It can seem a little suspect when a review begins with superlatives and there’s nary a suggestion or constructive critique to be found, but if you only have time to read a summary statement as to the performance of these new Smith sunglasses, I can confidently state that the Smith Vert PivLock ($209-$219) is my all-time favorite pair of adventure-worthy sunglasses.
The Smith Vert PivLock glasses come with two lenses (one sun protection and one clear lens for low-light/dark adventure eye protection), a microfiber bag, and a large performance hard case, which I absolutely love for stress-free transport when traveling.
The sunnies are billed as ultralight and low-profile, which I must admit I found hard to believe when I first pulled the massive lenses from the case, but when I put them on, they firmly upheld that billing. These ride so lightly on my face that it’s surprisingly easy to forget they’re there. They fit perfectly with all my usual visors, bike helmet, and desert-style sun hats of varying sizes and shapes for long days up high or paddling on the water.
I’ve never had a more comfortable pair of high performance, all-activity, all-weather sunglasses. Nor have I ever had a larger, more shield-like pair, which increased my self-consciousness. I’ve had to strive to make peace from a personal “looks” perspective, but the fit and function are so stellar, it’s worth the striving.
I’ve tested Vert PivLocks in temperatures from 28 degrees Fahrenheit to 103 degrees (ugh) and in winds from calm to gusting at 50 miles per hour (ugh again), and they were flawless. No fogging up, no watery eyes, no debris in the eyes, and no sweat under the eyeballs (well, everything was sweating at 103 degrees) thanks to the excellent coverage and breathability allowed by the frame design. Their durability is excellent as well.
The other Smith sunglasses I’ve owned have each lasted eight or more years of daily wear, and with a change out of the lens, the frames continue on — pretty excellent cost-per-use ratio, which I expect will hold true with these as well.Shop the Smith Vert PivLock
Smith Vert PIvLock Frame and Fit
Make no mistake, the Smith Vert PIvLock are large coverage sunglasses with a medium to large fit. Whatever you lack in confidence in pulling this “super-fast, hot, super star” look off, will be more than made up for when you experience their amazing performance. While not quite ski goggles, they aren’t that far off in the grand scheme of things, with a lens width of 139 millimeters by a height of 61 millimeters. The arm length is 125 millimeters.
But unlike goggles, when you put the Vert PivLock on, they just disappear on your face — from your perspective, at least. The three points of contact — nose, and behind both ears — bear weight that is almost imperceptible, and even after a 12-plus-hour day of constant wear, there is no pressure ache or abrasion to be felt.
Megol temple and nose pads are truly non-slip, and with the two-position, easily adjustable nose pads, you can dial in the fit further to where they never have to be pushed or squinched back into place — even after rocky, rooty downhills, or in the midst of buckets of sweat from those unfortunate super hot adventure days. They don’t even touch my temples, which is unusual but key for the comfort of my large head.
I had a couple falls barreling down trails while wearing these, and even then, no dirt made it into my eyes, and there was no need to hunt for them in the bushes — they were just there, right on my face where I’d put them at the start of the run.
Smith always demonstrates careful attention to detail with their sunglasses design, and there’s just the right amount of stiffness in the minimal frame/shield lens design to enable putting the glasses on/taking them off easily with one hand. They also perch securely on top of a visor or trucker hat when you’re not quite ready to put them in their case.
The auto-locking hinges hold the frames open and the lenses securely through all this futzing around, which is a definite upgrade from some of the minimal-framed glasses of the past. Not once have I had an arm pop off, even when I’ve mistakenly bobbled them. The high-impact resistant TR90 nylon frame is not something I’ve really put to the test, thankfully, but I’ve worn them every day for the past several months, and they look brand new — as long as I do a quick clean of the lenses.
Smith made the very first pair of technical sunglasses I wore a few decades ago — and my, how the ease of interchangeable lenses have improved! The PivLock system functions as simply as pivoting (rotating) one arm in one direction to release the lens, and the opposite to accept the new lens in place. No more worry about breaking lenses while trying to get them to squeeze into place. The nose adjustment is also as simple, with a pinch or a pull to click it into place. I’d trust any crew member to carry out these duties in a high stakes aid station situation without hesitation.
Smith Vert PivLock Lenses
Smith has demonstrated expertise in the craft of lens making for years, but I do think the refinement of the ChromaPop, non-polarized lenses found in the Smith Vert PivLock has raised the bar significantly.
I received the ChromaPop Violet Mirror Lens with my glasses, which allow 15% visible light transmission (VLT), and are best for medium to bright sun exposure, while still providing 100% blocking of UVA/B/C rays. Also included were the interchangeable clear lenses.
There are five other lenses available, ranging in VLT from 10 to 30%, depending on what your environment requires.
The lenses maintain perfect visual clarity through the entire length and width of the six-base cylindrical shield lens. This means that — whether I’m peering through peripheral vision, or scanning from toe to overhead as I run along a trail — there is no distortion, no wavy lines, no odd visuals. The ChromaPop technology is also designed to enhance natural color and contrast of terrain edges and features, which it does, but not in a weird 3-D movie glasses way.
The best way to describe how these lenses function is simply that they maximize visual clarity, completely distortion-free, while protecting your eyes from the sun and eliminating glare. With the wide coverage and frameless design, the visual field is very impressive and uninterrupted as is the protection from wind and dust from the wrap around shape. As is typical from Smith, the lenses also have a coating that resists moisture and smudges should an errant finger or too much sweat find the lenses.
Smith Vert PivLock Overall Impressions
From fit and performance perspectives, the Smith Vert PivLock sunglasses are my absolute perfect pair of vision-enhancing sun protectors. My previous favorite pair of the last many years are now relegated to the back-up position. There really are no other sunnies out there that I can wear from the dawn drive to the trailhead, through any length of trail run in any weather conditions, onto the post-run bike or paddleboard, and back home via the evening drive. All this with zero discomfort or pressure points, and zero wishes for a different style of coverage or lenses.
Snow and water glare? No problem — nothing bounces off the inside of the lenses with that ideal wrap around, large shield fit.
Super bright, blustery mountain run with rocky trail? Excellent coverage and visual clarity are provided thanks to those lenses.
Bouncy bike terrain or technical running descent? They stay secure on my face without a need to adjust.
Need to read a map or my watch face quickly? No problem — just enough light comes in to decipher the small print.
On the rare occasion I’ve switched to the clear lenses for a night adventure, their performance and comfort remain unmatched.
Any self-consciousness I have about the look of the glasses — particularly on my middle-aged, non-speedy runner face — is a mute-point when my eyes and my head are so darn happy and comfortable. I simply cannot overstate how impressed I am with the Smith Vert PivLock — five out of five stars from me.Shop the Smith Vert PivLock
Call for Comments
- Have you tried the Smith Vert PivLock running sunglasses? What were your thoughts?
- Do you like big, full-coverage sunglasses?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]