The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Oakley Holbrook Polarized Review

These are less expensive shades, but they aren't outstanding performers.
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Price:  $173 List | $140.80 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Face-hugging fit, lightweight, durable lenses, less expensive
Cons:  Only floppy case included, boring style
Manufacturer:   Oakley
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 22, 2019
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 12
  • Lens Quality - 30% 6
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Frame Quality - 20% 6
  • Style and Versatility - 15% 5
  • Coverage - 10% 8

Our Verdict

A decently performing pair of sunglasses, the Oakley Holbrooks offer great coverage and above-average protection but don't inspire any poems or sonnets from our testers. They're among the lightest sunglasses we tested and are large enough to block out most sun, glare, and even dust without being enormous on small faces. Their lack of spring hinges and nose or ear padding make them less comfortable for all-day wear, creating pressure points for some of our testers. Our biggest complaint is that they don't bring anything exciting to the table when compared to the other glasses we tested. They're a decent value though, with a lower price tag than most.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Face-hugging fit, lightweight, durable lenses, less expensiveGreat clarity, excellent contrast with little color distortion, flexing frames, works for most facesExcellent protection, great clarity, extremely comfortable, good for active endeavors, good for many facesExcellent eye protection and coverage, durable design, great contrast with minimal color distortion, superb caseGreat lens clarity, universally flattering style, surprisingly comfortable, durable build, good eye protection
Cons Only floppy case included, boring stylePeripheral coverage not ideal, cleaner bag a little stiff, may be sporty-lookingDeveloped a slight lens defect, fit is less secure, coverage could be betterHeavy, large overall size and fit, expensiveNot polarized, heavy, large, case not overly protective, expensive
Bottom Line These are less expensive shades, but they aren't outstanding performers.A high-quality blend of functionality, versatility, and style.Great protection and amazing comfort, but not completely perfect.A high-performing pair of shades with great coverage and exceptional lens quality, though a bit heavy.These shades are protective, clear, and very cool.
Rating Categories Oakley Holbrook Polarized Kaenon Clarke Costa Del Mar Spearo Maui Jim Kahi Vuarnet District Medium Round
Lens Quality (30%)
10
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6
10
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9
10
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8
10
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9
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7
Comfort (25%)
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6
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8
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9
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7
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7
Frame Quality (20%)
10
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6
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8
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8
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8
Style And Versatility (15%)
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5
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7
10
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7
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6
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9
Coverage (10%)
10
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8
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7
10
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7
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8
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7
Specs Oakley Holbrook... Kaenon Clarke Costa Del Mar Spearo Maui Jim Kahi Vuarnet District...
Lens Tested Black Iridium Grey 12 Pacific Blue Mirror Blue Mirror HCL Bronze Brown Lynx
Ideal Activity everyday water sports water sports everyday everyday
Ideal Lens Light Conditions Bright light Bright light Bright light Medium to bright light Medium to bright light
Polarized Yes Yes Yes Yes No, but it is available
Fit Medium Medium-Full Medium-Large Large Medium-Large
Weight (grams) 25g 29g 29g 40g 37g
UV Protection 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) 10% 12% 10% 15% 9%
VLT Protection Index cat 3 cat 3 cat 3 cat 3 cat 3
HEV/Blue Light Protection 100% not specified 100% 95% 97%
Infrared Protection 0% 0% 0% "infrared effective" 93%
Neutral/Contrast Neutral Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast
Lens Material plastic - "Plutonite" polycarbonate plastic - "SR-91" polycarbonate glass - 580 Polarized (polycarbonate available) glass - "SuperThin Glass" glass - mineral glass
Impact Resistance Yes Yes No No Yes
Protective Coatings Anti-reflective, anti-scratch, mirrored iridium coating Anti-reflective back, hydro-oleophobic, mirror Anti-scratch, hydro-oleaophobic, mirror Anti-reflective on front and back Anti-reflective back, silver bi-shade mirror
Can take prescription lens? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Hinge type Standard/barrel Standard/barrel Spring/flex Spring/flex Standard/barrel
Case Included Soft/cleaning bag Rigid zippered and soft/cleaning bag Rigid zippered and soft/cleaning bag Hard rigid clam case and soft/cleaning bag Semi-rigid flex case and cleaning cloth

Our Analysis and Test Results

We tested the Holbrooks with Black Iridium lenses, designed for casual, everyday wear. They're size medium and come with just a simple microfiber drawstring case that doubles as a cleaning cloth. They are available with prescription lenses, for three times the cost.

Performance Comparison


Though they aren't our favorite pair of shades the Holbrooks are one of only two pairs we tested that block 100% of HEV or blue light.
Though they aren't our favorite pair of shades the Holbrooks are one of only two pairs we tested that block 100% of HEV or blue light.

Lens Quality


We tested the Oakley Holbrook Polarized glasses with Black Iridium lenses, which are a shade of grey. Compared to the glasses we tested with brown lenses, these offer less contrast and more neutral colors. They are one of the very few pairs we reviewed that block 100% of HEV or blue light. The Holbrooks also boast a low VLT (visible light transmission), providing extra protection on super bright days.

Black Iridium Lenses
  • 99% polarization
  • 100% UV protection
  • 10% Visible Light Transmission (category 3)
  • 100% HEV/Blue light blockage, No infrared blockage
  • Color: Grey, Material: Plastic, Plutonite polycarbonate
  • Impact resistant with anti-reflective, anti-scratch, iridium (mirrored) coating

Their plastic, Plutonite polycarbonate lenses are lightweight and impact resistant while providing good clarity. And we appreciate that these sunglasses don't pick up tons of dirt or smudges easily. Still, their optics seem a bit less crisp than many of their competitors. This may be because their grey lenses don't enhance contrast like the brown lenses we tested in many other pairs. Perhaps it's due to their lower visible light transmission rates. Or it may be a function of the protective coatings or polycarbonate lenses themselves. Whatever the cause, the Holbrooks are pretty good lenses but not quite as good as the competition.

The Black Iridium lenses we tested aren't the best for contrast  but they're still pretty sharp.
The Black Iridium lenses we tested aren't the best for contrast, but they're still pretty sharp.

Comfort


The Oakley Holbrooks weigh just 25 grams, making them some of the lightest sunglasses we tested. They're exceptionally well-balanced from front to back, which helps prevent them from sliding down your nose easily. They fit quite snugly, even on smaller faces, and feel very secure. However, they lack padding anywhere on their frames, and their standard barrel hinges don't overextend to fit wider faces.

This combination of rigidity and tightness caused a number of our testers to report pressure points behind their ears when wearing the Holbrooks for extended periods. Some of us also noticed that if we pushed the Holbrooks all the way up our nose, the inward angle of the arms forced the frame up, and the glasses jumped right off our nose! Overall, we aren't stoked about the Holbrook's comfort, but their balance and lightweight are much appreciated.

Lacking any padding or even spring hinges  the Holbrooks had some pressure points after a few hours for some of our testers.
Lacking any padding or even spring hinges, the Holbrooks had some pressure points after a few hours for some of our testers.

Frame Quality


The plastic frames of the Holbrooks don't seem like anything fancy. They're lightweight, which we love, and flex a bit, but they don't feel like they're meant to flex too much. Their hinges are standard barrel style and are fairly tight, letting you snap the arms open.

The exceptionally low weight of these sunglasses makes you wonder about their durability. That said, we didn't find any actual flaws with the Holbrook frames, despite putting them through the wringer on beaches, up mountains, and through woods. It's worth noting that Oakley also offers a two-year warranty on manufacturer defects, and will fix your shades for the cost of the repair.

The Holbrook frames get straight to the point - hold the lenses on your face and keep them there.
The Holbrook frames get straight to the point - hold the lenses on your face and keep them there.

Style/Versatility


The Oakley Holbrooks got a meh style rating across the board. While none of our testers despised them, no one loved them either. They were frequently described as boring, fine, and uninspiring by both men and women with all manner of face shapes and sizes.

Maybe not as classically stylish as the Vuarnets (left)  we think the Oakleys (right) are alright.
Maybe not as classically stylish as the Vuarnets (left), we think the Oakleys (right) are alright.

Coverage


One of the Holbrook's best features is their impressive coverage. The frame has a slight curve that hugs your face, and the lenses are large and rectangular to help fill the gaps often left between your face and frames. There are gaps left, but they are far smaller than any other pair of everyday sunglasses we tested.

Additionally, the inward angled arms help hold these sunglasses close to your face, and their low weight stops them from bouncing around. All of this helps provide consistent coverage. The Holbrook frames also have little lips or ledges around each lens. These extend toward your face, increasing coverage. All told, the Holbrooks provide more coverage than a lot of the other glasses in this review.

The size and shape of the Oakley Holbrooks provides great coverage across most face shapes and sizes.
The size and shape of the Oakley Holbrooks provides great coverage across most face shapes and sizes.

Case Quality


We are disappointed by the simple cloth bag/cleaner provided as the Holbrook's case. Though these sunglasses are on the lower end of the test's price spectrum, they're still over $100 and need adequate protection to extend their lifetime. While this limp bag won't stop your Holbrooks from getting crushed by a stampeding rhinoceros, it does offer scratch protection and a way to keep your lenses clean. So at least there's that.

The Holbrooks come with just a lone limp cloth bag.
The Holbrooks come with just a lone limp cloth bag.

Value


The Oakley Holbrooks fall about in the middle of the price tag pack of sunglasses we reviewed. If you opt for the non-polarized lenses, they're even cheaper. However, they about triple in price with the addition of prescription lenses! We think you'd be better off spending a little more on a comfortable, higher-quality, or even more stylish pair of sunglasses. But if the Holbrook is your jam, they're a decent pair of lightweight shades with great coverage.

We think the Holbrooks are a decent pair of lightweight sunglasses with great coverage.
We think the Holbrooks are a decent pair of lightweight sunglasses with great coverage.

Conclusion


The Oakley Holbrooks are an alright pair of sunglasses with a decent price tag. The Black Iridium lenses we tested provide above-average protection, and the frame's curvature and shape provide superior coverage. Their tight fit caused pressure points for some wearers after a few hours, but their lightweight is a major selling point. The floppy case is uninspiring, just like the Holbrook's style, but the Oakley lenses are durable. These sunglasses earn a hard meh from our team of testers.

Testing the Holbrooks in a humid outdoor Caribbean island restaurant while drinking a mojito was a tough job but somebody had to do it.
Testing the Holbrooks in a humid outdoor Caribbean island restaurant while drinking a mojito was a tough job but somebody had to do it.


Maggie Brandenburg