Maui Jim Kahi Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Excellent eye protection and coverage, durable design, great contrast with minimal color distortion, superb case
Cons: Heavy, large overall size and fit, expensive
Manufacturer: Maui Jim
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Maui Jim Kahi
|Price||$249.99 at Amazon|
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|$209.00 at Backcountry|
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|$265 List||$149.25 at Amazon|
|Pros||Excellent eye protection and coverage, durable design, great contrast with minimal color distortion, superb case||Great clarity, excellent contrast with little color distortion, flexing frames, works for most faces||Excellent protection, great clarity, extremely comfortable, good for active endeavors, good for many faces||Great lens clarity, universally flattering style, surprisingly comfortable, durable build, good eye protection||Good contrast, superb clarity, excellent protective coatings, stay in place, lightweight, all-day comfort|
|Cons||Heavy, large overall size and fit, expensive||Peripheral coverage not ideal, cleaner bag a little stiff, may be sporty-looking||Developed a slight lens defect, fit is less secure, coverage could be better||Not polarized, heavy, large, case not overly protective, expensive||Not very stylish, lighter tint suffers in bright light, copper lens distorts colors, too small, expensive|
|Bottom Line||A great pair with excellent coverage and top-notch lens quality, but a bit heavy||A top-notch combo of versatility, functionality, and style||Excellent protection and great comfort, though not totally perfect||Not only do these sunglasses provide good eye protection, they also have swagger||For any activity on the water, you’ll be happy to have the top-notch quality and performance of these glasses|
|Rating Categories||Maui Jim Kahi||Kaenon Clarke||Costa Del Mar Spearo||Vuarnet District Medium Round||Costa Del Mar Hinano|
|Lens Quality (30%)|
|Frame Quality (20%)|
|Style And Versatility (15%)|
|Specs||Maui Jim Kahi||Kaenon Clarke||Costa Del Mar Spearo||Vuarnet District...||Costa Del Mar Hinano|
|Lens Tested||HCL Bronze||Grey 12 Pacific Blue Mirror||Blue Mirror||Brown Lynx||Copper 580P|
|Ideal Activity||everyday||water sports||water sports||everyday||everyday|
|Ideal Lens Light Conditions||Medium to bright light||Bright light||Bright light||Medium to bright light||Low to bright light|
|Polarized||Yes||Yes||Yes||No, but it is available||Yes|
|Visible Light Transmission (VLT)||15%||12%||10%||9%||12%|
|VLT Protection Index||cat 3||cat 3||cat 3||cat 3||cat 3|
|HEV/Blue Light Protection (claim)||95%||not specified||100%||97%||100%|
|Infrared Protection (claim)||"infrared effective"||0%||0%||93%||0%|
|Neutral/Contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast|
|Lens Material||glass - "SuperThin Glass"||plastic - "SR-91" polycarbonate||glass - 580 Polarized (polycarbonate available)||glass - mineral glass||glass - 580 Polarized|
|Protective Coatings||Anti-reflective on front and back||Anti-reflective back, hydro-oleophobic, mirror||Anti-scratch, hydro-oleaophobic, mirror||Anti-reflective back, silver bi-shade mirror||Anti-scratch, oil repellent, water repellent, naturally scratch resistant|
|Can take prescription lens?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Case Included||Hard rigid clam case and soft/cleaning bag||Rigid zippered and soft/cleaning bag||Rigid zippered and soft/cleaning bag||Semi-rigid flex case and cleaning cloth||Rigid zippered and cleaning cloth|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested the Kahis with HCL Bronze lenses, made for all-around, everyday use. They're size large and come with a hard clamshell case and microfiber cleaning cloth/bag. They're also available in prescription lenses.
These Maui Jims with HCL Bronze lenses have an impressive line up of specs, and the killer performance to back it up. Made of SuperThin Glass, the Kahi lenses are naturally scratch-resistant, though a bit heavier than plastic lenses. They're polarized, anti-reflective, block 95% of HEV or blue light, and enhance contrast, helping you see past the surface of the sunny sea to the life teeming below the surface.
- 99.9% Polarization
- 100% UV Protection
- 15% Visible Light Transmission (Category 3)
- 95% HEV/Blue Light Blockage, "Infrared Effective"
- Color: Amber/Brown, Material: SuperThin Glass
- Not Impact Resistant, Anti-reflective Front and Back
Despite having a higher VLT (visible light transmission) than some of the others we tested, the Kahis feel on the darker side. They are exceedingly comfortable in bright light. The Bronze color also adds contrast to your field of vision and creates less color distortion than any other brown lens we tested. They are effective across most lighting situations.
The SuperThin Glass Maui Jim uses to construct these lenses provides superb clarity. We feel like we can see better when we're wearing them than when we're not. The anti-reflective coating on the front and back also help filter out extraneous light, making your vision even crisper. Additionally, we found the Kahis exceptionally easy to clean if and when they do pick up smudges, even if you have only your shirttail to use.
We are such big fans of the Kahi's HCL Bronze Polarized lenses that we had a hard time finding anything to complain about! We thought perhaps the fact that they wrap around your head and pick up trace amounts of hair grease might be a pitfall, but they are truly easy to clean, so we couldn't even count that.
The Kahis are decently comfortable to wear, with their curved shape and rubber nose pads and bow backs. The flexible spring hinges prevent them from squeezing your head hard enough to give you a headache, while still providing enough pressure to keep them on your face. The rubber pads rest lightly on your nose, adding additional staying power, which is key for these super heavy sunnies. We were surprised with how much these sunglasses weigh (40 grams!) because they are pretty well-balanced and only a little front-heavy, helping them to feel lighter and more comfortable to wear all day.
That said, these glasses are not only heavy but large. Our narrow-faced testers had a few issues with the bows being extremely long and the overall width caused them to rest on the outsides of the tops of their ears. These glasses work better on a larger head for general comfort, but even medium to smaller testers didn't find them excessively uncomfortable to wear for hours at a time.
Style and Versatility
While none of our testers hated the Maui Jim Kahis, they also aren't winning any unofficial awards for style. Most folks who tested these glasses feel they have neutral style. They're not bad, but not turning heads either. The Kahis come in a few different colors, so if the Brown Wood Grain we tested isn't up your alley, there are other options. One of the largest issues we found with the Kahis, barring lack of style, is their large size. But if you classify your face as wide or large, or you like oversized sunglasses in general, the Kahi style work for you.
The Kahis sunglasses just feel sturdy when you pick them up and put them on. Their matte brown wood grain nylon frames with rubber grip pads on the nose and arms are thick and instill confidence in their durability. They're not overly flexible but are just pliable enough so they don't feel as if they'll shatter with a bit of force. The Maui Jims also sport flexible, hidden spring hinges, giving you more room to maneuver them. The heavy weight of the Kahis comes into play here as well. This heftiness lends a more durable feeling to the Kahis compared to the almost scary lightness of some other models. However, that weight is, well, heavier. Most of us appreciate this sense of security though, making us feel more confident in our ability to toss them in our suitcase or backpack.
We read some reports of the rubber detaching from the nylon frames of the Kahi, but we experienced no such issues during our months of constant wear. The only very small issue we did have is that after months of use, the two hinges were slightly different tightnesses. This was easily fixed with a small screwdriver, so we didn't count it against them. Maui Jim also backs their products with a two-year warranty against manufacturer's defects and has a comprehensive repair program if you do happen to bust these burly beasts.
These Maui Jims provide great coverage for a pair of everyday sunglasses. They have a base curve of 8, which functionally means they wrap around your face well without feeling so close that they're suctioned on like a pair of goggles. The lenses are also quite large, providing extra coverage and protection from the sun while keeping the frames more out of your field of vision. The Kahi bows are also a bit wider than the other everyday glasses we tested, which also helps block the sides a bit more from stray particles. While you don't have to wear these shades jammed up against your face, if you do, they provide pretty good coverage from side-entering light and even moderate protection from wind and dust blowing in from your open car window.
The heft of the Kahis detracts from their quality of coverage on smaller and even some medium-sized faces. With very long arms, they have extra room to move and slide down your nose if given the chance. The rubber grips help, but because of the long arms, our small-faced testers had a pretty large distance these sunglasses could slip before those rubber bow grips caught. Still, their large lenses and helpful curvature provide decent coverage on just about everybody.
A good sunglasses case should protect your investment against scratching, bumping, squeezing, and crushing. The case included as standard with a pair of Maui Jim Kahis does just that. It's the most rigid, protective case of any pair of sunglasses we reviewed and includes an additional cloth case that doubles as a cleaning cloth for your fabulous lenses. This clamshell bombshell easily snaps open and closed, with plenty of room inside for the large Kahi frames. Its rigid construction offers a lot of protection for your new duds, and without costing you a single extra dime. We found it very easy and convenient to use and works well tossed in your beach bag or crammed into your carry-on luggage.
The Maui Jim Kahis are no cheap pair of sunglasses, and are actually one of the most expensive pairs we tested. And while spending more money doesn't always get you a better product, in this case, it does. The Kahis are a solid investment that impressed us with their excellent all-around performance, and we think they're worth what you'll pay.
One of our favorite pairs of everyday sunglasses, the Maui Jim Kahis are a well-crafted, high-performing piece of gear that's built to last you for years of fun in the sun. With excellent optical clarity and contrast and large, comfortable frames, the Kahis have you covered. Though they, and their superbly protective case, are the heaviest sunnies we tested, their performance and price are well worth it.
— Maggie Brandenburg