The Action Sports Industrial Complex
Orange County is famous for its defense contractors building all manner of military hardware. There's Boeing, Raytheon, Hughes, Honeywell, TRW, Northrup, Oakley.
Wait a sec—Oakley?
While Foothill Ranch-based Oakley says the company has had "thousands of loyal customers in the Special Forces" for the past decade, it recently began designing two new products specifically for the boys and girls in uniform.
Produced in conjunction with U.S. Army Special Operations Command and Naval Special Warfare Development Group, Oakley is currently field-testing an "alternative Assault Boot for Elite Special Forces." Spotlighted in the October issue of Wired, the SI Assault Boots weigh just 21 ounces. The company believes they're perfect for cave-hunting Green Berets and rappelling Rangers.
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The boots are pretty slick, but shades are what Oakley's famous for. For years, Oakley marketed its sunglasses as providing "thermonuclear protection." Now the company wants to protect its soldiering customers from laser beams with new M Frame Laser Lens sunglasses.
"The laser protection is something we're excited about," said Oakley spokesman Gar Jackson. "Soldiers can be blinded by laser-guided bombs. These lenses will protect them."
In addition to the laser protection, the sunglasses feature a more modest logo than its off-the-shelf gear.
"Oakley knows the demands a military customer can put on their glasses, so we take pride in making quality, tactical eye protection that can exceed these standards" is how the company describes its military-only line of shades. In addition to 11 different pairs of sunglasses, Oakley sells the Pentagon two arrays of lenses, a pair of goggles and three carrying cases.
One pair of sunglasses, known as the SI Pro M Frames, is described in the Oakley catalog in excited gung-ho terms: "Vital equipment for a dangerous world, this sculptural hingeless frame can be fitted with four interchangeable lens shapes and a hue of tint options that let you adapt to changing conditions."
Another pair is the Assault A Frame goggle—"Oakley's latest goggle technology slightly modified for our military and government customers," says the Oakley catalog. "The Assault A Frame goggle has a solid black strap (no logo) and a special piece to allow for a comfortable fit while wearing a helmet."
No word on whether Oakley will soon be working on a new line of commando snowboards.
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