Tifosi Swank SL Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, true to color, minimal face touching, not super sporty-looking
Cons: Run small, fairly specific style, large edge gaps
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Tifosi Swank SL
|Price||$49.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$209.00 at Amazon||$178.93 at Amazon||$78.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$54.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Lightweight, true to color, minimal face touching, not super sporty-looking||Great clarity, excellent contrast, minimal color distortion, very comfortable, look good on pretty much everyone||Great color retention, superb coverage, quality construction, fits many face sizes, great case and cleaning cloth||Lightweight, comfortable, stable, good on many faces, nice case||Lightweight, comfortable, secure, good balance, versatile, look good|
|Cons||Run small, fairly specific style, large edge gaps||Peripheral coverage not ideal, can still bounce a little||Heavy, large lens "look", weird inside reflective patch||Not overly stylish, run small, temple grips could be cleaner cut||Hinges loosen, brown lenses are yellowy|
|Bottom Line||Lightweight shades that stay solidly in place without looking as sporty as most of the rest||Exceptional lenses in impressively comfortable frames that manage to be extremely functional while still looking casual||Top-notch coverage and superb color retention make these large-fit shades well-equipped to protect your eyes from water-reflected light||These sunnies are light and comfortable for your face and eyes and a bit easier on your wallet||A solidly versatile pair of comfortable shades that are easy to wear and a great price|
|Rating Categories||Tifosi Swank SL||Kaenon Clarke||Costa Del Mar Rincon||Native Eyewear Wells||Suncloud Rambler|
|Lens Quality (30%)|
|Frame Quality (20%)|
|Style And Versatility (15%)|
|Specs||Tifosi Swank SL||Kaenon Clarke||Costa Del Mar Rincon||Native Eyewear Wells||Suncloud Rambler|
|Lens Tested||Brown||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|
|Visible Light Transmission (VLT)||Not specified||12%||12%||12%||15%|
|VLT Protection Index||Not specified||Cat 3||Cat 3||Cat 3||Cat 3|
|HEV/Blue Light Protection (claim)||None||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||Polycarbonate||Plastic - "SR-91" polycarbonate||Polycarbonate||Plastic polycarbonate||Plastic polycarbonate|
|Protective Coatings||Anti-scratch||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||Autolocking integrated hinge||Standard/barrel||Spring||Standard/barrel||Standard/barrel|
|Case Included||Microfiber bag||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 Tifosi Swank SL with Brown Polarized lenses. They're a Medium fit and come with a microfiber storage bag.
The Brown Polarized lenses we tested are pretty good performers as far as lenses go. While some browns can give the world an odd-colored tint, these manage to retain fairly true-to-life colors. The brown shade does increase contrast some, though not quite as much as many other brown lenses. They're also quite clear polycarbonate lenses with even polarization.
- 100% UV Protection
- Unspecified Visible Light Transmission (Category 3)
- 0% HEV/Blue Light Blockage, 0% Infrared Blockage
- Color: Brown, Material: Polycarbonate
- Impact Resistant, Anti-Scratch
We weren't able to locate a lot of specific information about the specifications of the Swank SL Brown Polarized lenses, but from our experiences using them, they work pretty well in bright light. Despite being worn fairly far away from the face, they are surprisingly above average when it comes to counter reflection — that is, seeing the reflection of your own face in the backs of the lenses. The outer edges, farther from the face, have a fair amount of mirroring, but not to the scale that we see in many others.
We like looking through these lenses, as they're a shade of brown that performs well in bright light and keeps true colors, but we wish they could offer a little more. Several competitors block specifically harmful wavelengths of light to keep the eyeballs comfortable even in harsh lighting. We're also not huge fans of the large block lettering in the corner of the lens, and read quite a few reports of it partially rubbing off after a while. We're not sure if that would make us like them more or less, but regardless, ours did not rub off.
Weighing just 23 grams, the Swank SL are some of the lightest sports sunglasses we tested. This goes a long way toward our overall level of comfort when wearing them. They're easy to take off and put on with one hand, which we greatly appreciate when driving. The Woodgrain frames we tested are smooth (and not real wood), with just the right level of matte finish to give them a touch of extra grip without being sticky.
The Swank SL also don't feel like sports sunglasses. They're flatter across the front and rest just on the nose, farther away from the face, giving them much more of a casual vibe. While many glasses with rubber on the backs of the bows will grip your face tightly enough to make them raise off the nose when smiling, the Swank SLs don't. They stay firmly rooted to the nose no matter how hard you laugh with them on. Their only downfall when it comes to comfort is that they're a fairly small fit and aren't quite wide enough for some wider heads.
The Grilamid TR-90 frame (a type of plastic) is both lightweight and more flexible than average. Both the bows and the section of frame around the tops of the lenses are impressively flexible, even for a pair of sports sunglasses. The 3 barrel hinges are constructed of the full width of the bow, with all three barrels made of the same close-fitting Grilamid TR-90. They're easily adjustable with screws that can be accessed from underneath the frame, and pop open and closed with auto-lock functionality.
Embedded rubber nose pads feel even less sticky than we'd expect, and are held in place pretty well, though not quite as cleanly and neatly as some others. All in all, the materials and construction of the Swank SL is pretty good. Our concern is that their flexibility may eventually be their undoing. Without a frame to wrap around the bottom of each lens, there's a little too much plasticity. As we bend and flex the frames, it puts obvious visual tension on the lenses, actually pulling them and warping them. We worry that over time or with rough treatment, the lenses may not survive the elasticity of the frames — and might even just fall out the bottoms! None of this happened over our several months of testing, but we have concerns about how they'll hold up throughout the years.
Style and Versatility
We've been hyping the style of the Swank, but here's where we define the asterisks that lead to style-related footnotes. Not all our testers like how these look on them. First off, they're on the small side, so our team members with wider faces aren't big fans of wearing too-narrow glasses, regardless of shape. Some of our testers would have loved to see a metal bottom section of the frame, rather than this totally open version. A few mentioned the bottom outside corners are a little too rounded and almost bulbous.
On the other hand, our testers with narrow faces generally liked how these look a lot more, and many were big fans of the open-bottom design. The Woodgrain pattern we tested is also interesting without being too fake-looking, and isn't just a printed wrap on the outside of the frames, waiting to peel off when you forget them on the dash of your car. Here's another area in which not all of our team likes the large gold lettering screaming "TIFOSI" across the left lens and both bows. Regardless, these sports sunglasses are some of the least sporty-looking pairs we tested, and some folks appreciate that.
Another mixed bag performance from the Swank is when it comes to their coverage. Just from looking at photos of them, it's obvious they aren't a wraparound style of sunglasses. They're pretty flat, leaving plenty of open space for the sun to shine in the sides. They have decent coverage on top, but again, stand out far enough from the face that even the bottom is open to catching glare and surface reflections from your surroundings. Their lack of a bottom frame also contributes to this openness.
None of that is particularly surprising, given their overall shape and fit. So all that aside, the Swank SL stay in place surprisingly well. Those hidden rubber nose pads kick in a good amount of staying power on a sweaty face, helping them to stay put when you're running or it's just plain hot out. Their impressively light overall weight also comes in handy, allowing you to wear them sitting fashionably away from your face without them sliding down your nose or bouncing away, as many heavier models are prone to do.
Tifosi sells the Swank SL with just a simple microfiber drawstring bag/cleaning cloth. It's fine for preventing scratches and wiping off your dirty lenses but doesn't offer any protection from being crushed in a backpack or purse.
These are some of the least expensive sport sunglasses we've tested. They provide solid protection, a comfortable fit, and pretty good performance, even in the face of some seriously impressive competition. Due to their specific fit and picky fashion, we suggest trying them on before deciding if they're right for you, but if they fit and you love the look, we think what they have to offer is a good value purchase.
The Tifosi Swank SL are lightweight shades that have a lot to offer in sport-related performance without looking so sporty. They may fall short on coverage, but stay put well and have good lenses in flexible frames that are comfortable to wear (as long as your head isn't larger than the sunglasses). And we're big fans of their much more affordable price.
— Maggie Brandenburg