When it comes to sunglasses, Oakley has never been shy about bold designs and color schemes. The new Oakley Kato sunglasses continue that tradition with an innovative one piece lens and “superhero inspired” design. While most other new sunglasses are variations of oversized frames or retro-inspired designs, the $291 Kato is a clean slate approach that combines aggressive curvature with a one piece lens that extends over the nose. The lens itself provides structure to the Kato sunglasses with a frameless design and a flared top brow and contoured nose. The sunglasses are currently offered with three Prizm lens options: black, road, and the sapphire version shown in this review. The Oakley Kato sunglasses also offer some unique features to optimize the fit such as the Rake Mechanism to tilt the angle of the lens and replaceable Unobtainium nose pads
The Oakley Kato sunglasses combine super-hero like styling with a unique frameless design for a wide field of view.
|Measured weight (in g)||34|
|Likes||+ Unique styling|
+ Frameless design provides wide field of view
+ Prizm lens offers crisp and clear optics
|Dislikes||– Premium price|
– Fogs up on steep and slow climbs
– Rake mechanism covers are difficult to open
|Where to Buy (US)||Oakley|
The Oakley Kato sunglasses come in a sleek black cardboard box with minimal graphics or branding. Inside you’ll find:
- Kato sunglasses
- Zippered hard case
- Fabric carrying bag
- Two additional nose pads
- Info pamphlet with lens information
FIT & FINISH
Oakley markets the Kato sunglasses with the tagline “unleash your inner superpower” which is quite fitting as you’ll feel like a superhero wearing them. The Kato sunglasses look more like something from the latest Marvel movie than consumer sunglasses with their bold styling. What really sets the Kato apart from other sunglasses is that they feature a frameless design with a one piece lens that contours around your face and nose. Compared with oversized and retro theme sunglasses such as the Bolle Chronoshield or POC Devour, the Katos contoured shape is quite distinct. Rather than having a cutout for the nose, the lens is molded around the nose for a unique look. The top of the lens also flares upward to provide some additional rigidity to the Kato sunglasses.
The other unique feature of the Kato sunglasses is the Rake mechanism. This is a clever feature that allows the angle of the lens and temple arms to be adjusted. Behind each of the Oakley logos on the temple arms are hinged plastic covers that can be lifted open. Once they are opened, the lens angle can be adjusted between three indexed positions to customize the fit. To lock in the angle, the hinged covers have to be pressed back into the temple arms by applying pressure to get the tabs to click in place. Although we found the factory position to be most comfortable, we imagine others may find the feature quite useful. Also note that the hinged covers can be difficult to open, especially the first time, due to how small the tabs are to grip.
Although the styling and retail price of the Kato sunglasses may not be for everyone, it’s hard to deny the fact that Oakley’s Prizm lenses are some of the best available. Prizm lens technology is exclusive to Oakley and is designed to enhance color and contrast. For this review, we rode with the Sapphire lens which has a 12% VLT and filter category of 3 which was very well suited for sunny conditions. The grey base tint color works well with road cycling as it increases contrast on concrete making it easier to spot debris or potholes. What is particularly impressive about the Kato’s optics is that there is no distortion or non-uniformity despite the high curvature of the lens.
One of the big questions we had and imagine most people will also have is whether the one-piece lens with a molded nose provides any field of view or vision advantages over standard lens designs. To be frank our answer would be “sort of”. While you can’t see through the molded nose portion, since there is no frame or nose bridge, you have a wider field of view. Nose bridges in particular are something we dislike about the POC Devour as they can be distracting if you focus on them. The high curvature of the lenses also provide a very impressive field of view and make the temples of the sunglasses nearly invisible. That said, while riding on drops or leaned downward, we did notice the flared top of the lens. We imagine an Oakley Kato XL with a taller frame would alleviate that issue as the current Kato isn’t particularly tall compared to other oversized sunglasses on the market
To customize the fit, Oakley includes three Unobtainium nose pads options with the Kato sunglasses. The nose pads attach to the lens using small plastic hooks. It’s a familiar design that can be found in a variety of other Oakley sunglasses and is easy to use once you’ve used it a few times. We do recommend removing the nose pieces carefully as it can be easy to rip the rubber if too much force is used. The main downside of removable nose pieces is that you do need to keep track of the spares which is why we prefer adjustable nose pieces like those found in the Smith Mag sunglasses that utilize indexed positions without the need for extra parts.
Overall, we found the Oakley Kato sunglasses to be visually distinct with crisp optics. Compared to the current trend of oversized retro sunglasses, the contoured and seamless design makes the Kato stand out. The superhero-like styling and high base curvature allows them to wrap around your face for a comfortable fit. We also appreciate the frameless design which provides an immersive experience and open field of view. The unique design and large lens do mean the Kato sunglasses are one of the most expensive we’ve reviewed and lack replaceable lenses. We would have also liked to see an indexed nose pad instead of swappable nose pads as it’s easy to lose the spare nose pads. That said, if you are looking for a set of unique cycling sunglasses with crisp optics, the Oakley Kato sunglasses are an impressive option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Oakley. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.