Oakley Flight Jacket sunglasses - first look
Nose hinge system the focal point for new shades. But is it a necessary development?
by Toby Martin
There’s a saying that goes something like this: ‘Steamed up glasses are the number one concern of a generation’. I’d never heard it either. That’s probably because it has been uttered just once in a design meeting deep within the Oakley headquarters.
How does the California-based sunglasses specialist expand on a product its refined consistently over a number of years? With the Jawbreaker, the brand seemed to really strike a chord with the cycling market. The Jawbreaker has it all: an endorsement from Cav, it’s easy adjustable and has mean looking lines. They’ve become my first choice in eyewear when riding because they work, and I don’t feel like they’re going to fall apart in my hands when when changing a lens.
"I’ve learnt through my sheer evolutionary prowess to slide the glasses down my nose a little and let airflow through so that my steam simply evaporates into the ozone."
I’ve experienced the downfall of the Jawbreaker – when pushing hard on the bike and then stopping at traffic lights the all too familiar fog of perspiration builds up within the glasses until everything in my vision is rendered soft and marshmallow like. I’ve learnt through my sheer evolutionary prowess to slide the glasses down my nose a little and let airflow through so that my steam simply evaporates into the ozone.
For those who’ve yet to happen on such revolutionary thinking, Oakley now has you covered. The Flight Jacket, the latest incarnation of the big O's professional eyewear range, features an interesting hinging system that allows the user to engage a forward position on the glasses and allow air to pass freely through the glasses. All without repositioning the pads on your nose.
Setting back off from the traffic lights, it’s a simple click and the glasses are reset to their original position close to the face. I will admit it’s a satisfying feeling, like a special forces soldier clicking home the magazine in their rifle ready for action.
The big question for me is ‘really, Oakley?’ Do we need a rather overdesigned system just for this purpose? My inevitable scrabbling at the small and precise hinge mechanism has resulted in part of the mechanics popping out of its home on one occasion, leaving me with a rather disconnected nose piece. It was relatively simple to remedy – no screws or anything, just a click and the plastic hinge was rehoused – but part of me couldn’t help but feel this was the most ridiculous of problems to have as I frowned with concentration.
Especially as sliding the glasses a little further down my nose requires almost exactly the same movement of my arm.
The Flight Jacket shares aesthetics with the Jawbreaker. I like them and it makes me feel like I have that retro chic while being the most up to date I can possibly be with technology. One of the major differences though is the rimless design across the top of the lens. This contributes to the eyewear’s airflow, and I have to say it works – more so than the Jawbreaker.
However, with a rimless design comes fingerprints – smudgy, greasy marks that ruin the clarity of the crystal clear prizm lenses. Maybe it’s me? Maybe I need to be more careful when handling the glasses. it’s not easy when you’re gripping the edges to stabilise the eyewear when activating the forward positioning hinge though.
I’m conflicted. I really want to like these glasses. No. I do like the glasses – I’ve seen them on enough pro riders this year to be convinced that they’re the coolest thing to be wrapping my face in. I like the shape, and the overt hot pink colour we’ve received here at RCUK has onlookers cracking a smile at how weird I look. As a cyclist, that’s just something you just have to embrace...
"I’m conflicted. I really want to like these glasses. No. I do like the glasses – I’ve seen them on enough pro riders this year to be convinced that they’re the coolest thing to be wrapping my face in."
But when it comes to the hinge mechanism, I’m not sold. I’ll commend Oakley for trying new things, for designing and experimenting; the prizm lenses featured across its range are amazing and feature on these glasses – proof that sometimes a rethinking of design works.
Oakley Flight Jacket sunglasses
Price: from £185
All that said, I’d still recommend these glasses. Oakley has a fantastic reputation within cycling, and for all the right reasons – it's eyewear is fantastic. I challenge you to ride with prizm lenses and wish that your vision wasn’t like that 100 per cent of the time. If you’re not already an Oakley user, the Flight Jacket would be a great introduction to the brand. However, should you like the look of these, and you’ve taken my point about nose positioning into consideration, then the Jawbreaker might be a wiser spend of your money.