The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

POC Aspire Review

A solid all-around pair of performance glasses with great optics
POC Aspire
Photo: POC
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Price:  $220 List | $219.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Great optics, versatile lens tint, durable lens
Cons:  Heavy, only one lens included
Manufacturer:   POC
By Zach Wick ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 18, 2021
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Lens Quality - 20% 9
  • Fit and Comfort - 20% 8
  • Coverage - 20% 8
  • Frame Quality - 15% 8
  • Field Performance - 25% 8

Our Verdict

POC offers an all-around quality pair of cycling sunglasses with the Aspire. This model features a high-quality, durable lens with sharp optics and a well-rounded tint. It wasn't our favorite pair of glasses in any single category, but it performed solidly across the board. Made of durable Grilamid plastic and hydrophilic rubber with a large lens that wraps close to the face, the Aspire's comfort, coverage, and frame quality leaves little to be desired. Considering that its one of the more expensive models in our test and only offers a single lens with purchase, we were hoping for a little bit more. With that in mind, we still think this model makes for a quality addition to anyone's kit if you appreciate POC's unique modern style and can justify the expense.

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Price $219.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$129.35 at Backcountry
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Pros Great optics, versatile lens tint, durable lenssuper comfortable, quality frame, great optics, two lenses includedExcellent optics, good wind protection, 2 lenses included, easy lens changes, quality storage casemassive coverage and protection, two lenses included, good opticsInexpensive, three lenses included, good optics, good dust and debris protection
Cons Heavy, only one lens includeddust protectionExpensive, you have to take off arms to put them in their caselarge fit, stability issues on smaller facesDifficult lens swaps, can fog easily when stopping
Bottom Line Well-rounded with sharp optics and a quality lensWe loved the versatile fit and performance of these excellent full coverage sunglassesA versatile performance sunglass that excels in all areasTop level protection and coverage while maintaining breathability and comfortThese glasses punch above their weight in almost every one of our metrics
Rating Categories POC Aspire Smith Wildcat Smith Attack Max 100% Glendale Tifosi Sledge
Lens Quality (20%)
9
9
10
9
9
Fit And Comfort (20%)
8
10
9
8
8
Coverage (20%)
8
8
8
10
9
Frame Quality (15%)
8
9
8
9
8
Field Performance (25%)
8
9
9
8
8
Specs POC Aspire Smith Wildcat Smith Attack Max 100% Glendale Tifosi Sledge
Fit Medium-Large Medium-Large Medium-Large Large Large-Extra Large
Number of Lenses Included 1 2 2 2 3
Lens Tested Cold Brown/Silver Mirror Chromapop Red Mirror Chromapop Red Mirror Yellow Smoke, Clear, AC Red
Ideal Lens Light Conditions Medium to bright light Chromapop Red Mirror: bright Light Clear: low light Chromapop Red Mirror: Bright light Chromapop Contrast Rose: Low to Medium light Soft Yellow: Medium to low light Smoke: Low light Clear: Low light
Smoke: Bright light
AC Red: Medium to bright light
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) 22% Chromapop Red Mirror: 15% Clear: 89% Chromapop Red Mirror: 15% Chromapop Contrast Rose: 48% Yellow: 68% Smoke:12% not specified
VLT Protection Index Cat 2 cat 3 cat 3 Yellow: Cat 1 Smoke: Cat 3 unknown
Ideal Activity Running, mountain biking Mountain biking, running, road cycling road cycling, mountain biking, running Running, mountain biking road/mountain biking, running, backcountry skiing, golf, fishing, hiking
Polarized No No No No No
Lens Material nylon plastic - Carbonic plastic - Carbonic plastic - polycarbonate plastic- polycarbonate
Lens Type cylindrical cylindrical spherical cylindrical cylindrical
Neutral/Contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast
UV Protection 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
HEV/Blue Light Protection Unknown 100% 100% 100% Unknown
Impact Resistance Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Protective Coatings Ripel coating Hydroleophobic coating Hydroleophobic coating Hydrolio coating None
Weight (grams) 40 32 32 41 39
Case Included hard plastic case and soft cleaning/storage bag Rigid zippered case and soft cleaning/storage bag Rigid zippered case and soft cleaning/storage bag Rigid zippered case and soft cleaning/storage bag Rigid zippered case and soft cleaning/storage bag

Our Analysis and Test Results

Since 2005, POC has been making high-quality safety equipment and apparel for snow sports and cycling. In their relatively short tenure they have nudged their way in alongside longstanding industry giants and become one of the biggest names in performance eyewear. We tried out the Aspire in Sulphite Yellow with a brown-tinted silver mirror lens and learned that it provides sharp optics and all-around solid performance in a modern, stylish package.

Performance Comparison


The modern styling and large coverage of the Aspire make these a...
The modern styling and large coverage of the Aspire make these a solid choice for all types of cycling.
Photo: Zach Wick

Lens Quality


During testing, the Aspire's Cold Brown Clarity lens with Silver Mirror finish was one of our favorite cylindrical lenses. Made by the high-end camera, microscope, and glasses lens manufacturer Carl Zeiss vision, its 22-26% visible light transmission guards against 100% of harmful UV rays and is versatile enough for a variety of light conditions. The lens also features a durable nylon construction and POC's "Ripel" hydrophobic lens treatment.

Out in the field, the cylindrical Clarity lens' optics are fantastic. It can be incredibly difficult to differentiate between lens quality of high-end performance sunglasses, but the Aspire's lens definitely stood out. The Cold Brown tint provides razor-sharp clarity and good contrast while the Silver Mirror finish cuts down on glare. We found that the lens tint works well in a range of conditions, including dappled forest light, which can be a real problem for many lenses.

In addition to its near top-of-the-class optical performance, the Aspire's lens also stood up from a durability standpoint. Despite our rough, arguably-irresponsible treatment of these glasses throughout our testing, we found no noticeable scratches or imperfections on the lens when we were through.

The Aspire has a large fit and pliable frame that works well with a...
The Aspire has a large fit and pliable frame that works well with a range of head shapes.
Photo: Zach Wick

Fit and Comfort


The Aspire is a comfortable pair of glasses with a relatively versatile fit, but it couldn't quite match the top performers in this metric. Our testers found that the frame is flexible enough that it will expand to fit most head sizes without pinching or causing discomfort at the side of the head over time. They offer no adjustment at the nose piece, but the arm tips are bendable to contour to any head shape. The hydrophilic rubber nose piece and arm tips aren't as soft and grippy as some of the other models we looked at, but they still do the job when things get sweaty.

Out in the field, these glasses don't quite disappear into the background as well as the most comfortable glasses in our test. None of our testers had any issues with head pain or discomfort, but, at 41 grams, the glasses feel a little bit heavy on your face. The weight, combined with the firm rubber at each of the contact points means that while these glasses aren't a nuisance by any means, they also aren't invisible.

The large coverage of the Aspire keeps the wind at bay, even when...
The large coverage of the Aspire keeps the wind at bay, even when hurtling down mountain roads.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Coverage


In a test full of behemoth lens sizes, the Aspire sits roughly in the middle of the pack. When compared to the coverage and protection of traditional sunglass models, the 155mm wide by 55mm tall lens is huge, but in today's era of goggle-style sunglasses it doesn't stand out in one direction or the other. That said, we think the Aspire provides ample protection for high-speed activities. The wide lens sits close to the face, and the thick arms protect from wind interference. The nylon lens protects the eyes from potential impacts and allows you to keep focused on what's ahead.

Despite the large lens and wide field of vision, we noticed that you can see a considerable portion of the frame at the periphery of your vision when wearing the Aspire. Maybe this was made more evident by the bright yellow frame, but it is noticeable compared to the competition.

The Aspire has a quality frame construction but lacks adjustability...
The Aspire has a quality frame construction but lacks adjustability and flexibility.
Photo: Zach Wick

Frame Quality


Like some of the other top performers in our test, the Aspire features a Grilamid thermoplastic frame construction. Throughout testing, we came to love the Grilamid-framed models. This material provides a relatively soft feel, high flexibility, and resistance to failure from repeated stress over time. That said, POC's specific Grilamid formula is a bit more rigid than some of the other models we tested. It doesn't feel brittle by any means, but it doesn't have the same level of flexibility and softness as our favorite frames. Additionally, the hydrophilic rubber at the nose piece and arm tips is also a bit more firm than many of the other models we tested. The Aspire's frames are assuredly high quality, but the rigid material gives a somewhat harsh feel.

While the Aspire only comes with a single lens, the frame makes swapping lenses easy and quick if you were to buy spares for varied light conditions. The frame flexes easily enough to quickly pop out a lens and swap in a new one without any hassle.

At speed and on rough trails, the Aspire stays put and performs well.
At speed and on rough trails, the Aspire stays put and performs well.
Photo: Zach Wick

Field Performance


Overall, we were impressed with the Aspire's performance in the field and had very little to complain about. When the going got rough out on mountain bike or gravel rides, the hydrophilic nose and earpieces did their job and kept everything right where it needed to be. We didn't have any issues with needing to readjust their position on our faces.

We also didn't have any issues with airflow at low speeds. The small, 2mm gap between the lens and the center of the frame provides ample breathability to keep the lens from fogging up. Even when stopping immediately after hard efforts, we had no issues. Granted, we tested these glasses mainly in hot, dry summer conditions where fogging isn't typically a huge issue, but we're confident that they would perform well in any situation.

Our one complaint with this model was sweat management. Some of our sweatier testers had issues with sweat dripping down the front of the lenses on hot days. The upper portion of the lens contacts the brow for most people, making it easy for sweat to run down the forehead and roll over onto the lens. For the most part, POC's hydrophobic lens treatment lets the sweat roll-off, but over time, the leftover salt streaks necessitated a lens cleaning.

Style


POC has always had a unique and distinctive modern styling to their products, and the Aspire is no exception. The frame has clean lines and a functional, minimalist style. Even with the bright yellow frame we tried out, we feel that this model far less loud and in your face than many in our test.

POC's storage case leaves something to be desired.
POC's storage case leaves something to be desired.
Photo: Zach Wick

Case Quality


Much like its unique and modern glasses design, POC also thinks out of the box with their packaging and storage case. Unlike the rigid, zippered cases that many other brands offer, the Aspire comes in a half-white, half-clear hard plastic case. The white half of the case has a soft foam pocket while the clear half of the case allows you to see the glasses inside. If we didn't pull the case straight out of POC's packaging, we might have thought that somebody had just stuffed the glasses into whatever storage case they could find. The quality and fit of the case don't seem to match the quality of the glasses.

Value


At retail, the Aspire sits on the higher end of the price scale. POC provides a quality, high-performing pair of sunglasses for the price, but if you're not completely sold on the style, there are other glasses in our test that provide more bang for your buck. If you're looking for lens quality alone, however, the Aspire should absolutely be on your radar.

The Aspire is a high-end set of shades that are best suited to all...
The Aspire is a high-end set of shades that are best suited to all types of cycling.
Photo: Zach Wick

Conclusion


We appreciated the Aspire for its fantastic optics and solid performance. While it wasn't one of our favorite models, it's worth a look from anyone who values a quality lens and clean, minimalist modern style and doesn't mind spending a bit more.

Zach Wick