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Smith Pursuit Review: Alpine Eyewear Blends Goggles and Glasses Into One

I was packing for a snowmobiling trip when the new Smith Pursuit eyewear arrived at my door. After opening it, I pulled my goggles and sunglasses out of my pack and added the Pursuit instead. It's one piece of eyewear that can function as two.

Smith Pursuit(Photo/David Young)
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The Pursuit killed it on my recent snowmobile trip, providing great sun, wind, and snow protection for the upper half of my face. I didn’t need to switch from bulky goggles to venting sunglasses, or vice versa. However, while they work for snowmobiling, these are truly designed for backcountry skiing and high-exertion mountain adventures. The glacier-style glasses, as Smith dubs them, work equally well on long ascents as well as steep and deep descents. 

Smith athlete and backcountry skier Cody Townsend — who needs no introduction — had a hand in helping design the Pursuit. Which makes sense, considering the fact that Townsend made Smith’s Wildcat sunglasses a staple in the backcountry among skiers years ago.

The Pursuit builds on the Wildcat’s oversize windshield coverage with a blend of goggle-like coverage combined with the feel of sunglasses. It includes a nose cover adaptor, goggle-inspired strap attachment, an extra clear lens, and a carrying case. 

In short: The Pursuit ($269-299) is the ideal one-quiver eyewear for backcountry adventures. With ample coverage, sun protection, and airflow, skiers can modify the frame to fit almost any alpine condition. In my sun-filled days on the snow testing these glasses, I was able to ditch my goggles and Wildcat sunglasses, in turn using the Pursuit for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and skiing. The versatile frame covered it all. That being said, unless you are really getting after it on big-mountain ski tours, and doing it frequently, these sunglasses may be more than you need.

Smith Pursuit Sunglasses

Specs

  • Shape 5-base cylindrical shield lens curvature
  • Lens ChromaPop Glacier Photochromic (category 1 to category 4)
  • Interchangeable Yes
  • Treatments Anti-fog and hydroleophobic coatings
  • Fit Medium to Large
  • Accessories Removable magnetic TPU side shields, TPU nose guard, goggle strap, bonus clear lens

Pros

  • Great versatility
  • Ample protection
  • Removable components to customize usage
  • Works great on ascents, descents, and more

Cons

  • Larger face fit
  • Higher price
  • Overkill for the average athlete/weekend warrior

Smith Pursuit Sunglasses Review

Author testing Smith Pursuit Sunglasses in snow
(Photo/David Young)

Protection From Sun & Snow, ChromaPop Technology

Smith’s signature ChromaPop Glacier Photochromic lens is the heart of these sunglasses. The lens will change to match the various light conditions on the mountain.  

These lenses have less sensitivity to temperature changes compared to other adaptable lenses. And the ChromaPop offers a variety of lenses you can swap in and out that have great contrast and color enhancement throughout the tint range.

Smith offers five different color lens options (of varying VLTs) for the Pursuit for various lighting conditions. Plus, each pair of sunglasses comes with a clear lens you can pop in for lowlight situations. 

While ChromaPop lenses enhance contrast and natural color to enhance details, they differ from standard polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses block horizontal reflected light beams thus eliminating glare off of water or snow. ChromaPop lenses have color filtration, which combines color technology with polarization. 

I tested out the Matte Slate + ChromaPop Glacier Photochromic Copper Red Mirror lens. This has a Variable Light Transmission (VLT) of 7% to 45%. The VLT is a percentage of how much sunlight penetrates the lens and hits your eyes. A standard sunglasses lens is around 15% to 25% VLT. 

This means that my Copper Red Mirror lens works well in high sunlight conditions, which I encounter quite a bit in the Rocky Mountains. For cloudy or lowlight conditions I can use the clear lens and for very sunny days there is the Matte Black + ChromaPop Black Lens with a 10% VLT.

Testing in the North and the West

The author testing Smith Pursuit
(Photo/David Young)

I’ve spent a lot of this wintertime on snow in the the Wind River Range in Wyoming to skiing in Banff, Canada. And no matter where I was, whether I was in the backcountry, side, or front, the Pursuit performed great. 

While snowmobiling isn’t exactly what they are intended for, if you end up zipping around the backcountry on a sled (especially to get to a ski locale), they will work great. They protected against the sun, wind, and flying snow kicked up by the snowmobiles in deep powder on Togwotee Pass.

On the other hand, I used these on a trip skiing and snowshoeing in Banff and they stood up to the high-altitude bright sun and snow.

Comfort and Fit

pursuit sunglasses nosepiece
The center nosepiece and shield on the Smith Pursuit sunglasses; (Photo/David Young)

The sunglasses sat comfortably on my face while offering complete, wraparound protection. The large frames fit nicely, but I have a larger head. Male and female friends who tried them on thought that they also fit nicely and said they are quite comfortable.

Overall feedback from myself and others on the arms, nose, and goggle straps is that the fit is extremely good, making an already secure fit even more solid. Everyone who slipped these on had a positive reaction. The side shields are comfortable. At times they did press against my temple, but the arms adjust to customize the fit.

Removable Extras: Goggle Strap & More

Pursuit sunglasses with a goggle strap
The addition of a goggle strap that attaches to the sunglass arms is fantastic for more serious ski descents; (photo/David Young)

The Megol nose pads nosepiece is malleable rubber and removable but not adjustable. It’s a nice addition and easy to attach to the frame for extra sun protection on a super sunny day. The goggle-inspired strap is also simple to attach to the arms of the Pursuit and ensures it stays on for more bumpy rides down the mountain. Even with the nosepiece attached, I had plenty of ventilation and no fogging or sweat issues.

I especially like the magnetic side shields that offered some additional sun and snow protection for the side of my eyes and face. All in all, these sunglasses feel like a windshield is protecting your face. At the same time, they are very comfortable and light, while offering ample airflow to prevent any fogging.

Cody Townsend testing the Pursuit glasses while ski mountaineering
Cody Townsend testing the Pursuit glasses while ski mountaineering; (photo/Smith Optics)
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Final Takeaways

Smith Pursuit
Another tester in our group trying on the Pursuit for size and fit; (photo/David Young)

The only drawback here is that the lenses I already own for my Wildcat sunglasses will not work in the Pursuit. Same goes for anyone else with current Smith sunglasses. I will have to start the collection of various shades of ChromaPop lenses over again, as the Pursuit has its specific fit. 

The case that comes with these is a solid hardcase, but it’s a little tricky to nest the sunglasses, nose-pad adaptor, and goggle strap in it. 

Finally, the price. For some, these sunglasses will be overkill and not worth the price if you don’t need all the sun/snow protection. Still, the Pursuit is a pretty competitive price compared to other higher-end photochromic sunglasses on market and competitive with a few other glacier glasses (from the likes of ROKA and Revo and Julbo), though not all. The bonus of the Pursuit’s shields, nosepiece, and goggle strap only adds to the deal.

While I’ve only used these for snowsports this winter (their intended use), I imagine they will work well for climbing, mountain biking (the goggle strap will come in handy!), and even fishing to protect from glare. The Pursuit is setting up to be a very versatile piece of eye protection.

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