Nike Vaporwing Elite Review

Ultra lightweight shades which can take a pounding

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For

  • Aggressive design
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight and durable

Against

  • Peripheral vision distortion
  • Expensive

Nike is the biggest sports brand on the planet, so its flagship Vaporwing Elite sports sunglasses should be top performers. They’re pricey with a cutting edge design, so how did we get on with them?

Read on to find out...

Design

The Nike Vaporwing Elite’s are more streamlined than the Oakley EVZeroes we’ve reviewed, but they’re still very purposeful looking. We love the angular, aggressive shape and intertwined arms.

The streamlined facade is dominated by the singular wraparound polarising lens which is made from polycarbonate (more on that later).

They’re the angriest looking sunglasses we tried, which is great if you’re trying to intimidate your race opponents, but not if you’re shopping at the weekend. Like the Oakleys - these are clearly not going to be worn as a style choice.

The arms are made from a lightweight a rigid rubber. The unique design features small channels which rest on the temples. These enhance airflow and wick away moisture to prevent accumulation - aiding ventilation and reducing fogging.

The glasses have a “three-point fit” hold, which eliminates pressure points on your skull, pinching behind your ears rather than resting on them like traditional sunglasses. They’re certainly very comfortable, and barely noticeable when you’re wearing them for long periods of time.

Those previously mentioned channels on the arms also aid grip when your skin heats up. They certainly feel very secure, one of the best we have tested, thanks to the wider arms.

The sunglasses weigh in at 23g.

The polycarbonate lens means the Vaporwing Elites are much more durable than the other glasses on this test. They’re more flexible and as a result, less fragile.

Nike claims the aerodynamic design is informed by flight technology, and the cut angles “drastically” reduce wind resistance. Although, don’t expect them to suddenly turn you into Mo Farah - we’re talking thousandths of a second increase in performance - if that.

Performance

Nike has chosen to use a polycarbonate lens in the Vaporwing Elites, and that means the optical performance of these sunglasses is a mixed bag. There are positive aspects to this decision, but there certainly are compromises as well.

Now, before you jump to conclusions and deride plastic lenses as a feature of cheap kid’s sunglasses, these shades use Zeiss Optics.

Nike claims it provides, "state-of-the-art optics that deliver advanced acuity, so the athlete can lock on a moving target, accurately identify objects and assess distance."

Clarity is great, especially when looking straight on. But towards the very edges of the lens image quality quickly degrades, and becomes very distorted. This is mainly due to the sculptured aspects of the lens and is very apparent in the periphery of your vision.

The top frame is also quite intrusive on the upper limits of vision, especially if you’re running with your head down. Although, this does stop light from leaking in around the frame.

The model we reviewed have the ‘Speed Tint Silver To Gold Flash Lens’ lenses, which Nike claim can be used on trail or track, but we’d say these are much more suited to track and road use.

They don’t block out too much light, but they do have a darker tint than the Oakley’s - so aren’t quite as good for transitioning between shade and bright areas.

These sunglasses are not only designed to protect your eyes from UV light, but also protect your eyes from debris. They do this very well, with the polycarbonate lens being great at absorbing impact and the frame creating a seal around the top rim.

Accessories and features

The Nike Vaporwing Elites come with a soft-touch plastic case. It’s good quality and offers adequate protection.

Verdict

The Nike Vaporwing Elites look great, they’re aggressive and intimidating which we really like. The sunglasses are also the most durable we’ve test - thanks to the polycarbonate lens.

The polycarbonate lens does also come with downsides - they’re not as strong optically as others we’ve tested - especially when it comes to peripheral vision.