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Oakley Fall Line XL React 2018-2019 Snowboard Goggles Review

At the touch of a button

  • LENS: Cylindrica
  • SYSTEM: Electrochromic
  • TINT SHOWN: Prizm React (Optimum Polarized)
  • FRAME SHOWN: Matte Black
  • PRICE: £269 / €299

We’ve always been huge, huge fans of Oakley’s ‘PRIZM’ lens tech. Its contrast-boosting properties remain, for our money, the best on the market. At the same time, the Big O seemed to be falling behind its main rivals in the quick-change lens system arms race. Until now, that is.

The Oakley Fall Line XL React snowboard goggles represent another leap forward in goggle tech – one that we all knew would be along one day, but impressive nonetheless. By passing an electrical current through the lens, it’s possible to automatically change the tint without the need for the whole pop-out, snap-in rigmarole.

“By passing an electrical current through the lens, it’s possible to automatically change the tint”

This may be the snowboard world’s first look at this kind of system, but Oakley has already ironed out any potential problems with design and interface. For example, there’s no external battery pack; everything is built into the frame. Simply charge ‘em up via a micro USB cable, and you’re good to go for roughly 200 tint-changes.

There are three available settings; Rose, Torch and Black. On cloudy days the Rose tint offers 35% Visible Light Transmission (learn more about that here), to give you the best chance of seeing what’s ahead of you. Back features only 10% VLT, perfect for bluebird days, and Torch – as you’ve probably guessed – is roughly between the two.

“A subtle vibration lets you know which tint you’re on. One buzz for Rose, two for Torch, three for Black”

Changing from one to the other is a piece of cake. There are discreet buttons on the left and right of the frame; press the former to move towards the lighter Rose tint, and the latter to go towards the Black option. A double tap skips Torch entirely, and a subtle vibration lets you know which tint you’re on. One buzz for Rose, two for Torch, three for Black.

Aside from its headline tech, the Oakley Fall Line XL has all the great comfort features as the original model – but as the name suggests, in a slightly bigger package.

As well as the higher price, be aware that you can’t just grab a replacement lens for a few quid, so that’s something to bear in mind before you pull the trigger on the Oakley Fall Line XL React goggles. However, if you can live with that then you’ll love these.

While you really have to experience it for yourself..
...the difference the React lens makes is incredible

Tester’s Verdict

Sam McMahonwhitelines.com

Ever since that video of Stale Sandbech playing around with them hit the internet, the Oakley PRIZM Reacts have been top of the Whitelines hit list for testing. Due to there only being two test models in the whole of Europe (expect similarly limited supplies once they’re released as well) it took us until July to get them in my hands, but once so I headed out to Tignes for a week of summer shredding to test all aspects of this crazy new tech out.

The sample pair we got didn’t come with any instructions, but in the end they proved so simple it took less than ten minutes to figure them out. A small button under the strap on one side turns them on, taping the right side of the frame makes them darker and the left makes them brighter. There’s three levels to toggle through, and the vibrating feedback handily lets you know which level you’re at, as well as if you’re powering them on or off, very useful as it’d be a pain to constantly have to take them off to check a light.

“This was undeniably the quickest way to swap tints, and the most secure”

After realising you have to charge them, the main fear I had was that they’d run out of battery, but after (predictably) completely failing to remember to charge them at any point over six days they were still going strong by the end. Good, as I was on a glacier and didn’t fancy having my retinas seared out. I’d mostly had them cranked all the way to the darkest setting (I don’t know if that affects battery life at all) but had given plenty of demos to anyone who was intrigued by them.

The surprising thing was, I could actually see these being useful rather than a novelty. Compared to other lens changing systems, this was undeniably the quickest way to swap tints, and the most secure as the lens just can’t be removed. You’d be rightly concerned about the risk of them fogging, but after hiking the park for a week in summer I didn’t notice them steaming up once.

In terms of comfort, they ticked the box labeled ‘barely noticed they were there’ – they certainly weren’t noticeably heavier on the face for the added battery power – and the vision and clarity were superb. Oakley’s PRIZM is rightly one of the most lauded lens techs out there.

Detractors will inevitably latch onto the price when finding fault, but yeah, it’s Oakley we’re talking about. They’ve already found a way to flog plastic sunnies for over €100, so no surprises here.

It’s best to look at them as a decent alternative to what’s already out there, but if the price is out of your range then just ignore them – most other things work almost as well in practice.

Trade Secrets

Mike Turner – Global Category Manager, Oakley

“The Prizm React is probably the best piece of “electronic eyewear” the brand has ever produced. We have been experimenting with the enabling technology, ‘Electrochromic’, for over a decade, but in the past few years we’ve matured it enough to be confident in bringing the technology to market in a way that users will appreciate, both in design and functionality.

As part of our product development process, we are constantly field testing and validating different concepts and designs under a ‘fail fast, learn faster’ mentality. Prizm React was one of the most heavily tested and scrutinised products we have ever made – so much so that after a late field test trip in 2017, we decided to completely redesign the user interface.

With a fresh perspective and bold ambitions, our leading Advanced Product Development group completely redesigned the user interface weeks before the product was set to debut at the major trade shows.

The end result blew everyone’s mind. The goggles fit and feel like typical Oakley goggles (e.g. weight, offset, field of view, etc.), but has the dynamic ability to change lens transmission with the push of a button that is so cleanly integrated into the frame, it could easily go overlooked.”

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