Smith Embark Sunglasses Test

With detachable side shields, the Embark provide extra protection from the sun’s rays.
Smith Embark sunglasses
Side shields prevent glare from creeping in, enhancing comfort and visibility (and also safety). Courtesy Smith Optics

Sunglasses and boating go together like peanut butter and jelly, or maybe more like full throttle and big smiles. But all too often, the importance of quality sunglasses are overlooked.

We’re more aware than ever of the damage that can come from continued exposure to the sun’s UV rays, and our eyes are just as vulnerable as our skin. For years, alpine enthusiasts, from climbers and adventurers to the après ski crowd at the lodge have utilized sunglasses with side shields. The sun’s reflection off the snow can lead to snow blindness if the eyes are left unprotected too long. Now, with the Embark series from Smith, that same protection is afforded to boaters, anglers and water enthusiasts of all kinds.

With the sun’s reflection off the water and other surfaces having a similar effect to that of snow, it’s important to make sure your eyes are protected. Smith has incorporated their side shield protection in a very slick way. A lot of side shields are pieces that either slide on or attach to the sunglasses’ arms. Smith, on the other hand, has incorporated the Embark’s side shields into the main frame, allowing them to fold in with the arms when needed, and comfortably rest against your temples, whether you have a narrower or wider profile. Should you ever want to wear the Embarks without the shields, simply pop them out and place them in the included hard travel case.

Smith Embark sunglasses
Smith’s ChromaPop lenses provide great contrast and allow boaters to see true colors. Courtesy Smith Optics

The Embark feature Smith’s polarized ChromaPop lenses, which are great for on-water conditions because they provide great contrast and allow me to see true colors. Over the years, Smith sunglasses have been some of my favorites to have while out on the boat because of the lenses. Also of note, the Embark are very lightweight, so ear, temple or nose fatigue is not an issue, and the soft-grip nose pads ensure the glasses won’t slip off if you start sweating. The Embark are also packaged with a removable neck strap that quickly and easily clips into the ends of the arms. I wore the Embark for several full days of sunny boating in central Florida, as well as a full day at the beach, and now consider them my go-to sunglasses for when I’m on the water.

Smith Embark: $219