Published on September 14th, 2011 | by Greg0
Oakley’s Fast Jacket Shades: Change Lenses On The Fly
Sunglasses have firmly entered the fashion world. From fairly humble beginnings, they now come in so many colors and styles that it can make your head spin. Which makes sense, as the vast bulk of lenswear models offer similar protection against the sun (polarization is great, as it definitely offers 100% UVA and UVB defense, but so do many others that are not polarized). And polarization offers other benefits against glare, though come with a trade-off that many LCD screens are more difficult to read. Durability matters, as does weight, but it’s now style and performance that can make or break a brand.
Oakley knows this well. Besides their portfolio of over 600 patents, they are known for their research and development, along with a fairly distinctive and consistent look and feel. Advances in materials are obvious in a variety products, but so many sunglasses and their lenses seem to be made from the same plastics as always. Oakley’s Fast Jackets are different, in a few ways, and though they certainly aren’t right for everyone, they are some pretty nifty shades.
Included are both a semi-hard case and a smaller drawstring bag, as well as some nice extras like extra nosepads and cleaning accessories. Even the box is cool, though the case itself is a bit annoying.We had a number of people try these on, and they are definitely on the larger size- folks with smaller faces should look at another style, as they only come in one size. Several colors are available though, including blue and white, though ours were the polished black. And while women may look great in them, they were intended for men. The fit is solid, a bit loose around the temple and a bit tight around the ears, and ours felt slightly off-balance at first (they didn’t lay flat on a level surface). With some adjustments though, we took them out for some activities- a day on a boat, biking, and at the beach.
The most important feature is their interchangeable lens system. For many people, it might not be a big deal at first, but once you get used to it the system is pretty nifty. Two sets of lenses were included, for bright conditions as well as lower lighting- and we found the twist-and-snap release and lock they call “Switchlock”to be simple once you get the trick. The magic isn’t so much in the idea- we’ve seen others like it before- but this one was impressive due to the engineering. The lenses, once locked into place, were extremely tight and felt indistinguishable from solid bonded frames. One definite worry was that we would smudge the lenses during changing, as there is no other way to handle them but by touching the lens directly. But thanks to their hydrophobic coating, our sweaty fingers left nary a mark or streak, which was the most surprising thing of all. The lenses themselves were excellent- solid optics with no distortion, and with plenty of visibility to the sides and bottom. And though they aren’t ultralightweight, they aren’t heavy either for the size. A variety of lenses are available, all polycarbonate, and prescription version are also possible. At $220 MSRP but available for less online, these aren’t inexpensive, but are comfortable, durable, and offer a fun conversation starter- and have the bonus of being sort of two different sunglasses in one.