Oakley Flight Jacket Review
Cons: Expensive, only comes with one lens
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Oakley is one of a few elephants in the room in the world of performance sunglasses. The industry giant has been making quality high-performance eyewear for decades, helping to raise the bar of optical clarity, eye protection, and style along the way.
The Flight Jacket is one of their newer models with large coverage, unique styling, quality optics, excellent eye protection, and fog-free performance. We took these glasses to task against a stacked field of performance sunglasses for several months during the late summer, fall, and early winter. We tested them while road and mountain biking, trail running, and even backcountry skiing in a huge range of weather conditions. When the dust settled, the Flight Jacket proved to be one of our favorites and our Top Pick for Fog Management.
Oakley has a long history of making some of the finest sunglasses available, and this includes their high-quality lenses. The Flight Jacket comes with a spherical Plutonite lens that meets the ANSI Z80.3 standards for impact resistance and blocks 100% of harmful UV rays.
Our test model came with their Prizm Road lens with a 20% VLT, which provides incredibly crisp, clear, and distortion-free optics. Oakley's Prizm technology does a great job of enhancing color, definition, and contrast in a strikingly similar way to Smith's Chromapop lenses. The 20% VLT worked well in a range of light conditions, although we occasionally found it to be a little darker than we'd like in deep woods or rapidly changing light conditions. In those lighting conditions, we'd probably opt for their Prizm Trail lens with a much higher VLT percentage.
The Prizm Road lens we tested comes with a bright orange-red reflective coating similar in appearance to many of the other models we tested, except for the POC Do Half Blade. We found this coating quite durable and resistant to scratching throughout our test period, despite heavy use and abuse.
During our testing, the lens remained relatively fog-free, even without the use of the Advancer nose bridge, an adjustable nose pad that extends to push the glasses further away from the face to enhance airflow and fight fogging. Overall, we feel these are some of the highest quality lenses on the market, tied in this metric with the lenses of the Smith Attack Max.
Fit and Comfort
The Flight Jacket is a comfortable pair of sunglasses but they couldn't quite match the highest levels of comfort provided by our top-rated models. Testers found the comfort level to be quite good with a medium to large fit that works for a range of face sizes. The glasses come with two arm lengths that can be swapped out to meet your needs or preferences or to improve their fit with cycling helmets. The arms and the nose pad are made with Oakley's signature Unobtanium rubber that is smooth and comfortable and keeps the glasses in place impressively well.
The curved lens and wrap-around design of the glasses fit quite close to the face. While the fit was generally fine for our testers, they are more prone to make contact with our cheeks than most of the models we tested. You can adjust how close the glasses sit to your face with the Advancer nose bridge. While this system does work well for its intended purpose, testers found the top portion of the nose pad to make slight unwanted contact with the brow.
Oakley's Flight Jacket offers some of the best coverage and eye protection in our test selection. The spherical lenses are 140mm wide and 53mm tall and have a wrap-around curvature that fits quite close to the face. In addition to the large size of the lenses, there is a little additional coverage in the form of the frame at the bottom and side of the lens. These glasses provide excellent protection from the sun, debris, and especially the wind when traveling at high speeds. Whether on the mountain bike or riding the road at speed, there was very little wind interference around the eyes.
Oakley's focus on eye protection is apparent in this well made set of glasses, they are comparable to the Smith Attack Max and the 100% Speedcraft in this metric. The 100% Glendale, however, offers better coverage than any other model we tested.
In typical Oakley style, the Flight Jacket has a unique and eye-catching frame design. In addition to its flashiness, many of the elements of the frame design are performance-oriented for high velocity and high-intensity activities.
Oakley has a long history of using proprietary materials and naming them, and they have constructed the frame with lightweight O-Matter and Unobtanium. These are fancy ways of saying plastic and rubber but with Oakley's signature naming and engineering. The O-Matter plastic is, in fact, quite lightweight and the Unobtanium rubber nosepiece and ear stems do an excellent job of securing the glasses on your face with little to no slippage, even when you've worked up a sweat.
The frame has a medium to large fit with an aerodynamic design that wraps around the sides and bottom of the large lens, which is frameless across the top. The frameless brow design is intended to increase the upper field of view, and it does so quite effectively. In fact, very little of the frame is visible at all unless you go out of your way to look for it on the lower periphery.
Oakley also incorporated the aforementioned Advancer nose bridge into the frame design. This bridge lets you press a tab at the bridge of the nose, which extends the glasses out and away from the face to increase airflow and decrease the likelihood fogging. This design is unique and actually quite effective. The nose piece isn't adjustable for width, but testers found it to be relatively comfortable.
The arms attach high on the outside edges of the frame with a small but solid hinge, and they dip slightly before extending straight back. The dip of the arms puts them slightly lower on the side of the head and helps reduce potential conflict with helmets that have more temporal lobe coverage.
Oakley includes two arm length options, which can be easily and quickly swapped out for helmet compatibility. About midway down the arms, there is a notched cut-out, and the latter half of the arms can be removed and switched out in just moments. The shorter arms are meant to be less likely to conflict with a helmet's straps and adjustable retention system.
The overall frame quality appears to be very good, and the thoughtful additions like the adjustable nosepiece and two arm lengths are welcome additions that can help enhance your comfort when in use. The frame feels robust, durable, somewhat less bulky than that on the 100% Speedcraft. It also feels stouter and less flimsy than the super-lightweight frame of Julbo Aero.
When the rubber it the road, the Flight Jacket performed right alongside our favorite models in the test. Oakley's well-designed frame with hydrophilic rubber contact points does a great job of keeping these glasses from sliding down your nose or bouncing off your face when you start to sweat or hit the rough spots in the trail.
The wraparound lens' close fit to the face ensures that the Flight Jacket provides ample protection from wind and dust at high speeds, but also causes some sweat channeling issues. We didn't experience any of the wind interference or eye-watering on fast descents with this model. The Prizm lens keeps your eyes protected so you can focus on what lies ahead. Occasionally, on hot days, this model can have some problems channeling sweat away from the lens. The lack of an upper frame crossbar and the close fit combine to mean that sweat can easily drip off of the forehead and onto the lens. The hydrophobic lens treatment meant this wasn't a huge issue initially, but eventually we would have to do a full lens clean to remove the salt streaks.
Throughout testing, we didn't have any problems with these lenses fogging up on us. The frames allow enough airflow that, even when slogging up a skin track in the backcountry at a slow pace and breathing out of our eyeballs, our vision stayed clear. Should you start to experience fogging, all it takes to alleviate it is pressing the Advancer nose bridge to move the glasses out and away from your face to increase airflow.
Oakley has been pushing the limits of style for quite a long time, often leading the charge and creating new trends along the way. The Flight Jacket is a good example of this, a uniquely styled pair of glasses that has already become quite popular among certain circles of athletes.
The large reflective spherical lens is quite flashy on its own, and having a frame across the bottom and sides of the lens with a frameless brow gives these glasses a truly distinctive look. It's eye-catching and definitely a bit futuristic as we've come to expect from Oakley.
The Flight Jacket comes with both a small zippered case and a microfiber storage/lens cleaning bag. The case is small, just bigger than the glasses, making it somewhat more packable than the larger cases included with the Smith Attack Max and the 100% Speedcraft. The inside of the case is lined with a soft felt-like material that won't damage the lenses or the frames. The storage bag is relatively standard with a drawstring at the top, but it also has an extra sleeve on the outside to store an extra lens or the 2nd set of included arms.
Oakley products aren't known for being inexpensive, and the Flight Jacket continues the trend. That said, they are an excellent set of performance sunglasses with outstanding optical clarity and good coverage for high-velocity activities. And they are still less expensive than some of their direct competition, like the POC Do Half Blade.
You'll have to make your own decisions on the value of the Flight Jacket, but we feel that competitors that come with two lenses, like the Smith and 100% models we tested, offer more bang for the buck with a strikingly similar level of performance.
The Flight Jacket quickly rose to the top and became one of our tester's favorite pairs of performance sunglasses. They provide great coverage and eye protection with excellent optical clarity and a relatively comfortable fit and a unique fog management adjustable nose piece. Overall though, they were bested by the Smith Wildcat for our Editors' Choice Award, but there is no denying that the Flight Jacket is one of the best performance sunglass models on the market and a great option for riders or runners who value fog-less lenses.
Other Versions and Accessories
Oakley makes a full line of sunglasses and accessories for all activities. The Flight Jacket is available in eight frame color and lens combinations including the Polished Black/Prizm Road version we tested for this review. They range in price from $203-$253 depending on the lens technology.
There are several different Prizm lens options available for varying light conditions, needs, and preferences. The Flight Jackets are available for purchase with one of the following lenses.
-The Prizm Road lens we tested has a 20% VLT, a base Rose tint, and is intended for use in medium light conditions.
-The Prizm Sapphire lens has a 12% VLT, a base Grey tint, and is meant for use in bright light conditions
-The Prizm Trail lens comes with a 36% VLT, a base Rose tint and is designed to be used in medium light conditions
-The Prizm Low lens has a 75% VLT, and is meant for use in low light conditions.
-The Prizm Ruby Polarized has a 17% VLT, a base Bronze tint, and is made for use in bright light conditions.
-The Clear Black Iridium Photochromic lens changes tint for varying light conditions and has a VLT range of 23%-69% depending on the conditions with a clear base color.Oakley also makes a wide array of replacement lenses for the Flight Jacket.
There are ten standard Prizm lenses available including the Road, Sapphire, Trail, and Low mentioned above which retail from $70-$90.
They also make eight different Prizm Polarized lenses in a range of tints and VLT percentages, all of which retail for $120.
— Jeremy Benson