By Michael Nystrom
As far as sports go, running is pretty barebones gear-wise. It's one of the most accessible sports on the planet, and almost anyone with an old, beat-up pair of cross trainers can get outside and run a mile or two.
Avid runners, though, are constantly looking for an edge — whether it's new compression technology or a lightweight pair of shoes. While gear that directly affects running mechanics is often prioritized, apparel and accessories can make a run more enjoyable, thus positively affecting performance. As a triathlete, running is a big part of what I do. New running products are released every year promising better performance, but as an editor for ACTIVE who frequently reviews these products, I know that a great pair of sunglasses is highly underrated. Fortunately, Oakley's new Flak 2.0 XL delivers.
For both bikes and sunglasses, I usually go for the oversized frames. At almost 6'4", finding sunglasses that fit right and don't look goofy can be tough. Although smaller than their Jawbreaker counterpart, the Flak 2.0 XL fit well and looked good (not my own assessment—my well-heeled better half gave her approval), even on my larger face. Despite their thick temples and edgy profile, the frame is surprisingly light and extremely comfortable. The spring-loaded hinges are a nice touch, snapping into place with no play. The slightly bowed out temples allowed the glasses to fit well on top of a hat—perfect for my dawn and dusk runs. Finally, the semi-rimless design made glancing down at the trail or path easy, and it was nice not having a rim disrupt my field of vision.
Sunglasses that don't stay in place can be one of the most frustrating experiences during a run.
The Earsocks and Nosepads:
Sunglasses that don't stay in place can be one of the most frustrating experiences during a run. Luckily, the Flak 2.0 XL felt great and stayed firmly in place even during an extremely hot, humid run on a Dallas trail. Created with "Unobtanium" technology (*looks at Pandora nerds), the rubber-like compound on the earsocks and nosepads gripped my sweaty, oily skin with no slippage. This is a big draw.
I first experienced Prizm lenses when I tested the Oakley Jawbreaker sunglasses, and they performed exceptionally well while on the bike. I was excited to try the lenses on running trails to see if it enhanced my vision in a similar way. Yet again, the Prizm lens technology didn't disappoint. The lenses were especially beneficial on trail runs—trail contours and exposed roots and rocks were more pronounced, and colors were more vivid.
Interestingly, the Flak 2.0 XL doesn't feature a lens ventilation system, but ultimately this wasn't an issue. Even in the Dallas summer humidity, the lenses stayed fog- and moisture-free. I did, however, find there was a slight learning curve to removing the lenses, but after a few tries, changing them became a breeze.
The new Flak 2.0 XL felt great, both on- and off-road. Oakley took the features runners value most—a lightweight, sturdy frame that stays in place and has high-quality lenses—and included them in the Flak 2.0 XL's design. The Flak 2.0 XL includes slightly taller lenses, and I enjoyed the additional coverage. The Prizm lenses shielded my eyes from the wind, sun and debris appropriately and the frame held well without squeezing my head. Considering Oakley's other sunglasses, the Flak 2.0 XL is relatively modest in size and feel, but if you're looking for a high-performing pair of running sunglasses that covers all the bases, look no further.