Needing a more suitable pair of sunglasses for Backcountry skiing and Ski Touring, I asked Oakley Australia for their advice and they sent me a pair of their new Radarlock Path Sunglasses. (They also sent me some Racing Jackets which I will review in the coming days)
I had been skiing for ages in a pair of their Gascan sunnies which aren’t really sport-oriented so it was great to get back in a pair that is more suited to my purpose.
Back in the 90’s, about 92 or 93 I guess, I was so cool. This was because I saved & saved and bought a pair of Oakley’s M-Frame sunnies. They were awesome & I wish I still had them but unfortunately they got trodden on in my uni days. At the time they were revolutionary, and it’s no surprise to see that 20 years later that the basic elements have remained and the current models are an evolution on a well-thought out theme.
Interchangeable lenses are a big push at Oakley. Similar to the Airbrake Goggles I have been skiing with this year, the Radarlocks are equipped with Switchlock technology to facilitate easy lens changes.
I was supplied the Radarlock in the Path lens shape with a Polarized Fire Iridium Lens & Persimmon Lens – both lenses are vented as I thought this would help with fogging while ski touring. (Model Link Here)
In recent years I’ve not been the biggest fan of skiing in Sunglasses, favouring goggles in all but the warmest conditions, but after a number of days with the Radarlocks I think this has simply been because my sunglasses haven’t been good enough.
I’ve now worn the Radarlocks for a number of days, including in-bounds Alpine Skiing, on a three-day Backcountry/Ski Touring Adventure (link here) and also on the outdoor day of an Avalanche Course (link here)
The most striking aspect of the sunglasses is the combination of the optical clarity that one expects from Oakley products, and the lightweight ‘barely there’ feel on your face. The Radarlocks are happy to sit with the arms outside your beanie which is usually the most comfortable way to wear sunglasses when skiing. And they just stay there, all day, no moving. They are so light that you almost forget you are wearing sunglasses which is probably the best endorsement you can give.
I had a perfect opportunity to check out the lens interchangeability in the field. On our traverse of the Razorback ridge running between the Mt Hotham rd and Mt Feathertop, the weather started out sunny which was perfect for the Polarised Fire Iridium lens, but as the day wore on the cloud moved in. I still wanted protection from the snow glare but things were getting too dark so I quickly popped out the lens and put in the Persimmon which was perfect. My eyes were relaxed & protected from UV and the lens gave good definition in the lower light condition.
Changing the lens is a simple affair due to the Switchlock mechanism. All you have to do is work a spring-loaded catch behind the ‘O’ symbol on the LHS of the glasses. Once you have done that you squeeze to release the nose-piece catches and then gently ease the lens out of its track along the frame.
To insert the next lens you do the reverse, first line it up in the notch on the RHS, work it back into the track along the frame, squeeze the nose again to insert and close the catch on the LHS. Here are some close-ups of the Switchlock catch:
And finally some pics of the glasses with both lenses inserted, and also with the hard case supplied:
Included in the pack is the Radarlock Sunglasses, two lenses, a soft storage/cleaning bag and a zip up hard case with slots for the sunglasses & spare lens.
So the main points of the Sunglasses:
Fit/Comfort: So light & comfortable you forget you are wearing them. Enough Said.
Vision/Optical Clarity: Excellent
Ventilation: I chose the vented lenses as you can get hot & sweaty while ski touring and every bit helps. When I was sweating it up and there was no breeze at all I still fogged, but I don’t know what glasses wouldn’t. One fear of the vents was they would let in air when skiing fast but this wasn’t the case.
Lens Tints: The Fire Iridium Polarized is a great tint for high sun conditions & also the polarization is excellent for glare off the snow. The only drawback is that it makes it hard to see LCD screens such as your phone or in my case my Avalanche Transceiver. Persimmon was great for reducing the glare that’s still present in lower light conditions on the snow.
Durability: Like any sunglasses you will need to take care of them, but fortunately the supplier hard case can take care of that. I’ve noticed little areas of wear already on the Iridium lens when I swap it out so it will be susceptible to scratching as with any mirrored lenses.
Appearance/Looks: These are very much a sport-oriented sunglass. They are far more Tour de France than Mosman and unlikely to accompany your fashionable threads in an urban environment.
Summary: The Radarlocks are a great accompaniment for all kinds of skiing, and particularly backcountry skiing. Out in the BC you get too sweaty for goggles and I found the Radarlocks to be an excellent solution. I had a perfect opportunity to change out the lenses ‘in the field’ – it was quick & painless and I was glad to have the versatility of the extra tint.
(Review Disclosure: I was supplied these sunglasses at no cost by Oakley Australia for review purposes)