The Smith Castaways are some of the newer fishing shades from the reputable eyewear brand. I’ll tell you why they fell just short of being my favorite, but they are by no means a poor choice.
The Smith Castaway sunglasses have a high-end look and feel with well-appointed features like spring hinges and Smith’s PivLock leash system. Wrapping around with thick ear pieces and large ChromaPop lenses, they provide excellent protection from the sun for anglers and outdoor recreationists.
- Best sun coverage of all Smith’s fishing sunglasses
- High-end look and feel
- Comfortable fit with spring hinges
- Easy-to-use PivLock leash included
- ChromaPop glass lenses are both highly durable and provide excellent color clarity
- Glass lenses make them heavy and uncomfortable for some people (like me)
- PivLock leash doesn’t play nicely with a hoodie
- Not inexpensive
Hear me out about my experience with them so you can decide whether or not to pull the trigger on them yourself.
Hands-on Review of Smith Castaway Polarized Sunglasses
In preparation for this Smith Castaway review, I wore these sunglasses a LOT. I’ve worn them while surf fishing in Florida and bowfishing in Idaho. I’ve also worn them on my daily commute, on bike rides, and playing soccer with my kids.
This review is based on my experience using the product regularly for months alongside many similar products so I can compare the strengths and weaknesses of each.
There are five different criteria we consider when evaluating sunglasses for fishing. For each category we give a pair of shades a score between 1 and 5, 5 being the best. The average of all the category scores becomes the total score we use to objectively rank different pairs of sunglasses relative to each other.
Outdoor Empire Score: 3
Smith Castaway sunglasses are comfortable in nearly every way, but there is one aspect of them that I couldn’t get over – the weight.
The glass ChromaPop lenses provide excellent clarity and color contrast, but they’re heavy compared to a polycarbonate lens. And given the size of the lenses on the Castaway, the weight of the glass is considerable, in my opinion.
I would feel the added pressure on the bridge of my nose within minutes of putting them on. It was bothersome enough that I was inclined to take them off frequently to rub and rest my nose. And if I wore them for an extended period of time, I’d get a dull headache. This made me hesitate to take them over my other sunglasses when I knew I’d be out on the water or the trail all day.
However, this is not necessarily a dealbreaker and may be a non-issue entirely for some folks.
Aside from that, I loved everything else about how the Castaway fit. The ear pieces hug the temples snugly and securely. They don’t bounce or slip easily so they stay put when you’re doing something active. The rubber pads on the nose and temples are well-placed to help with that.
With a lighter-weight polycarbonate lens, I’d probably be giving full marks for comfort.
Outdoor Empire Score: 5
The design of the Smith Castaway is well thought out and looks amazing. The fit, the placement of the rubbery megol pads, and the spring-hinged temples feel as good as they look.
I have the tortoise frames with the ChromaPop glass polarized blue mirror lenses which are designed for super bright sunny days on the water. I confirm they are awesome in those conditions from the ocean to mountain streams. I love the blue lenses, though I’d prefer a matte tortoise frame.
While there aren’t as many color options as Smith’s Guide’s Choice, the Castaway has the most popular color combos. Lens and frame options tend to evolve over time with Smith, so if you don’t see something you like right away, give it a few months. Hopefully, they’ll provide some additional options, including some with lighter lenses.
One major improvement on the Castaway compared to the Guide’s Choice, however, is the leash. The Castaway comes with Smith’s PivLock cable leash system. There are holes in the ear pieces that would work with any leash, but the included PivLock neck strap snaps in and out smoothly and easily.
Outdoor Empire Score: 5
The size and shape of the lenses are both cool-looking and effective at keeping the sun out. Neither direct nor indirect light has a chance of hitting your eyeballs, even from the sides or below.
Out of eight pairs of Smith fishing sunglasses we tested, the Castaways arguably provide the best coverage of all. The undersides sit super close to your cheeks without being annoying and they go up and wrap around toward the temples, giving your face a warm hug.
The wrap combined with the size of the lenses and the thick earpieces make for a whole lot of sunblocking power that I very much appreciated while driving or standing in the surf.
Outdoor Empire Score: 4
The Castaways look, function, and feel like premium sunglasses without a doubt.
Butterfingers, dads, and the unfashionable will love the PivLock leash system that adds some reassurance when you’re on the water and don’t want to lose your expensive sunglasses.
The only thing that’s not ideal here is that the leash itself is pretty stiff. It sticks out behind your head and if you’re wearing a hoodie it will push the glasses off your face. Not a big deal when you’re not wearing a hoodie, and you could always find a third-party leash if this bothers you.
Outdoor Empire Score: 4
Like most Smith sunglasses, the Castaway is not for those on a tight budget. They cost a pretty penny, but they do come with a soft case, a hard case, and a leash. And you can frequently find them on sale which can make the cost very palatable.
While this is par for the course with Smiths, there are other great options from different brands for less money.
Outdoor Empire Total Score: 4.2
The Smith Castaway feels the fanciest and most modern of all the Smith sunglasses I’ve tried. If the lenses were a bit lighter and perhaps they were a little cheaper, they’d definitely be my top pick. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be yours.
If you’re used to heavier glass lenses and appreciate the additional scratch protection they provide, the Castaways are probably going to be your favorite Smith fishing sunglasses.
But if you’re a minimalist, don’t like big lenses, or need a more affordable option you might consider the Smith Longfin or Redding.
A nice thing about the Castaways is they look good enough you can wear them anywhere for anything. This versatility makes them a good option for guys who only want one pair of shades for everything.
If you’re not quite satisfied with the Castaway and want to check out other options from Smith, we reviewed a bunch of Smith shades here.
We review lots of non-Smith shades in our Best Polarized Fishing Sunglasses comparison article as well.