[Shop the Oakley HSTN range here]
From the eyewear brand famed for an unparalleled performance aesthetic, Oakley’s HSTN deliver an original, modern look. So impressed were we with the design, we decided to test them by chasing January’s giant swell to Spain Andalusia’s coast on an epic roadie.
Width: 132mm (size 52)
Frame: O Matter
Think Oakley and you’ll likely think streamlined. World’s fastest eyewear, if you like. Aside from perhaps the iconic Frogskins design, much of the brand’s cannon has been in the form of sleek, aerodynamic outlines. Whether for performance driven endeavours like road cycling where every square mm of wind resistance counts, or for athletics, golf… cricket, everything is sleek and wrapped. Oakley’s shapes tend to match the face’s physiology, rather than three straight lines joined by two right angles favoured by many eyewear shapes.
But this, dear reader, is 2022. Shit done changed.
HSTN is a gender neutral frame that makes a marked design departure from much of the Oakley range. Looks-wise, they’re instantly my personal fave shape from Oakley for years. Inspired by street and skate culture, the HSTN feature innovative quirks on the aesthetic, with all the performance you’d expect.
The HSTN are instantly set apart by a round(ish) lenses. Not quite John Lennon tea shade round, but pretty round for Oakley. Of course, Oakley being Oakley, there is inevitably some clever squaring of that circle; the lenses straighten at the nose, the frame exterior angles slightly at the eyebrow. The arms meanwhile, continue the theme of design distinctiveness. A trigger stem temple pays homage to Oakley legends like the Razor Blade.
Knowing that a test was required, and knowing only the most rigourous would suffice the WL reader, I took to the open road, and drove ten hours due south from my home in SW France, towards the equator.
Fittingly, to Spain’s Costa da Luz (Light Coast). This being January, and a low sun only appearing relatively fleetingly each day, I knew I had to hit the highway and point the camper van until I hit an ocean with views of Africa across the Straits. South Spain’s brillant sunshine would deliver ideal testing conditions, and the fact that the swell o’ century was incoming, may have also played a small part in my decision.
I took my eldest child, whose school was shut due to Covid cases. I even allowed him to try the HSTN too, in Tortoiseshell with black PRIZM polarised lenses. He happens to have quite a small head, but nevertheless they fit him great. Aside from the great looks, the eyewear’s chief function, protection and visual clarity was paramount to the trip’s success.
The famed Oakley PRIZM lens with enhanced contrast, came to the fore straight away, particularly for the hazy, frosty conditions on the plateau past Burgos and Valladolid. Glare reduction is super important, especially when you‘ve got ten hours’ on the asphalt. Any squinting would play havoc with your crow’s feet, and I certainly can’t be having that now, can I? After all, moisturiser can only do so much.
When we hit Salamanca and turned due south, that’s when the fun started. Driving directly toward the orb on the Autovia de la Plata, not only was the PRIZM‘s protection important for our eyes, but for safe motoring, too. As the vegetation turned ever more temperate, olive groves, citrus trees now lining the route, my eyes thanked me for the optical excellence the HSTN was delivering. Ultra lightweight, at just 24 grams, you forget you’re wearing them.
It ain’t called the Costa da Luz for nothin’
Next morning, as we breakfasted in brilliant sunshine, sunbleached sands stretched far in both directions, fringed in lines of clean, sparkling surf. The vibe seemed to be van life Boho, and we fit right in. Well, I did. He wore a Man Utd Rashford shirt, not normally a hippy chic staple. Bracelet sellers lined the beach at Caños de Meca, home to a super fun right point. Keen as we were to support the local bracelet braiding economy, we found an old one beachcombing, repaired and tied it on his wrist. We soon ditched his footie shirt for flowing, bright cardigans for us both.
The HSTNs remained throughout the trip’s wardrobe changes.
The outstanding terrestrial performance was matched by PRIZM Polarized’s properties at the water’s edge. We posted up all day at the edge of the reef on a long sweeping right pointbreak, and the lenses allowed us to see through brilliant blue waters at the fish darting about the reef. So too, could the local terns, flashing bright white, hovering, then diving for silver supper. Their eyesight is so good, they can pick out fish whilst in flight. They, like us, also undertake epic voyages, 11000 miles round trip migrations in some cases. So we felt a deep kinship with the terns, although we declined the fish lunches, remaining plant based (aside from my son’s McDonald’s stop at Sevilla).
We surfed out the swell, not really wanting to leave. Alas, reality called. I had a minor freak out when couldn’t find the HSTN, the morning of the drive home. They’d become indispensable, vital to the journey, perhaps more crucial than diesel for making it home. But I was just tired and surfed out, I needn’t have fretted. I forgotten I stashed them in the old fave, under the car’s sun visor. Imagine my delight, as they fell from the ceiling onto my lap, much in the same way the trip had done.
I slipped them on, delighted, and pointed the faithful bus home.