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Clothing/Accessory Review


A new view on fishing, Oakley's polarized a-wire sunglasses
 

Date: 3/5/02
Tackle type: Clothing/Accessory
Manufacturer: Oakley
Reviewer: Zander






Total Score: 7.41

Introduction: Polarized glasses have long been a friend to anglers who utilize them to better discern fishing elements and conditions. Oakley is a major player in almost all types of sporting glasses, but how do their stylish polarized a-wires stack up?
 

Oakley a-Wire Specifications

Frame Style a-wire
Frame Color Carbon
Lens Tint Black Polarized
Case "Software" Buffing Bag
MSRP $190.00
(135.00 for a-wire non-polarized)


Impressions: There is no doubt that the Oakley a-wire is a modern and stylish pair of sunglasses with a aggressive outlook. Designed for the full range of outdoor activities the a-wires are much sleeker then traditional fishing sunglasses. They come with a soft Oakley branded bag that doubles as a cleaning cloth. The finish is an attractive matte "carbon" and the right lens is clearly labeled "polarized." Overall the glasses are very attractive and seemed to fit well. When opened the glasses are basically a "U" shape with only pressure and metal over the tip of your ear holding the a-wire firmly on your face. For comfort there are soft rubber pads on each arm.
 

The Polarized a-wire is sleek and aggressive looking, and comes with a soft bag for protection


Why Polarized?: 
Why go polarized? Many anglers favor polarized sunglasses because they help reduce glare off the surface of the water. Thus helping you see further and reducing fatigue on those bright days.

 

The Polarized a-wire has a angle that tightly hugs your face, reducing wind


So how is the Oakley polarized a-Wire any different?:
Most polarized lenses incorporate polarized films into lenses either through lamination or sandwiching. This usually entails adhesive, which Oakley claims can cause distortion and haziness.

 

Oakley uses an injection molding process to infuse "Plutonite" material around the filter. Oakley states "This liquid fusion creates bonding at the molecular level, allowing the filter to achieve the highest possible level of performance."
 

The Polarized a-wire next to a standard a-wire, the lenses are not interchangeable as polarized lenses are thicker and require a special frame

The Real World Test: I have used the polarized a-wire for 2 months now on numerous fishing trips both inshore and offshore. The polarized a-wire does indeed reduce glare on lakes as well as on the ocean. While it will not help you see much deeper into the water and spot fish like we all dream, it does help you make out large structure and does reduce stress on your eyes. The other major benefit to anglers who own boats is that the a-wire does an excellent job of tightly holding to your face so almost no wind can dry out your eyes, even when flooring your boat.

Oakley warns on the bag that the polarized a-wire comes with that "Plutonite lenses should only be cleaned with the provided sunglass bag." Well guess what, that advice is more of a statement. On one rockfish trip out to Davenport I was splashed with a good amount of spray and I proceed to wipe the a-wires dry on my cotton t-shirt. By the end of the day I began to notice the lenses seemed blurry. When I got home I realized that I had put micro scratches across the entire surface of the right lens. Since that day the polarized glasses have become even more worn, to the point the right lens has a very visible hole in the coating.

Oakley sells a 25 dollar rigid case made out of interweaved nylon fiber, sealed with a zipper, and has a soft scratch free interior

The a-wire is designed to hold firmly to your face, and while this security and stability is good there also is a downside. The glasses do put a lot of pressure on your head as it squeezes you to hold firmly in place. While this is comfortable to most people, the rubber pads can rotate to the edged angle and that is usually when you really begin to notice the pressure.

Compared to a standard a-wire the polarized a-wire has a sleeker profile but has a deeper frame to hold the larger polarized lenses. The standard lenses are definitely more durable, while the frame strengths are comparable. To preserve the lenses from deteriorating any further I purchased Oakley's hard case for 25 dollars which did a much better job of protecting the Polarized lenses. Putting the polarized a-wire in the soft bag then into the case is even better. Since then I have noticed no more material rubbing off the lenses.

The Oakley hard case does a much better job of protecting the glasses than the standard soft bag

Warranty: All Oakley glasses are warranted for 1 year. The warranty cover everything except one thing....yeah you guessed it, scratched lenses. So when I want to finally replace those lenses I'll have to purchase new lenses direct from Oakley, or an authorized dealer.

Ratings:

Oakley a-Wire Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A good frame construction, but the Plutonite lenses require special attention and are easy to scratch 7
Performance Great performance on the water, which helped reduce fatigue on my eyes as well as helped me see the elements better. 9
Price The polarized a-wires are 50 dollars more then the standard a-wire. At 190 dollars these are on the higher end of sunglasses anglers can consider 6
Features A simple design with a new process, the a-wire is built with a simple design that gets the job done 7.5
Design (Ergonomics) A solid design that is easily recognized as a Oakley product. Sleek and aggressive they are comfortable for the most part, as long as a little bit of pressure on the side of your head doesn't bother you 7
Application These glasses will help you fish longer and have a better view of the conditions 8

Total Score

7.41


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Lenses great when new L Easily scratched lenses
J Advanced technology L Comes standard with a soft bag
J Lightweight L Pressure with extended wear
J Design reduces annoying wind L Price is just a tad expensive


Conclusion:
If you fish as much as I do you probably already have a pair of sunglasses. If you don't yet have a pair of polarized glasses you should definitely consider taking a look at a pair. The polarized a-wire is a good pair of sunglasses as long as you take care of the lenses, and the hard case option is worth the extra 25 dollars if you plan to spend the 190 dollars on the a-wires. The Oakley a-wire is one pair of sunglasses that you can consider with their modern design and the ability to effectively block out wind, but it is just one of many Oakley styles, and one of many offerings in the market. Sunglasses are a very personal accessory and anglers should definitely spend the time to find the pair that they feel most comfortable in.

 

Until next time...Tight Lines


 

 

 

 

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