Smith Toaster Slider Sunglasses
by Susan Heller
June 25, 2009
Here is the html link: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/OWNER%20REVIEWS/OR%20-%20Smith%20Toaster%20Slider%20Sunglasses%20-%20Susan%20H/
And thanks so much, Kathy, for all the help in editing, etc.!
Smith Toaster Slider Sunglasses
by Susan Heller
June 25, 2009
About the Reviewer
Name: Susan Heller
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 135 lb (61 kg)
E-Mail Address: susaneheller@...
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
I have been hooked to the outdoors since 1989, when my dad showed me VHS footage of a climb he took up Mt. Rainier. In 2002/3, I led week-long backpacking trips in Canada's Coastal Mountains, but I typically take day or weekend trips, with the goal of doing a longer backpacking or climbing trip annually. I prefer traveling light, but a penchant for chocolate bars and a tendency to bring extra clothing puts me in the mid-weight hiking category, averaging 12 lb (5.4 kg) for day trips and 40 lb (18.1 kg) for multi-day treks.
Manufacturer: Smith Optics
Year of Manufacture: not indicated on website
Manufacturer's Website: www.smithoptics.com
MSRP: US$ 139
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 0.6 oz (17 g)
Frame Reviewed: Tortoise
Warranty: Lifetime (provided they were purchased from an authorized dealer)
Lenses Reviewed: Polarized Sienna Brown, RC30, and Yellow lenses
- 9 Base Lens Curvature
- Carbonic TLT Lenses
- Frame Measurements 59-19-123
- Interchangeable Lenses
- Megol nose and temple pads
- Small Fit / Small Coverage
- TR90 Grilamid frame
Smith's Toaster Slider sunglasses are narrow, sleek, and lightweight, with interchangeable lenses and non-slip nose and temple pads. As the name "Slider" indicates, the lenses are removed or inserted by sliding them in and out of the top of the frames rather than popping them in and out as some other interchangeable-lens systems operate. The frames themselves are made from Grilamid TR90, "an exceedingly light and durable plastic that, according to the manufacturer's website, will maintain its shape under all temperature changes. The "9 Base Curve" frame design ensures a "maximum amount of wrap," which was great for me, as I have a narrower face and like sunglasses with a snugger, wraparound-type fit. The sunglasses come in a sturdy black case and a removable pocket that attaches to the inside of the case with hook and loop fasteners and has space for up to three additional pairs of lenses.
The Toaster Slider sunglasses fit 17 different lenses; however, only 9 of the 17 lenses are available for purchase separately as replacement lenses, and include: Platinum Mirror, Polarized Platinum Mirror, Sienna Brown, Polarized Sienna Brown, True Color Gray, Polarized True Color Gray, Polarized Bronze Mirror, Ignitor, and Yellow. The Carbonic lenses, according to Smith, are constructed from the most impact-resistant lens material in the world, and all offer 100% UVA/B/C protection. During the "General Impressions" part of this review, I will primarily focus on the Polarized Sienna Brown lenses, which I have found to be particularly useful while doing water sports and glacier travel. I will also briefly review the RC30 and Yellow lenses, which were included (along with Clear Mirror lenses) in the sunglass package I bought and that is available for purchase on the manufacturer's website.
The frames, which are 1.4 in (3.5 cm) tall, are composed of Grilamid, a flexible, sturdy, and lightweight plastic material. The "tortoise" color option alternates hazily between an opaque dark brown and a semi-opaque honey color. The arms of the frames are straight but taper slightly going from lens to ear end, where they gently curve downward at a 35 40 degree angle in order to "hook" around the ear a bit. Rubberized patches placed at the nose and temples help secure the glasses in place, and are composed of a water-loving rubber called "Hydophilic Megol" which, Smith claims, "increases in its gripping power when introduced to moisure" (i.e. sweat!).
I am currently on my second pair of Smith Toaster Slider sunglasses (as the first pair is lying at the bottom of one of Norway's famously deep inlets), and have used them continuously for over six years in all temperature, weather, and activity conditions. They serve me equally well for my daily bike commute and general in-town use as for outings ranging from rock climbing in Greece under glaringly sunny conditions to skiing in France and Switzerland at elevations of 6,500 8,500 ft (2,000 2,600 m). I have worn these sunglasses at temperatures ranging from 0 to 95 F (-17.8 35 C). They wrap closely enough to my face to prevent me from worrying that they will fall off during high-impact sports and, admittedly, the only reason why my first pair is gathering algae at the bottom of an inlet is because I dropped them (and, sadly, "pure clumsiness" doesn't fall under Smith's otherwise generous warranty).
In purely aesthetic terms, Smith's Toaster Slider sunglasses are, for me, the sunglass equivalent of the little black dress; they are so versatile that I feel equally comfortable wearing them in downtown Geneva as I do hiking in the windy Alps or rock climbing in dusty Joshua Tree, California.
However, even more importantly for me than the Toaster Slider's dashing good looks is its "Small Fit/Small Coverage" aspect. The Toaster Slider's frame width and overall size is well suited to my narrow face (to get an idea of just how narrow my face is, I can comfortably wear some junior-sized bike and ski helmets, and most other sunglasses I try on make me look as though I'm playing dress-up). I find the "Small Coverage" aspect to be more than adequate, and have never had any peripheral-vision or "lack of coverage" problems.
As far as the lenses are concerned, the ones I wear the most frequently are entitled "Polarized Sienna Brown." As a person with extremely sensitive eyes, I wear these lenses when it's overcast and raining just as often as when it's squint-eyes sunny. The lenses allow enough light in to move from sun to shade or from an outdoor to indoor setting without needing to immediately remove them in order to see anything, but dark enough to eliminate squinting and eye strain during bright days.
As far as scratches go, these lenses aren't indestructible, even if Smith does claim that their lenses are made with the most impact-resistant lens material in the world. As much as I would love a 100% scratch-free lens, the whole idea may be one of perspective; if I wear these glasses daily, as I do, and take them in and out of the case daily (sometimes even carefully fitting them in the case along with my prescription glasses), as I do, they are going to get scratched. I suppose it's a bit like wearing my favorite pair of running shoes; no matter how much I take care of them, they will eventually turn from whitish to brownish, lose their support, and need to be replaced. The good news is that Smith sells their interchangeable lenses separately, so it's easy to replace them without having to buy a whole new pair of sunglasses (but pricey, as replacement lenses range from US $20 60/pair).
I have, on occasion worn the RC30 and Yellow lenses, both of which I don't like nearly as much as the Polarized Sienna Brown ones. I have gone skiing a couple of times while wearing the Yellow lenses because of Smith's claim that the bright color "increases visual acuity in low light or flat conditions," but didn't find that to be the case while trying to navigate moguls in flat, snowy conditions. They were also far too bright for my preference and light-sensitive eyes. The rose/copper-colored RC30 lenses are a little darker in comparison, but still a little too bright for my eyes. I can still wear them outside during sunny days, but I often find myself squinting. The color is nice, though, and tempts me to sing, "La Vie en Rose," when I'm wearing them.
While I can't verify that the more I sweat, the more the rubberized, "Hydrophilic Megol" ear and nose pads stick to my face, I can say that that I have never had to wear Croakies or other "eyewear retainers" while doing moderately active sports with my Toaster Slider sunglasses on. Sometimes when I am running or doing other fast-moving sports, the glasses jiggle slightly and inch down my nose, but after pushing them up, I'm good to go for another half hour or so. The plastic frames are flexible enough to resist snapping, but I have noticed that they have loosened a bit over time, although not so much as to become a nuisance.
Ironically enough, my biggest irk with these sunglasses is not the sunglasses themselves, but the accompanying case. While I love the size and sturdiness of the case, I find that the zipper often catches and that it takes a few tries to get it opened or closed. Even more of a problem than the case itself, though, is the removable lens pouch that can be fastened to the inside of the case with hook and loop fasteners. The hook and loop fasteners aren't an issue, but the pockets for extra lenses are too loose, and I kept finding that when I opened the case, all the extra lenses had escaped from their little pouches and were mingling in the case's main compartment. This led to the lenses becoming scratched, and to my eventual decision to remove the lens pouch altogether.
Without exaggeration, these sleek little sunglasses have been the optical portal through which I've viewed the world during the past six to seven years. Regardless of whether it is sunny, rainy, cloudy, windy, or a bizarre tag-team mixture of all four, as weather conditions in Geneva and the surrounding mountains tend to exhibit, the Toaster Sliders are on my face, strengthening my usually-present, Toaster-Slider-shaped raccoon eyes.
WHAT I LIKE
Sleek look and narrow size of the frames
The "wraparound" style of the frames
The interchangeable lens system
Their overall versatility (I can use them for both casual and athletic events)
WHAT I DON'T LIKE
The zipper on the case and the removable, extra lens pocket
The expensive price of replacement lenses