Tested to Mongolia and back in the world's toughest rally
Last year we sent a few of our sunnies off on the most epic adventure – The Mongol Rally. The greatest motoring adventure on the planet. 10,000 miles of chaos across mountains, deserts, dirt-tracks and jungle, from Prague to Mongolia. There’s no backup. There’s no set route. There’s no guarantee you’ll make it to the end. It’s just you, your tiny vehicle and planet-earth sized bucket of adventure.
Matthew and Emily Malone took a break from their everyday lives and embarked on this mind-blowing journey with no idea of what to expect - with their trusty (tiny) van Buzzy. We followed their progress and caught up with them afterwards, eager to find out how our sunglasses had done, or if they'd even survived?
Why did you want to take Bird sunglasses on this adventure?
"This is the first time that we have done something on such a scale, and partnering ourselves with the right gear was so important to us. Our partnership with Bird was one of those glorious things in life that feels like it is just meant to be, where the stars align and it just feels right. Bird ticked every box. Sustainable, ethical, fashionable, lightweight AND already backing the charity we were fundraising for (SolarAid)."
Buzzy the van in Kyrgyzstan
What did you like best about our sunnies?
"Oh my goodness where to start… I’m cursed with the kind of face that just doesn’t look good with sunnies. It’s a never ending battle to find something that doesn’t make me look ridiculous. When Bird sent us a little selection of sunnies to choose from I couldn’t believe it when not one, but two pairs suited me down to the ground. Apart from loving the look of my new sunnies they were unbelievably lightweight and unobtrusive. It wasn’t just that they were comfy - you could honestly forget that you were wearing them."
Matt tells us:
"I was really happy when Bird Sunglasses wanted to partner up with us. We really like the classic styling of all the sunglasses, with each design having an individual twist. Details like the feather engraving really set the sunglasses apart from the crowd. I went for the Jay with Blue Tint along with the Apollo Aviator in silver, both based on an iconic style, yet set far apart from the plastic masses."
How did the glasses cope on such a long and difficult journey?
"Anyone who knows me knows that handing me a pair of sunglasses is basically signing them over for destruction testing. Full transparency - I actually lost one of my pairs of sunglasses while we were in Iran, which I was absolutely heartbroken about. Until that point they had done very, very well, with not a single mark on them. The remaining pair took a double beating, as from that point on I basically never took them off. They were either on my face or on my head pretty much every waking hour for the next 5 weeks, sometimes even during sleeping hours...
That said, they still look pretty damn good. I’ll always remember the time I nearly gave myself a black eye with the camera, but was saved by my lovely sunnies. The scratch on the corner of the arm is from the time in Bulgaria that a toilet paper dispenser mounted ridiculously high up fell off the wall and smacked me on the head. All said and done though, Bird sunglasses are definitely robust. I gave them my worst for over 7 weeks and they came out triumphant."
Watching the sunset in Kazakhstan
"I tend to look after my sunglasses much better than Emily. Like Emily’s, they were worn either on my face or on my head for every waking moment of the Mongol Rally. In fact, you will struggle to find a photo or video of my without me wearing them. They travelled from the UK to the finish line in Ulan Ude in Siberian Russia and back home again, a trip totalling just over 16,000 miles and 23 countries.
I’m reasonably tall, so the main issue my glasses had were when I hit my head on low doorways or on the door of the van, and of course they had the odd drop! They coped perfectly, and I don’t think either of my sunglasses have a scratch!! I treated the Jay sunglasses as the everyday sunglasses, and the Apollo Aviator as the smart sunglasses. The polarised lenses really do make a difference when driving and the sprung hinges were a god send. At one point driving through Kazakhstan I forgot I was wearing my Jay sunglasses and stuck my head out of the window to check the rear tire while driving reasonably fast! If it wasn’t for the sprung hinges of the sunglasses keeping them comfortably secure against my head, the wind would have blown them off instantly."
What's your next adventure?
"I want to conquer the world. Although as is often the case, real life and lack of money may get in the way of that! I travelled through Finland on my way back from the Mongol Rally finish line and really want to go back there with Emily and Buzzy. It’s a truly beautiful country with some amazing wildlife and so close to home. I also quite fancy driving down to through Europe to North Africa at some point. Everyone thinks that to travel the world by car it has to be some beefed up 4x4 with winches and snorkels. I don’t believe that’s true at all and I like the idea showing the world that Buzzy can go anywhere!"
"We’re still trying to decide… there’s a new adventure that the Adventurists, the organisers of the Mongol Rally have just launched that I quite fancy. It’s a race through Romania on Monkey Bikes (tiny little 50cc motorbikes) on some of the most epic roads in Europe. It’s either that or do some more adventuring, just the two of us, in Buzzy our Mongol Rally car. Lots of people scrapped their cars after the rally, but there was no way we were going to part with Buzzy. He needs a lot of love and TLC before running up any more miles, but we’d love to go exploring around Scandinavia in him. Who knows, maybe we can even go and visit one of the Solar Aid projects one day."
Follow Matt and Emily's complete adventure here: https://www.instagram.com/team_beesolar/
"I gave them my worst for over 7 weeks and they came out triumphant"