The Split Shots shades from Oakley are top-end, high-wrap polarised sunglasses for boaters and paddlers seeking serious on-water performance combined with on-shore style.

Product Overview

Oakley Split Shot


  • Ultra stylish
  • Excellent glare-busting coverage
  • Top-quality lenses
  • Hydro-reactive grip
  • Comfortable
  • Robust case included


  • Non floating frame
  • No vents
  • Pricey
  • No recycled material used


Oakley Split Shot sunglasses review

California-based eyewear brand Oakley know a thing or two about making sunglasses that look effortlessly cool while protecting your peepers and providing peak performance, and the polarized Split Shots are right up there among the best kayaking sunglasses on the market.

Of course, you pay handsomely for all this quality, so to see whether they’re really worth the investment I have been testing the Oakley Split Shots out on the waves in a range of conditions.

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Oakley Split Shot sunglasses: design and materials

The Split Shots feature a high-wrap frame design that curves around your face and, in theory, cuts out the requirement for side protection from the kind of glare that bounces off water and can cause problems for paddlers.

The ‘O Matter’ frames are pretty lightweight, but they don’t float – so it’s fortunate that the Split Shots come with a thin wire leash, which attaches to each arm and runs around the back of your neck to catch the sunglasses should they fall from your head.

Obviously, this also comes in handy if you want to remove the glasses for a little while, especially if you’re wearing a helmet and are unable to put them on your head, because you can simply let them hang.

These shades boast category-3 HDO (High Definition Optics) polarised Prizm lenses, made with Plutonite and coated in Iridium, which offer the best definition and contrast levels available. The Iridium gives the glasses a mirrored effect, but it’s primarily there to reduce glare and sharpen definition.

These lenses are stress-tested to a high level in order to provide physical impact-resistance (for example from flying insects or even a wayward kayak paddle) as well as protection for your eyes from uncomfortable and potentially damaging UV rays and glare.

The no-slip nosepad is made from a hydro-reactive substance that Oakley have branded ‘Unobtanium’ (one for the Avatar fans out there, although the word – and Oakley’s use of it – long predates the film), designed to supply superlative grip in rough conditions, the performance of which only gets better as it gets wetter, from sea spray or sweat.

Besides the leash, the Oakley Split Shots come with a large, rigid case for safe storage, as well as a soft pouch made from a fabric that can be used to clean the lenses.

Oakley Split Shot sunglasses: performance

I first wore the Oakley Split Shot sunglasses during a series of early morning gig-rowing training sessions on a rolling sea in Lyme Bay. This sport demands complete concentration as you stay in time with your fellow rowers, and both arms are occupied all the time, so you can’t mess around with your eyewear, and the Split Shots were perfect for the job, protecting my eyes as I faced into the rising sun, and allowing me to keep looking at the oarsman in front of me, so I could maintain synchronicity.

Gig rowing is also a highly intensive activity, but even as I worked up a proper sweat, these glasses stayed firmly in place thanks to the grip supplied by the hydro-reactive Unobtanium elements on the arms and the nosepad.

I have since worn the Split Shots on a regular basis on numerous recreational and exploratory kayaking and SUPing sessions in the sea and along my local river system. I find the frame fantastically comfortable to wear, even for hours on end, and I’m more than happy in these sunnies on and off the water (in fact, they’re probably the best looking shades I’ve ever owned).

Along with the cushioning nosepad, the two hat- and helmet-compatible arms supply a three-point fit, which, combined with the concave, face-hugging, high-wrap frame design means the sunglasses keep glare out from all directions and stay firmly in place in even the most rowdy conditions.

I have been out in my kayak wearing these sunnies when the swell has been large and the waves have been punchy, and the Split Shots didn’t move a milimetre. There are no vents incorporated into the design, however, and while I didn’t experience any serious fogging issues, I did feel they ran a little warm on hot days when I was paddling hard. At least they didn’t slide around (or off) as I got sweaty, though – in fact, the hydro-reactive grips made them even more secure.

The leash does supply an extra level of security, to stop you worrying about the glasses falling off, but it seems like a big missed opportunity that it doesn’t feature a float in place of the Oakley branded rubber band.

This would have been an easy addition, and with a price tag as heavy as these sunglasses carry, you certainly don’t want to lose them to Davy Jones’ locker. Also, there is no emergency release mechanism on this leash, and it is conceivable that it could snag on something after a capsize, which could be catastrophic.

The category-3 polarised Plutonite Prizm lenses, coated with Iridium, are absolutely superb for on-water activities, supplying excellent (unrivalled, I believe) clarity, contrast and definition, which give you advanced capability of reading waves as they come at you and allow you to see through the water to the marinescape below.

They have a visible light transfer rate of 12%, which is reasonably dark on land but absolutely ideal for aquatic adventures – cutting out glare and allowing you to go about your marine mission with eyes wide open – and you can still wear them on bright days for driving and other tasks.

The Oakley Split Shots come with a leash, a rigid case and a soft pouch

Oakley Split Shot sunglasses: verdict

If you want to look good on and off the water, the Oakley Split Shots will fulfil that brief with absolute aplomb, but there is a whole lot more to these high-end sport sunglasses than the ability to turn heads.

The Iridium-coated, polarised, Plutonite Prism lenses offer best-in-class clarity and definition, plus top-level eye protection, and the high-wrap frame effectively cuts out glare from all directions, and comfortably stays in place thanks to the hydro-reactive Unobtanium elements employed where the glasses meet the nose and temples.

If they had a float on the leash, they would near-enough be the perfect kayaking sunglasses – just so long as you can afford them.

Buy the Oakley Split Shot sunglasses on Very


Construction:O Matter frames / Plutonite lenses
Lens type:Polarised Prizm with Iridium coating
Lens colours:Deep water; Black; Tungsten; Sapphire; Shallow water; Ruby; Grey
Frame colours:Matte black; Matte carbon; Matte tortoise; Matte translucent blue; Polished black; Black ink
UV protection:100%
Filter category:3
Extras:Detachable leash and water-resistant eyewear case with attachment clip