Monday, February 17, 2014

Gear Review: Smith Blackout Lenses for Sunglasses and Goggles

Anyone who's outside a lot knows that eye protection is important.  They also know that it's inherently difficult to figure out even through the course of a single day.  Light conditions, vision needs, humidity, and other factors change almost constantly through the day.  Add in weather and seasonal differentiations in sunlight and it gets really complicated.  But for most of us, you know what feels right.

For me, the lens that feels right the most often is a brown polarized lens.  I've used many brands and for the last year, I've used several variants under Smith Optic's pro discount program.   However, on open water or on a snowy landscape, man, brown lenses just do not cut enough glare.  I started having eye strain headaches while surfing at age 22, so I definitely can tell when my eyes aren't getting enough protection.  Enter the Smith Blackout Lens.

Yup.  Those are dark.  It's impossible to see through them from the outside-in, so when I received my pair of Terrace Blackouts, I thought they would be different.   They are.  The Blackout isn't just a dark lens, it's a lens that offers a very unique filter across the color spectrum, blocking the brightest visible wavelengths like orange and yellow.

My first several outings with my Blackout lenses were during fishing outings.  I fished open water on mid-day several times with the glasses on and my eyes were pretty relaxed.  The lens does not provide the kind of anti-UV glare blockage that results in being able to see into the water the way polarized lenses do, but they did effectively remove most of the glare bouncing off the water.


I then, accidentally, put these glasses around my neck for a morning fishing trip.  In an environment where little visible/colored light is present, these glasses with this lens were pretty darn annoying.  I felt like I was in the dark all the time.  To verify this, I've worn them in the mornings and evenings under cloud cover, and even highway driving mid-day with cloud cover.  In all cases, I got this feeling like I get when it's "Seattle Dark and Rainy" and you feel like no sunlight is making it to earth.

Fast forward several months into the first several snowstorms I've been in since buying these glasses.  Driving in snow is an absolutely perfect adaptation for this lens.  I also recently wore them goose hunting in a 500 acre, flat snow-covered field under a sunny January sky.  Total comfort.  The reflective rays from snow cover seem to be absolutely smacked down with this lens.

Overall grade:  A-.  Must be supplemented with other sunglasses/goggles for low light conditions
Price (Varies, $60-120): C.  This would be easier to swallow if I thought I could use them all the time.
Utility:  A+.  Provides comfort and effectiveness in very challenging extreme high-light environments

1 comment:

The Reverend Fowl ™ said...

Finally, a cool infographic that makes sense.