SMITH THRESHOLD SLIDER SUNGLASSES
BY DAVID TAGNANI
June 30, 2008
5' 10" (1.78 m)
160 lb (72.60 kg)
Backpacking Background: I have been camping and hiking for as long as I can remember, but I've really only been backpacking for eight years or so. I started off in the hills of northeastern and central Pennsylvania, have hiked trails from Maine to Georgia, and now I am exploring the incredible terrain of the inland northwest. I seldom do trips longer than three days, with most trips being overnighters. I do not own crampons, an ice axe, or a climbing harness, so if the route is technical enough to require them, you won't find me there. I simply like to walk in the woods.
Manufacturer: Smith Optics
|Case and lens insert|
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: Smith Optics
MSRP: $119 US
Listed Weight: Unavailable
Measured Weight: 1.0 oz (28.4 g)
Frame Material: Grilamid nylon
Lens Material: Carbonic
Frame / lens color: Graphite / Brown
Fit: Medium / Large
Other frame / lens color options available include:
- black / polarized grey
- black / brown
- graphite / polarized brown
- matte black / ignitor
- smoke / platinum
Prices range from $109 to $149 US, depending on the lens choice.
Smith's website claims that the Grilamid frames are the "gold standard," but it doesn't say why.
The Megol nose pads are supposed to ensure a slip-free fit.
Carbonic lenses are noted for being lightweight and the most impact-resistant lenses available.
The Smith Threshold Slider sunglasses came with a semi-rigid case and three pairs of lenses: Brown, Rose Copper, and Clear. The case includes an insert that holds three pairs of lenses. I purchased the Polarized Platinum Mirror lenses for an additional $50.
Despite being frames designed for interchangeable lenses, the Thresholds look like "normal" sunglasses. This is because the lenses slide out of the top of the frames, not the bottoms like most sunglasses.
Since I purchased them in April of 2007, these have been the only sunglasses I've worn. So I have worn them in every season during a variety of activities.
During the spring, summer, and fall, I hike, backpack, and fish frequently in the dry, hot, sunny climate of the Inland Northwest. Sun protection is a important consideration when recreating in the outdoors around here. I've worn these sunglasses on several backpacking trips, including such diverse terrain as the rainforests of Olympic National Part to the hot and dry alpine lakes of Idaho's Selkirk Mountains. The Threshold have been on my face during long dayhikes in Montana's Glacier National Park, the Alpine Lakes region of the Cascade Mountains, and the Columbia Highlands of northeastern Washington.
These are also the glasses I use for my fairly frequent fishing excursions along the Spokane River and on the many alpine lakes I hike to in the surrounding mountains. This is the main reason why I decided to shell out the additional $50 for polarized lenses to go with the three pairs of non-polarized lenses that were included.
Though I hike in winter less frequently than I would like, these have been my glasses in those few winter trips that I have been on, both with and without snowshoes. Additionally, in the high mountains of Washington and Idaho, spring and early summer hiking often means hiking on snow.
Smith's website designates the Thresholds as a medium / large fit, and I find that to be accurate. I have a large head, and these sunglasses work for me. The Megol rubber at the nose and temples offers a comfortable, secure fit. They do not pinch or squeeze, yet they maintain a solid and secure grip, so much so that I do not feel the need to use a strap in case they slip off. It has not happened yet, and I cannot imagine that it will. They really feel that secure on my face.
They also work as far as appearance goes. They are not too large for my face, yet they offer complete coverage, only allowing a bit of light to sneak in the tops if the sun is at a certain angle. Any hat will solve this problem. But I think the problem exists in the first place because the Threshold are a roomy pair of sunglasses. By "roomy" I mean that I don't find my eyelashes scraping the insides of the lenses, and the frames allow enough air circulation that condensation is almost never a problem, despite not having any dedicated ventilation points. A few extreme circumstances have produced some fog on the lens, but it quickly disperses and is never a major issue.
The Threshold was my first foray into high-end, specialty sunglasses. Before purchasing the Smiths, I would buy cheap sunglasses every few weeks. I had major reservations about spending good money on a product that I essentially viewed as disposable, but after tiring of the endless search for cheap sunglasses that were durable, I relented and bought the Smith Thresholds. They seemed to me to be more reasonably priced than other comparable brands and models.
I have not been disappointed by that decision at all. The nylon frames are flexible and comfortable, but at the same time they feel sturdy and durable. The metal hinges operate smoothly. The lenses have proved to be quite durable, surviving bugs, branches, thorns, snow, and rain without a scratch. I am, however, awfully careful about cleaning and storing them, which has likely contributed to their longevity.
|Clockwise: clear, brown, platinum, rose copper|
Changing the lenses was easy for me to get the hang of. I primarily use only two sets of lenses: the brown and the polarized platinum. I use the polarized platinum lenses all summer long, whether near water or deep in the forest. They are dark lenses, transmitting only 12% of visible light. But for me, they work in all but the darkest situations. The elimination of glare is invaluable when scanning the water for fish and suitable cover, not to mention looking out for obstructions when on a boat.
The brown lenses I use in winter and the shoulder seasons when it is cloudy. But even in winter when it is sunny, the polarized lenses come in handy.
The rose copper lenses are designed to increase depth perception, something that is rarely an issue for me. Theses lenses distort color too much for my tastes, so I never use them.
The clear lenses are listed on Smith's website as designed for nighttime use. Huh? I don't get why you would want to wear clear glasses at night, unless flying debris was an issue for some reason. Perhaps these lenses could be of use for turning the Thresholds into safety glasses, but though they are shatter-resistant, the informational materials that come with the glasses specifically state that Smith sunglasses are NOT safety glasses. Anyway, I can't find any conceivable use for the clear lenses.
THINGS I LIKE
Versatile: useful for all of my recreational activities
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Includes lenses I don't want or use
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Read more gear reviews by David Tagnani