When I took my freshman physics course in college, my favorite block was optics. I could get really geeked out studying light wavelengths and how they could be bent, filtered, reflected, and refracted. But once that block was complete and the test successfully passed, I did my usual brain dump to clear space for the next block of study. Fortunately for us, getting geeked out about light isn’t just a passing fancy or a means to a grade for the folks at Revant. They obsess over things like light filtration in an effort to bring the best visual acuity and eye protection to active outdoorspeople.
When given the opportunity to sample their wares, I was more than a little intrigued. I love shades, so any chance to try out a new pair is always welcome. However, having owned and tested literally dozens of examples over the decades, I figured I’d pretty much seen it all, so to speak, so I doubted I was in for anything truly new.
Revant makes a wide variety of lenses from very basic, non-polarized, to high-end versions chock full of geeked out optical technology. Now in their second generation, Revant’s Elite lenses are situated at the high end of this spectrum and include the following technological features:
- Revant’s registered HC3 technology to filter out specific hues to maximize visual acuity for specific environments.
- Revant’s registered Polarium polarization to cut glare from reflective surfaces and enhance clarity.
- Revant’s trademarked MirrorShield, which is a light film of dielectric material. Interestingly, dialectric materials were developed to reflect heat off of satellites. In this application, the dielectric material optimizes the usable light, which is allowed to pass through the coating.
- The trademarked Revant Repel hydrophobic nanocoating is designed to ward off everything from rain to dust, in an effort to maintain visual clarity.
- Ultraviolet protection to keep your peepers peeping through the years.
- Taper correction to ensure no distortion across the entire lens surface, including the edges of peripheral vision
Revant makes Elite lenses in six finishes, each optimized for a particular activity or group of activities which share similar optical outlooks. They make lenses for most quality frames out there, including most of the popular models from Arnette, Bolle, Costa, Electric, Maui Jim, Oakley, Revo, Rudy Project, Smith, Spy Optic, VonZipper, and Wiley X.
About the Specific Frame and Lenses Under Review
Revant shipped two sets of lenses, one in their Rogue Green finish and the other in Steens Silver. The Rogue Green are specifically designed to optimize visual acuity for mountain biking, hiking, golf, and shallow water fishing–basically any environment where you’re likely to be surrounded by various shades of green and want enhanced clarity in that particular light spectrum. The Steens Silver is optimized for snow and alpine environments.
The lenses shipped with one of my all time favorite frames, the Oakley Flak Jacket. I give these frames my highest recommendation, as they excel in every meaningful category for me: they are straight and true, durable, and most importantly, they fit snug and secure without being tight or annoying in any way. The nosepiece is comfortable and holds the lens at just the right distance from the eye. My test period was one month, but based on past experience, I am confident that these frames will last a long time without degradation.
Fitting the Revant Lenses
Both pairs of Revant Elite lenses popped into the Oakley frames without difficulty; the fit was as perfect as any lens I’ve had directly from the original manufacturer of any frame/lens combo. Usually, when I find lenses that easy to install, it means that tolerances are loose, and the wear caused by repeated lens swapping will round those edges, and eventually make the lens loose and prone to coming out even when not wanting it to. However, after dozens of swaps between the two sets of lenses, I can detect no degradation in the snugness of fit or security of retention of these lenses in the Oakley frames.
Out on the Trail
After all the tech talk and background above, I’m going to skip right to the last page here. I was very impressed with the Elite lenses’ enhancement of optical clarity. They quite literally do everything they are purported to do, and they do it at a previously unseen level. My first ride through the woods with the Rogue Green lenses installed had me marveling at just how crisp every feature in those woods was, from the distinction of green between the pine needles, aspen leaves, and moss on the rocks, to the ability to see each and every little dip, nook, cranny, rut, and minute rock. I could do this instantly, anywhere in my field of vision; I did not have to specifically focus on any feature, or study it for any length of time, to know exactly what I was facing–a very nice feature to have when bobbing and weaving through the woods with little or no time to react to specific obstacles.
In addition to the fantastic optical clarity the Elite lenses offered, that same level of quality was preserved across my entire field of vision. I have yet to see a pair of shades that doesn’t distort things, at least a little, on the periphery of their coverage–until now. This is an especially helpful feature with a frame like the Flak Jacket, which has a relatively small lens area, so it’s easy to reach that usual distortion zone within even a fairly limited field of view.
Activity-specific optimization is at the core of the Elite lens philosophy, so I was curious as to how the Steens Silver lenses would stack up, given that they are optimized for a more stark, less colorful environment. They shared the same perfection in avoiding distortion, and also enhanced clarity a great deal. While they were not the pinnacle of perfection of visual clarity in the woods as were the Rogue Green lenses, but they were still better than most any other shades I’ve tried. They gave me a Rogue Green-like experience, however, when taken into stark, red and white rock riding environments as opposed to wooded ones. True to form, the Rogue Green lenses excelled well beyond most shades in the treeless environments, just not as well as the Steens Silver lenses.
The bottom line here is that, despite the specific environment optimization, you needn’t purchase every color to cover the breadth of riding environments you may encounter. Any color will likely provide at least as good, if not better, optical clarity than most sunglasses in any environment, and will definitely surpass anything else in the specific environment for which they were designed.
In the final analysis, these lenses went beyond mere eye protection to enhancing the joy of riding itself. The amazing clarity with which I could see in a variety of conditions had me wanting to get out on the bike more, just to see what I could see. The added visual clarity had me riding faster, while simultaneously reducing the mental fatigue that comes with having to be on maximum alert while riding fast.
When the lenses in your best shades get scratched, there is no need to buy a whole new set. Give Revant a look and see if they’ve got a replacement for you. Even if your original lenses are fine, it may still be worth your while to give the Elites a try. The MSRP for these lenses is $59, but that may vary by finish color and the frame supported.
Thanks for Revant for providing the lenses and frames for review.