Q:

Who Makes the Best Multi-Sport Glasses?

I'm looking for a pair of shades that can go from the bike to the run, but won't make me look like a dork. What do you recommend?

Jun 30, 2013
Outside
Outside Magazine

Upgrade your shades.    Photo:Courtesy Smith Optics

A:

We love the mental variety and cross-training benefits of participating in a host of sports—the accompanying glut of gear, not so much. So we’re always thrilled for equipment that can multitask, like sunglasses. And few glasses are more versatile than the new Smith Overdrive.

Before a pair of shades can be good at a handful of sports, they have to excel at the basics: They have to block all UV, the optics must be crisp and distortion-free, and they can’t fog during high-intensity activity. And—as important as anything—they need to look great. The Overdrives meet all those criteria and then some.

The nylon frames feature two finishes—matte on the temples and tops of the lenses and polished underneath—which gives a distinctive (but not Cyborg) look. The polished metal Smith logo provides a touch more classy contrast.

Rather than just fold out, the arms actually snap into the open position for a super solid, quality feel. The two-inch-long rubber gripper on the temple tips, combined with the three-position adjustable rubber nosepiece, kept the glasses snug even on the most jangly mountain bike trails. And though the frames have no apparent vents, we’ve experienced zero fogging in everything from the desert blaze to muggy Midwest scorchers.

As for optical quality, the polycarbonate lenses are sharp and have zero distortion. Smith says they are cut thinner in the middle and thicker around the edges for clarity, and while they aren’t, perhaps, as sharp as a Zeiss lens or the like, they are perfectly clear. Lens shape is rounded and slightly oversized for full protection, but not so big as to look buggy on average-size faces.

The swept-back wrap kept wind and grit out of our eyes, even on blustery, dusty days on the open plains around Santa Fe. Meanwhile, the hydrophilic lens coating had water beading from our field of view one rainy morning in Minnesota, and when we did have to clean off the mud and water, it mopped up neatly with a few passes of a lens cloth.

What really sets these glases apart for multi-sport use, however, is the interchangeable lens feature. The Overdrives are the next iteration of the frameless PivLock models, which we absolutely love, and the lenses switch with the same action: simply pivot the temples at the top of the frames, and a hinge opens up and frees the lens. It’s not quite as elegant as the frameless PivLock design, but the switch is still plenty easy.

And since the Overdrive is available with a polarized lens option (and the PivLocks are not), these are the better all-around choice for those looking to do everything from surfing to running.

The Overdrive sells in six color options, with some whites, greens, and oranges for your inner hipster. But we chose the black-on-black option for versatility (the styling is more Easy Rider than Terminator, so you won’t feel like a Sporto nerd if you wear them to the bar).

All models ship with three lenses. Ours included polarized gray, which is plenty of protection on bright days on the water; rose-colored Ignitor, for overcast and low-light conditions; and clear, which were optimal for stormy evenings and after-dark rides.

You can buy additional tints and replacement lenses for between $20 and $60, so your next header won’t necessitate another $200 investment. and as with all Smiths, the frames come with a lifetime warranty. The Overdrive costs $240 and hit stores in August.

Filed To: Gear Guy

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