If you needed proof that fashion is cyclical you wouldn’t have to look further than sunglasses. Most brands are reaching back into their catalogs and revamping classic designs with modern optics and frame materials. The Smith XC sunglasses in this review are no exception as they were originally part of Smith’s 1983/1984 skiing collection. Smith has brought them back with a $179 retail price and modern Evolve Bio-based frame and ChromaPop lens options. The combination of retro styling and cutting edge optics means the XC sunglasses give you the best of both worlds. One of the main features of the XC sunglasses is the flip-up lens which uses a top mounted hinge to flip the lens out of the way. It’s a clever feature that’s perfect for winter sports, slow climbs on the bike or even around town when you need more visibility.
The Smith XC combines retro styling and flip-up lens with modern frame construction and crisp ChromaPop lens.
|Rating||9.2 / 10|
|Measured weight (in g)||31|
|Likes||+ Clever flip-up lens|
+ Retro design and color schemes
+ Crisp optics and bright ChromaPop lens options
|Dislikes||– Premium price|
– Edge of lens is visible while cycling
|Where to Buy (US)||Smith|
The Smith XC comes in a compact cardboard box with branding printed directly on it. Inside the box you’ll find:
- Smith XC sunglasses
- Retro fabric carrying case
- Smith sticker
The fabric carrying case is right out of the 80s with a soft material and Smith logo sewn on to it.
FIT & FINISH
As the name implies, the Smith XC was originally designed for cross country skiers as a part of Smith’s 1993/1984 catalog. Smith has brought them out of the vault and remade them with the latest Evolve Bio-Based frame material and modern ChromaPop optics. Although the sunglasses look fairly flat and retro, they actually have a 3-base spherical shield lens curvature. It’s a modest wraparound fit that’s designed for medium to large faces. Smith has leaned heavily on retro color schemes and design elements including the logos and square lens shape. It’s currently offered in five different color variations: Matte Purple / Cinder, Matte Black, Black, Matte Tortoise and Storm Birch which we have in this review. With the two-tone color the hinge on the top frame is a light orange color, the temples are tan and a baby blue main frame. It’s an unusual color combination which looks retro and looks unique.
One of the big selling features of the XC is the flip-up lens design which allows you to flip the lens out of the way. The lens is attached to the top of the frame using a wide rectangular piece. Although this design means the Smith XC does not have interchangeable lenses, it’s a unique feature that’s not common to see in performance sunglasses. The nose pads remain attached to the semi-rimless frame via a nose bridge. As with other Smith sunglasses the XC features Megol nose pads which are malleable and easy to adjust to different faces. Smith has also incorporated auto-locking hinges into the temple arms which means they snap open or shut and are easier to operate with one hand.
ON THE ROAD
Smith doesn’t market the XC sunglasses as cycling specific sunglasses and instead lists them as sport and performance. That makes sense as the 3-base lens curvature is quite a bit flatter than Oakley or Roka cycling sunglasses which wrap around your face. We found the flip up feature to be a great feature for cycling as you can flip the lens up while doing slow climbs or on dark sections of road. It’s far more convenient than removing sunglasses and placing them on a helmet. The only downside is that the lens is still slightly visible at the edge of your vision when flipped up. Otherwise, we found the ChromaPop lens had clear and well designed optics for cycling and around town. The retro styling makes the sunglasses at home on the bike, kayak or running errands around town. While the sunglasses are comfortable we did find the temple tips to be slightly uncomfortable for multi-hour rides.
Overall, we found the Smith XC sunglasses to be a clever modernization of a retro design. The flip-up lens feature of the XC sunglasses is something rare to see in performance sunglasses and is perfect for doing slow climbs, the beach or anytime you’re in a low-light situation. Smith’s semi-frameless design and smooth shaping of the lens provide clear optics and a non-polarizing appearance that looks great in nearly any situation. We found the retro fabric carrying case and color schemes to be well thought out and attractive. The main negatives we found with the sunglasses are the premium price and the lack of curvature which means the edges of the lens are visible while riding. That said, if you’re looking for a set of unique performance sunglasses with retro design but modern features then the Smith XC is a great option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Smith Optics. 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.