Gear Review: Smith Gibson

Frontcountry looks meet backcountry performance with these shades.

[go-anywhere style]

“Frontcountry looks, meet backcountry performance,” says a tester who reports that the polarized lenses cut glare and prevented eyestrain during blazing, blue-sky hikes in Colorado National Monument. The ultralight plastic frame flexes (instead of breaking) when squished in a pack. Hydrophobic nose and temple pads get stickier as you get sweatier, so they lock the frames firmly in place on hot, hard-effort days. Testers offered props for optical sharpness; the brown-tinted polycarbonate lenses are curved (like your retina) and tapered (thinner near the edges) to reduce distortion. Downside: Without anti-fog coatings on the lens or vents cut into the full-coverage frame, they steam up during stop-and-go hikes in temps below 40℉.

> Price $119

> Weight 1.8 oz.

> VLT 15%


See the Light
Use the VLT* percentage to choose the right lens. Less than 8 percent is ideal for open water, above treeline, and on snow; 9 to 18 percent is an all-purpose range; higher VLTs are best for low light, like overcast days and rainforest.

*VLT Visible Light Transmission = how much light passes through a lens