These sunnies are all about active performance with a classic style
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TripSavvy / Justin Park
No hard case
The Oakley Men’s Holbrook Sunglasses are a stylish lightweight pair of sunnies suitable for active pursuits or casual wear.
We purchased the Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess the product. Keep reading for our full product review.
Oakley has been a leader in sports eyewear for over 40 years and their sunglasses are the company’s best-known products. To see if one of the classic models held up, we tested the Oakley Men’s Holbrook Sunglasses during the summer in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. We assessed them over several weeks, testing them while skiing July snow, mountain biking, piddling around town, and driving. Read on for all the details.
Oakley describes the style of the Holbrook as “a timeless, classic design...inspired by the screen heroes of the 1940s, '50s, and '60s.” I’d have to agree. The square design definitely has a James Dean feel, even though they were first released in 2010.
The sunnies I tested were a simple matte black paired with the non-polarized Prizm Ruby lenses which are a mirrored red and orange gradient that totally obscures your eyes regardless of the lighting. Had I paired the matte black frames with a black or grey lens, I think the pair might’ve been too unassuming for me. But with the mirrored Ruby lens, I felt the Holbrooks were eye-catching without being the first part of me that walked in the room.
I personally like the simple style of the Holbrooks, though if you want to make more of a statement, there are lots of frame options available including faux wood grain, black camo, a partially clear polycarbonate, and even metal frames. Note: The materials can be different depending on the style, so weights and feel may be slightly different than the pair I reviewed.
There are also lots of lens options, though most of them are now in the Prizm family, either polarized or not. There are basic dark black and gray lenses and mirrored options in several shades from light blue to my red and orange to jade and purple.
On both sides, there is a cutout Oakley “O” and two rivets for the only branding on the glasses. I liked the low-contrast black “O” on the black frame but some of the other frame options really emphasize the logo, perhaps most so with the American flag “O” option.
While the Holbrooks look like a casual pair of sunglasses, they aren’t bad as sport shades, either. Despite having a classic square look, the frames actually contour in towards your face, minimizing gaps and maximizing coverage, unlike a truly square frame.
Before ordering, I had read Oakley recently started making the Holbrooks with slightly smaller lenses and wondered if I should order the XLs. After testing the regular Holbrooks on my fairly average size face, I’m glad I went with the regulars. Oakley does make XL and XS versions if your face falls on either extreme.
The Holbrooks feel light in your hands and on your face. My pair weighed in at 28 grams, which is less than an ounce. For context, I weighed some cheaper giveaway no-name pairs of sunglasses and they were around double the heft at 50 and 68 grams. As mentioned above, weights may vary between styles of the Holbrooks since different frame materials and sizes are available.
The arms of the Holbrooks angle in as they go from your eyes back to your ears which provides a snug fit, though I never felt like my head was getting squeezed. I was a little nervous spring skiing in them since I usually ski in goggles that are strapped on securely. But I never felt like the Holbrooks were in danger of falling off, even when skiing fast or catching a bit of air and landing. I also used them mountain biking and, again, never felt like the fit was sloppy enough to lose them.
The frames are also nice and flexible and there were a few times when I accidentally put my weight on the sunglasses in the car and in a pack. Instead of breaking or warping, the Holbrooks seemed to just bend and bounce back. I think the flexibility also helps them fit snugly without leading to a headache.
I was already familiar with the Prizm lenses from testing them in a pair of Oakley ski goggles, so I was curious to see if the experience was on par with the snow lenses which I found very impressive for their clarity, durability, and contrast on snow.
The Prizm Ruby lenses in my Holbrooks are not sport-specific and have a bronze base lens which is a general-purpose lens. My ski goggle Prizm lenses, however, emphasize blues and reds which Oakley says enhances contrast in snow. Because I knew I wanted to use them for skiing, I purposely chose a non-polarized lens as polarized lenses are good at reducing glare, but can also reduce contrast and make it harder to see things such as ice patches on the snow.
I tested the Holbrooks skiing in spring and into late July. While I wasn’t surprised to find them less effective than sport-specific goggles, they were plenty adequate for more casual skiing. Since I was skiing in warmer temps, the sunnies were actually more enjoyable at times as they didn't fog over as goggles can in similar conditions.
While the Holbrooks look like a casual wear pair of sunglasses, they aren’t bad as sport shades, either.
The Prizm Ruby lenses cut down light transmission to 17% which is a good middle-of-the-road lens that works in full sun and partial clouds. They’re a bit dark for a fully overcast day where you’d want a light or clear lens.
When biking, I found the Prizm lens color enhancements made greens really pop and stand out from dirt and rocks, making the trail pop as a result. They also weren’t too dark so I felt comfortable riding from open glades into shaded forests.
One of the things that blew me away about my Oakley Prizm ski goggle lenses is how scratch-resistant they were even when subjected to tree branches, dropping them on icy snow, and even crashing.
After a few weeks of wearing the Holbrook sunglasses skiing, biking, and around town, I noticed some minor scratching starting to accumulate. There were no major scratches that impacted the clarity, but when looking at the front of the mirrored lenses closely, I could detect some small scratches. That was a bit of a letdown after my ski goggles led me to believe Prizm might be impervious to such things.
I didn’t have any major abuses that would’ve led to the scratching, but it’s worth noting that the Holbrooks don’t come with any kind of hard case. The included soft case is a nice microfiber that is useful for wiping off your lenses safely, but they provide only minor protection.
The non-polarized Prizm Holbrooks are $30 to $40 cheaper than the polarized versions which retail at just about $200. That’s not particularly high for sunglasses of this caliber, but if you don’t need polarized shades, consider saving a few bucks.
The price, while obviously ten times or more the cost of gas station sunglasses, is comparable to similar offerings from Smith and Costa and slightly cheaper than brands such as Maui Jim or Ray-Ban.
The real value of the Holbrooks is their ability to do double-duty as sport and casual shades. If you intend to buy sport-specific shades for running, biking, skiing, or whatever your sport, you may want to spend less on casual shades. (Or about the same, but for sports-focused sunnies.)
But if you like the idea of having one pair that can do both, consider the Holbrooks.
Justin Park lives in Breckenridge, Colorado, where, at nearly 10,000 feet, the sun can be intense. He tested these sunglasses thoroughly during the summer—a time of peak sunshine for the Rocky Mountains. Park spends more than 100 days skiing each year and regularly logs days hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking in the backcountry.
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