Oakley Flack Jacket XLJ Review


I'll admit that when I saw Travis Haley in the Dynamic Handgun video wearing the Oakley Flag Jackets it planted the seed. Over the years my eyes have betrayed me and degraded to the point that I need prescription glasses. I should mention that if I did not have vision benefits with my job I would have never dreamed of getting prescription Oakleys, but I was eligible, so I figured why not?


I own two pairs of non-prescription Oakley A-Frame goggles, and a pair of Frogskin sunglasses. So I'm used to playing Oakley prices. The reason I keep buying though, is because I really notice the difference in quality between Oakley and the competition. When it comes to comfort and optics for sports, I haven't seen a company that can beat them. 

When I walked into the Oakley store on Queen Street in downtown Toronto and asked them if the Flack Jackets passed ANSI Z87.1 standards, I got some funny looks. They had to make a call, but in the end I was reassured they were. The Flack Jackets actually surpass the ANSI standards for impact. This means the lenses, while in the frames, survived a shot with 1/4" steel balls fired at 150 ft./sec.

The lenses also have a coating called Hydrophobic that prevents water from leaving streaks and sheens. This is also supposed to make skin oils, fingerprints and lotions easy to wipe off without leaving a haze. I'll have to call bs on this one since I've never noticed a difference between these and any of the other glasses I've had. I've worn these in the rain on dozens of occasions. While the lenses will become clear after a wipe down with the cloth provided with the glasses, when water dries on the lenses they always leave some sort of residue. I wear mine every day, and I find I have to wipe them down at least a two or three times a day.

When folded, the Flak Jackets do not compact themselves very well. I'm hesitant to put them in my pocket for fear that I'll snap the arms or worse, scratch the lenses. 
Every time I wear them in this configuration and tell people they are prescription, I am met with surprised reactions. It then makes me wonder why they think I'd just wear safety glasses around the office... They are currently my only pair of prescription glasses, and will admit that when I'm not on my bike or at a range, they look kind of silly. 
Swapping the lenses took a bit of getting used to, but now I can do it within about 30 seconds. 

When I initially purchased the Flack Jackets it turned out the difference between buying frames with prescription lenses and buying frames with regular lenses and then a set of prescription lenses was only $50. This was pretty nice because they came with black iridium lenses that I would use with contact lenses for sunny days and then a pair of clear prescription lenses on cloudy days. They also came with a nice carrying case that had enough room and protection for the frames, plus two extra sets of lenses. 

There are two different lens shapes, the standard lens which is fairly round, and the XLJ lens which are a little bigger and provide more protection. As well, the "nose bombs" which are the soft rubber bits that sit on your nose have two options. One was the regular fit, and the other at the time, were called "Asian Fit". The idea behind these alternates were to raise the lenses off your face if you lacked a strong bridge in your nose. I wasn't offended by the naming of this feature because for the most part, Asians don't have bridges in their nose. But I guess someone got pissed, and as far as I know, "Asian Fit" is no longer an Oakley term. 

Instead of resting on your ears, the Flak Jacket uses what Oakley calls a Three-Point Fit, which keeps the frames on your face using pressure points. And to their credit, I've never had them fall off my face. And sometimes I forget that I'm wearing them. The only time I notice them sliding a bit is when I'm doing push-ups. The arms are fairly low profile, and are not bad when wearing headphones and ear-pro, but can get a little uncomfortable after a number of hours. 

One thing that I've noticed is that if I yawn and produce tears, the lenses will fog for a few seconds. Or if I'm giving it 100% on my bike and then come to a stoplight, the lenses will sometimes fog, only to clear up once I get going again. Overall I'm not upset with the fogging since it never lasts for very long.

If you thought that the folded lenses took up a lot of room, you'll be horrified with how large this case is. 
Definitely won't be bragging about these on the Backpacking Light forum...
A few months ago, I used my benefits to get a prescription pair of XLJ Iridium polarized lenses. There was an additional $50 charge, but since they were covered I went for it. I had never owned polarized lenses before, but I've been fishing with friends who had them and they were able to see the bass in the water, when all I could see is glare and reflections. I haven't taken these out to the water yet, but one thing that surprised me is that they provide outstanding clarity in low light. I've been on my bike and had the sun go down, and even after a few hours, I can see very well. With the regular iridium lenses, I would have been blind as a bat. 

I will say that these glasses are a luxury item as the price tag for the set up that I have is about $1,000. I've been careless with some of my snowboarding goggles, and know that the iridium lenses are as soft as butter. Scratches are no stranger to Oakley fans. And as such, I treat these glasses like I would a new born baby… when I can. They have been punched during Wing Chun classes numerous times and are still going strong.

I have been very happy with them for the last few years. I couldn't say that I would replace them if I didn't have benefits considering the price tag, but I will say that if you have the means or the cash, go for it. You won't be disappointed. 

4 comments:

  1. My only serious complaint with Oakley products these days is their lens coating. Sweat building up on the brow-point of the inside of the lenses, always causes the coating to chip off. Even with the latest round of Oakley 3.0 SI M-Frames... Thorough;y disappointed and intend to contact Oakley and complain about it

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  2. Have the Asian-fit Flack Jacket (over 3yrs) and enjoy them. Have 3-issues though;
    1-the sleek lens profile looks real nice but in the sand dunes, blown sand gets in the eyes easily.
    2-really wish I could get the lenses in a lite Rx.
    3-the case while nice is a bit useless without a means to attach (no loop or lanyard).

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    1. I will need to check on the Rx as you did. Thanks

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    2. Ya in regards to the case, I'm finding I barely use them now. It's huge. Way too big to carry around with me.

      Thanks for visiting! And good luck with your new blog!

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