Smith Bobcat Sunglass Review


Words by Emma Wooldridge | Photos by Cole Gregg

I made it almost a whole year without taking the plunge to buy overly expensive riding glasses, but the occasional near miss in the dark tree canopies and the insanely fun colors of the Smith lineup finally got to me. To me, Smith has been synonymous with outdoor sports, and I’ve leaned on them for all of my outdoor eyewear, including snowboarding and mountain biking goggles as well as fly fishing sunglasses. I also own three of their mountain biking helmets, so clearly, I may be biased. But Smith certainly isn’t the cheapest option, so I decided to test out their stated purpose to “amplify the thrill of human experience.” Will the thrill come from the intense clarity of the ChromaPop™ lens on the trail or by pressing “Order” and seeing your bank account plummet? Let’s find out.


The Bobcat is offered in 8 frame colors and lens options. Prices range from $209 to $229 depending on the frame and lens color, but each purchase includes either the ChromaPop™ or Photochromic lens; an interchangeable clear lens; a hard case with foam slots for each lens and space for the glasses, and a microfiber pouch. The lens of the Bobcat has a 135mm width and 59 mm height with a 130 mm temple length. Compared to the Wildcat glasses (140mm by 62 mm), the Bobcat is tailored for a smaller face but with a slightly longer temple length (125 mm for the Wildcat), it may be able to accommodate a larger profile.

Smith Bobcat Sunglasses Review

ChromaPop™ is Smith’s proprietary lens technology. The lens is designed to make color pop. All visible light appears to us as red, green, or blue. Slow response times to obstacles and increased eye fatigue can often be due to our eyes experiencing color confusion – blue overlaps with green and green overlaps with red. ChromaPop™ helps separate these colors for our eyes and provides enhanced contrast and color to make the details stand out. All ChromaPop™ lens options provide 100% protection from harmful UVA/B/C rays. Although you may want to pick a lens based on how cool it looks, Smith provides some helpful tips on the product page for conditions in which a lens might perform best. Each lens has a visible light transmission (VLT) percentage, meaning the smaller the VLT percentage, the less light that passes through the lens. There’s a lens for bright sun or stormy days and everything in between. A replacement lens can cost you from $40 to $100 depending on the lens.

The Bobcat frame is intended for a small to medium fit while still providing a large coverage. It has a 5-base lens curvature, which is how much the lens curves to the shape of the face. Eyeglasses typically have a 4-base curve and are fairly flat. Many sport glasses have an 8-base curve, resulting in more wraparound coverage. The Bobcat lenses are on the flatter side with the 5-base curve. A section of the temple is made with Megol, a smooth silicone material that provides grip, comfort, and flexibility. The nose pads, which have two positions, are also made with Megol and become grippier with moisture. The frames are constructed out of Evolve™, Smith’s proprietary bio-based material that is intended to be lightweight and durable. The hinges use auto lock technology to keep the frame open and allow for easy one-hand maneuverability. And finally, the Bobcat sunglasses feature venting to reduce fogging and keep your vision clear.

Smith Bobcat Sunglass Review


I bop around between two drastically different riding areas – one with sparse tree coverage and more open space in full sun, and the other hidden in dark drainages and dense canopies. Realistically, I knew that I was buying sunglasses but I’d be using the clear lens 75% of the time. I opted for the Matte Merlot frame (to match my helmet of course) with the ChromaPop™ Opal Mirror lens (12% VLT). This would cover the sunny conditions in one area and allow me to swap the ChromaPop lens with the clear lens for everything else. I prefer a clear lens for protection and because I have annoyingly dry eyes, but I find myself unbothered by any sunlight to truly need sunglasses. If Smith offered the Bobcat glasses with just the clear lens for a less expensive price, that would’ve been my ideal pick. Sadly, I had to fork out the cash to have a lens that I wouldn’t be using the majority of the time.

Although I don’t need the ChromaPop™ Opal Mirror lens, I have enjoyed it when I’ve taken the time to pop it in. I’ve been able to take some rides on sunny evenings where it came in handy and the lens wasn’t too dark to prevent me from riding with it as the sun started to set. When it came to swapping out lenses in my Smith snowboarding goggles, it was a hassle. However, though it takes some skill to swap the Bobcat lenses in a timely manner while not worrying about snapping the frames in half, it was significantly easier than my experience with the goggles. After a few swaps, I realized the frames and lenses are much more durable than I thought, which made me feel better about spending that $229.

The ChromaPop™ lens has been ideal for my riding conditions and I feel like it was a solid choice. The lens helped with clarity and definition while buzzing past all the trail-side obstacles. I can’t say it was anything magnificent or “thrilling”, but I did see some of the pop of color Smith talks about. Sadly, the lenses have already gotten scratched within the couple months I’ve had them and I’m pretty meticulous about putting them away in their hard case as soon as I’m done with my ride and I try to handle them gently. This still could be user error, or perhaps the lenses are easily susceptible to scratches.

Smith Bobcat Sunglass Review

Since I wear these glasses with the clear lens most often, all I really care about is the fit and grip of the frames, as well as any fogging. The glasses fit well and aren’t too overwhelming on my face. I do still get dust and debris behind them due to the flatter curve of the lens that doesn’t follow the contours of my face as closely as it could. The frames don’t move or fall down my face at all while riding – they’re as secure as you’d hope. After an hour or so of riding, I do notice a little headache at my temples. The glasses don’t squeeze the side of my head, but must be snug enough to cause a small ache, a sacrifice I am willing to make to ensure that they don’t fall off mid-ride. I have experienced some serious fogging with these glasses, though, causing me to have to stop and wait for them to clear. I admit I become a mouth breather when I’m riding hard but there didn’t seem to be any reasonable way around this issue. It was most prevalent on the colder, more humid days for me. The fog did clear on its own and if you can manage some momentary blindness to get some pedals in and more airflow, you wouldn’t have to stop like I did.

As for the look, my bias is going to show here. I think Smith has some of the cleanest and most classic looks for eyewear in the industry and their subdued branding plays a big part in that. The Smith logo is featured on both temples and blends in well. The Matte Merlot is one of my favorite colors and isn’t a color I can find often. They recently released other colors, including pink and purple, and I may have agonized over my choice, but ultimately the Merlot pairs with my Smith Session helmet nicely. I can even place my glasses in my helmet for temporary storage. I love when brands create ways for people to personalize their riding style. Short term it may seem ridiculous and unneeded, but long term I think it leads to people using the sh*t out of these products rather than having them sit on the garage shelf after a couple rides.

The Wolf’s Last Word

The Bobcat riding-specific sunglasses are a great option for durable and sleek frames that come with interchangeable lenses. Not only do the ChromaPop™ lenses POP, but so do Smith Bobcat’s frame colors. And with a lineup of lenses for varying light conditions, there’s an option for all ride conditions. Although they come with an expensive price tag and aren’t entirely resistant to scratches and fogging, they’ll reward you with clear trail definition and color when you need it most. As long as you don’t expect these glasses to solve all your problems in all possible light conditions, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised with the Bobcats. And if Smith comes out with a reduced-price clear lens-only option, I’ll be first in line.

Price: $209 – $229

We Dig

Clear lens
Sturdy frames

We Don’t

No option for just a clear lens


Want to win some free schwag? Leave a comment and vote up the most thoughtful comments and each month we’ll pick a winner. The person with the smartest and most helpful replies will earn some sweet new gear. Join the Pack and get the latest news and read the latest reviews on the top mountain and electric mountain bikes.