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

Smith Haywire Review

A bit more stylish and contrast-y, though several nasty lens defects appeared during testing.
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Price:  $170 List | $139.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Good contrast, very lightweight, well-balanced, stay put well, good clarity
Cons:  Several significant lens defects developed, no hard case included, lacking coverage
Manufacturer:   Smith Optics
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 11, 2019
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OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 12
  • Lens Quality - 30% 5
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Frame Quality - 20% 6
  • Style and Versatility - 15% 6
  • Coverage - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Haywires have that Wayfarer look that seems to be all the rage these days, in lightweight frames that stay put well, though they run a tad small. The lenses are fairly protective and clear, but throughout our several month testing period, developed some pretty glaring defects that hampered our vision. The rubber nose pads also start off so sticky that cleaning them on a t-shirt leaves them covered in fuzzies. Despite being a solid style that narrow-faced individuals tend to like, we aren't sold on the durability and quality craftsmanship of this pair of shades.


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Smith Haywire
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Price $139.00 at REI
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Pros Good contrast, very lightweight, well-balanced, stay put well, good clarityGreat 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 Several significant lens defects developed, no hard case included, lacking coveragePeripheral 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 A bit more stylish and contrast-y, though several nasty lens defects appeared during testing.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 Smith Haywire Kaenon Clarke Costa Del Mar Spearo Maui Jim Kahi Vuarnet District Medium Round
Lens Quality (30%)
10
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5
10
0
9
10
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8
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9
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7
Comfort (25%)
10
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7
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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
Style And Versatility (15%)
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6
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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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4
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7
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7
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8
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7
Specs Smith Haywire Kaenon Clarke Costa Del Mar Spearo Maui Jim Kahi Vuarnet District...
Lens Tested Bronze Mirror ChromaPop Grey 12 Pacific Blue Mirror Blue Mirror HCL Bronze Brown Lynx
Ideal Activity water sports 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) 27g 29g 29g 40g 37g
UV Protection 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) 15% 12% 10% 15% 9%
VLT Protection Index cat 3 cat 3 cat 3 cat 3 cat 3
HEV/Blue Light Protection not specified not specified 100% 95% 97%
Infrared Protection 0% 0% 0% "infrared effective" 93%
Neutral/Contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast
Lens Material plastic 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, hydry-oleophobic 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? No Yes Yes Yes No
Hinge type Auto-lock Standard/barrel Spring/flex Spring/flex Standard/barrel
Case Included Rigid zipered and cleaning cloth 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 Haywires with Bronze Mirror ChromaPop lenses designed to block out the bright light from water activities. They're a medium fit and come with a microfiber cleaning bag/case. They're not available with prescription lenses, though many other frames from Smith are.

Performance Comparison


A smaller take on the classic Wayfarer design.
A smaller take on the classic Wayfarer design.

Lens Quality


With polycarbonate lenses, the Haywires are impact-resistant and ready for adventure. A slightly higher VLT of 15% allows a bit more light through the lenses, though their polarization and added mirror coating do a solid job cutting glare. They offer pretty solid clarity for non-glass lenses and filter out certain wavelengths between green, blue, and red for greater contrast.

Bronze Mirror ChromaPop Lenses
  • 99% Polarization
  • 100% UV Protection
  • 15% Visible Light Transmission (Category 3)
  • 0% HEV/Blue Light Blockage, 0% Infrared Blockage
  • Color: Bronze, Material: Polycarbonate
  • Impact Resistant, Anti-reflective Front and Back, Hydro-oleophobic, Mirrored

However, what would be a pretty solid lens, developed several defects while we were testing them, that continued to get worse the more time passed, and we're not sure why. First, we started to see a slight build-up of shading or coatings around the edges of the lenses (mostly imperceptible to the wearer). Though not something that's easy to notice in most lightings, it's not a great sign for the overall quality of the lens. And it didn't stop there. Strange, perfectly parallel horizontal lines in the lenses started to appear on the outside and inside edges of both lenses as if the coatings were beginning to delaminate. These make a BIG difference to sight, and appear as though we were looking through a nasty fingerprint. Both of these defects should be covered by the lifetime manufacturer's warranty, but the fact that they showed up after just a couple months of usage doesn't inspire a ton of confidence.

These parallel line defects developed on both edges of both lenses throughout the course of our testing and feel like looking through a thick fingerprint.
These parallel line defects developed on both edges of both lenses throughout the course of our testing and feel like looking through a thick fingerprint.

Comfort


Weighing 27 grams, the Haywires are a pretty lightweight pair of specs. They have excellent balance on your face, making them a breeze to wear. Auto-lock hinges snap out into place and the frames offer a little bit of flexibility to accommodate wider faces, but not enough for many of our testers, becoming a bit too tight to wear for long periods of time. They rest a bit more classically on your face, with just the nose pads and arms touching. The semi-embedded hydrophilic Megol nose pads do an excellent job keeping them in the right place on your face, but their intense stickiness is a bit too much for some of our users.

The nose pads are very sticky and easily grab fuzz and lint from their surroundings.
The nose pads are very sticky and easily grab fuzz and lint from their surroundings.

Frame Quality


Made of a castor-based, eco-friendly nylon polymer, the Haywires have what they call a "semi-rim". A section of the bottom and outside edge of each lens is framed by a much thinner section with a metallic appearance. Megol nose pads aren't quite embedded, but more attached to the rest of the frame not quite seamlessly. Not only does their stickiness attract fuzzies from the multiverse, but their edges are already showing signs of significant wear after just a couple of months. Nothing actually broke or cracked or even scratched during our testing, but we have some reservations about how well these will hold up to years of daily wear.

The Haywires have a "semi-rim" that's different-looking around the bottom of each lens.
The Haywires have a "semi-rim" that's different-looking around the bottom of each lens.

Style and Versatility


Sporting a modern take on the classic Wayfarer style shades, the Smiths are reasonably fashionable. However, they do run a bit smaller than we expected a size "medium" to be, and many of our testers feel they're too small to look good on their faces. However, for those who like the smaller look (or those who have thinner faces where the Haywires don't appear so small), they appreciate the more stylish appearance of these glasses. With the mat frames, strongly mirrored lenses and a slight keyhole bridge, they're a hit for some!

Everything looks cooler with a glass of wine.
Everything looks cooler with a glass of wine.

Coverage


A base curve of just 4 makes these specs pretty straight across, with very little curvature to hug your face. Their design also ensures they float a bit away from your face. What this gives in comfort and style, it takes away when it comes to coverage. There are gaps on all sides of these glasses for odd angles of sunlight, glare, dust, and wind to enter your eyes, and the smaller lenses also contribute to that.

More for looks than for coverage.
More for looks than for coverage.

Case Quality


The Haywires are one of very few glasses we tested that don't come with a rigid or semi-rigid case. They only have a microfiber drawstring bag that doubles as a cleaning cloth. While this certainly helps keep them from picking up unnecessary scratches, it doesn't do much inside your checked bag on an international flight.

The Haywires come with just a bag for a case and for cleaning the lenses.
The Haywires come with just a bag for a case and for cleaning the lenses.

Value


Though far from the most expensive sunglasses we tested, these aren't cheap either. We really like the performance of Smith's ChromaPop lenses, but considering just how many issues cropped up and how quickly, we're just not sure they're worth it.

Round 2 of the lens defects that developed during our testing period.
Round 2 of the lens defects that developed during our testing period.

Conclusion


The Haywires are an interesting, more stylish take on a decently protective and high performing pair of shades. We like how lightweight they are and how well they stay put, but we aren't stoked on how quickly the lenses deteriorated during our testing process. We're not giving up on them just yet, but they're certainly not one of our favorites.

A decent pair of shades if you like the look  though we're not confident of their durability or overall quality.
A decent pair of shades if you like the look, though we're not confident of their durability or overall quality.


Maggie Brandenburg