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

Smith Parallel Polarized Review

Decent sunglasses that just don’t excel for those with an active lifestyle
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $140 List | $111.19 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable
Cons:  Poor eye protection, flimsy frames
Manufacturer:   Smith
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Aug 22, 2017
  • Share this article:
59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 9
  • Eye Protection - 25% 4
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Lens Quality - 20% 6
  • Frame Build - 20% 5
  • Case Quality - 10% 7

The Skinny

While Smith makes some great glasses, the small lenses and relatively flimsy feeling frames of the Smith Parallel Polarized left us relatively unimpressed. These glasses have a nice style for wearing around town, but lack some of the eye protection and durability we'd want for taking them into the backcountry. We did find them to be very comfortable, so they are decent if you just want a pair of sunglasses to wear around town or keep in your car (though there are definitely cheaper shades available for those applications).


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Smith Parallel Polarized did quite well in our comfort testing, but the lack of eye coverage was quite annoying anytime it got windy or dusty.


Performance Comparison



Eye Protection


This test is where the Smith Parallel Polarized really lost favor, earning the lowest score of 4 out of 10. These glasses have relatively small, frameless lenses that just don't provide much face coverage. Even those with small faces ended up with a gap below their eyes where wind and dust could easily get in. This protects from the sun, but chances are your eyes will be left watering if there's any wind or somebody kicks up any dust.

The small lenses leave some gaps for dust and wind to get in  mostly below the eye.
The small lenses leave some gaps for dust and wind to get in, mostly below the eye.

Comfort


One thing we did like about the Smith Parallel Polarized was its fit, it shared the top score of 8 out of 10 in this metric with a few other models. It has a comfortable nosepiece and the temples have just enough rubber to make them feel secure, but not so much that you end up pulling hair out when you put them on. At 22 grams they are also very light, light enough that you can forget you have them on. The glasses are small in general, so if you have a large face they may feel a bit tight. If you have a small to medium face you'll find them comfy cozy.

Lens Quality


While we felt that all of the glasses we tested had good lenses, those in the Smith Parallel Polarized were at the bottom of our scoresheet. That's not to say they're bad, they were actually quite effective at reducing glare. However, they didn't seem to block out as much sunlight as other lenses, so we found ourselves squinting more when wearing these glasses than most others.

The Parallel's lenses let in more light than competing models.
The Parallel's lenses let in more light than competing models.

Frame Build


Everything about the Smith Parallel Polarized is minimalistic, and the frame is no exception. The frame didn't feel particularly durable, and the hinges seemed they wouldn't stand up to as much abuse as some of the other models'. This lack of robustness earned these glasses a score of 5 out of 10 in this metric, which was just above the lowest scorer.

Case Quality


Here again, while we liked all of the cases that came with our sunglasses, the Smith case was our least favorite of the bunch. Its is a decent, semi-rigid case that is great if you want to store your sunglasses in your glove compartment. However, it's just soft enough that we might feel a little worried shoving it into the lid of a stuffed pack.

The Smith case is nice  but not quite as rugged as other cases.
The Smith case is nice, but not quite as rugged as other cases.

Value


The Smith Parallel Polarized doesn't provide the performance needed to excel for use in outdoor sports, therefore we feel its $140 list price represents a poor value. While they are comfortable and might function well as a back-up pair to leave in your car, $10 gas station sunglasses would fit that niche just as well.

Conclusion


While comfortable, the Smith Parallel Polarized didn't perform so well when we took it out on adventures, therefore we wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking to venture out into the backcountry.


Max Mutter and Steven Tata