For me, sunglasses fall into the same category as helmets – mandatory. Too many things to take out your eyeballs while on a ride to not shield them in some fashion. Over the years, I’ve donned a bunch of different brands, styles, and lens colors. Some cheap. Some spendy. Over those years, I’ve rocked a few pairs of Smith glasses. I find their lenses offer great clarity, are pretty durable, and often have the option to swap lenses, which is great for changing conditions.
Of course, this is mountain biking, and style bends to the whim of the MTB Illuminati; eye protection included. The current trend over the last few years is a move to what I’ve termed the ski goggle look. You’ve seen it (or maybe even currently sport it) – snow gogglesque lenses without the huge frame and strap. My curiosity has been piqued for a while about this increased eye protection style so when the chance came to try out these large eye shields, I volunteered my ocular services. In this particular case, the newly released Smith Bobcat. The kind folks at Smith also agreed to send me the Resolve, which has a more slender, non-snow goggle profile to test out as well since these are similar to my current and much loved Smith Pivlock 2.
Let’s start with the specifics –
Bobcat (black frame with red mirror ChromaPop lenses)
– Lens Width 135mm (one solid lens), Lens Height 59mm, Temple Length 130mm
- Small to medium fit w/ large coverage
- Slight wraparound fit
- Strategic venting
- Includes interchangeable clear lens and case w/ cloth pouch
Resolve (black frame with clear to grey photochromatic lenses) –
– Lens Width 70mm (both lenses – 140 mm), Lens Height 44mm, Temple Length 125mm
- Medium fit w/ medium coverage
- Wrap around fit
- Strategic venting
- Includes case w/ cloth pouch
Both pairs have Megol (i.e., fancy rubber) temples and nose pads (which are adjustable) and bio-based frame material with auto lock hinges. The fit and finish are what you expect from a well-established company. They both come with a pretty sturdy case and a lens cleaning cloth/bag. As I said, I’ve owned several pairs of Smiths over the years and they are always a quality product. The Bobcat and Resolve are no different – a solid pair of shades.
While the Bobcat lens initially appeared pretty big, I would agree with the slight wrap-around description (as you can see in the above pic). They are basically a pared-down version of the Smith Wildcats (both frame and lenses). For someone that was snow goggle curious, I found the amount of overall coverage and wrap-around was just right. Enough to offer increased protection but not so much that it hindered peripheral vision, reduced airflow (I haven’t had any fogging problems), or interfered with helmet fit. Overall, they are super comfortable on the trail and almost disappear when you have them on. The Red Mirror ChromaPop lenses are very clear and provide the right amount of VLT (Visible Light Transmission – aka tint). Even on cloudy days, the lenses weren’t too dark. For night riding, the Bobcat includes a set of clear lenses for you to swap out, which is an easy task.
The Resolve lenses, as you would expect due to their smaller size, provide a bit less overall vertical coverage. With that said, they actually wrap around more than the Bobcats since they are wider as well as the lens/frame shape (as seen in the above pic). While the larger lens size/coverage on the Bobcat is very noticeable, it was just about right for my preference. Inversely, the Resolve’s coverage from top to bottom was too small for my tastes. My son (who is 11 years old but is 5’4”, thought the Resolve was perfect and the Bobcat was too big. Different strokes for different folks. Where the Resolve really shined for me was the photochromatic lenses. The photochromatic lenses transition very nicely between almost clear to almost as dark as the Bobcat (VLT – 20 vs. 15, respectively). These lenses really perform great in mixed light conditions and the transition on tint is quick. For this reason, I found myself reaching for the Resolves if I was heading out later in the evening and would likely be out at dusk/dark.
So the choice really comes down to how much coverage you’re looking for, especially since you can get the Bobcat with photochromatic lenses. For me, I found myself reaching for the Bobcats since for my face/tastes, the Resolves lacked a little too much on coverage. In fact, the Bobcat’s have become my go-to over the Pivlocks that I normally wear. I may actually pick up another pair with the photochromatic lenses since fall/winter and night riding season is quickly approaching.
Back to the snow google look – I’m interested to try out the Bobcats on the slopes this coming winter on those days where googles become a sauna for your eyeballs and I hate boarding with no eye protection almost as much as riding with without.