ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x Sunglasses Review
ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x Sunglasses
The new ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses are all about versatility in an effort to appeal to a broad range of people doing a broad range of activities. If you’re in the market for one pair of sunglasses that can rule them all, this just might be your unicorn. Specifically, I’m reviewing the Roka AT-1X sunglasses, (Roka’s version of the AT that provides a bit more coverage.)
My time with ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses was spent doing a wide range of activities. Everything from trail running, hiking, mountain biking, walking the dog, an afternoon on the water, driving and some basic around town casual wear. The ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses didn’t disappoint regardless of what I threw at them or how hard I tried to pigeonhole them.
Product Features of the ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses:
Let’s face it, when it comes to apparel and accessories, if it doesn’t fit properly, you’re not going to wear it. To that end, fit is a wildly subjective thing, varying drastically from person to person. What might work for me, may not work for you. When it comes to eyewear, (particularly eyewear geared toward active pursuits), fit revolves around the ability of the eyewear to stay put and block the sun’s harmful rays. If the glasses slide around when you break a sweat or leak light, the shades just aren’t meant for the activity at hand.
GEKO Retention System
The ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses did an outstanding job of staying put on my absurdly sweaty face. Seriously, I sweat more than any human should be forced to, just ask my riding partners. The GEKO padding wrapping the nose piece and arms far exceeded my expectations regarding how a pair of sunglasses can stay in place when you’re sweating during intense activity. These may become my new go-to pair of shades for mountain biking as they refused to budge during a rather robust MTB ride. That’s pretty unheard of in my experience.
The lightweight of the AT’s (33g in the case of the 1X model) was a nice surprise for a pair of sunglasses with so much coverage. Nothing kills eyewear for me faster than a lot of weight on the bridge of my nose. I can happily relay that the AT-1X’s found that happy place where after a few minutes the glasses simply disappear. Score!
Back to my point earlier about fit/comfort varying wildly from individual to individual. Although the ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses ended up fitting great, it took a little finagling. The AT series comes fitted with bendable titanium core wires in the arms that allow a degree of adjustability. Out of the box, the AT’s were far too snug along the side of my skull, causing discomfort after only a few minutes of wear. After some trial and error adjustment to the arms, (and titanium wires at their core), I got the AT’s to a point where I’m comfortable wearing them for extended periods of time. Again, one size does not fit all when it comes to apparel/accessories. That said, wearing them on a 2+ hour road trip left me with some soreness around the side of my noggin. Either I need to spend a little more time with adjustment for those long term wear sessions, or maybe I have a watermelon for a head. Either way, you’ve been warned.
ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x Sunglasses Optics
The optics are excellent. The lenses, in my opinion, allow just the right amount of light to pass through without being too dark. To each his/her own, of course, but these found my sweet spot. The amber tint gave the world a warm wash while allowing color clarity and definition to shine through.
In the case of the ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses I had on review, the lenses were of the bronze polarized variety. For those of you that have been living under a rock for the past 40 years, polarized lenses do a great job of cutting glare. Seriously, I won’t be caught dead wearing anything but polarized these days as it just makes the world so much more pleasant to look at. That being said, not all polarization is created equally, and Roka’s is on point. My time spent on the water proved that point in spades. Being someone with light-sensitive eyes, the polarization truly made its case by cutting glare off the water to a manageable level. Coupled with the wrap around frame that allowed very little light to leak in and you have a pair of shades that could be your go-to if you find yourself spending a lot of time on the water or other, similar glare-inducing activities.
For those of you who have worn wrap around or severely curved lenses before, this next statement likely won’t come as a shock. There is some visual distortion around the edges inherent to many wrap around optics due to the curvature of the lens itself. It’s just the nature of the beast and Roka isn’t immune. However, the brain is an amazing organ. After roughly an hour or so wearing them, my tiny little noodle adjusted and found a way to fill in the gaps. I’ve always been lucky that way when it comes to visual distortion. Some people aren’t that lucky and can’t get past the distortion, but for me, no biggie.
Remember how I mentioned I sweat like a pig wearing a sweater? Roka has my back on that as well. Typically, I struggle with my shades getting speckled with sweat as I run/ride/whatever. It’s a constant battle of trying to see through a piece of swiss cheese. Roka upped their game with the AT series by evolving their C3 lenses into a new C3i lens that are not only more ballistically relevant, but also employ a higher quality coating to fight moisture from sticking to the lens. That’s a lot of fancy marketing speak for water/sweat doesn’t stick to these lenses. And yeah, it works.
I briefly mentioned this above, but the ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses are also ANSI Z87+ tested and validated for ballistic protection. What the what? In short, it means the Roka AT-1X passed a series of tests around impact protection. I won’t bore you with all the minutia around the testing protocols, but rest assured that ANSI (American Nation Standards Institute) knows what they’re doing. If you’re someone who wears sunglasses in a work environment, the AT series might be worth a look as they not only block the sun but provide a level of protection from flying objects as well. Thankfully, I wasn’t able to confirm or deny any of the impact protection claims as I kept the rubber side down on this round of testing.
ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x Sunglasses Form
Fashion is an even more subjective subject than comfort. Where comfort varies from person to person, (this is too tight, that’s too long, etc.), fashion is a bit more nebulous. What does “I love that!” or “that’s ugly!” really mean to each of us? What I find objectionable, the next person might be obsessed with. So, to that end, I’ll keep the fashion part of this review brief and allow it to be infused with 100% opinion. Would I ever wear my pair of road cycling glasses to an outdoor lunch with a friend? Nope. Would I wear my trail running shades to work? Nah. Would I wear a pair of safety glasses out on a date with my significant other? Not unless I wanted to be single again. So yeah, the ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses, in my opinion, do a great job of straddling the line between form and function. If you’re into the wrap around look, these will definitely feel right at home and hopefully not get you kicked in the shins for looking like the Terminator.
If you’re looking to walk the red carpet at the Academy Awards, however, look elsewhere. These are still a purposeful pair of sport shades that can stand in as an acceptable pair of around town sunglasses. Proceed with caution…
In my humble opinion, the biggest feather in the cap of the ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses is just how stupid versatile they are. I’m the type of person that has a pair of shades for every activity I get into. I’ve got road cycling glasses, (the Smith Pivlock are my personal favorite – read our review of the women’s version here), mountain biking glasses, running shades, eyewear for driving, and even more for just around town. It’s a bit absurd as I’m a bit of a sunglass hoarder. With that in mind, it snuck up on me weeks into my review just how versatile and unobjectionable the AT-1X’s were in a ridiculous array of situations. Are they the perfect pair of shades for every endeavor? Hardly. But are they really good at most? Hell yes!
Going for a run in the morning, to walking the dog and running errands around town in the afternoon, to spending the early evening on the boat watching the sunset showed me just how well Roka did at naming these bad boys. AT stands for “All Terrain” and these shades definitely deliver on that end. Am I ready to donate my sunglass collection to Goodwill? No way, but I also feel confident that if I were heading out for the day knowing I’d be getting into a variety of activities I could rely on the AT-1X’s to protect my peepers from the non-stop onslaught of the sun’s rays in a functional, reasonably non-objectionable way that wouldn’t cause my wife to run screaming.
And if you’re someone who wears shades for work, the AT’s offer even more versatility with their impact protection and wrap around frame design.
Swiss Army knife of eyewear? Maybe…
Sunglasses for the Active Masses
The ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses do a great job of filling what I had previously considered a mythical unicorn of sports-related eyewear. They truly are a multi-sport (or maybe multi-lifestyle is more appropriate here?), pair of protective eyewear. Are they a quiver-killer? No. But they come pretty darn close…and don’t look ridiculous doing so.
ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x Sunglasses Specs:
The Roka AT series come in two frame sizes, the AT-1 (40mm tall lens) and the AT-1X (43mm tall lens) and 4 frame/lens combinations (matte black frame with carbon non-polarized lenses, matte black frame with carbon polarized lenses, matte black frame with glacier mirror polarized lenses, and matte ember frame with dark bronze polarized lenses (subject of this review.))
ROKA AT-1 / AT-1x sunglasses MSRP:
Roka prices the AT series from $120 – $155 depending on lens choice. There is no up-charge for the larger frame size. For more information, please visit Roka.com.