Austin-based ROKA makes sports sunglasses that don’t look like sports sunglasses. Pam LeBlanc photo

I love getting familiar with Austin born and bred products, and for the last two weeks I’ve been testing sunglasses made by ROKA.

Two former swimmers from Stanford University, who later moved to Austin, started by building a better triathlon wetsuit, added other triathlon gear, and in 2016 expanded into sunglasses, too.

Two things: One, most ROKA sunglasses don’t look like sports sunglasses, which one company official aptly described to me as “a spaceship wrapped around your face.” A few models keep that sleek, wraparound look, but ROKA is probably best known for its performance aviators.

They may look like regular aviators, but they’re lighter and sweat proof. Pam LeBlanc photo

I nabbed a fleet of eyewear to test. One pair looks a lot like the Maui Jims I already own – sort of Wayfarerish and blocky. Another pair looks a lot like the Nike running glasses I’ve been wearing for paddling, a more spaceship style. My favorites, though, are the roundish, hornrimmed Oslo model, which look like street glasses but act like sports glasses.

They’re all lightweight, with soft arms that don’t over squeeze your temples even after five hours of paddling. Even sweat can’t make them slide down your nose.

Sigh, ROKA also makes these ugly shades that look like a spaceship landed on your face. Pam LeBlanc photo

ROKA sells its gear online, but has opened a pop-up shop this spring at 408 W. Second Street. (They even sell an Austin collection and a Barton collection.)

Want to go for a run with the folks from ROKA?

Every Wednesday through May, representatives from ROKA, The Trail Foundation, FitJoy and Waterloo host a free weekly run.

Meet at 6:30 p.m. for the run, followed by snacks and drinks afterward at the store. For every sunglass purchase made, ROKA will donate $10 to The Trail Foundation. Sign up at

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