When it comes to protecting your eyes from debris, impact, and sun, it’s important to choose wisely. No doubt, Wiley X and Oakley both make highly-regarded sunglasses that hit the mark, but as they say, the devil’s in the details.
So let’s get into the nitty gritty and see which brand is right for you.
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Wiley X: U.S. Veteran-Owned & Operated
Wiley X was founded in 1987 by veteran Myles Freeman Sr. His goal was to make protective safety eyewear for the men and women who serve and protect, both at home and abroad. The company is still family-owned and operated to this day.
All Wiley X glasses and sunglasses meet or exceed federal OSHA standards for safety and ANSI-ratings. Their tactical eyewear is also MIL-spec certified for military ballistic regulation.
In short, you’re well-protected wearing a pair of Wiley X safety glasses – whether you’re shooting, doing construction, or taking your hog out for a spin.
Oakley: U.S. Military Standard
A juggernaut in the sunglass industry, Oakley needs no introduction. It started out scrappy out of founder Jim Jannard’s garage in 1975, who was making and selling motocross handle grips.
Fast forward to the ’90s, Oakley was all the rage amongst BMX and extreme sports athletes for their high-performance sunglasses and goggles. As the company grew, it was eventually acquired by Italian eyewear-conglomerate Luxxotica in 2007.
Though many die-hard fans feel like the company has changed since then, it’s still a go-to brand for performance and safety sunglasses. Oakley’s Standard Issue Division provides the U.S. military with protective eyewear that meets their stringent safety requirements and needs.
Wiley X vs. Oakley: Frame
Both Wiley X and Oakley have nearly indestructible safety glasses that can withstand high-velocity impact and projectiles with nary a scratch. You’re in good hands with either company’s frames since both do extensive field-testing on their products to ensure their safety glasses meet various safety regulations from industrial standards to military ballistic requirements.
Additionally, both brands make safety goggles too.
Both Wiley X and Oakley have frames and lenses that meet occupational safety standards for impact-resistance as required by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
All Wiley X frames except their youth safety glasses are ANSI 78.1-approved. With Oakley, you’ll need to check the frame description to be sure it’s ANSI-certified since they also make non-ANSI sport and casual-wear frames. (You’ll know you have an ANSI-rated frame if you see a “Z87” marking inside one of the arms.)
Both companies also make select safety glasses that meet the U.S. military’s more stringent MIL-PRF 32432 ballistic standards. The impact-resistance requirement is much higher than the ANSI and OSHA standards for industrial use, making them suitable for shooting and tactical use.
Lastly, if you’re not based in the U.S., Wiley X and Oakley have you covered as they also meet European standards (EN 166) for safety certification.
Selection & Fit
Given Wiley X’s exclusive focus on protective eyewear, all of their sunglasses are marked with ANSI certification.
This is important because while most Oakley frames also meet or exceed ANSI-regulations for impact, only select models with the Industrial label are actually marked as such.
Wiley makes a bunch of wraparound frames, a few rimless/semi-rimless pairs with a lower profile, as well as safety glasses with a removable facial cavity seal to keep out dust and debris.
If you don’t need ANSI-certified safety glasses, you’ll have a wider selection of frames to choose from with Oakley.
Both Wiley X and Oakley carry frames that are comfortable for larger and smaller faces. Most people find either brand to be comfortable to wear. Some find Oakley’s to fit certain face types less well, so it’s worth trying on a few pairs to see how they sit on your face.
Having said that, Oakley’s “3-point fit” technology is famous for keeping your sunglasses in place with as little pressure as possible.
Material & Design
Wiley X frames are made out of Triloid Nylon, which is both lightweight and durable.
Oakley is famous for their O Matter™ frames – their own proprietary material that’s light as a feather, and flexible enough that it doesn’t crack or split when dropped or mishandled.
Both companies fit their wraparound frames with rubber tips to ensure your glasses stay in place. Oakley’s Unobtainium™ temple and nosepad grips are second-to-none as they actually get tackier with moisture or sweat, holding fast onto your skin while you’re working or playing hard.
Wiley X vs. Oakley: Lenses
UV Protection & Tint Options
At a minimum, you can expect 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays from both brands’ sunglasses. When it comes to lens colors and coatings, Wiley X has more tint options when it comes to safety glasses.
No one likes glare when it comes to working or playing outside in the midday sun. A washed-out image doesn’t do anyone any good if you’re looking for life below the water or a fast-moving projectile that’s speeding towards you against the horizon.
Both brands give you excellent color contrast and increased visibility through their respective polarized lenses.
One of the great things about Wiley X’s polarized lenses is that they allow your eyes to relax instead of constantly squinting in bright, sunny conditions. They’re perfect for fishing or lazy days on the water.
Oakley’s Prizm Sport lenses enhance color contrast and give you optimal clarity and protection for specific conditions. Prizm Deep Water is specially designed to filter out shades of blue for deep-sea fishing. They come with a mirrored Iridium coating to reflect harmful rays away from your eyes.
On the other hand, Prizm Shallow Water boosts green and copper hues to make it easier for you to see movement beneath the surface that can mean the difference between a catch or a miss.
If you’re really particular, you might even prefer Wiley X for fishing and Oakley for driving (or vice versa!).
Clarity & Impact-Resistance
Besides protection, you also want distortion-free optics in a pair of safety glasses. Wiley X is tops here with their patented polycarbonate lens technology called Selenite™.
Polycarbonate lenses are the gold standard for safety eyewear because they’re much more impact-resistant than standard plastic or glass lenses. Wiley’s lenses are die-cut from a larger lens, giving you excellent visual clarity while meeting ballistics-grade shatterproof requirements.
Of course, Oakley is no slouch either when it comes to safety lenses. Their High Definition Optics® lens technology ensures a clean, crisp image. They also cut their lenses from a single sheet along the same axis to eliminate distortion and maintain optical alignment.
While Oakley does extensive impact-testing on all their eyewear products, only select frames like the M-Frame and Standard Issue Det Cord Industrial are actually stamped for ANSI 78.1 compliance (which may be required if you’re using them for work).
It’s important to note that the trade-off with impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses is that they are more susceptible to scratches than glass. However, you can replace the lenses in several Wiley X and Oakley frames if they do get scratched.
Wiley X and Oakley safety glasses can also be fitted with corrective lenses too. Both companies produce their own Rx lenses at an additional cost.
Wiley X vs. Oakley: Style
When it comes to style, it’s hard to compete with Oakley’s sport and active lifestyle designs. Whether you’re a competitive cyclist sporting the Flak 2.0, going fishing in the Split Shot, or just driving around town in the Holbrook, you’ll look the part.
Oakley’s known for their edgy, cool designs for athletes and extreme sports. They blend both mainstream and alternative BMX-rider style into many of their frames. They also favor bold, bright colors, though they also have classic styles in the traditional black and gray hues too.
Now, that’s not to say that Wiley X isn’t fashionable. Far from it! It’s just that Wiley’s #1 priority is safety and function given their focus on providing service men and women appropriate eye protection.
Most of the popular Wiley X sunglasses are black wraparound frames, though they do have a cool Kryptek® Neptune™ gray-blue snakeskin camo pattern too.
Wiley X vs. Oakley: Price
When it comes to price, it’s pretty black and white. Oakley prices are higher than Wiley X, which average around $100 full retail. Wiley X glasses are all ANSI-rated, making them a great choice for good protection without breaking the bank.
Oakley’s generally start around $135 and up. If you add lens options like polarization or mirror-coating, the price can easily creep up to a few hundred dollars.
Value-wise, Wiley X is the clear winner between the two given the price you pay for the quality of their safety glasses. A family-owned and operated company who really “get” their customer base is key to their success as a brand.