Oakley Sutro Prizm Review
Cons: Limited range of fit, problems channeling sweat away from the lenses
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Since the mid-eighties, Oakley has been a leading innovator in the performance sunglasses industry. Today they're one of a few industry giants regularly churning out new and novel designs and pushing the industry forward. The Sutro is one of their latest offerings, so we decided it would be a great candidate for our test. With its high-quality Prizm lens, great coverage, and a stylish throwback look, we found a lot to like about this model, but we also had some concerns about its range of fit and ability to channel sweat away from the lens during hard efforts.
We tested the Sutro with Oakley's Prizm Road lens, and absolutely loved it. Oakley's Prizm technology has only been around for the last few years, and it purportedly spent more than a decade in development. Our Prizm Road lens offered 20% visible light transmission for medium to bright light conditions as well as 100% protection from harmful UV rays. The optics were among the best of any model in our test with high contrast, sharp clarity, and no obvious distortion. We found the Road tint to be super versatile and viable across a wide range of light conditions, and Oakley offers a few other tint options to fit your needs.
The Sutro's cylindrical lens is constructed with Oakley's impact-resistant "Plutonite" polycarbonate plastic and has an orange reflective coating that proved quite durable throughout our testing. To get a good feel for the lens' durability, we weren't exactly gentle with it. We wouldn't recommend this, but we cleaned these glasses with our t-shirt, dropped them on the ground, and stuffed them in backpacks. Through it all, the lenses stood up to the test. By the time we finished with them, the lens was more or less as good as the day we first put them on.
Fit and Comfort
For the most part, our testers found that the Sutro is a comfortable pair of glasses with a well thought out design. The nose piece is made of Oakley's "Unobtainium" hydrophilic rubber and makes for a comfortable and grippy contact point. There's no adjustment in the nose piece, but the rubber should stretch and contour to most nose types for a consistent fit. The arms are among the longest of any model in our test and contour well to the sides of the head. Most people won't have too much frame contact across the brow or at the cheekbones, so there's no need to worry about discomfort there.
Our primary concern with the fit of these glasses came from the rigid frame. For most people with average or slightly above average head sizes, the Sutro should fit like a glove. For those of us with large heads, the frame doesn't offer much wiggle room. It's easily apparent that this model doesn't like flexing much beyond its standard size. Our big-headed testers noticed that these glasses applied pressure to the sides of the head and would start to cause pain just behind the ears after an hour or so of wearing them. Additionally, the Sutro's long arms extend far enough towards the back of the head that they can interfere with some mountain bike helmets that provide extended temporal lobe protection.
The Sutro comes as part of the recent wave of goggle-esque sunglasses and provides great coverage and protection. The lens is one of the biggest in our test at 150mm wide and 55mm tall. The cylindrical lens doesn't contour quite as close to the face as some of the spherical lens models we looked at, but the sheer size of the lens is enough to keep you well covered.
In addition to UV protection and improved optics, the Sutro's Prizm Road lens is big enough to protect your eyes from anything that might come your way. We had no fear of rock, bug, or branch impacts when riding the trails or on the road in the middle of the peloton. In one instance during testing, when riding in a large group on the road, a rider ran over a glass bottle and sent tiny glass shards flying through the peloton. The Sutro's fantastic coverage allowed our tester to maintain full focus and avoid the ensuing chaos without issue. When wearing the Sutro you get the impression that you're sitting comfortably inside and looking out a window.
True to form, Oakley's Sutro frame is functional and strong, but it was outdone by a few other models that we tested. Constructed from their proprietary "O Matter" nylon infused plastic and "Unobtainium" hydrophilic rubber, the frame is relatively pliable and comfortable (unless you're one of us big-headed folk). While it doesn't offer any adjustability in the nose piece or arms like some other models that we tested, we found that rubber of the nose piece will contour to most nose types.
Our biggest gripe with the Sutro's frame is the lack of hydrophilic rubber at the contact points on the side of the head. The O matter plastic is a fair bit harder than the grilamid or T90 frames of other models we tested, and it could use a little bit of extra cushion where it contacts the head. A little bit of rubber at those contact points could help ease the discomfort that some of our large-headed testers felt when wearing these for extended periods.
Lately, the Sutro has been popping up on more and more faces in the pro tour road cycling peloton including Tour de France winner Egan Bernal and Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet. Clearly, the performance of this model is up to snuff for some of the best cyclists in the world, and our testers agreed. While it wasn't our favorite model, we had few complaints.
The Sutro's well-thought-out design means it stays put even when the going gets rough. We took these glasses mountain biking and trail running and never had problems with them falling off of our faces. Additionally, the massive lens size means that they're great for keeping the wind and dust out of your eyes at high speeds. At lower speeds when climbing or running, we didn't have any issues with this model fogging up. It seems like Oakley struck a great balance between wind protection and breathability with the Sutro's fit.
Occasionally during super hard efforts on the bike, our more perspiration-prone testers had problems with sweat dripping down the front of the lens and obscuring their vision. The top of the Sutro's frame sits precariously close to the brow, making it easy for sweat to run down your forehead and make the jump onto the lens. We only experienced this a couple times in hot weather, but each time it necessitated a full lens clean to remove the salt streaks. This is a super common issue that many cyclists encounter with performance sunglasses, but a few of the other models are better at avoiding it.
With the Sutro, we think that Oakley pulled off the difficult feat of designing a stylish, understated pair of goggle-style glasses. The Sutro tiptoes right on the edge of looking like something you might see your grandparents wearing, but we think Oakley pulled it off (especially after seeing them pop up all over the pro tour peloton recently). They're nowhere near as futuristic or high-tech looking as some of Oakley's other offerings, and they don't have the same in-your-face, over-the-top style as brands like 100% and Pit Viper. For someone looking for a pair of glasses with great coverage who doesn't want to look like a 1980s frat bro or a futuristic robot hunter, the Sutro is a good choice.
The Sutro comes standard with a rigid, zippered case and a soft bag for storage and cleaning. The case is small enough to fit into backpacks and luggage with ease, and rigid enough that you won't have to worry about TSA smashing your sweet new glasses.
The Sutro is a great pair of glasses for almost any outdoor activity. They were designed with urban and road cycling in mind, but there's no reason they wouldn't make great mountain biking, hiking, running, or backcountry skiing glasses. Oakley offers lens options for just about any light condition. We also think they're just understated enough to be reasonable in everyday situations if you're willing to be a little bit bold.
Clocking in at $166 retail price, the Sutro is one of the less-expensive models that we looked at. Given our mostly-positive experience while testing them, we think that they're a good value if you have an average-sized head and aren't overly worried about your perspiration levels. For people with larger heads, we would recommend a pair of glasses with a more versatile fit like the Smith Wildcat, and for people who are looking to get the most bang for their buck we suggest checking out the Pit Viper Originals.
We have very few complaints about the Sutro. This model performed well across the board with just a few hiccups. The fit isn't as versatile as some of the other models we tested, and the frame has some occasional problems channeling sweat away from the lens, but other than that we loved the Sutro for its sharp optics and fantastic coverage.
— Zach Wick