The Gear Junkie Scoop: Smith Optics PivLock V90s

May 20, 2010
Outside Magazine

Smith v90
By Stephen Regenold

Marketed as "the Swiss Army knife of prescription eyewear," Smith Optics' PivLock V90 glasses offer a new type of system for anyone in need of vision enhancement in the outdoors. In short, glasses wearers can purchase a prescription lens insert that snaps into an array of V90 sunglass lenses.

I tested a pair for the past few months in a variety of settings while running, biking and climbing. The big, shield-style lens offers ample coverage. The Smith "glass" -- a thin polymer called Carbonic -- comes in various tints. It is strong, scratch resistant, and rated to block 100 percent of bad UV light.

The PivLock V90s are a frameless sunglasses design. In all, there are just five total pieces -- the lens, two bows, a nosepiece, and the prescription insert, which is called the ODS. All these parts snap together to form a solid, curved shield that spans temple to temple over your eyes. 

The prescription insert is unique. The ODS and the lens both snap onto the glasses' nosepiece. The result is a double-decker design where one set of lenses sits tightly behind the other.

My prescription setup was sharp visually across a range of light conditions. The glasses were comfortable no matter the activity. In action, they hugged my face and never moved.

Price for this setup varies depending on your eye doctor and what the ODS prescription insert ends up costing. The V90 without a prescription insert retails for $139, and this includes a case and three lenses. The prescription ODS will likely cost more than $200. In total, a pair of prescription PivLock V90s can cost $370 or more.

Smith v90 glasses

This is a premium buy, to be sure. Is it worth the cash? While they are solid sports glasses, the V90s are not without flaw. 

My main concern with the "double-decker" design is that moisture or fog can get between the lenses. This happened a surprisingly few times in my tests, even in rain. But when a drop did get between the two lens pieces, I had to take them apart to wipe it off. On the bike, this means stopping and getting off, as disassembly is a two-handed procedure. 

Another concern: After about a month of wear, the ODS had rubbed small scratches inside the lens shield. The rubbing -- and the markings from the rub -- occurs where the edge of the ODS touches the inside of the lens shield. It is not visible with the glasses on if you have the ODS installed. But if you wear the V90s without the ODS inserted, the marks may be present at the edge of your vision.

Overall, the V90s have served me well for a range of activities this year. My mentioned gripes, though not minor concerns, did not affect performance in most scenarios. Undoubtedly, the price for the V90s is high, but then so are most prescription sports glasses from other companies. 

Vision through the V90s is clear and clean. The glasses' design is perfect for biking and other aerobic sports. If you need top-notch Rx sports glasses, I would recommend investigating Smith's unique new option.

--Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of

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