The Smith Flywheel is one of their new range of ‘oversize’ sports sunglasses. Whether it is for fashion (most likely) or function (more wind/sun protection) there has been a revisiting of the early days of wrap around eye-shield type sunglasses over the last couple of years by many of the large manufacturers. The Flywheel has been my go to sunglasses throughout the winter and spring for climbing and running and I’ve loved them.
There is a definite retro vibe to the Flywheel beyond just the oversize lens. The side arms are ‘hockey’ style rather than the more standard curved plus non slip ear-sock. This style has advantages and disadvantages: it bulges less and arguably puts less pressure on the side of your head (something that some people can find irritating) however it tends to not be quite as secure especially during activities when you’re sweating a lot. An adjustable non-slip nose piece takes care of the fit options. Smith’s top notch ChromaPop lens in a Blue Mirror finish provides the protection from UV and wind. I’ve used Smith’s ChromaPop before on their Attack glasses and been thoroughly impressed – they are equal if not better than anything on the market, the proprietary polarising technology renders colours more naturally as well as giving fantastic clarity and definition. What is surprising is just how low well they coped in low light conditions. I’ve kept them on when walking off the hill in Scotland almost to the point where I’d be looking to put my headtorch on! Having said that these are probably around CAT3 in terms of protection so great for all uses apart from sustained use at altitude.
In use the Flywheel more than lived up to my expectations. They are secure, comfortable and as I’ve already mentioned the lens provides great protection alongside industry leading clarity. The large lens format meant that I could live without goggles as it not only protected my eyes from UV but also the viscous Cairngorm winds this winter. Despite their size I found them unobtrusive to wear and had no issues with catching them when climbing. For trail running they worked equally well although there was a tendency for them to mist up a little if you stopped moving after heavy exertion; for instance after a steep uphill, stopping to check the map etc. As soon as you set off and airflow returned they cleared so this was a minor annoyance. They can easily be ‘worn’ atop your head if you need them out the way and even without grippy ear-socks they remained solidly in place – so much so that I ‘threw’ them across the carpark (they survived) after a few runs when removing my cap! Durability wise they survived the winter getting stashed in my sac along with the full mixed climbing paraphernalia with nothing beyond the cleaning bag for protection – I was worried that the pronounced curve of the lens might make them more vulnerable to snapping but this has not proved to be the case. The biggest downside to the Flywheel is that the lens is not replaceable and you only get a cleaning bag for storage. If the large lens protection is your aim then another £50 will get you the Smith Wildcat which includes a second lens and a protective zip bag is arguably a better buy.
The Flywheel are great sunglasses but the suffer in comparison value for money wise with the others in the Smith range. If the lens was replaceable they would be a four or even five star product.
- Brilliant lens
- Great coverage from wind or sun
- No issue with peripheral vision
- No replacement lens
- No ‘hard’ case
SRP = £115
Disclaimer – CGR reviewers are never paid to provide a review and the website does not take advertising. We are a bunch of keen climbers and travellers that accept sample products and offer an honest and independent review of the item. The reviewer will often keep the sample after reviewing it for both hygiene reasons and more often they’re in no fit state to return!