Smith Bobcat glasses review – Sunglasses – Sunglasses and Goggles
The Bobcat glasses are a new release from Smith, but will instantly look familiar. That’s because they’re based on the brand’s popular Wildcat glasses, but are designed to be lighter and offer a “small to medium fit”, as Smith puts it.
Because these mountain bike sunglasses are designed for everything from enduro and trail through to gravel riding, they’ll need to offer decent levels of coverage and all-day comfort.
So, how do the Bobcats fare on the trail, and does the performance justify the lofty price tag?
Smith Bobcat glasses construction details
For the most part, the Bobcats look very much like a pair of Wildcats that have been on a diet. The arms aren’t as chunky or deep, and the top of the frame uses a continuous thickness across the span of the lens, unlike the Wildcats. Otherwise, they’re really very similar.
According to Smith, though, the Bobcats are 5mm narrower. The lens is also 3mm shallower, while the arms are fractionally longer at 130mm.
On my scales, there’s also a 6g weight difference, with the Bobcats coming in at 26g and the Wildcats 32g. So, they’re not only slightly more slimline, but lighter, too.
Inside the toughened carry case, along with the glasses themselves, Smith includes an extra lens. That means alongside the clear lens (which is ideal if you live in the UK), there’s also a tinted ChromaPop lens for sunnier conditions.
Lenses are quick to change, thanks to the flexible frame, and locating the lens into the corresponding frame slots is pain-free and consistently easy.
The arms themselves – which are half plastic, half more flexible rubber down towards the tips – curve inward to naturally follow the contour of the head and provide a more secure grip.
Two clicks of adjustment at the smooth rubber nose piece helps to tailor fit further.
Smith Bobcat glasses performance
Fit and feel
Despite the slightly narrower and shallower frame, I was still impressed by the coverage on offer from the Bobcats. Sure, it’s marginally less than that of the Wildcats, but we’re talking just a few millimetres here and there, which is hard to spot.
As a result, on wet rides, the Bobcats still managed to do an admirable job of keeping mud and rain out of my eyes and at no point did I feel I was missing out on those extra few millimetres.
I found the arms hugged the sides of my head nicely. They don’t dig in or feel overly tight, but the hold is still firm enough to prevent any slippage or bouncing about when riding rougher trails. They’re deep enough to avoid any nasty pressure points, which is a plus.
Similarly, the nose piece never felt uncomfortable, even after wearing the Bobcats for hours on end.
At 130mm in length, the arms aren’t the shortest, but they are slim enough to not interfere with helmets or their retention cradles. In fact, I wore the Bobcats with four different helmets (the Giro Merit, Smith Forefront 2, Troy Lee Designs A3 and Giro Aether) and had no fit issues with any.
Despite the patterned frame shown here, the Bobcats are deep enough and broad enough that it rarely gets noticed. Sure, you’ll spot it if you strain your eyes sideways or downwards, but I never found it distracting on the trail.
A lens for every occasion
It’s nice to see that at this price, Smith includes two lenses – just as you’d hope considering the price tag. While I spent the majority of my time using the clear lens (I do live in the UK, after all), I’ve slotted the ChromaPop tinted lens in for a couple of long rides and not regretted it.
Switching lenses is a quick and painless process. There’s no apparent distortion through the relatively flat lens, which puts a very slight blue tinge on things.
I found I could still pick out trail details when riding in dappled light or under tree cover on bright days, but I’d argue that it’s a touch darker than the Oakley Prizm Trail lens, which works even better in these situations.
The clear lens has so far handled all the rain and mud I can throw at it, and remains scratch-free. There are some blemishes close to the frame, where it’s harder to clean, but these go unnoticed while riding.
While there are no cut-outs on the lens to help with venting, I’ve only had minimal fogging when riding on a humid day. Otherwise, because the Bobcats sit far enough off your face, they seem to stay mist-free for the most part, which is a real plus when tackling slow-paced climbs on muggy days in the hills.
How do the Smith Bobcat glasses compare to Oakley and 100%?
My regular go-to glasses are the Smith Wildcat, Oakley Jawbreaker and the 100% Glendale.
The Bobcats are obviously matched closely to the Wildcats and offer very similar coverage, but feel a little less bulky once on (it’s marginal, though). The Glendales, however, feel notably chunkier and I’ve had more issues with these contacting helmets, unlike the Bobcats.
While the Jawbreakers come with the Prizm Trail lens, which works in a wide array of light conditions, Oakley doesn’t provide them with a second, clear lens (or at least, I wasn’t sent one), which means you’ll need to factor that into the cost if you think you need one.
Like the Wildcats, the Bobcats are some of the easiest specs to live with. They work with a multitude of helmets and, thanks to the lens options, weather conditions, too.
Smith Bobcat bottom line
The Bobcat glasses are incredibly comfy and offer a good amount of coverage and protection for your eyes.
Because they’re slender and lightweight, it’s easy enough to forget you’re even wearing them, and keeping them on for hours on end goes almost unnoticed.
Okay, they’re not exactly cheap, but having had other pairs of Smith glasses in the past, I know they’ll last, which only adds to the peace of mind. Thankfully, the two lenses that are included work well and offer practical options for different weather or trail conditions.
In short, if you’re keen on some new glasses that are comfy, offer decent coverage and work well on the bike, the Bobcats are well worth considering.