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Oakley glasses are not cheap, and I am not one to fall for branding - or so I thought - but for one reason or another, I had wanted a pair of them since I was little!
Flak Jackets are, in my opinion, the flagship glasses in the Oakley line up. Not because they are the most expensive (they are not), or the most stylish, or the most specialised, but because they seem to embody the real ethos of the brands sporting aspirations. They are designed to be light, comfortable, grippy, simple, adaptable, and functional. They are also customisable to the nth degree at purchase. So when my good friend presented me with a hefty discount that could be used at his optics chain, it was the Flak Jackets that I settled upon. Albeit with some serious concern, as I do have a history of losing glasses!
I customised them online to my preferences, taking the XLJ style, as it suited my face better, and a polarised lense because I wanted the anti glare capability, and waited for them to arrive.
When they did arrive, I wasn't very well, but I remember that I was disappointed with them, because they felt light, "plasticky", and cheap. They did come with their own case and a cleaning cloth however.
First impressions could not possibly be more wrong.
I've now had my Flak's for over 3 years. I use them every day. They feel like a part of me, and if I do ever lose them, I will replace them without hesitation, or consideration of cost. I was reading an article from the New Statesman the other day about a Wellcome trust exhibition called "superhuman". It focuses on human enhancement, future and past, and was very interesting! In the most simple possible sense, these glasses are a self enhancement. They are not a fashion accessory, and should not be considered as such.
I get the majority of my use out of them on a road bike. They have protected my eyes from countless pieces of grit, stones, leaves, and bugs. Maybe if I didn't own them, I would be blind now. They are armour for your face.
They do not distort my vision, but simply colour it, allowing me to see through light variation on the road and protect my eyes from sun damage. When it gets dark, I change the lenses, and carry on.
When it's hot, they keep the sweat out of my eyes, when it's wet, they keep the water out, and because they are "hydrophobic", they limit the degree to which rain can obscure my sight. When I go at speed, they protect my eyes from the wind, and channel it around my face. They enhance my vision, and perhaps they even make me faster.
You could say many of these things about many pairs of cheaper glasses - although, excluding safety glasses, I don't know of another pair of shades that offer such comprehensive ballistic protection - but I don't know of any other glasses that have all of these characteristics, and are so relentlessly comfortable.
I absolutely swear to you, that more than once, whilst out and about on my bike, I have had to reach up to my face to confirm that these glasses were still there. They just melt into you. To me, that's what makes them feel like an enhancement. If I never had to change the lenses to adapt to different conditions, I would probably never really need to take them off. They are amazing.
The same cannot be said about all Oakley glasses, and of course even if you intend to buy some identical Flak Jackets, it will be extremely important to buy the right size for your face shape. This may mean buying the "Asian fit", or an alternate, but similar model. If you have the hankering, don't buy online, or at least not without first visiting an Oakley store and having a play.
I realise that I sound slightly fanatical, and perhaps I have become a little over attached over the years. There is nothing actively amazing about a pair of Oakley Flak Jackets XLJ, you will not be stunned on your first usage, but will develop a respect for them over time, as they consistently fail to let you down, or leave any aspect of performance unturned.
My one and only criticism, is that despite anti-fog measures built in to the glasses, when it's cold outside, and you have worked up a sweat on a bicycle, you can get misted up at junctions. I have never had this happen in any other situation (running etc), and have been impressed by the speed at which the mist departs after you set off (almost instantaneously). I believe there are now vented lenses for sale. These may resolve this issue, but have no experience of them myself.
Overall, it will come as no surprise that I recommend these glasses wholeheartedly. I personally know of no serious contenders, and in particular, none that offer the same degree of impact protection.
Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ Sunglasses - Polarised / Sunglasses Sport Mens / Sport professionals demand nothing less than the best, and we've answered their challenge for decades / world-class athletes have driven us to create innovation after innovation, including interchangeable lens designs with unbeatable optical clar ....