Published on December 14, 2015
Oakley Flak 2.0
The Oakley Flak 2.0 is the latest offering from the sunglasses juggernaut that promise to take ‘performance to the next level.’ But is it really possible to justify a starting price tag of £140?
Here’s the thing with Oakley: they are a lifestyle brand, pure and simple. That’s not to suggest their sunnies aren’t outstanding (they invariably are), but owning and wearing a pair is as much about statement as anything else.
The Flak 2.0 difference
The Flak 2.0 offers a standard size frame, which in practical terms here for runners means smaller and lighter than iterations from elsewhere in the extensive range. The stripped back design leaves the Flak 2.0 coming in at a gossamer 25g and when it comes to running longer distances lack of weight can be key to comfort. The semi-rimless design, in addition to helping shave off excess weight, improves the downward field of vision so there’s nothing to obstruct or distract when trying to keep your footing on technical trail.
Comfort and fit
Weight, as we’ve noted already, is a key component to comfort but the Oakley Flak 2.0 takes that advantage and runs with it by adding a super-soft nosepad and ‘earsocks’, which extent the full length of the arms. Both points of contact are moulded from the superbly (ridiculously?) named ‘unobtainium’; soft, flexible and sweat-resistant, meaning there’s no slippage when things heat up. Or, indeed, when the rain comes down and you still need to use the Flaks as face-windscreens. In fact Oakley claim that unobtainium actually increases grip the wetter it gets – all RunningMonkey can say is that on test they didn’t fall off…
The overall fit is snug and relatively narrow so these aren’t going to suit every runner – as with shoes, it’s a case of try before you buy. There’s a decent curve to the front that keeps the lenses just far enough in front of the eyes, so those with lashes like a cow will have no cause for complaint.
Lens tech is, of course, where Oakley have forged their reputation (that and the lip-biting price) and the Flak 2.0 delivers exactly as you would expect. Created using the collection of patented technologies that Oakley call HDO – High Definition Optics – clarity and contrast proved outstanding on test. The ‘Prizm’ lenses are available in a range of spec designed to enhance the intended use (cycling, golf, etc.) with the Trail option, arguably best for running, giving 36% light transmission and perfect for increasing contrast and coping with changing light conditions.
There’s no mention that RunningMonkey could find on whether the Prizm lenses incorporated hydrophobic coating or not. However, on test in a somewhat vigorous cloudburst the Flak 2.0 didn’t seem to have any problem shedding water from the outer lens, so perhaps Oakley just forgot to mention it – as out of character as that sounds to us.
Options and Flak 2.0 prices
There are over a dozen Oakley Flak 2.0 variants to choose from and even once runners have discounted those broadly intended for other sports there are still choices to be made. The XL edition – one of the cheapest options at £130 – brings extended lens coverage and curvature, whilst the ‘Asian fit’ is specifically designed, no surprise, for the Asian consumer. A number of iterations – though far from all – also include a choice of frame colours. The average price across the board is £140 (including the ‘standard’ Trail) but additions like polarized or photochromatic lenses sees prices hit £170.
So, can we really justify those steep, steep prices? Ultimately it’s a matter of personal priority – the lenses are, undoubtedly, superb and fit and comfort impressed us greatly. But RunningMonkey can’t help feeling that sunnies, like running gloves, are only temporarily owned and it would break out heart to leave a £140-worth of sunglasses at a CP…