Oakley is probably not the brand you associate with budget eyewear buys, but there is no denying they have consistently put out some of the best performing eyewear on the market year after year. Since 1972, Oakley has been pushing the boundaries of design and performance and their latest low light offerings are no exception. A few months back we received a couple of pairs of glasses with the new Oakley Sutro Prizm low light lens treatment and we were curious as to just how well they’d perform in the dark woods surrounding the Wolf Den.
THE LAB The Sutro has goggle level coverage with a throwback style. Frames are made from Oakley’s lightweight O-Matter plastic, which has put up with some heavy abuse during our testing. The nose pads are made with grippy unobtanium, which increases grip when wet from perspiration. Eye coverage is absolutely maxed with a wrap-around design that delivers a completely clear field of vision with tons of protection from flying debris and wind. A small aluminum strut supports the middle of the frame but is not visible when the shades are on.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the Oakley Sutro glasses is the new Prizm lens technology. It enhances color and contrast while providing 75% light transmission. Coloring is slightly rose/pink but not enough to confuse your eye or annoy the rider. I continue to use the low light Prizm shades in every condition excluding completely exposed sunshine. Even on bright days, the small amount of tint is helpful for trail conditions, although it’s not quite enough for the desert rats in Arizona, Texas or SoCal.
THE RIDE When I first saw the Oakley Sutro, I was a bit skeptical that such a large frame would be superior to some of the smaller shades we have been using this year. However, after just one ride my mind was changed. Once you start riding, the Sutro fades into the background, allowing full vision and no blind spots or lens borders to lose focus on.
The huge amount of coverage comes at a bit of price when climbing, the glasses will fog a bit on full effort climbs in humid environments, but if you’re moving more than a few miles an hour, airflow is great and the lens clears quickly. If you are a heavy sweater or ride in very humid environments, you may want to make sure your helmet has some optical storage solutions, like the ones offered on the Oakley DRT5 helmet we reviewed a couple of months ago.
The arms have a neutral shape and should fit most people quite well. I have a very narrow head and usually wear Asian fit style glasses but the Sutro stayed in place, even on the rowdiest of descents. One unexpected feature I discovered while wearing the Oakley Sutros is, if you bury your face in a bunch of loose soil, the large blade-like lens doubles as an outstanding shovel to pick up loads of dirt.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Without a doubt, the Sutro glasses will be staying in Nico’s helmet bag for regular use. Coverage is on par with a full google while offering better airflow and less weight. The Oakley Sutro low light Prizm lens is probably the best light lens out right now. We’ve yet to find a pair of glasses that ride this well in darker, wooded or dusk scenarios. The crispness and clarity offered in low light conditions absolutely win us over, even if we have to look like an enduro Ned Flanders while doing so.
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