The superb visual clarity and unobstructed field of view, ventilation and anti-fogging performance of Oakley's brand new Flight Jackets will suit those whose eyewear tends to steam up on long, hot climbs. If you don't suffer from fogging there are other benefits to these new shades, but the usual high price tag is tricky to go past.
- Pros: Optical clarity, tall lens, don't fog up, comfortable, good fit
- Cons: Expensive
If you are fed up with your sunglasses fogging every time you hit a climb, the new Flight Jackets feature a novel switch on the nose bridge that moves the glasses away from your face to prevent fogging. It's called the Oakley Advancer – the company is never short of a catchy name – and comprises a small switch that you simply pull down to activate, the resulting action lifting the glasses away from the face. Push the lever and they return to their default position.
Operating the lever is relatively easy to do on the move, once you get used to it. Hit the lower slopes of a climb, reach up and pull the lever down to lift the frame away from your face, slog up the climb, and push the lever back at the top. No more difficult than that really.
They do feel a bit odd when in 'climb' mode but the vision isn't obstructed and comfort is good. The nose pads stay in contact with your nose, it's just the frame that is pivoted away from your face.
Fogging is not a typical problem I face on home roads and the UK climate, it's more those long mountain climbs you get in France and Italy when it's super-hot. That's why you often see pro racers removing their glasses on the mountain climbs.
Suffice to say, the Advancer didn't get called into use all that often. Even with it fixed in place, the ventilation and airflow are good enough that I experienced no fogging during my several weeks of testing, and I sought out the longest and gruntiest climbs I could muster the energy to ride up. I also used them in a fast road race in hot conditions and had no issues with fogging.
Aside from this new feature, the real star of the show here is the Prizm lens. First introduced with the Jawbreakers several years ago, this lens provides impressive optical clarity. The tint is perfect for coping with everything from gloomy overcast weather to glorious sunny days. The contrast is really good when riding under the trees and in and out of shade too, and the sharpness is fantastic. They make the world look a better place.
The size of the lens, or rather the height of it, a carry-over feature from the Jawbreaker, also serves to ensure that coverage is exceptional. Only the lower frame slightly intrudes into your vision, but compared to regular smaller glasses where your vision is shrouded by the frame, the view through the Flight Jackets is all lens.
The half-frame design improves this over the full-frame Jawbreaker as well. The tall lens comes into its own when you're riding or racing in the drops, as there's no frame to clutter your view of the road ahead. Removing the top half of the frame improves this.
Another benefit is improved airflow over the top of the lens, which also contributes to the anti-fogging performance. I also found less issue with sweat building up around the top of the frame and the connected nose bridge of the Jawbreaker, and had less issue with sweat on the inside of the lens.
The Flight Jackets share the same design language as the Jawbreakers, all angles and sharp lines. It's a bold look that's for sure and isn't everyone's cup of tea. I don't mind them, but I'm not a fan of the yellow lever sticking out the front of the frame.
Fit, size and comfort are very similar to the Jawbreakers, so if you've tried those you'll find these Flight Jackets largely the same. The thin arms sit nicely on the ears and don't interfere with the straps and retention system on helmets from Giro, Lazer and Specialized that I tested them with. The rubber (Unobtainium) nose pads and earsocks grip the Flight Jackets firmly into place and they don't slip about even when you've got a sweat on.
It goes without saying that £185 is a hefty price tag. This isn't the place for a debate about the cost of manufacturing versus the amount of marketing budget and retail price markup, and it clearly doesn't dissuade lots of people from buying Oakley glasses, based on what I see out on the road. Your choice...
When the Flight Jackets were first launched I thought the Advancer was a bit of a gimmick, and while wearing them for several weeks has done a little to change my view, unless you really suffer from fogging I'm not sure it's a compelling reason to buy them. Instead, buy them for the superb optics, large lens coverage and unobstructed vision and great fit and comfort.
To conclude, if you regularly suffer glasses fogging then the Flight Jackets and the novel nose bridge switch will benefit you, as will the improved airflow over the top of the lens. Other than that, there's not a lot to make anyone owning the previous Jawbreakers need to rush out and buy them, aside from those who must have the latest.
Oakley's latest Flight Jackets eliminate fogging but come with a hefty price tag
road.cc test report
Make and model: Oakley Flight Jacket
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for
Oakley says, "Aerodynamic engineering makes this speed specialist the ultimate eyewear for cycling, running and beyond. An open-edge brow maximizes the upper field of view, and our new Advancer nose bridge instantly opens airflow to combat fogging and overheating. Two included lengths of interchangeable temples make Flight Jacket compatible with helmets"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Brow-less design allows for improved upper field of view
Advancer™ nosebridge positions the frame to block light while opening airflow to combat fogging and overheating
Interchangeable temple lengths for improved helmet compatibility
Durability and all-day comfort of lightweight O-Matter™ frame material
No-slip Unobtainium® nosepads and earsocks: Increase grip with perspiration
Three-Point Fit: Comfort and performance that holds lenses in precise optical alignment
Frame suitable for medium to large faces
Optimal precision and impact resistance that meet or exceed ANSI Z80.3 optical and impact standards
Yes they are expensive, as the commenters will let everyone know, and there are much cheaper options available if you are put off by the high price. I'm consistently impressed by the lens quality with Oakley products, though, and I'm a fan of this new tall lens trend.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great coverage, superb lens clarity and contrast, fit well with helmets, don't slip about when sweaty.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tall lens and half-frame design ideally suited for head down riding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Didn't use the Advancer feature all that much.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're extremely comfortable glasses with great optical clarity and, if you ride head down in the drops, the clear vision from the large lens and half-frame design will appeal, but the high price brings the overall score down.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.