Wiley X has a reputation for lenses designed to meet safety standards. But it recently took a closer look at improving vision too.
People who play in the outdoors pick Wiley X because they value protecting their eyes not only from harmful rays but also errant projectiles or unexpected eye pokes.
Few other brands worry as much about shielding your eyes from physical harm, but Wiley X — whose background is rooted in providing safety eyewear to the military — takes this seriously.
At SHOT Show in January, Wiley X launched its new Captivate lenses, which the brand claims offer better light filtering, greater clarity, and increased contrast. It tested lenses to meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirements for high-mass impact, high-velocity impact, and clarity.
With the Captivate technology and a host of new frames to house it, Wiley sets its sights on appealing to a broader market. While the brand has long focused on top-notch protection, its lenses weren’t known for the best color, detail, or contrast. And its frames definitely leaned more toward a simple wrap-around style, with little panache or flair.
The new Captivate line, available now, aims to attract the more fashion-forward folk that like to enjoy the outdoors. I toured Wiley X headquarters ahead of the launch to get the scoop on Captivate. And I’ve worn one of the first pairs to see if these lenses and frames really live up to the hype.
Wiley X Captivate: Visual Benefits
Eyewear from Wiley X with the Captivate tech comes in eight new lenses and 21 new frames. The brand claims they will better filter out light that “confuses the eye, increasing clarity and definition with vibrant contrast and vivid detail.”
According to Wiley X, that confusing light lies where red/green and blue/green wavelengths combine. And Captivate purports to block that muddled transition for enhanced vision. Thus, greater clarity in the new lens comes from filtering out blue light, which has shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies. Those disperse light and create haze, so blocking them makes objects farther away easier to see.
Meanwhile, the brand says it achieves better contrast from its eight different polarized tints. These include Platinum Flash, Green Mirror, Bronze Mirror, Copper, Blue Mirror, Grey, Red Mirror, and Rose Gold Mirror. Each has specific benefits, from general use to cycling, golf, and fishing — all in different lighting conditions.
Captivate Lenses: Tough & Resilient
Captivate lenses (and frames) will still meet all of Wiley X’s safety and quality standards. They have to in order to survive the impact standard of a 1.1-pound projectile dropped from 50 inches. They will also hold up against a quarter-inch-diameter steel ball shot at 150 feet per second.
And for everyone who can’t stand getting their new sunnies all marked up 15 seconds after you buy them (that’s everyone, right?), the new lenses also carry a Bayer 7 rating for scratch resistance. This basically means they get sandblasted to see how much they can stand. An uncoated lens receives a rating of 1, and most premium lenses out there begin at a 4.
Captivate lenses also have a proprietary oleophobic (oil-fearing) coating that makes the surface smoother, helping to ward off dust, dirt, fingerprints, snow, and water. This special coating also works to make the lenses much easier to clean.
Wiley X Captivate First Look Review
During my visit to Wiley X’s Livermore, California, offices and testing facility, I got a sneak peek of the new lens technology and all of the new frames. Wiley X aficionados will still find frames that offer the brand’s trademark wraparound style, in multiple shapes.
But the brand also showed me some more urban frames, like the Weekender that gave off a subtle “Wayfarer” vibe. One of the problems with going away from the wraparound style is other types of silhouettes don’t offer the same protection from side impacts and intrusions. So the new, more stylish frames still must have a bit of a side protrusion (barely noticeable) to adhere to the brand’s standards.
The variety of Captivate lenses we were able to test while in different conditions, like cycling in the mid-morning glare or playing bocce ball in the late-afternoon glow, was impressive. I found the different tints to offer just what Wiley X advertises: greater clarity, better contrast, and amped up color with the knowledge that your eyes are being highly protected.
The bottom line is there are countless sunglasses brands to choose from when picking out something to shield your eyes. But if you value guarding your eyes against sticks and stones while recreating in the outdoors, you can’t go wrong with any of the new Wiley X frames with the Captivate lenses.