For riding under the overcast skies of the Pacific Northwest and deep inside our dark, verdant forests, clear glasses and goggles are always the go-to around here.
For most of the year, any sort of tint would obfuscate the minute details that might end up dealing up a fantastic crash.
The downfall of all tinted glasses is in their ability (or rather, lack there of) to ease the transition between the direct sunlight and the deep shade. Until recently, I’ve simply been a believer that any tint is worse than clear. This approach worked decently enough, but once I met Chromapop, Smith’s weapon in the battle for sharp details among the dark, it was like pitting lasers against medieval battle axes—no chance.
Smith is certainly no newcomer to the sunglasses scene (and often widely seen as the leader in goggle technology). The Portland, Oregon-based company has established a benchmark for quality that warrants their relatively steep price tags.
The Attack is the company’s newest performance offering, building on the experience of their PivLock series of interchangeable performance lenses. Now, changing lenses is easier than ever thanks to a smart neodymium magnetic clasp mechanism. By folding the side-arms, the secondary hinge containing the magnetic clasp is openable, and the lens can be released—the process is incredibly simple. The lens shape is more refined than the prior PivLock offerings, looking distinct and technical without making you look like a bug or spectacularly sporty.
I was initially a bit apprehensive to be running a tinted lens, as I’ve never had success with them and unfortunately the Attack doesn’t have a clear lens option. In my experience, high speeds combined with dark forest simply don’t allow much wiggle room between riding your best and being tentative. I was over the moon to discover the Attack’s secret sauce of a contrast-boosting lens and the subsequent mellowing of the transitions between direct sunlight and full shade. Simple tinted lenses work only in a narrow spectrum of light conditions, but I found the ChromaPop lenses really expanded upon this deep into what had been clear lens territory.
Many a rider has been caught out by the sneaky root, rock or hole immediately on the shade’s threshold, and helping your eyes adjust is critical when charging hard or racing blind. In mottled light, the platinum Chromapop was a godsend, and an easy advantage over clear lenses.
While working hard on a long uphill, I found that despite the small nose-adjusters designed to dial in your fit, I couldn’t find that happy place. The glasses sat awkwardly far off my face or too near it, causing fogging issues, so I shoved them in my pack. The fit was about the same as the Attack Max, which is mostly an overall larger lens. On the downs, the fogging issue was completely absent and the lens, until the light faded in the deepest part of the afternoon, was across the board a better option than anything clear.
The tint was just dark enough to offer a touch in the way of protection against eye-strain in direct sun, but mostly turned down the intensity of light-shade transfers, which helped immensely. The tint only became an issue as the sun began to set—without much light coming in, the “pop” in ChromaPop isn’t able to do its job as well, so again I put them into my bag.
In the rain, I found myself hoping for a hydrophobic coating, as wiping muddy water off the lenses over and over again is a great way to scratch them, and also drive yourself crazy by stopping constantly. When the weather turns south, I’ll be more likely to ride with a clear lens than risk destroying set after set of expensive replacement lenses.
In any circumstance besides dusk and beyond, the Attack continually outperforms my expectations, continually delivering sharp colors and a quick response while adjusting various lighting.
See more at www.smithoptics.com