Smith Caper Chromapop Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Protective lenses, good contrast, secure fit, versatile use across lighting and activities
Cons: May be tight, mirror lenses collect smudges, case is a poor cleaner
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Smith Caper Chromapop
|Price||$152.40 at Amazon|
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|$138.00 at Backcountry|
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|$249.99 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Protective lenses, good contrast, secure fit, versatile use across lighting and activities||Great lens quality, excellent gradient, very comfortable, versatile style, good case||Great contrast, comfortable, easy style to love||Bold style, great narrow fit, adjustable nose pads, good protection, sturdy build, cool case||Outstanding coverage, great lenses, stylish, flexible bows|
|Cons||May be tight, mirror lenses collect smudges, case is a poor cleaner||Not polarized, may be loose on top of head||A bit small, translucent frame magnifies light, expensive||Narrow fit, not great directly into sun||Oddly specific fit, mirror coating is difficult to clean|
|Bottom Line||A sporty yet chic pair of cute, comfortable shades that can keep up with you from casual brunches to afternoon hikes||Excellent quality shades that are protective and stylish, offering top-notch quality for a reasonable price||These are great quality sunglasses with excellent contrast and a superb face feel||A great set of aviators for smaller faces with good protection and a brazen style||The particular fit of these glasses is a huge hit for many in regards to comfort and fashion|
|Rating Categories||Smith Caper Chromapop||Ray-Ban Erika||Maui Jim Honi||Costa del Mar Fernandina||Vuarnet Legend 02|
|Lens Quality (30%)|
|Style And Versatility (20%)|
|Frame Quality (15%)|
|Specs||Smith Caper...||Ray-Ban Erika||Maui Jim Honi||Costa del Mar...||Vuarnet Legend 02|
|Lens Tested||Opal Mirror ChromaPop||Grey Gradient||Blue HCL Bronze||Green Mirror 580P||Pure Brown Gold Flash|
|Visible Light Transmission (VLT)||15%||Not specified||12%||10%||11%|
|VLT Protection Index||Cat 3||Cat 3||Cat 3||Cat 3||Cat 3|
|HEV/Blue Light Protection (claim)||None||None||"HEV reduction"||100% HEV blockage||97% HEV blockage|
|Infrared Protection (claim)||None||None||None||None||95%|
|Neutral/Contrast||Increased contrast||Neutral||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast|
|Lens Material||Carbonic||Polycarbonate||SuperThin glass||Mineral glass||Mineral glass|
|Protective Coatings||Anti-reflective,hydroleophobic resistance, mirror coating||None||Anti-reflective, anti-scratch, hydroleophobic||C-WALL (anti-scratch and hydroleophobic), mirror||Anti-reflective, mirror|
|Can take prescription lens?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Case Included||Yes; microfiber bag||Yes; semi-rigid snapshell case and microfiber cleaning cloth||Yes; rigid triangular collapsible case, microfiber cleaning cloth||Yes; cork box, microfiber bag||Yes; neoprene bag, microfiber cleaning cloth|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested the Smith Caper with Opal Mirror ChromaPop lenses. They're a Medium fit and can take some prescription lenses. They come with a microfiber drawstring bag.
The Caper can be purchased in a wide range of possible colors and lens combinations. The Opal Mirror ChromaPop lenses we tested are different than other brown ChromaPop lenses we've tested from Smith. They keep colors much more true to life, rather than highlighting lighter shades of green as near-neon. They're amber enough to add a touch of contrast to your view without really skewing your perceptions of reality.
- 100% UV Protection
- 15% Visible Light Transmission (Category 3)
- 0% HEV/Blue Light Blockage, 0% Infrared Blockage
- Color: Amber, Material: Carbonite
- Impact Resistant, Anti-Reflective, Hydroleophobic, Mirror Coating
The lenses on the Caper offer great clarity. Their combination of slightly higher Visible Light Transmission (15%) and mirrored coating make them enjoyable to wear in both bright and lower light situations. The mirroring also blocks a lot, though we noticed they're still see-through from the outside in certain lights. Still, we feel that we can easily obscure our eyes behind these lenses.
With an anti-reflective coating, these lenses reflect very little of your own face back into your eyes. Even with the overall flat shape, we hardly noticed any reflection from the backs of the lenses, which makes them far above average in this area. Their hydroleophobic coating is meant to repel water and oil, though the mirroring on the outside makes any smudges immediately apparent. The Caper tend to collect dust fairly quickly as well, made all the more obvious by that mirror coating. And while they're reasonably straightforward to wipe clean with a standard microfiber eyewear cloth, the microfiber case they come with feels almost sticky on the lenses and does not do a great job clearing them of gunk.
The Caper are a snug Medium fit, but not in a bad way. If you identify as someone with a particularly wide head, they might be a bit tight for you. On the other hand, some of our testers who think of themselves as large-headed individuals still found these pretty darn comfortable due largely to the fairly wide, smooth bows and a small amount of frame flex. The bows stay securely in the unfolded position, making them easy to put on and take off with one hand while driving.
Though their 27-gram weight is about the average among women's sunglasses we tested, these feel very solidly balanced and not heavy on the face. Fully rubber nose pads are smooth and not at all sticky when dry. When we sweated in these shades, those rubber sections added extra staying power to the close-fitting frame, keeping them firmly in place even on a long midday run. The lenses aren't too tall and the fit keeps these sunglasses high enough that there's no cheek touching while wearing. Nor do they raise off the nose when laughing or smiling.
Style and Versatility
The Caper offer another, different twist on the well-loved wayfarer style. With slightly smaller lenses that are a touch rounder and encased in a thicker, bolder frame with just a slight tilt and hint of cat-eye, they're unlike any other pair we tested. Overall, they're a more androgynous-looking pair of sunglasses, with just a hint of femininity that our team of female testers — and more than a few men — were big fans of.
We tested a tortoise frame with hints of violet that was appealing across genders. The mirror coating on our pair added a splash of sportiness without taking away all the style. These are bold without feeling like something that will go out of fashion in a year or two. We felt equally at home wearing them for a hiking trip as we did rocking them for a springtime brunch with mimosas outside.
The Caper frames are made of Evolve, a bio-based, plastic-like material with a moderate amount of flex. They're thick and wide, helping them to feel both sturdy and trustworthy. The rubber nose pads are a full chunk of the frame, rather than small embedded discs like many others. Though we're not totally in love with the way these pads are attached to the rest of the frame, it's more because we think it looks a little unrefined, not because it seems like something that's going to break easily.
The hinges of the Caper are made as integrated shapes to the overall frame and connect with an easily tightened screw. Though they're not flex hinges (that are made to overextend), they are autolocking, helping them to stay open when you want them open and closed when you want them closed. Our several months of testing revealed no secret flaws that we could find. They look, act, and feel like a very solid, reliable pair of sunglasses.
They do fall a little behind when it comes to coverage. They're still well ahead of most of the pack, offering above-average coverage, but they're not the best. With just medium-sized lenses, the Caper can't offer quite the same spread as some of the large and oversized models we tested. They also have a base curve of just 4, which is nearly (but not completely) flat.
That being said, they don't have bad coverage. The Caper is designed to fit very closely to the face, helping to maximize coverage. They're quite protective on the top, with wide frames that connect with the eyebrows to block incoming sunlight from overhead. The smaller lenses leave gaps along the bottom though, and the low base curve allows side light to get in as well. Still, the close fit makes a world of difference, upgrading this size/shape of these shades from just okay coverage to decent coverage.
The Caper comes with just a simple microfiber cloth bag with a two-sided drawstring on top. It offers some scratch protection, but unfortunately doesn't make a very good cleaner cloth, as the exterior is covered in tiny patches of shiny weave that stick to the lenses rather than glide over them for a successful cleaning experience.
Depending on the specific lenses you choose to put into the Caper frames, they range from reasonably affordable to fairly pricey. We tested some of the most expensive lenses and though they're on the higher end of the price range we tested for women's sunglasses, they perform admirably. We think their versatility across activities and styles helps add to their value, making them a great choice if you only want to own a single pair of sunglasses for everything from day hiking to vacationing.
The Smith Caper are a versatile pair of high-performing women's sunglasses. The Opal Mirror ChromaPop lenses we tested are a joy to look through, while the glasses themselves offer a secure, comfortable fit. We think these make an excellent set of crossover shades to take you around town, up the mountain, and everywhere in between.
— Maggie Brandenburg