Comparing Cycling Sunglasses: Oakley vs Smith

Oakley Jawbone and Smith Parallel

I’ve recently gotten in to cycling, and like any new activity, I’m realizing there are products out there that could make it more enjoyable.  I own more sunglasses than a person should, kind of an addiction actually, all however in the “fashion” category. I quickly realized I needed something more practical for riding and narrowed it down to two styles:  the Smith Parallel, and the Oakley Jawbone.

Smith includes three lenses with this frame – the main style lens you choose along with Clear and their Ignitor lenses which are great for overcast days –  while the Oakley’s come with two lenses – your main choice of lens along with a light grey option. Never underestimate how important it can be to be able to choose the best lens for your cycling conditions that day.

Price is another factor: the Parallel sits at $129 with just about any lens option- including polarized lenses. The Jawbones cost $200 with their base lenses while the polarized option adds another $60 to the price.

Sizing could also potentially slide someone’s decision. With Smith, you can choose among (from smallest to largest) the Parallel, Parallel Max, and Parallel D-Max. With this Oakley frame, you can choose between Oakley’s “standard” and “Asian” fits.

While both Oakley and Smith feature their own proprietary hydrophobic lens coatings which reduce smudges and repel water from the lenses, Oakley also offers their Transition® or photochromic lens option (at $260 as well) that changes the color of the lens from dark to light depending on outside light.

All in all, both are great frames for all types of cycling.  If money wasn’t a factor, my decision may have been different, but I went with the Smith Parallels this time around. I’ll give you an update on them in the near future.

What decision would you have made?

Jake White
Buyer/Assistant Manager

Outdoor Nation – an Alpine Shop Employee Experience

Outdoor Nation

Outdoor NationOutdoor Nation was a unique and exciting experience.  The 2011 summit I attended took place in St. Paul, Minn. at the University of Minnesota – St. Paul and included about 95 young people ages 16 – 28 from all across the Midwest.  While the majority of participants were from the Twin Cities-area there was also a large group of high school students from Chicago and representatives from as far away as Texas!

Issues and Concerns

We began the summit discussing obstacles that prevent youth from spending time outside.  The issues brought up ranged from  safety concerns in inner cities, to lack of outdoor education in school curriculum, to the rising dependence on technology.  We discussed our concerns in broad terms, and through a series of 6 person discussions, followed by large-group votes, narrowed down our broad topics to specific issues we, as a whole, wanted to address.  From these specific issues we broke into several small groups to come up with program ideas that we could then implement, and the top four ideas received seed money provided from Outdoor Nation to put their plans into action!

Decisions and Developments

It was neat to be involved in the decision process that lead to implementable, outdoor, youth programs.  The four ideas chosen were all excellent and spanned a broad range of topics including: helping start community gardens, mentoring elementary and high school aged youth and trying to influence political leaders. The majority of the participants were from Minneapolis area, so all the programs developed were for that area, although each has the potential to expand to include other regions in the Midwest.

In addition to seeing the existing programs grow, I hope the summits move to new cities each year so they will continue to get a diverse group of participants and expand the reach of their programs throughout the country.  I am very glad to have had the chance to participate in this program and to be involved in the initiatives that resulted from the summit, I am excited to see it grow in years to come!

-Liza Babbington
Outfitter – Alpine Shop Columbia

5 Tips for Trail Running in St Louis During August

If you’ve come to this page thinking you’re about to find an information-packed morsel of trail running goodness in St Louis, well you’re right. It just might not be the information you thought you were getting.

Register today for the Off-Road Racing League Trail Run Series

Instead, I’m going to share the five things you should know about participating in Alpine Shop‘s Trail Run Series – part of the Off-Road Racing League in St Louis. This series already has hosted four full nights of bike racing during July and now we turn to trail running for the month of August. (It’s all part of the big plan!) Our mission is nothing short of turning St. Louis into one of America’s Top 10 cities for outdoor activities.

1. Yes, we know it’s hot.

That’s why we’re trail running! We’ll be running in the shade most of the time on the great course that Big River Running Company has helped us set up. Even better – we’re going to run through a cool creek twice! Seriously, we know this time of year the temperature can be a real issue; but it doesn’t have to stop us from enjoying the great outdoors, getting some exercise and having some fun. Please bring water bottles or a CamelBak pack and participate at your own pace. And then enjoy the food and drink following the race.

2. Set your own pace.

We’ll have everyone from experts to flat out beginners in this series. How seriously you take it is up to you. For some of you, the only thing that will matter is finishing in the top 10. For others, the only thing that matters will just be finishing – period. Whatever your skill level, whatever your fitness level, this series is about having fun.

3. Have fun.

In the mountain biking part of this series, we’ve had guys dressed as cheerleaders, we’ve had people riding on tandems, we’ve had kids of all ages. If you feel like running in

Short Track Dirt Crit Series Cyclist Dressed as Cheerleader
The Off-Road Racing League is all about having fun

a costume – more power to you! If you want to race in a giant Fredbird costume (hint, hint Cardinals), we urge you to do so. If you’re more comfortable running in your trusted workout outfit, we happen to be St Louis Magazine’s A-List choice for athletic and workout gear (another hint, hint)! And after the race, The Wolf provides the food and New Belgium Brewery provides the adult beverages. All you have to do is enjoy yourself.

4. Get registered.

So what are you waiting for? If you sign up for the entire race series, you can save $10 on the price of the four races. The first race starts this Thursday, August 4 at 6 pm at Castlewood State Park. You can find out all the information you need here. Register today!

5. Spread the word.

Invite your friends to run with you. Help us turn this event into the party it should be. Help us celebrate the outdoor life in our great city of St Louis!