Seasoned cyclist Matt Ray delivers his verdict on the Oakley Kato Trail Torch, equipped with lenses fine-tuned to deal with fast-changing off-road conditions…

The Oakley Kato Trail Torch is featured in our guide to the best cycling glasses. Matt tested every pair by clocking up significant distances across a range of terrains and conditions – riding on road, gravel and dirt trails, and in bright, overcast and inclement conditions. Only the best performing specs across a range of conditions made it into our comprehensive guide.

Oakley Kato (w/ Prizm Trail Torch Lens)

$313 /£278, oakley.com

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Pros:

  • Incredible clarity
  • Low-light performance
  • Next-level coverage

Cons:

  • Prohibitively pricey
  • Not for brightest days

Clarity: 5/5
Cycling Design: 4/5
Comfort: 4/5
OVERALL: 4/5

Oakley is known for its road performance, so it was a pleasant surprise to find an off-road focused lens that could also hang on the tarmac on cloudier days. But where these sunglasses really shone was in the mixed lighting conditions of wood-shrouded trails.

Oakley Kato Trail Torch features

The challenge for gravel and mountain bikers lies not just in switching between exposed trails and blasting along underneath a canopy of trees, it also lies in how the latter trails quickly strobe between shade and sunlight.

I tested the Oakley Kato Trail Torch on a fast gravel ride through Epping Forest, where the ground was baked hard, and the sun was high, sending shafts abs of light down through the branches overhead. The lens dealt admirably with the sudden shifts of light in these high contrast conditions.

These Katos have a lightly mirrored finish and let in a generous 35% of light. I found that this counterintuitive combo succeeded where most shades failed, allowing me to keep wearing them in low, shifting light while avoiding getting mud in my eye (or dust, at least).

The innovative lens profile also gave me a wide view, free from the visual distractions of frame and nose pieces, which gave me a better chance to spot fine details on the trail. And the supplied interchangeable nose pieces gave me a comfortably custom fit.

Oakley Kato Trail Torch performance

The high-contrast Prizm lens of the Oakley Kato Trail Torch really did light up the path on an sunny off-road ride though the trees, but these sunglasses pull double duty for mixed conditions on the road, too – just don’t expect them to cope with the brightest days.

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