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Maui Jim Spartan Reef Review

Top-tier wraparound shades with superb coverage and excellent contrast, meant to stay in place no matter how you play
Maui Jim Spartan Reef
Photo: Maui Jim
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $250 List | $250.00 at REI
Pros:  Secure fit, good coverage, true to color, neat case
Cons:  Touch face a lot, heavy, less stylish
Manufacturer:   Maui Jim
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 27, 2021
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Lens Quality - 30% 7
  • Comfort - 25% 5
  • Frame Quality - 20% 7
  • Style and Versatility - 15% 5
  • Coverage - 10% 9

Our Verdict

Not everyone needs or appreciates a pair of wraparound sunglasses. But if you've been searching for the best wraparounds, we love the Maui Jim Spartan Reef. Their lenses are crystal clear, with just the right levels of increased contrast and sun blockage. They're large enough for wide faces but secure enough to stay put on most anatomy — even on bouncy runs. They fit closely and snugly, keeping your eyes covered and protected, no matter where the sun is shining from. With glass lenses, they're on the heavy side, but we hardly notice once on, because they fit so well. To top it off, they have a great trifold case that's both protective and convenient to travel with.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Maui Jim Spartan Reef
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $250.00 at REI$209.00 at Amazon$178.93 at Amazon$78.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Secure fit, good coverage, true to color, neat caseGreat clarity, excellent contrast, minimal color distortion, very comfortable, look good on pretty much everyoneGreat color retention, superb coverage, quality construction, fits many face sizes, great case and cleaning clothLightweight, comfortable, stable, good on many faces, nice caseLightweight, comfortable, secure, good balance, versatile, look good
Cons Touch face a lot, heavy, less stylishPeripheral coverage not ideal, can still bounce a littleHeavy, large lens "look", weird inside reflective patchNot overly stylish, run small, temple grips could be cleaner cutHinges loosen, brown lenses are yellowy
Bottom Line Top-tier wraparound shades with superb coverage and excellent contrast, meant to stay in place no matter how you playExceptional lenses in impressively comfortable frames that manage to be extremely functional while still looking casualTop-notch coverage and superb color retention make these large-fit shades well-equipped to protect your eyes from water-reflected lightThese sunnies are light and comfortable for your face and eyes and a bit easier on your walletA solidly versatile pair of comfortable shades that are easy to wear and a great price
Rating Categories Maui Jim Spartan Reef Kaenon Clarke Costa Del Mar Rincon Native Eyewear Wells Suncloud Rambler
Lens Quality (30%)
7
9
8
7
5
Comfort (25%)
5
9
8
6
7
Frame Quality (20%)
7
9
9
7
7
Style And Versatility (15%)
5
9
8
7
9
Coverage (10%)
9
7
9
8
8
Specs Maui Jim Spartan... Kaenon Clarke Costa Del Mar Rincon Native Eyewear Wells Suncloud Rambler
Lens Tested HCL Bronze Ultra Brown 12 Grey 580P Crystal Grey Brown
Ideal Lens Light Conditions Bright Light Bright light Bright Light Medium to bright light Medium to bright light
Polarized Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fit Large/Wide Medium-Full XL/Wide Large Medium
Weight (grams) 44g 29g 33g 26g 25g
UV Protection 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) 12% 12% 12% 12% 15%
VLT Protection Index Cat 3 Cat 3 Cat 3 Cat 3 Cat 3
HEV/Blue Light Protection (claim) "HEV reduction" None 100% HEV blockage 90% None
Infrared Protection (claim) None None None 40% None
Neutral/Contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Neutral Neutral Increased contrast
Lens Material SuperThin glass Plastic - "SR-91" polycarbonate Polycarbonate Plastic polycarbonate Plastic polycarbonate
Impact Resistance No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Protective Coatings Anti-reflective, anti-scratch, hydroleophobic Anti-reflective back, hydroleophobic, anti-scratch C-WALL (anti-scratch, hydroleophobic) Anti-scratch, hydroleophobic Anti-reflective
Can take prescription lens? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Hinge type Spring Standard/barrel Spring Standard/barrel Standard/barrel
Case Included Rigid triangular collapsible case, microfiber cleaning cloth Semi-rigid zippered case, microfiber bag Semi-rigid zippered case, microfiber bag, microfiber cleaning cloth Semi-rigid zippered case, microfiber bag Microfiber bag

Our Analysis and Test Results

We tested the Maui Jim Spartan Reef with HCL Bronze lenses. These wraparound shades claim to be a Large/Wide fit, but are more "medium/average", though still fit large faces fine. They come with a rigid, triangular case that can fold flat when empty and a microfiber cleaning cloth.

Performance Comparison


These are our favorite wraparound style.
These are our favorite wraparound style.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Lens Quality


The HCL Bronze lenses we tested are some of the few glass lenses we've put through the wringer in this review. When it comes to clarity and color, they continue to be some of our favorites. Not only are they crystal clear, but the brown lenses add a little boost of contrast to the world around you. They're reasonably true to color, while still managing to highlight some of the brightest colors — like leafy green trees — making them stand out a touch more than normal.

HCL Bronze Lenses
  • Polarized
  • 100% UV Protection
  • 12% Visible Light Transmission (Category 3)
  • "HEV reduction"
  • Color: Brown, Material: SuperThin Glass
  • Anti-Scratch, Anti-Reflective, Hydroleophobic

With just 12% Visible Light Transmission, the Spartan Reef are very comfortable to wear in the bright midday sun. Through long trail runs in mid-afternoon and into cloudless, high-altitude evenings, these shades provide great protection from headaches caused by long exposure to bright lights. However, in lower light conditions — like cloudy days and just before dusk — they're a touch dark for our liking, making it more challenging to see defined objects.


The close fit and wrap-style curvature, more than the actual properties of the lenses, help the Sparten Reef to not reflect your own face back at you while wearing them. Regardless of how it's accomplished, we appreciate never having to worry about trying to see through the reflections of our own cheeks and eyeballs — unlike so many others we tested.

We're big fans of the clarity and contrast of these glass lenses.
We're big fans of the clarity and contrast of these glass lenses.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Comfort


The comfort of these shades seems to be a mixed bag among our testers. On the one hand, they have a secure wrap contour, with rubber nose pads and temple grips that offer plenty of security while you're on the go. Flex hinges accommodate larger faces and they're all-around quite smooth and easy to wear. When worn as close to the face as possible, they help to block not only the sun but also the wind, making them even more comfortable for being active — windy trail runs and gusty kayak trips all proved more comfortable with a little extra wind blockage.


On the other hand, these wraparound shades, though a wider size, are built to fit fairly tightly. Some of our testers reported that this extra grip hits them in places that get sore after a few hours or are generally less pleasant for them to wear. A few testers don't like that they sit right up against the face, easily touching eyebrows and cheeks. Fitted with glass lenses, these are also some of the heaviest sunglasses we tested, at 44 grams. Additionally, the rubber bow grips are on the grippier side of average, which had our longer-haired testers liking them less when wet, as they tend to pull hair a little more easily than we prefer.

We're impressed by how well these stay secure and comfortable even...
We're impressed by how well these stay secure and comfortable even on long sunny runs.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Frame Quality


The sturdy nylon frame of the Spartan Reef is thick and feels solid. Rubber nose pads and bow ends are larger than many others and pretty well attached — though a few corners stick out a little further than we think is a good idea. The all-metal, 3 barrel hinges have easily accessible screws, should you ever need to tighten them. They're some of the few we tested that flex open farther than the bow otherwise would with a standard hinge, adding some wiggle room to their usage. They also "snap" open and into place fairly readily, making it easier to get them ready to put on quickly.


However, these are rather thin compared to most others we tested. After our several-month testing period, they're already starting to loosen and can be easily wiggled up and down in their sockets. They managed to not only come loose but to do so asymmetrically as well, which just isn't quite the caliber of quality we expect from our sunglasses. We also worry about the longevity of those rubber pieces that aren't as cleanly attached as they could be. Though we had no issues with them during our testing, we read a handful of online complaints about them eventually starting to peel off over time.

Rubber backs of the bows and rubber nose pads keep these locked in...
Rubber backs of the bows and rubber nose pads keep these locked in place during exercise.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Style and Versatility


More than perhaps any other shape of sunglasses, wraparound styles with a high base curve like these are less versatile and more of a personal style choice. Almost none of our testers who blanket-claim to not like this shape enjoy how they look in these glasses. However, our testers who do enjoy a wraparound style really like the look of these.


We tested the Marlin frame, which is an interesting color combination of blue on the bottom half, bleeding into a dark bronze on top. It's certainly unique, and here again, our testers were split on if they like the color or not. At the end of the day, even those of our team who like the look of the Spartan Reef admit that it's a sporty style with a more limited social application than other sunglasses we tested.

We're impressed at all the activities we can do while wearing these...
We're impressed at all the activities we can do while wearing these excellent-fitting glasses.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Coverage


We mean this in the best way possible — wearing the Spartan Reef is a bit like wearing a pair of athletic goggles. That is, even without the largest lenses, these shades have a base curve of 8 and sit so close to the face that they offer some seriously thorough coverage. Their width keeps the edge of the frame almost entirely out of your vision. Depending on your specific face shape, these sit impressively close, again helping the frame both stay out of your way and enclosing your eye for full sun protection and near-complete wind protection.


Though they're some of the heaviest sunglasses we tested in this category, their closeness provides balance and the strategically-placed rubber patches offer a grip that keeps them very secure on the head. They're some of the few that don't bounce at all during a long trail run — even before our facial sweat activates the holding power of the rubber nose pads and bow ends.

We're impressed by the fit and coverage of these wraparound glasses.
We're impressed by the fit and coverage of these wraparound glasses.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Case Quality


The Spartan Reef comes with a large triangular folding case and a thin cleaning cloth. The semi-rigid case is easy to drop your oversized folded sunglasses into and packs completely flat when empty, making it easy to travel with while you're wearing your sunglasses.

The trifold case can be folded flat when empty.
The trifold case can be folded flat when empty.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


The Spartan Reef are some of the most expensive sport sunglasses we tested. They're a fairly specific look and usage, but if you're after that specificity (wraparound style, coverage, and bright light protection with increased contrast), they're a worthy investment.

Conclusion


The Maui Jim Spartan Reef is a heavy but well-balanced and high-performing pair of wraparound sunglasses. The glass lenses add contrast to bright days and their close fit provides exceptional coverage and significant wind blockage. If you're after a secure fit set of highly protective shades for super sunny days, these are it.

Where will you let your Spartan Reefs take you?
Where will you let your Spartan Reefs take you?
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Maggie Brandenburg