Ultimate peeper protectionâ€”for outside and in
Wiley X XL-1 Advanced
Wiley X is all about eye protection. All of the companyâ€™s sunglasses exceed the ANSI Z87-1 standard for high-velocity impacts, and many modelsâ€”including the XL-1 Advancedâ€”exceed the militaryâ€™s much more stringent standard for ballistic impacts. The XL-1s might look unremarkable, but besides offering protection against flying shrapnel, they come with an elastic strap and removable â€śultra foam gasketâ€ť that effectively turn the sunglasses into motorcycle goggles.
First, attach the elastic strap directly into holes in the XL-1â€™s arms. Now, insert the foam gasket (inset), which provides a form-fitting layer of padding between the frames and your face. Besides forming a seal to keep out sand, dust, and insects, the gasket/strap combo prevents aerodynamic lift from pushing the glasses off your nose at high speeds.
Like the Oakleys reviewed in this round-up, the XL-1s come with removable, light-adjustable lenses. And like the Oakley lenses, the Wiley X lenses donâ€™t turn very dark in harsh sunlight. Unlike the Oakley lenses, however, swapping the XL-1 lenses is a difficult maneuver that requires a leap of faith. You basically have to pop the lenses out of the frames with so much pressure, youâ€™ll think youâ€™re breaking the glasses.
At just $126 for light-adjustable lenses and $84 for regular gray lenses, the XL-1s provide high-tech eye protection for a great price. The light-adjustable lenses provide crystal-clear clarity, but I wish they turned darker, and werenâ€™t such a bitch to remove.
Sunglasses and goggles in a single system. Industry-leading impact protection. Nice price.
Vexing lens swapping. Blah aesthetics. Not Wiley Xâ€™s highest-tech foam gasket.
Gunnar Optiks Rocket Amber
The Rockets you see here may not be sunglasses, but their amber lenses do protect your eyesâ€”from the harsh lighting of computer displays and office lights. With help from Swiss material scientists, the Carl Zeiss R&D team, and the University of Arizona Optical Sciences Department (among other luminaries), Gunnar uses raw technology to squeeze the last iota of eyesight-preserving finesse from its â€śindoor glasses.â€ť
According to Gunnar, its amber lenses filter out the high end of the visual spectrum, reducing eyestrain under harsh fluorescent lights. The lenses also boast a small amount of focusing power, which â€średuces the flexing of ciliary muscles, allowing your muscles to work less.â€ť The frames themselves are designed to create, in effect, a micro-climate around your eyesâ€”â€śtrapping in humidity and blocking out evaporative air currentsâ€ť all in the name of increased comfort.
The technology does work. The amber lens tint definitely fosters a more soothing visual spectrum when staring at an LCD all day, but it took a while before I got used to the color shift. Getting use to the focusing power of the lenses took even longer. Still, many proven therapies donâ€™t â€śfeel rightâ€ť at first, and wearing indoor Gunnars is no different. Luckily, the Rocket frames are insanely lightweight and comfortable, and once you acclimate to the lenses, youâ€™ll appreciate the reduction in eyestrain.
Fantastic indoor eye protection. Amazingly lightweight. Stylish yet inexpensive.
Lens tint and focusing power requires acclimation.
Oakley Split Jacket
Before testing the Split Jackets, I was using Oakleyâ€™s Half Jackets during sports car track events, alternating between clear and dark lenses as the weather required. Offering solid impact protection against spraying gravel, the Half Jackets served me well. And then I bungled a lens swap, popping a precious piece of Black Iridium plastic into the engine bay of my car.
Indeed, most Oakley lens-changing technologies are delicate affairs that threaten to send your lenses popping around like tidily-winks, but the Split Jackets fix this with new â€śSwitchlockâ€ť technology (inset). Lift a nose pad, swing out the hinged frame bottom, remove your lens, and then reverse. Itâ€™s a simple, reliable system, and the easiest lens-changing system in Oakleyâ€™s vast line-up of frames.
The Split Jackets are Oakley-sturdy, with reassuring levels of flex. The optics themselves offer superb clarity, but we found the transition lenses in our test glasses to be too wimpy for harsh sunlight (hence the need for easy swapping to darker lenses). Impact protection meets ANSI Z87-1 but not military standards. The model you see here is skinned in Oakleyâ€™s Silver Ghost motif, which, along with the special transition lenses, explains the ungodly $260 price tag. Less-showy Split Jacket variations ring in at $200. We say go for the core technology, and forget the high-gloss bling.
Easiest lens-changing system available. Great optics and impact protection. Sturdy build.
Crazy expensive. Flamboyant aesthetics.