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A shield from glare for anglers, Smith’s VTi Interchangeable Performance Optics (continued)

 

Durability: Thus far the VTi has been two for two, hitting home runs in both the operation and ergonomics, but would they also excel in the durability department? When examining durability of optics with interchangeable lenses we take a look at the durability of the frame and lenses on their own. The VTi frame is so light that it weighs almost the exact same amount (.5oz) as the lenses themselves.

 

A clear view of the hydrophilic megol nose pads

When the lens shields are removed from the frame then it becomes apparent how little structure there is in the center of the glasses, this would seem like the weakest area of the optics, but Smith addresses this cleverly. If the VTi had made used of separate right and left lenses the sunglasses would not feel half as rigid as they currently do. By implementing a single shield the lens actually acts as a bridge between both sides. This increases the optical viewing area while providing a secondary structure to the frame itself. The lens shields themselves are formed out of carbonate, and while they are not as resistant to scratches than some treated glass lenses they make sense for the VTi as weight reduction is a major goal in the design


With the lens shield on the VTi remains extremely sleek

Price & Applications: The single piece lens shields that come with the VTi are exceptional. These are lenses that you would actually use in many angling applications. The only way that I could see a better total package is if Smith bundled a third shield in the package, and if that shield was a polarized black lens for extremely bright conditions. Performance has a price, and that price is $179.00 for the VTi. This ranks on the high end in comparison to the other optics that I have tested, but comparing apples to apples the VTi is absolutely worth the extra money.


The VTi can be cleaned with the included carrying bag/cloth

The VTi addresses performance and ergonomic concerns with clever design and use of exotic materials. At first when I inspected the frames I thought the VTi’s titanium design might seemed somewhat gimmicky and cosmetic, but after fishing with the VTi I found the Ti implementation simply brilliant. This is by far the most comfortable pair of optics that I have ever fished with bar none.  


The titanium temples are screwed into place

The VTi makes sense for many anglers including saltwater fishermen that have to deal with spray and want an easy to clean design, bass fishermen looking for a pair of shades that is comfortable wear all day long, and fly fishermen looking for a secure pair of shades with customizable lenses to help them navigate shady streams and sight fish.


The VTi delivers exceptional interchangeable lens performance, great ergonomics, and is still durable. This is a serious pair of optics that will satisfy even hard core anglers

Warranty: One of the major worries with expensive optics is breaking the frames, rendering them useless. The Smith VTi comes with a lifetime warranty that covers all problems related to defects in materials and workmanship. If the VTi fails in the field you can send them back to Smith Optics which will repair or replace the sunglasses….and no, scratched lenses are not a manufacturer defect.

 

Ratings:

Smith Action Optics VTi Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The VTi is very well built and has well reinforced edges, these sunglasses will last a long time under normal operation. The VTi makes use of Titanium to reduce weight and increase durability over thermoplastic 9.5
Performance Exceptional performance when it comes to fishing and standard operation. The shields are easy to change, and the clever design uses the shields as reinforcement to the frame itself. The shields are large enough to block out glare and protect your eyes from wind at the same time 9.5
Price The VTi is on the expensive side of the optics we have tested, but it is worth the money 8
Features The VTi has plenty of features ranging from the interchangeable shields to the Megol grips and temples which ensure the VTi stays firmly on your face during activities that require a lot of movement 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) Top notch ergonomics! The VTi is among the most comfortable sunglasses we have ever worn. They weigh in at only 1oz, and after a few minutes it is easy to forget they are even there at all. 9
Application The VTi is great for bass anglers, fly fishermen, and even saltwater anglers. When not on the water the VTi is great for other outdoor sports including cycling, which requires plenty of protection from wind 9

Total Score

8.91


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Excellent fishing friendly features L Hard carrying case a bit big
J Extremely light, comfortable L Cost of ownership reasonably high
J Shields eyes from glare and wind  
J Durable design, exotic materials  
J Great for other outdoor sports as well  
J Lifetime Warranty  

 
Conclusion:
The VTi does what no other pair of sunglasses we have tested in the last three years has, it doesn’t just meet expectations in performance, ergonomics, and durability, it actually excels in all these categories. The straightforward design not only makes the shields easy to change, but it increases frame durability and rigidity, During the tests I often failed to remember I was even wearing shades, as the VTi is both extremely balanced and possesses a low total weight. The only downside that I really found with the complete package was that the carrying case is a large if you do want to carry the extra shields with you. If you know what general conditions you will be fishing in advance then you can always carry the VTi in the provided soft bag, just make sure to no crush it with your tackle. Even when stressed the single lens design coupled with the titanium hybrid frame can take as much of a beating as the most hardy pair of shades. Designed with anglers in mind, the Smith Optics VTi delivers an unprecedented balance of features, performance, comfortable ergonomics, and durability, all wrapped in an ultra sleek package. Smith Optics got this one right, sporting plenty features sure to please anglers the VTi is a worthy recipient of our Editors Choice Award.


                                  


 

 

 

   

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