Smith Optics Approach Max ReviewFebruary 12, 2014
- Lightweight, minimal design
- Wider field of vision from enlarged lens profile
- Wrapped, shield lens offers solid coverage and good wind resistance
- Interchangeable lens design with three lens sets delivers excellent value for $159
- Nosepads are not adjustable
- Frame material slightly stiff
The Smith Optics Approach Max is engineered with performance features that made it a strong contender in this test. I liked that these shades are a simple, do-it-all, multi-sport sunglass that works well for running, cycling, hiking, Nordic skiing—you name it. What I didn’t like was the stiffer frame material that was slightly unforgiving during high-impact activities.
The Smith Optics Approach Max is a lightweight wrap sunglass designed with an enlarged lens profile for deeper and broader coverage. It also has a built-in interchangeable lens system and the Approach Max package comes with three sets of lenses for different light conditions.
Fit & Comfort
At first glance, this sunglass registers as a simple, minimal, lightweight shield that delivers a solid value for $159. A deeper look revealed a mention-worthy expanded field of vision due to the Approach Max’s deeper, broader lens profile and a highly lightweight, wrapped design that provided comfort and protection.
Smith employs its eco-minded, bio-based Evolve frame material in the Approach Max and while I give props to the green effort, I found this material to be slightly stiff and less flexible than other frames in this test. This detracted from the comfort quotient supplied by this frame’s light weight.
Still, the Approach Max stays in place during activities such as mountain biking and trail running thanks to strategically placed rubber insets on the temple ends, nosepads, and even the back of the frame front.
The Approach Max’s lens (Smith’s Carbonic TLT) offers good visual features, with above-average visual clarity and acuity. The real optical bells and whistles on this sunglass come in the shape of its expanded lens size, which equates to a bigger field of vision with deeper and broader coverage.
The Approach Max has an interchangeable lens design and its package comes with three lens sets for varying light conditions. For $159, with three lenses and solid performance, the Approach Max package is an excellent value.
I torture tested the Approach Max on intensely windy road and mountain bike rides and found it performed well. It didn’t block all the wind, but that was a tough task—it blocked enough that I didn’t experience any visual performance problems like tearing up or itching.
Changing Light Conditions