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 | $121.10 at Amazon
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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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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 11
  • Lens Quality - 25% 9
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Coverage - 25% 10
  • Frame Quality - 15% 7
  • Style and Versatility - 10% 5

Our Verdict

A decently performing pair of sunglasses, the Oakley Holbrook Polarized 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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Our Analysis and Test Results

We spent months testing these sunglasses side-by-side, driving across the US, traveling to Central America, cruising the Caribbean, and running errands around town. To find out why the Holbrooks didn't wow us, or repel us, keep reading.

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 only two pairs we reviewed that block 100% of HEV or blue light. The others are the Costa Hinanos. The Holbrooks also boast a VLT (visible light transmission) similar to that of the super-dark Vuarnets, 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 with 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 say the Costa Hinanos or Maui Jim Kahis.

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 tie with the Costa Hinanos as the lightest pair of everyday 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.

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 any other pair of everyday 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.

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.

Similar to the Costa Hinanos, 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 like some did the Costa Hinanos, 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.

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.

Other glasses that came with similar floppy cloth bags, like the Native Highlines and Maui Jim Kahis, also included a rigid or semi-rigid case for extra protection. 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.

Best Applications


The Holbrooks are a relatively inexpensive but quality shades that are light enough to bring with you just about anywhere. And they stay put well enough to wear in the car or on a hike. However, if you're just out to save some money on a decent pair of shades, we think you might like the slightly smaller but more comfortable Native Highlines, our Best Buy winner. If you're willing to spend a little more on a quality pair of versatile shades, the Editors' Choice Maui Jim Kahis offer more versatility.

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.

Value


Retailing for around $170, the Oakley Holbrooks are less expensive than a lot of the other sunglasses we reviewed. And if you opt for the non-polarized lenses, they're only about $120! While they certainly outperformed the more expensive Ray-Ban Clubmasters, they also didn't wow us.

We think you'd be happier 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.

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 light weight 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.

Other Versions and Accessories


Holbrooks are available in matte or polished black frames with an astonishing variety of lens colors including blue, rose, yellow, green, purple, brown, and more.

Oakley also makes several hundred other styles of sunglasses for men and women. They even have a handful of specific styles that can be ordered with prescription lenses of varying strengths, depending on the pair. Most are available from 2.0 to -4.0 sphere (power) and 0 to -3.0 cylinder (astigmatism).


Maggie Brandenburg