Smith has long been one of the top lifestyle and performance sunglass companies and we’ve absolutely loved their casual frames and Chromapop technology. While we’ve raved about their “Eye-doping” technology, these Pathway Photochromic glasses showed up for review a few months ago and were neither cool-looking or Chromapap-equipped. Nevertheless, we were in need of a set of riding glasses that weren’t super dark as the dark and foggy days have descended upon the PNW. We set out for the trail and began testing our new Smith Pathway glasses and were stoked by the time we hit the first climb.
Smith offers the Pathway in a variety of Chromapop offerings, but thankfully they sent us this pair of Photochromic Clear to Gray lensed glasses. This is Smith’s most versatile lens and changes its tint based on sunlight exposure. In a nutshell, the Photochromic lens will change from clear to grey when it’s bright out but will return to clear when you’re deep in the woods or riding on darker days. These lenses have a VLT (Variable Light Transmission) Rating of 20-85% making them ideal for most lighting conditions. The Pathway Lens offer 100% UV Protection and come with an anti-reflective coating for better clarity while also reducing eye strain. Smith also implements a smudge and moisture resistant coating for easy cleaning.
Smith’s Pathway is built using their EVOLVE bio-based material, giving the frame a lightweight, yet durable feel. The frame itself has a medium fit but the frames have a large coverage area without looking like goofy wannabe-goggles. The large coverage area comes from Smith’s use of an 8-base lens curvature that gives the glasses a wraparound feel. The Pathway’s stay put thanks to nonslip Megol pads located at the temple and nose contact points. Smith also uses an AutoLock hing design to hold the frames open for easy one-handed maneuvers.
Despite the glasses being a little too “performance” looking for my personal taste, they did in fact offer some improved performance compared to my preferred casual Smith Lowdown glasses, go figure. As soon as I hit the first climb with my new glasses I was sold. As I labored up a meandering singletrack starting at the ground and my tire, barely moving, in front of me, I realized that if it wasn’t for the frames in my peripheral I wouldn’t even know that I was wearing glasses! The clarity is impressive, and the wide field of view only compliments the sharpness of the picture ahead.
I spent most of my time riding with the Smith Pathways in deep woods on foggy, drizzly days but was equally impressed when the sun popped out and the shades darkened to prevent those Clint Eastwood squints. As a rider who sweats a lot and is notorious for treating gear horribly, I greatly appreciated the durability and lens coating. Sweat, fog and debris management were impressive, and I’ve still not managed to scratch or damage the lenses.
Overall the Smith Pathway mountain bike glasses are awesome for all but those who exclusively ride in exposed sunny environments. If that’s the case, I’d suggest going with a Chromapop option. If you live and ride in an area where lighting is mixed, you’re in and out of the trees or regularly have rides ending after dusk or in the fog, these are worth a look. The small vents in the corner help manage fogging pretty well for a full-framed glass and is complimented by the smudge and moisture resistant coating. Without a doubt though, the clarity and comfort are standout features that I talk about most when describing the Pathway glasses. If you’re looking for a pair of winter cycling glasses that will also darken up and give you some clear riding visibility in the summer, then give these things a look.