South Africans know that one doesn’t have to wait for summer before sunglasses become a must-have accessory for heading outdoors.
Those that fish, cycle, run, or take part in the multitude of outdoor activities also know that a quality pair of sunglasses can elevate their performance and eye protection.
With this said, it’s important to purchase a pair of sunglasses that do their job – protect the eyes and provide a competitive advantage (think glare-free vision).
This is where Smith Optics sunglasses come in.
Smith has been in the eyewear game for a good number of years.
Things started way back in 1965 when Dr. Bob Smith started tinkering with goggle prototypes in his garage and selling them out of his van on weekend ski trips.
These days, Smith Optics is known to be just the company to turn to for every type of outdoor activity from skiing on the slopes to fly-fishing your local river.
A balanced blend of lifestyle and performance, their sunglasses are versatile and able to keep up with all the responsibilities and recreation each day holds.
So whether you’re new to the Smith family or a diehard fan, keep reading to discover some of the best of what Smith Optics has to offer.
Smith Optics has made some bold claims about a polarized lens technology they released back in 2013.
In their own words:
“Quite simply, ChromaPop Lenses are the most advanced polarized lenses in the world… By blocking color wave intersections as they pass through the lens, ChromaPop can eliminate color confusion, so your brain is recognizing truer color, faster.
ChromaPop optimizes color and increases clarity, enabling you to see the outside world with an unparalleled level of vibrancy.”
While this may sound like standard sales-copy, those that have worn the ChromaPop equipped lenses have noted greater colour contrast.
For example, one fly-fisherman noted that spotting fish was noticeably easier through the ChromaPop lenses, especially the red coloration on cutthroat trout.
Smith sunglasses equipped with this special lens can be quite a bit more expensive and it can be hard to give a sweeping statement of, “This is for everyone.”
But, if you are someone who has trouble with contrast or gets eye fatigue, then you should consider going for the ChromaPop version when you’re buying a pair of Smith Optics sunglasses.
Smith MAG Technology
This is another useful feature in many sunglasses of the Smith arsenal. It’s a mechanism that allows for easy, and fast, lens swapping.
This could play a competitive advantage (if you’re a serious sportsman competing in rapidly changing light conditions) or just serve as a “nice-to-have” to help you adapt your vision from your early morning, cloudy fishing spot to your sunny, late afternoon hike back to your car.
Strong and weatherproof magnets automatically guide the lens into the anchored position.
This can make all the difference if you’ve only got one hand spare or your hands are a bit shaky during a cold day out.
Not all the sunglasses in the Smith range come equipped with this but if you’re looking to ensure you snap up a pair with MAG tech, check out the Smith Optics Attack sunglasses.
Smith Optics Lens Guide
There are plenty of lens options available. Choosing a lens can make the difference between seeing that fish (sneaky pothole, shaded boulder) or not.
Let’s take a look at what’s on offer and the ideal use-case for each.
1. Polarized Brown Lens
The polarized brown lens absorbs stray blue light and sharpens visual acuity while reducing reflected glare.
They have a visible light transmission of 15% and provide 100% protection from harmful UVA, UVB, and UVC.
These don’t provide quite the same color pop or level of clarity compared to the ChromaPop version but provide a warmer hue compared to other lighter lens tints.
Darker lenses like these are great for being outside in direct, mid-day sun.
Even when the sun is briefly blocked by clouds, you won’t find yourself needing to take them off.
This being said, the polarized brown lens makes for an excellent choice for long-distance driving as harsh road glare is easier to deal with leading to lower fatigue.
2. Polarized Gray/Green
The polarized gray/green lens reduces glare and sharpens detail.
Furthermore, it transmits colours the same way in which our eyes interpret colours. The result is natural vision – true colours that are easy on the eye.
These lenses, along with the rest of the lenses listed here, provide 100% UVA, UVB, and UVC protection.
The visible light transmission (VLT) of these lenses is the same as the polarized brown lenses coming in at 15% transmission.
These lenses have a cooler tint and are fantastic for outdoor activities like running, fishing, rafting, and biking.
They’re known to provide better contrast in shadowy conditions like forests but may result in slightly more noticeable eye fatigue compared to the upcoming polarized gray lens.
3. Polarized Gray
Smith’s description of the polarized gray lens is quite similar to that of the polarized gray/green lens:
“...reduces reflected glare and sharpens detail in true colours.“
This lens does have something extra though. It comes with an anti-reflective mirror coating that eliminates back glare.
Anyone who has become annoyed with a reflection of their eye-ball on the inside of the lens will understand the utility of the anti-reflective coating.
Furthermore, a hydroleophobic coating repels water, dirt, and grease.
Colour-wise, this lens is a more bluish tint compared to the polarized brown lens. If you’re looking for a versatile lens for partly cloudy days, or when you’ll be in and out of the shade, then this lens is the one for you.
This becomes even easier to recommend if you’re not a fan of the yellowish, copper tint of a brown lens.
4. Blackout (Non-polarized)
The dark gray tint of this lens cuts glare and reduces eye fatigue in very bright, exposed sunny conditions.
They have a VLT of 10% meaning they’re letting in less light. In other words, this lens is fantastic for a day out on a snowy, sunny mountain, or when hanging out on the beach.
A bonus of purchasing this lens, due to the lack of polarization, is that it is the most affordable lens from those listed here.
So, if you’re on a budget but are still on the market for a good pair of sunglasses providing some real quality eye protection for bright days, grab yourself a pair of Smith Optics sunglasses with the blackout lens.
5. ChromaPop Polarized Brown Lens
The ChromaPop Polarized Brown lens experience is one of crisp optical clarity with enhanced contrast and amplified colorations.
Like the blackout lens, it has an anti-reflective mirror coating and a hydroleophobic coating.
This lens makes scenes feel warmer and overall provide an excellent visual experience.
The tint of the lens is nearly identical to that of the normal polarized brown lens however Smith does list the two as having VLTs of 14% and 15% respectively.
Smith Optics states that this lens is perfect for the beach at sea level or along the shores of an alpine lake.
As mentioned earlier, you should spend the extra money and go for a pair of ChromaPop lenses if you are someone who suffers from eye fatigue or has trouble with contrast.
Pros of Smith Optics Sunglasses
- ChromaPop Lens Technology
- MAG Technology
- Wide variety of frame design styles (Metal, Mixed, Acetate, Performance, Evolve, Core
- Diverse lens selection for specific environments
- Adjustable nose pads
Should You Buy Smith Optics Sunglasses?
Smith Optics has been building eyewear products for years.
Their products range from skiing goggles and helmets to fishing sunglasses.
These guys know what they’re doing when it comes to providing the correct kind of vision and continually make it their mission to provide you with a look and feel that suits your cloudy lakeside, or sunny, snowy mountain-top.
Their sunglasses come with several useful features such as the MAG technology which elevate their ease-of-use when you’re out and about.
As far as aesthetics go, you’re bound to find a pair that suits your taste.
Their price point sits in the middle-to-high tier of the market with a quality build and features to match.
However, you can get yourself a seriously good pair of Smith sunglasses on the budget side of things if you are so inclined (or restricted).
Ultimately, you probably just want to put on a pair of quality sunglasses and forget about them while you go about your outdoor activities.
With a pair of sunglasses from Smith Optics, you can do just that and rest assured in the functional, comprehensive vision and eye protection you’ll be provided.
Where to Buy Smith Optics sunglasses in South Africa?
Although Smith Optics sunglasses are available in several brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, Smith doesn’t have a store finder in South Africa, making it hard to find a specific store that carries it.
The good news is that Smith has online-based authorized resellers that sell authentic Smith sunglasses.