Smith Attack Max Review
Cons: Expensive, you have to take off arms to put them in their case
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Smith Optics has been producing performance eyewear for decades and the Attack Max is one of several newer models in their lineup. Following in the footsteps of their popular Pivlock models, with frameless lenses and easy lens changes, the Attack Max features an updated lens shape and magnetic arm attachment system.
We tested them for several months during the late summer and fall throughout the greater Lake Tahoe region. We took them on many road, gravel, and mountain bike rides, and a handful of trail runs in a range of mountain weather conditions. When all was said and done, the Attack Max proved to be our Top Pick for Versatility.
Smith has been in the sunglass business for a long time, and their experience is apparent in their high-quality lenses. The Attack Max comes standard with two of their signature Chromapop lenses that provide 100% protection from harmful UV rays. Our test model came with a Chromapop Red Mirror lens with a 15% VLT for bright light conditions as well as a Chromapop Contrast Rose lens with a 48% VLT for low light conditions. Both lenses are made with Smith's carbonic construction that meets the ANSI Z80.3 standards for impact resistance and is treated with a hydrophobic coating to repel oil and water.
They provide excellent distortion-free optics with enhanced contrast thanks to their Chromapop technology. The mirrored lens coatings on both the Red Mirror and the Contrast Rose lenses appears to be highly durable and scratch-resistant, both look brand new despite heavy use during testing. The fixtures attached to the upper corners of the lens where the magnetic arms attach also remain well secured to the lens.
Overall, we feel the lens quality of the Attack Max is top of the heap, rivaled only by the Oakley Prizm lens of the Flight Jacket. Both sunglasses have outstanding crystal clear optics and lens technologies like Chromapop and Prizm that help to enhance contrast and do so quite well. The fact that Smith includes two lenses with the Attack Max raises the bar somewhat over the Oakley and ensures that you have the proper lenses for the conditions.
We were also quite impressed with the lenses of the Smith Wildcat and the POC Aspire, though they couldn't quite match the spherical lenses in this metric. The Julbo Aero also has a quality lens, but lost ground due to its darker tint and lack of versatility.
Fit and Comfort
The Attack Max is a very comfortable pair of performance sunglasses. They're lightweight with a medium fit that works well with a range of head sizes and facial structures. The arms and nose pad are made of hydrophilic Megol rubber that holds them securely in place even when wet. The arms have rubber for most of their length and a nice curved shape that hugs the head above your ears. The nose piece is adjustable with two positions to widen or narrow the fit to accommodate varying nose shapes.
The Attack Max isn't quite as feather-light as the Julbo Aero or the Pit Viper Originals, which you barely even notice when they are on your face. Still, they offer a very similar level of comfort due to their excellent fit.
The Max beats out the Oakley Flight Jacket here just slightly. The Flight Jacket has a large adjustable nose pad, which creates more face contact towards the center of the brow. The POC Do Half Blade and 100% Glendale are also more prone to making face contact at the brow due to their super close fit and wrap-around shape. The 100% Speedcraft has a somewhat tighter squeeze on the head, bulkier feel, and more abrasive nose pad rubber.
The Attack Max provides an impressive level of eye protection. They don't have the biggest lens of the models in our test, but at 135mm wide and 53mm tall with a curved wrap-around design and close fit to the face, they offer as much or more protection than most other models we tested. The spherical polycarbonate lenses provide 100% protection from harmful UV rays, and they meet the ANSI Z80.3 standards for impact resistance.
Not only do these glasses provide excellent protection from the sun and impact, but they offer some of the best protection from the wind of the models we tested. This was notable on the mountain bike while bombing down high-speed shuttle laps, and while in an aero tuck flying down mountain roads on the road bike.
In terms of size, the lens of the Attack Max is almost identical to that of the Oakley Flight Jacket minus the lower frame coverage of that model. Both of these glasses are somewhat smaller in size than the 100% Speedcraft, yet they still manage to protect the eyes just as well, and they both seem to block the wind slightly better.
The Attack Max is a generally frameless set of sunglasses, meaning the lens has virtually no frame around its periphery. The frame elements of the Attack Max are limited to a removable, adjustable nose piece, two magnetic arms, and two small fixtures on the upper corners of the lens where the arms attach.
This frame design is unique for the models in this review and is minimal when compared with the other performance models we tested. Despite the minimalist nature of the frame, Smith has incorporated several unique features into its design in both the nose piece and the magnetic arm attachment.
The nose piece is quickly and easily removable for swapping between the two lenses that come with the Attack Max. It fits onto the lens with a recessed groove that snaps into place in two small notched cutouts in the lens. The nosepiece extends towards the face away from the lens, and there is a Megol rubber nose pad, which has two adjustable positions to suit the user's nose shape or preferences. By simply pressing the wings of the nose pad out or in, the nose pad can be narrowed or widened. This is a nice feature, which helps enhance their fit and comfort.
The arms of the Attack Max have a magnetic attachment system that snaps into place on the small plastic fixtures at the upper corners of the lenses. The arms hinge by the lens end. Beyond the hinge is a two-sided magnetic clip that slides into and closes around the fixture on the lens. You simply line up the arm on the correct side of the lens and push the two together, and they click into place.
To remove the arms, you fold them at the hinge, press the outer part of the magnetic closure and slide the inner piece out of the slotted groove. The arms themselves are slender with Megol rubber coating about half of their length. The rubber on both the nose piece and the arms is grippy and keeps the glasses securely in place on your face.
Unlike the frames of the other performance sunglasses in this review, Smith made it incredibly easy and user-friendly to switch between lenses. Beyond that, it is challenging to compare the Attack Max frames to those of the competition since they don't really have a frame. The elements of the frame that are there appear to be well made and have held up well to an extended period of testing.
The Attack Max lived up to Smith's quality reputation with its field performance in our test. The quality fit and light weight mean that they're barely noticeable on your face when out on a ride or run. The hydrophilic rubber contact points at the nose and sides of the head keep these glasses stuck in place and don't have you constantly reaching up to adjust their fit no matter how sweaty you get. We had no issues rumbling through rock gardens or grinding down rough gravel roads with these things on.
The frameless design allows this model to breathe well when moving at low speeds or stopping. We had no issues with lens fogging, but the close fit of the lens to the forehead meant that we occasionally had to deal with sweat dripping down the front of the lens, though the lack of a lower frame allows it to drip off the bottom easily.
The Attack Max has a pretty distinctive frameless look that is right at home when worn with a helmet on a mountain or road bike. Their styling is sporty and performance-oriented with a large reflective spherical lens and a close wraparound fit.
The Chromapop Red Mirror lens has a bright reflective coating while the Chromapop Contrast Rose lens has a light mirrored finish and is somewhat see-through. The style of these glasses is best suited to being out on the road or trail whether you're cycling, running, cross-country skiing, or doing just about anything active. There's no reason you can't wear them around town or just casually. But our testers are inclined to put them away once they get off the bike and switch to a pair of lifestyle glasses.
The included storage case for the Attack Max is a quality zippered affair that is excellent for storage but a little bulky to toss in a pack to take with you on adventures. The case itself is half-moon shape with a zipper around most of it that allows you to open it fully. Inside the case is a semi-rigid foam with cut-outs to accommodate two lenses and the ear stems. There is a slot for a lens with the nose piece attached, a slot for the other lens, plus two small cut-outs to hold the ear stems. Our only gripe with the case design is that you have to take the arms off the glasses for them to fit inside. Smith also includes a microfiber storage/lens cleaning bag with each pair.
The Attack Max is one of the most expensive models in our selection of performance sunglasses. Since they have great optics, good coverage and eye protection, and come with two quality spherical Chromapop lenses for that price, we feel they are a better value than many models in this test. It's basically like you get two pairs of glasses for the price, one for bright light conditions and another for lower or more variable lighting.
Smith's Attack Max is a high-quality set of performance sunglasses that checked all of our boxes. They boast excellent eye protection, great coverage, quality Chromapop optics, a comfortable fit, and a quality hard case. They are expensive, but we still feel they represent a good value. We believe the Attack Max are one of the best in our test and one of the top performance sunglass models on the market today.
Other Versions and Accessories
Smith makes a huge range of sunglasses and replacement lenses for all types of activities. The Attack Max is one of several glasses in their range designed for high-velocity sports and activities. Smith also makes a model called the Attack, which is roughly the same as the Attack Max but has slightly less lens coverage across the top of the lens by the brow.Both the Attack and the Attack Max are available in seven frame color/lens options. Smith also makes ten different replacement lenses for the Attack Max, all of which come with a hard protective case. There are eight different Chromapop options in a variety of tints and VLT percentages, which cost $80 each. They make one photochromic clear to grey lens that changes from 20%-85% VLT and retails for $100 and a clear lens that costs $40.
— Jeremy Benson