Tifosi Sledge Review
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$79.95 at REI
$155.00 at Amazon
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|Pros||Inexpensive, three lenses included, good optics, good dust and debris protection||massive coverage and protection, two lenses included, good optics||Inexpensive, great coverage, three lenses included||Very inexpensive, comes with 3 lenses, good coverage, available in multiple frame colors||Inexpensive, good coverage, good optics|
|Cons||Difficult lens swaps, can fog easily when stopping||large fit, stability issues on smaller faces||Insecure fit on smaller heads, below-average fog prevention||Minor lens distortion, do not increase contrast||No case, limited versatility|
|Bottom Line||An impressive value with high-coverage, high-performance, and three lenses included at a reasonable price||Goggle-like performance, great optics, and retro style in a comfortable, breathable package||An affordable model with great coverage that works best for larger heads and road biking||You get a lot for your money with these very inexpensive shades||An updated classic that's great for road cycling but work in a limited range of light conditions|
|Rating Categories||Tifosi Sledge||100% Glendale||Tifosi Rail||X-Tiger Polarized||Scott Sport Shield|
|Lens Quality (20%)|
|Fit and Comfort (20%)|
|Frame Quality (15%)|
|Field Performance (25%)|
|Specs||Tifosi Sledge||100% Glendale||Tifosi Rail||X-Tiger Polarized||Scott Sport Shield|
|Fit||Large-Extra Large||Large||Large-Extra Large||Large||Medium-Large|
|Number of Lenses Included||3||2||3||3||1|
|Lens Tested||Smoke, Clear, AC Red||Yellow||Clarion Blue, AC Red, Clear||Clear/Mirrored/Polarized||Red Chrome|
|Ideal Lens Light Conditions||Clear: Low light
Smoke: Bright light
AC Red: Medium to bright light
|Soft Yellow: Medium to low light Smoke: Low light||Clear: Low light, Clarion Blue: Bright light, AC Red: Medium to bright light||Clear: Low light Mirrored: Bright light. Polarized: Bright light/water||Bright light|
|Visible Light Transmission (VLT)||not specified||Yellow: 68% Smoke:12%||not specified||not specified||not specified|
|VLT Protection Index||unknown||Yellow: Cat 1 Smoke: Cat 3||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|Ideal Activity||road/mountain biking, running, backcountry skiing, golf, fishing, hiking||Running, mountain biking||road/mountain/gravel biking||road/mountain biking, running, fishing, backcountry skiing, golf, hiking||road biking, running, backcountry skiing, fishing, hiking|
|Polarized||No||No||No||1 of the three lenses||No|
|Lens Material||plastic- polycarbonate||plastic - polycarbonate||polycarbonate||"highly flexible resin lens"||plastic|
|Neutral/Contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Neutral||Neutral|
|HEV/Blue Light Protection||Unknown||100%||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Protective Coatings||None||Hydrolio coating||None||not specified||None|
|Case Included||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||Microfiber cleaning/storage bag|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Tifosi might not be the first name that comes to mind when you're hunting for a new pair of riding shades, but the brand is popular in a wide range of sports and activities, making glasses for everything from cycling to gaming. The Sledge is one of their newest models and represents a foray into the new style of goggle-like high-coverage cycling glasses. The large lenses provide a wide field of vision and ample protection from the wind, debris, branches, and dust that you might encounter out on the road or trail. We weren't sure what to expect from such an affordably-priced model, but we found a lot to like about these stylish glasses.
Our matte white test glasses came standard with three lens options: A clear lens for low light, a high-contrast AC Red lens for medium to bright light, and a Smoke lens for bright light conditions. We found that the clear lens worked best for the low light of the forest while mountain biking, the Smoke lens was ideal for sunny days on the road bike, and the AC Red lens worked well in a huge range of conditions. All three lenses provided clear, distortion-free optics without too much glare even in the brightest conditions. Admittedly, differences in optical quality between high-end lenses can be very small, we didn't notice any discernable quality drop from many of the much more expensive models in our test to the Sledge. All three lenses are decentered, which helps to reduce distortion in your field of vision, and each lens protects from 100% of UVA and UVB rays to protect your eyes for the long haul. Tifosi also offers the Sledge in flashier Cyrstal Orange and Crystal Red frames with Clarion mirror, AC Red, and Clear lenses for an extra $10.
In addition to their optical quality, we also found that the three lenses were durable and scratch-resistant. Mountain biking on muddy trails and sweating our way up long climbs in the sun meant that we put these lenses through quite a few trailside cleanings using their microfiber storage bag. Despite the copious cleaning and having more than a couple of run-ins with trailside branches, none of the three lenses had any noticeable scratches or reduction in optical quality at the end of our field test. The lenses are constructed with scratch-resistant polycarbonate plastic that is both durable and reasonably good at repelling water and sweat.
Fit and Comfort
The Sledge is a comfortable pair of glasses with a fit that lands on the larger end of the spectrum. The lenses and frame fit close to the face without any pressure or hard contact points. In testing, we took these glasses on long three to four hour rides and had no issues with discomfort developing over time. The arms don't put pressure on the sides of the head or cause headaches like some of the other models we have tested.
Like many of our favorite models in the test, the Sledge's contact points at the ears and nose are made of hydrophilic rubber that doesn't get slippery as you sweat. As a result, these glasses stick in place well even on rough, rocky descents on the mountain bike. Your eyeballs might get rattled out of your head, but these glasses will stick in place like glue. We would recommend these for the larger-headed among us, but we also had a couple of smaller-headed testers try them out and the fit was still reasonably secure.
There aren't a ton of fit adjustment options built into the frames like some of the more-expensive models in the test, but the Sledge does have flexible ear pieces that can be molded to fit different head shapes. During testing, we didn't find much adjustment of the ear pieces necessary, but for those out there who want to be able to fine-tune the fit, the adjustment will be helpful.
The one-piece lens isn't the largest that we tested, but it certainly qualifies as massive in our book. We really like the coverage that the Sledge provides. The lens sits close to the face and is shaped to allow the user a full field of vision. If you strain you can see the edges of the frame at the bottom and sides of your vision, but when your eyes are forward looking down the trail or road the glasses disappear on your face. When you're focused on the task at hand, it's easy to forget that you're wearing them at all.
The close, wraparound fit of the frames put the Sledge among the most protective in the test. At high speeds we had no issues with wind sneaking past the lenses and causing watery eyes or excessive blinking. The polycarbonate lenses are shatterproof, so you don't have to worry about them coming apart in a big impact with an overgrown branch or a crash. When we put these glasses on we felt fully protected and ready to tackle high speeds and technical descents.
Like many of the top-end glasses in the test, the Sledge's frame is made from soft, flexible Grilamid TR-90 plastic. The material is soft at the contact points and flexible enough to stand up to the rigors of life as a pair of sports sunglasses. Cheaper glasses can often be made from brittle, easily-broken materials, but the Sledge's frame gives us confidence that they could survive a crash or three without giving up the ghost.
We have a few minor qualms with the Sledge's frame when comparing it against our favorites in the test. First off, we wish there was some adjustment at the nose piece. The hydrophilic rubber does a good job of holding the glasses firmly in place, but we think that a little bit of adjustability at the nose could make the fit even more secure and comfortable for a wider range of face and nose shapes. Additionally, we think the lens swapping process is a little bit finicky. Swapping lenses on the Sledge requires a similar process to the Smith Wildcat in which you flex the frame to remove the lens and pop the new one into place, but the Sledge's frame material isn't quite as flexible as the Wildcat's. This makes the process a bit more difficult and requires extra pressure on the lens. Additionally, it can be tricky to get the lens fully seated and locked in position. It's easy to think that you have the lens in place when it isn't quite settled in the frame.
For such an inexpensive pair of glasses we were hugely impressed with how the Sledge handled our field test. Like we already mentioned, they stick in place on your head no matter how rough things get on the trail. We tackled rough high-speed downhill trails, slow, technical rock gardens, and everything in between on our mountain bikes and never had any issues.
Despite the close-to-the-face fit, the lens vents at the top of the glasses allowed enough airflow to keep things from getting foggy while moving, no matter how sweaty we were or how hard we were breathing. We did notice that once we came to a halt, these glasses do fog up more quickly and frequently than some of the most well-ventilated models we tested. We quickly learned to remove them and stow them away on top of our helmet or on the back of our head anytime we took a trailside break. With just a little bit of forward motion, though, they quickly clear up and allow clear vision.
The Sledge fits right in with the modern trend of huge-lensed, high-coverage models, and the sleek frame gives these glasses a similar look as some of the much more expensive sunglasses we tried out. The mirrored smoke lens pops in bright light and stands out from standard tinted lenses. With frame color options ranging from matte black to crystal orange, Tifosi lets you decide for yourself just how flashy you want to be while out riding.
Normally when you get an inexpensive pair of sunglasses things like protective cases and extra lenses go out the window, but Tifosi pulled no punches with the Sledge. In addition to the three lens options, these glasses come with a hard, zippered case for storage and a microfiber bag for cleaning. The case includes a padded, two-slot holder for the lenses that aren't in the glasses. We were hugely impressed that Tifosi included these small bonuses with such an affordable pair of glasses.
We feel Tifosi provides a ton of value with the Sledge. After testing these in the field alongside some much more expensive models it was clear to us that you get a lot for your money. They aren't perfect, but they're super-versatile, well-thought-out glasses that won't break the bank or require additional lens purchases to be viable in a range of conditions. If you're looking for the absolute best performance available, we recommend looking at the top scorers in our review, but if you value a good deal these are absolutely the glasses for you.
Tifosi impressed us at almost every turn with the Sledge. The high-coverage, protective design performed admirably in our test. Beyond a few minor drawbacks when compared with our top scorers they were one of our favorite pairs of glasses in the test, and we definitely recommend them to almost anyone out there, particularly if you're operating on a budget.
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