Tifosi Sledge Review
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|Pros||Inexpensive, three lenses included, good optics, good dust and debris protection||Super comfortable, quality frame, excellent optics, two lenses included||Inexpensive, good coverage, good optics||Inexpensive, great coverage, good styling||Inexpensive, great coverage, three lenses included|
|Cons||Difficult lens swaps, can fog easily when stopping||Dust protection||No case, limited versatility||No lens coating, lenses not interchangeable||Insecure fit on smaller heads, below-average fog prevention|
|Bottom Line||An impressive value with high-coverage, high-performance, and three lenses included at a reasonable price||Super comfortable with great coverage, two lenses, and a stellar all-around performance||An updated classic that's great for road cycling but work in a limited range of light conditions||An affordable, high-coverage frame that is comfortable and built to last||An affordable model with great coverage that works best for larger heads and road biking|
|Rating Categories||Tifosi Sledge||Smith Wildcat||Scott Sport Shield||Blenders Eclipse||Tifosi Rail|
|Lens Quality (20%)|
|Fit and Comfort (20%)|
|Frame Quality (15%)|
|Field Performance (25%)|
|Specs||Tifosi Sledge||Smith Wildcat||Scott Sport Shield||Blenders Eclipse||Tifosi Rail|
|Fit||large-extra large||medium-large||medium-large||medium-large||large-extra large|
|Number of Lenses Included||3||2||1||1||3|
|Lens Tested||smoke, clear, AC red||chromapop red mirror, clear||red chrome||polarized red and blue mirrored||clarion blue, AC red, clear|
|Ideal Lens Light Conditions||clear: low light; smoke: bright light; AC red: medium to bright light||chromapop red mirror: bright light; clear: low light||bright light||medium to bright light||clear: low light; clarion blue: bright light; AC red: medium to bright light|
|Visible Light Transmission (VLT)||unknown||chromapop red mirror: 15%; clear: 89%||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|VLT Protection Index||unknown||Cat 3||unknown||not specified||unknown|
|Lens Material||plastic - polycarbonate||plastic - carbonic||plastic||polycarbonate||polycarbonate|
|Neutral/Contrast||increased contrast||increased contrast||neutral||increased contrast||increased contrast|
|HEV/Blue Light Protection||unknown||yes||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|Protective Coatings||none||hydroleophobic coating||none||none||none|
|Weight||39 g||32 g||33 g||32 g||31 g|
|Case Included||rigid zippered case and soft cleaning/storage bag||rigid zippered case and soft cleaning/storage bag||microfiber cleaning/storage bag||EVA Case, pouch, microfiber cleaning cloth||rigid zippered case and soft 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 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 you might encounter 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 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 vast range of conditions. All three lenses provide clear, distortion-free optics without too much glare, even in the brightest conditions. Admittedly, differences in optical quality between high-end lenses can be minimal, and 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.
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 we put these lenses through several trailside cleanings using their microfiber storage bag. Despite the copious cleaning and a few run-ins with trailside branches, none of the three lenses had any noticeable scratches or reduced optical quality at the end of our field test. The lenses are constructed with scratch-resistant polycarbonate plastic that is 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 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 many fit adjustment options built into the frames like some of the more expensive models in the test, but the Sledge has flexible earpieces 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 we tested, but it qualifies as massive in our book. We 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, it's easy to forget that you're wearing them.
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 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 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 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 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. As mentioned, they stick to 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 or 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 our helmets or the back of our heads anytime we took a trailside break. With a bit of forward motion, 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. 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 how flashy you want to be while riding.
Usually 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. Beside 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 had these small bonuses with such an affordable pair of glasses.
Should You Buy the Tifosi Sledge?
We feel Tifosi provides a ton of value with the Sledge. After testing these in the field alongside much more expensive models, it was clear 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 various conditions.
What Other Cycling Sunglasses Should You Consider?
If you're on a budget, the Blenders Eclipse is another low-cost option. While it doesn't perform as high as the Sledge, it features a medium-large fit with slightly lesser lens quality. If you have a little more to spend, the 100% S2 is a high performer with great value that offers incredible fog management. Our favorite cycling glasses are the Smith Wildcat. While it costs a little more, it has the best overall performance we've tested so far.
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