I tried a model outfitted with photochromatic copper-colored lenses that had a slight silver flash mirror coating. I realize that's a lot of technical jargon, so let me break it down for you. The lenses were constructed of precision-ground glass that adjusts the density of the lens tint according to the ambient light conditions. The more glare, the darker the lens tint. On days with minimal sunshine or glare, the lenses didn't get as dark. It's a feature that I really came to appreciate because it was like having several pairs of sunglasses in one.
Smith puts its ground-glass lenses through a special manufacturing process to minimize distortion. You may have noticed with cheaply made sunglasses that the peripheral sight picture sometimes isn't very clear. Not so with Smith Action Optics. The polarized lenses deliver the same precise and crisp sight picture glancing right and left as they do looking straight ahead. They also block more than 99% of reflected glare and protect the wearer's eyes from potentially harmful UV rays. In addition to these features, my Smiths had a silver flash coating that made me look far cooler than I really am. But enough of the technical talk, it's time to tell you how the glasses fared when I tested them.
The first thing you notice when you put them on is a sudden increase in contrast that lets you see things that you can't with the naked eye. I'm a former meteorologist with a hobby of chasing severe storms. The Smith Action Optics sunglasses enabled me to pick out cloud features and definition that I could not see without them. I even compared the Smiths with a cheaply made pair of sunglasses I had, and there really was no comparison. Not only could the Smiths deliver contrast and clarity that the others could not, but they also did so in a way that seemed to create less strain on my eyes. And that easy-on-the-eyes performance was equally apparent on the water.
I was able to see into the water farther and pick out underwater details such as vegetation, sunken logs and fish far better than with any other polarized sunglasses I've tried. Eye-straining glare off the water was nonexistent. When I took my kids fishing for bluegills and bass, I was able to see our worms suspended under the water and the curious fish looking them over. I could even tell them when to set the hook even before their bobbers indicated a definitive strike.
Another thing that amazed me was how tough the sunglasses were. I dropped them on dirt, sand and concrete, accidentally tossed a bag of groceries on top of them, and sent them on a cross-town ride on top of my wife's minivan (don't ask) only to have them fall off a mile and a half away onto the sidewalk with nary a scratch. The technical people at Smith tell me the frames are made of Grilamid TR90 with something called hydrophilic Megol on the nose and temple pads. That's fancy talk for darn tough and downright comfortable to wear. No slipping down the nose or pinching the sides of the head with these glasses.
Smith Action Optics sunglasses are exceptional, and if you don't want to take my word for it you should try a pair on for yourself. I was so impressed that I had to share the experience with everyone. My wife tried them, my boss tried them (and wanted to keep them), a local police officer I know gave them a try, and even the produce manager at a local grocery store tried them on. The response was uniform in sentiment, if not expressed in precisely the same words, and ranged from "Whoa!" to "Wow!" to "These are pretty nice glasses."
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