Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oakley LIVESTRONG Flak Jacket...

By Frank
Those who had read or seen my pictures in my Nike+ Human Race 10K 2008 report will have notice that I’m wearing a pair of sunglasses during the race, something which I have never done in all my previous races. Therefore, here I am to proudly introduce the Oakley LIVESTRONG Flak Jacket.
The Oakley LIVESTRONG Flak Jacket...

The Flak Jacket can be said as an upgraded version or successor to the ageing Half Jacket. In terms of design, it looks pretty much the same. The most significant difference will be icons at each side of the ear sleeves. Instead of having the icons pointing horizontally up as in the Half Jacket, the Flak Jacket now has it both pointing straight out instead, making it more eye visible to others. .

Running in style...

Upon putting the Flak Jacket on, I can’t help to say but this pair of sunglass is really light. The frame is made from some synthetic plastic material call O Matter in which it is built to withstand shock and also environmental hazards like sun UV rays, rain drops and even sweat. And what I really like about this is that the colour on the frame will not fade (according to the reseller) unlike other frames especially those that are made of metal.

As for the lens, no doubt that Oakley High Definition Optics (HDO) is second to none. Being an interchangeable system, the lens can be change instantly to suit the environment. Mine came in standard black iridium lens with full UV protection. While there is another lens option being the XLJ lens, it did not really suit me as it is wider and thus touching both my cheeks. The lens offered by Oakley from the Flak Jacket to the higher end Radar models now are all hydrophobic lens where it repels water and fogging. Fingerprints and skin oils can also be clean easily with just a wipe using microfiber cloth or the included microbag. And being an iridium lens, glare is greatly reduced. Though not as perfect as polarized lens, it still does a good job.

During runs, it is by all means that our entire body including the head moves around a lot. Therefore, the shades must be secure and not bounce around. The Flak Jacket for me has certainly met this requirement. A quick check on the Oakley website states that the Flak Jacket uses a Three-Point Fit with balance pressure points to help secure the shades in place. Not sure where the point is but I do feel that it is due to the design of the frame which is suppose to "wrap" around the head. And not forgetting the ear sleeve and nose piece which are both padded in Unobtainium, another type of synthetic this time a rubber by Oakley to help secure the shades in place, and it works even better when it’s wet! Certainly a bonus as runners does perspire a lot during runs.

Top view. Notice how it's designed to "wrap" around the head...

During its debut at my Nike+ Human Race 10K, I had minimal complains about the Flak Jacket. It held its place nicely without bouncing and offered me optical clarity at its best. It did rain during the race and the hydrophobic lens just did its job by repelling the rain drops. It’s like having Rain X on the lens! The only discomfort I had was with the lens as the left side was just touching my cheek, although I quickly forgot about it as I ran. The right side was fine though and that was probably caused by different sizes on my both cheeks perhaps as the sunglass was straight. A larger size nose piece might tackle the problem.

And speaking of the lens. Since it only came in black iridium lens that only offers approximately 9% light transmission, some might find it a problem at darker areas. It’s excellent on sunny days though. And being a LIVESTRONG edition, the only way to tackle this problem is to buy another pair of lens.

Probably biggest disappointment of the Flak Jacket is that it doesn’t support RX Lens also known as prescription lens as it was in the Half Jacket. Although not necessary to have especially in sports shades, those who have a high degree of power might just be turn off with it.

Another was that since the Flak Jacket fit nicely and securely, I had no space getting my fingers between the sunglass and my eyes to clear any sweat that might irritate my eyes. I had to remove them to clean my eyes. I probably have to wear a sweat band around my head to prevent sweat from flowing down or I just have to work extra harder in wiping it off from my forehead.

Finally. So what’s the difference between the normal editions Flak Jacket compared to the LIVESTRONG edition? The Oakley LIVESTRONG Flak Jacket is a sunglass made to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It also comes in various models such as the Radar and Straight Jacket. With every purchase of it, Oakley will donate USD20 to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Compared to the normal editions, the LIVESTRONG editions come only in jet black colour for the frame and also the signature yellow colour on the icon area. Besides that, it also has the LIVESTRONG word being “lasered” to the edge of the left lens. And of course, the microbag bears the LIVESTRONG tag too.

The signature yellow colour on the icon area...

The Oakley LIVESTRONG Flak Jacket retails at a recommended price of RM725 and comes with a 1 year international warranty. It’s about a RM100 more compared to the normal editions but as a fan of Lance Armstrong and as a cancer survivor, it’s worth it, at least for me. After all, it’s for charity. And if I were to rate the Oakley Flak Jacket in terms from quality to overall performance, I will be glad to give it an amazing 9/10 despite indentifying quite a number of shortcomings which I can’t really blame Oakley. Yes, it’s that really good! After all, it’s all about protecting one of our most important assets, our eyes.

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