I have lost more sunglasses than I can count on both hands. Most models were lost in my foolish youth. It generally went something like, “Hey, watch this,” as I front-flipped off the houseboat, only to see my sunglasses fly off mid-flight, lost forever to the bottom of the lake. I now take a little more care in safeguarding my eye protection. One pair I plan on keeping for a long time are the Smith Frontman Elite. If I lost these things, I would be crushed. Not because I can’t go buy another pair, but because I wouldn’t want to go a day without using them.
Since 1965, Smith Optics has been in the business of making high-quality, cutting-edge eyewear. Starting with goggles, they now produce ski and bike helmets along with a very wide variety of eyewear. The Smith Frontman Elite is not just a normal pair of sport sunglasses. They are infused with an immense amount of technology to, as Smith would put it, “provide protection while setting industry standards in style, function, and fit.”
The Smith Frontman Elite are a do-it-all shield for your eyes. They provide ballistic protection whether you’re on the range, the battlefield, ripping down your favorite mountain bike trail, casting a perfect line out on the water, or grabbing a beer in the afternoon sun. You no longer need to have a separate pair of sunglasses for each activity or look a little too tacticool when you head out with your friends to the pub.
While deployed or on the range, many, including myself, prefer to have eyewear that doesn’t interfere with peripheral vision or rifle optics. Due to the large lenses and wrap-around feature of the impact-resistant frames, the Smith Frontman Elite allow me forget I’m even wearing eye protection. When the sun began to set on a recent outing after a full day of hiking, scrambling, and climbing, I sat down, removed the sunglasses, and realized I had been wearing them for over 10 hours straight. No headache, no pain on the bridge of my nose, and no additions to my weathering crowsfeet.
Smith Frontman Elite ChromaPop
While some manufacturers use a film coating for the polarization of their lenses, Smith Optics has created a film-free layer that is essentially embedded within the lens below two other layers. This prevents any chance of peeling or delamination of the polarized layer, therefore increasing the durability and clarity of the lenses. On both sides of the lens is a hydroleophobic layer that resists water, dirt, and grease. These layers makes the Smith Frontman Elite extremely easy to keep clean and smudge free. The color clarity of ChromaPop and the UV protection of the Smith Frontman Elite is better than any eyewear I have used in the past. After spending multiple days on alpine snow and glaciers, there is no doubt my eyes were fully protected. For more Smith Optics lense technology, go here.
MSRP: $119 (without ChromaPop) – $229 (with ChromaPop). If you can afford it, the ChromaPop is worth every penny.
- A medium/large fit. If you have a very narrow face, this isn’t the eyewear for you. The frame fits a medium to large face very well without leaving any gaps around the frame edges. Light is not getting past these bad boys; they offer almost as much coverage as a pair of glacier glasses.
- Dimensions: 64-17-126
- High-impact lens material that meets ANSI Z87.1 and MIL-PRF-31013 clause 126.96.36.199 (Which complies with eyewear for all NATO forces).
- The lenses have an 8 base lens curvature. Smith Optics offers lens curvatures from 6 – 9. The higher the number, the more facial wraparound and coverage.
Case and cleaning: The Smith Frontman Elite comes with a soft case that doubles as a cleaning cloth, as well as a hard case for travel and crush protection.
If you are in the market for a pair of sunglasses that will protect your eyes from mechanical or UV damage while looking great, the Smith Frontman Elite are it. For those with a medium to large face, these glasses will fit like they were custom tailored to your features. The lenses don’t interfere with vision, regardless of the task. I believe the hallmark of a truly great pair of shades is that you forget you’re wearing them. My lenses are the ChromaPop Polar Bronze Mirror-Finish, and I find that they work well when I’m around snow, dry land, or water. The Smith Frontman Elite offers a variety of different tints and lens colors to match your exact preference. Stop squinting and know your eyes will be protected with a pair of Smith Frontman Elite shades.