Smith has come out with quite a number of sunglasses and goggles over the years. I can recall back in the day, both the sunglass and goggle options were pretty basic, but today the options in designs, colors, lenses and fit are head-spinning. A recent introduction in the line, the Smith Parallel Max sunglasses are a sub-$100 offering from Smith–something that’s a rarity these days. But, are these “budget-friendly” glasses worth it?
From Smith, we get the following about the Parallel Max sunglasses:
The Parallel Max employs the same performance-driven frame and fit as the Parallel. The lens profile is enlarged to provide more coverage while still maintaining a minimalist look and feel. This style is the perfect accessory to all of your outdoor endeavors and workouts.
Features of the Parallel Max:
- 9 Base Lens Curvature
- Carbonic TLT Lenses
- Frame Measurements 69-15-123
- Medium Fit/Large coverage
- Megol nose and temple pads
- TR90 Grilamid frame
- Frame/Lens Colors: Brown/Polar Brown, Black/Polar Grey, Matte Black Evolve/Polar Green, Matte Brown Evolve/Polar Brown, Smoke/Green Mirror (tested), Black/Ignitor, Aqua Blue/Polar Grey
- MSRP $99 – $129
Smith Parallel Max Sunglasses Review
While the Parallel Max does offer the same solid lens materials and optics, there’s something fishy about these sunglasses. As a “price point” model, the Parallel Max feels a bit cheapened in the frame materials and the NASCAR-inspired mirrored lenses I tested. I know people are keen on throwback 80′s styling, so the smoke frames and green mirrored lens keeps the Miami Vice theme going, but that’s about all it does for me.
On the trail, these glasses tend to wander a bit more than other Smith styles. Trail running and mountain biking found me adjusting nose placement on occasion–not something I’d prefer to have to worry about while flying through a rock garden. The overall optical clarity is there, but the green mirror lens is extremely dark–so much so that when I entered tree cover, it was almost uncomfortably dark.
Despite being named Parallel Max, these lenses still offer relatively slim coverage, so keep that in mind. If you prefer minimal lens size, they should fit your face well.
Now I don’t want to sound entirely negative here, but there are other frame/lens combos in this same style that would be far superior to the smoke/green mirror combo. Actually, just about any other combo would blow these out of the water in both performance and looks.
If you spend lots of time in the water or on the snow (e.g. super bright conditions), the green lenses would work well. Check these glasses out for yourself… the frame may fit your face better than mine and you just might like the dark lenses. Still, my suggestion would be to go for the Ignitor lens for a more versatile option.
Good Parallel Max
- Lightweight feel
- Lower pricepoint
- Lots of lens/frame combinations (don’t go with green mirror lenses)
- Lenses are interchangeable (come with a single lens only)
- NASCAR-fan looks (if you like that sort of thing)
Bad Parallel Max
- Very basic sunglasses… not typical for Smith
- Didn’t stay put on my noggin while running
- Green lens tint is not very versatile… really dark
- NASCAR-fan looks (if you think that looks like you bought them at 7-11)
Bottom Line: Smith Parallel Max Sunglasses
I’m disappointed with this particular model and style, but if you dig the Parallel Max, I’d suggest opting for any other frame lens combo than the smoke with green mirror lenses. Having tried all the other lens options in other Smith styles, you’ll be much more pleased with their performance. They are sub-$100, but I’d suggest saving some coin and hopping into another style if it were up to me.