Access Special Backpacker.com Features, Register Now!
Online Exclusive Eyewear

Gear Review: Oakley Radar Path Sunglasses

Sporting a pair of Oakley's Radars gives your eyes as much protection as they can get, this side of a welding helmet.

Clarity, protection, and comfort. When it comes to choosing sunglasses, these are my big three. Looking good is a bonus, but at this point in my life, I’ve finally come to terms with the knowledge that it’s sometimes worth sacrificing form for function. Fortunately for me, Oakley’s Radar Path nails the big three, and they’ve got burly style to boot.

The most striking feature of the Radars is their optical clarity. It’s like watching TV for the first time in HD; every detail is much crisper than you’re used to, to the point where it’s almost surreal. Despite the large lens and its curvature, the clarity extends throughout the field of vision, which is a welcome change from previous sunglasses that can get pretty fuzzy on the periphery. The bottom of the frame is also rimless, which is useful when you want to easily glance down and check foot placement while tiptoeing across a sketchy ridgeline section.

Protection is top shelf. There’s a lot of science that goes into designing lenses that meet American National Standards Institute requirements for impact standards, but to put it into layman’s terms, these bad boys can stop a quarter-inch steel shot traveling at over 100 miles per hour. Thankfully I’m not putting myself in situations that deal with steel shots on a daily basis, but when it comes to rockfall, wayward trekking poles, or low-hanging branches, I want to make sure my eyeballs are safe. My other concern is UV rays, which assault your eyes at approximately 186,000 miles per second (or the speed of light ); fortunately these lenses are also certified to deflect every type of UV ray that is out to destroy your pupils.

However, all of the clarity and protection in the world won’t amount to anything if the shades are uncomfortable. When it comes to fit, sunglasses are a lot like boots; you need to try on several different pairs to see which is the best match for your body. For me, the Radars are the only sunglasses I’ve worn that I can comfortably wear all day without fear of them falling off or causing a headache that feels like I drank way too much eggnog at the holiday party. Credit the lightweight frame and Oakley’s proprietary grippy nosepiece that actually increases its holding power with perspiration. Oakley refers to the rubbery nosepiece as Unobtainium, which is code for ‘top secret material that we’re not allowed to explain.’ After an all-day sweltering schlep up to the Trail Crest in the Eastern Sierras, I could actually look down to adjust my crampons without my sunglasses sliding off into oblivion. Other notable features include easily interchangeable lenses and options for prescription specific lenses. There is also a hydrophobic coating on the lens that helps it resist water, skin oil, and general streaks from perspiration or any other moisture that could impair vision.

A note on the manly styling: It’s rather aggressive. I thought it made me look a little more badass, but my girlfriend snidely commented that I should go audition as an extra in Terminator 5.

Leave a Reply