Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gear Review: Tifosi Slip

I recently reviewed the Oakley Flak Jacket: sexy, performs great, and expensive. Consider it the Lamborghini Gallardo of sunglasses. Now, we all love Lambos, but not all of us want to spend the money for one, especially if you're someone who tends to lose or break sunglasses. In that case, you can go with a Honda Civic, aka your typical pair of cheap, but still UV-protective, sunglasses from a department store, or you can decide you still want great performance without the huge price tag and get yourself a Subaru WRX. The Subarus of the sunglasses world come from a company known as Tifosi, and their WRX is the Tifosi Slip.

Tifosi Slip in Carbon with High Speed Red Fototec lens

The Slip is a half-frame pair of sports sunglasses with an interchangeable single lens (similar setup to the Oakley M-Frame). The Slip comes offered in one of several combinations: either a frame that includes three different lenses, or, for $10 more, one of the Fototec lenses (which adjusts to different light conditions, similar to Oakley's Photochromic technology). The Slip comes with a hardshell case as well as a soft sleeve for protection. For purposes of this review, I will be reviewing the Slip with GT Fototec (20-56% light transmission), Smoke (17% light transmission), All-Condition Red (27% light transmission), and Clear (98% light transmission) lenses.

The Slip is a fairly small pair of sunglasses, and fit best on a small to medium face. Those with larger faces may want to look elsewhere (the Pave may be a good alternative, which I used to own but was too big for my face so I gave to my dad, since they fit him much better). Like most sports sunglasses, the Slip has a plastic frame with replaceable rubber earsocks and replaceable rubber nose pieces. The earsocks are adjustable and can be bent to fit your head, but the nose pieces cannot be adjusted (in case you're wondering, this is the opposite of the Pave, which has adjustable nose pieces but static earsocks). While the rubber isn't quite as tacky as the rubber used on the Oakleys, they still do a good job of staying on my face, even when the rubber gets wet. Another thing to note is that the Slip is remarkably lightweight. I can put these on my face and completely forget that they're there (until the sun goes down and I wonder why I can't see anything). They don't feel quite as solid on your face as the previously reviewed Oakleys, and feel like they'd be flimsy, though in reality, they can actually take a whole lot of abuse without breaking (I think this feeling is due to their light weight). These sunglasses also do a very good job of staying on the top of my head if I happen to decide I don't need them partway through the run, though this will vary from person to person depending on the shape of your head.

Silver Tifosi Slip with GT Fototec lens (light, since indoors out of sunlight)

My favorite lenses are the smoke lenses, which are a neutral lens that allows you to see true colors. It's great in bright light, but like Oakley's grey iridium lens, it's not ideal for overcast days or shady trails. This is where the GT Fototec lens shines. The Fototec lens darkens or lightens depending on the light conditions, which makes it fantastic for runs that begin with the sun still up but end as it is setting, and it also fairs well on trails. It is not an instant transition, so don't expect it to instantly darken the moment you step out from under the trees, but it's probably is a good choice for those of you who do epic races that involve long stretches in the forest until you pop out above treeline for a while, and whose races stretch from sunrise to high noon to sunset. This is also my mountain biking lens, since it seems to provide an ideal contrast for seeing features on the trail. The GT Fototec is not the best choice for the sunniest of days however, since at its darkest, it still isn't quite as dark as the smoke. Additionally, it gives everything a yellow tint, which I really dislike, and is the main reason I give the nod to the grey as my favorite lens, at least for non-trail purposes. There are other color Fototec lenses, but the yellow GT ones were the lenses that came with my sunglasses, so I have to deal with the yellow unless I decide to buy more lenses at some point. The All-Condition Red is probably a good choice for trail runners who are constantly in and out of trees, though honestly, I don't use this lens all that much, since I feel that the Fototec lens does everything AC Red does, only better (probably why you don't get both, unless you buy them separately). The Clear lens is another lens I don't use very often, though it does come in handy for cycling on cloudy or rainy days (bugs in your eyes suck, and some days are too dark for sunglasses), as well as running during sleetstorms when you don't want ice flying in your eyes.

Front view of Slip with GT Fototec lens (light, since indoors out of sunlight)

Coverage on the Slip is good, even though the lenses are fairly small, since the Slip fits very close to your face. Despite the Slip's close proximity to my face, I have no problems with fogging, possibly due to the air vent near the top of the lens. There is little issue with distortion, despite the radical curvature of the lenses (moreso than with the Flak Jacket, but not enough to actually bother me). Smudging is an issue, so don't grab them by the lenses unless you want to look at fingerprints during your run. Changing the lenses is a fast and easy process, should you choose to buy one of the pairs with interchangeable lenses or buy lenses separately.

Side view of Tifosi Slip with GT Fototec lens (light, since indoors out of sunlight)

The Slip's durability seems to be pretty good, as I've abused these sunglasses (way more than my Flak Jackets actually) and they're still in one piece. If you really toss them around, the lenses might pop out, but they're easy enough to pop back in, and it really takes some abuse to pop them out like that (like say face planting on my BMX bike...that'll do it). Additionally, I've had some issues with paint chipping on the frame along the ear pieces, but it's only aesthetic and does not affect the performance of the sunglasses in any way. Another thing to note is that the lenses do not scratch easily, which is nice.

As far as bang for your buck goes, it's hard to beat the Tifosi Slip. It's a great pair of sunglasses for the money. They don't quite have the solid feel of the Flak Jacket, but they're also less than half the price (even if you buy a base pair of Flak Jackets and a blinged out Fototec pair of Slips). If you have the money to burn, get the Oakleys, because everyone loves a Lamborghini, and to be perfectly honest, I do prefer the Flak Jackets to the Slip. But for everyone who can't justify spending $150 on a pair of sunglasses, you will not go wrong buying the Tifosis, just like you wouldn't go wrong buying a WRX. You won't be disappointed either way.

Tifosi Slip in action at the 2008 La Sportiva Dirtfest 10K. This is the GT Fototec lens (dark, since in bright conditions).

One other thing to note is if you like the look of the carbon Slip, please look at it in a store in person first, and don't just order it off the internet. It looks awesome online, but as of two years ago, it looks really weird in real life, so unless they've fixed it, it doesn't actually look like carbon fiber. The other colors are fine, and how they look online is the same as how they look in person.

The Tifosi Slip is available at several retailers linked off of Tifosi's website for $59.99 for the three lens setup or $69.99 for the Fototec lens. Additionally, it can be found in many specialty running stores nationwide. Lenses are available online and range in price from $14.99 for a basic lens to $49.99 for a Fototec or Polarized lens. Replacement nose pieces and earsocks are also available online for $4.99 each.

Full disclosure: The Tifosi Slip was a personal purchase. The opinions expressed in this review are mine and based on my experience, and do not reflect the opinions of Tifosi or anyone else.


  1. I love these! I've been needing some bike glasses and dont' want to spend a ton so good to know :)

  2. They're definitely a great pair for the money! They're $30 on Campmor right now actually.

  3. Cool! You're great. Thank you for sharing this. Hope to read more from you. Keep it up!


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