. Instead of being a radically different look, all the aforementioned things are simply more apparent. It just isn’t so much a white object looks yellow, similar to an aged photo.

Gunnar Vertex (Clear 35) vs Gunnar Vertex (Amber Max 98)

Amber Max 98 is a lot more pronounced. Not only does it take a minute to get used to, it radically changes how things look. Worth considering if blue light blocking is the most important thing to you.

Gunnar Vertex (Clear 35) vs Zenni Blokz

Overall, there isn’t a huge difference between these two. The only advantage Blokz has over Gunnar is a lack of tint, or at least one notice.


Reflections have been something of a battle with Gunnar glasses. The different tints, and elements to each lens result in varying amounts of reflection, which can be a big deal depending on the situation.

Consistently Amber has been the best at it, followed by Clear, and finally Amber Max. I would not say Clear Pro is able to beat Amber, but I am happy to say it’s a solid second in regard to reflections.

Gunnar Humboldt Review Verdict

I genuinely like most things about the Arbor collection. They’re nice looking frames, commit fully to sustainability, and look really nice. I am also pleased with Clear Pro 20. In my personal opinion it accomplishes what it sets out to do, something that should be massive for professionals that can’t compromise on color accuracy. So if that was the point of contention I genuinely believe these are worth giving a go.

Editor’s Note: Gunnar Groot Marvel Edition glasses were provided to us for review purposes. Since certain elements are unchanged from our other Gunnar reviews, they were reused here. The comparison pictures of other lens use the Vertex frame for consistency.

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