Oakley’s new Fast Jacket and Fast Jacket XL series of sport-specific eyewear continues their legacy of technical innovation with a new design that incorporates their previous, proprietary lens geometry and optics with a new fast lens change system. The design makes lens changes easier enabling the athlete to tune their eyewear to specific lighting for better performance.
Oakley eyewear leads the industry in protection and technology. They license some of their older technologies to other sunglass brands who sell them as their “state of the art”. Oakley eyewear is so sophisticated their primary challenge isn’t being the technical leader it’s communicating to consumers what sets them apart- and why the glasses are at the highest end of the price scale.
The core, unique technologies in Oakley sport-specific eyewear and in the new Fast Jacket are:
- Oakley sport glasses exceed the Federal Standard for industrial safety glasses, ANSI Z87.1. This is a higher level of protection than nearly every other sport sunglass brand. With some popular sport glass brands, only their military market models meet this standard.
- Oakley uses contact points on the noise and ear stem of proprietary “Unobtainium” polymer that become sticky when wet. The wetter your head becomes, the better the glasses stay on.
- “HDO” or High Definition Optics: Oakley lenses have the highest degree of visual clarity and lowest level of distortion. Independent tests reveal Oakley’s lens clarity is better than competing brands. You simply see better with less eyestrain through Oakley glasses.
- Oakley “Hydrophobic” or “water fearing” treatments cause perspiration, rain and fluids to sheet off the lens more readily than competing brands.
The new feature of the Fast Jacket is a lens changing system called SwitchLock. Nearly all Oakley sport glasses use an interchangeable lens going back to the legacy Oakley eyeshade. The new Switchlock system facilitates quicker, easier lens changes and exerts less pressure or bending on the lens to maintain optical clarity. The locking feature uses a small rotating gate, almost like a carabiner, that hinges open and shut to change and retain lenses. The lens changing system is very easy to use, better than previous Oakley lens changing methods that required a little practice to do easily.
Oakley includes a small stick of “Nano Clear” – like a miniature lipstick – with the Fast Jackets. You rub this lipstick applicator on the lens to provide a high level of water-sheeting. The treatment can be reapplied if you notice water staying on the lens. This treatment does away with the old racer’s trick of putting Rain-X windshield treatment on their glasses to keep sweat and fluid off the lens. We tested the treatment and it clearly made water sheet off better than without the treatment.
The Fast Jacket and Fast Jacket XL are both strong multisport choices since they work well on the bike and very well on the run. Any sunglass that uses a frame across the top of the lens will limit the vertical field of view when an athlete is in the riding posture, especially in aerobars. As your face angles downward you have to rotate your eyes up higher to look down the road. Oakley makes a version of their Radar sunglass called the Radar XL Blades with a taller lens that facilitates the aero position very well and works with most aero helmets, including snug fitting ones. I tested early versions of the Radar XL Blade prior to their introduction at the SuperSEAL Triathlon in Coronado, California. It was raining heavily at the bike start and the field of view and water sheeting were excellent on the Radar XL Blades. With this new Fast Jacket, very low riders will give up some vertical field of view when in the aero position. On the run, the field of view is perfect, including to the outer periphery, where the Fast Jacket XL lens shape provides complete coverage of your functional field of view.
Oakley Fast Jackets are sold in bundles that include a spare pair of lenses with the kit. In each of the different bundles there is a sunlight lens and a high contrast, lower light condition lens. The different model and color Fast Jackets have different lenses but lenses are obviously interchangeable and separate lenses will be sold by Oakley to custom configure your frame/lens combination. Oakley also will offer a custom option as an initial purchase so you can configure the glasses the way you want right out of the box.
I’ve been impressed with Oakley’s technology since the introduction of the original Oakley Lights (Eyeshade) and the Blade. I’ve worn them since the mid 1980’s. The new Fast Jacket is a nice introduction that continues the Oakley legacy of innovation and performance with functional style. Changing lenses has never been easier and buying the glasses as a kit with different lenses makes sense. This combination of features and benefits makes the Fast Jacket a strong introduction.
There is an irony that people will part with $150+ for running shoes, another $40 for insoles, then $11-15 for socks, but balk at more than $80 to protect their eyes. Good eyewear tunes your visual perception of the environment and influences your performance to the point of improvement. When you consider the importance of your eyes and the influence your visual perception can have on your performance it makes sense to protect your eyes and improve your visual perception of the racing/training environment. Oakley’s new Fast Jacket and Fast Jacket XL are both impressive tools from the innovators of sports-specific eyewear to tune your visual perception of the training and racing environment and protect your most valuable sensory tool; your eyes.