The Best Goggles

To conduct our Winter 2018-19 goggle review, test lead Leigh Augustine worked with a team of recruited testers who checked out almost two dozen pairs of goggles at ski areas and in the backcountry throughout Colorado. Testing feedback came from several hard-charging, aggressive skiers and snowboarders, as well as from several novice skiers and even a few kids aged 11-14.

Feedback about each of the twenty-three total entries in our review was collected from all of our testers, then compared side by side in six newly-updated categories:

  1. field of view
  2. fit & comfort
  3. anti-fog power
  4. lens & frame quality
  5. lens change ease (a brand-new category this year!)
  6. features.

The Gear Institute Rating is the combined score across all categories, representing the highest overall level of performance, and we highlighted the five that stood out above the rest. This year the test really came down to two main categories: lens quality and lens change ease, which were the unanimously the most important factors to all the testers.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Oakley Flight Deck with Prizm Lens
90
Best in Class
2015
Field of View 9
Fit 8
Anti-Fog Performance 8
Lens Quality 10
Frame 7
Value 8

Revolutionary Prizm lens adjusts to all light conditions

Oversize frame fits smaller faces comfortably

Great field of view

Oversize frame profile stands 2.5 cm off the forehead

High price for a single-lens solution

MSRP
$200.00
BEST DEAL
Oakley Line Miner Goggle
90
Best in Class
2018
Field of View 10
Fit & Comfort 9
Anti-fog Power 7
Lens & Frame Quality 10
Lens Change Ease 6
Features 8

Impressive field of view

Plenty of venting

Great for variable lighting conditions

Some of the best lenses on the market

“Traditional” lens-change system

Stiff frame

Pricey

MSRP
$150.00
BEST DEAL
Bolle Virtuose
89
Best in Class
2016
Field of View 8
Fit 8
Anti-fog 7
Lens Quality 8
Frame 8

Quick & easy lens change system

Low-profile frame with great field of view

Comes with hard case for extra lens

Rubber molding can separate from plastic frame

Hard to change lenses without smearing the lens

MSRP
$170.00
BEST DEAL
Bolle Nova II
88
Field of View 8
Fit 8
Anti-fog Power 8
Lens Quality 8
Frame 7
Value 9

Reactive lens that adjusts to the conditions

Large field of view in a medium-size frame

Triple-layer face foam that is very comfortable without being too thick

Great goggle for a very reasonable price

Only one lens

Flexible, less rigid frame

MSRP
$139.99
BEST DEAL
Snowledge Whistler Goggle
88
Field of View 8
Fit & Comfort 7
Anti-fog Power 7
Lens & Frame Quality 7
Lens Change Ease 10
Features 9

Best quick-change lens system (9 magnets)

Large field of view

Great semi-hard shell case

Least expensive goggles tested

Extremely large goggles (too big for tiny faces)

Stiff frame

MSRP
$65.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Zeal Portal Goggle
88
Field of View 8
Fit & Comfort 8
Anti-fog Power 7
Lens & Frame Quality 9
Lens Change Ease 9
Features 7

“Slider” quick change lens system

Large field of view

Great lenses

Lenses scratched relatively easily

Stiff frames

MSRP
$279.00
BEST DEAL
Oakley Flight Deck XM
86
Best in Class
2017
Field of View 8
Fit & Comfort 8
Anti-fog Power 5
Lens Quality 9
Features 6

Plenty of venting and no fogging

Great for variable lighting conditions

Impressive field of view for mid-sized goggle

Pricey

Stiff frame

Lens scratched relatively easily

MSRP
$170.00
BEST DEAL
Giro Axis Goggle
86
Field of View 8
Fit & Comfort 7
Anti-fog Power 7
Lens & Frame Quality 8
Lens Change Ease 9
Features 7

Great quick-change lens system

Impressive field of view both vertically and horiz

Good venting

Lenses scratched relatively easily

Stiff frame

MSRP
$180.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Spy Legacy Goggle
86
Field of View 8
Fit & Comfort 8
Anti-fog Power 7
Lens & Frame Quality 7
Lens Change Ease 9
Features 7

Great quick-change lens system

Plenty of venting

Great for variable lighting conditions

Lenses scratched relatively easily

Stiff frame

MSRP
$230.00
BEST DEAL
Electric EG3
85
Field of View 7
Fit 8
Anti-Fog Performance 7
Lens Quality 8
Frame 8
Value 7

Innovative lens interchange system

Great looking goggle that shows all lens and no frame

Comfy face foam

Unimpressive field of view for an oversize goggle


Hard to change lenses without lots of fingerprints


No protection for the extra lens included with your purchase

MSRP
$220.00
BEST DEAL
Optic Nerve Boreas 3.0
85
Field of View 6
Fit 7
Anti-fog 7
Lens Quality 9
Frame 6

NASA’s NASTEK lens is exceptionally clear

Face foam & flexible frame are comfortable

Lenses are tough & durable

8-point clip-in interchange system is outdated & clunky

Lens easily separates from the frame, letting in snow on a tumble

Only the bright sun lens has the NASTEK technology

MSRP
$140.00
BEST DEAL
Scott Linx
85
Field of View 6
Fit 8
Anti-fog 7
Lens Quality 6
Frame 8

Great adjustable frame fit

Easy interchange system

Good venting & no fogging

Less than impressive field of view

Average lens quality

Limited cushion face foam

MSRP
$160.00
BEST DEAL
Oakley Canopy
83
Field of View 6
Fit 8
Anti-fog Power 8
Lens Quality 8
Frame 7
Value 6

Manageable size for a large-frame goggle

Crystal clear lenses

Great ventilation and no fogging

Many frame color and lens options

Peripheral vision is good on the sides but not on top and bottom

“Low profile” frame actually sits a good inch off the face

Relatively high price for only one lens

MSRP
$160.00
BEST DEAL
Smith I/OS
83
Field of View 6
Fit 5
Anti-fog 7
Lens Quality 9
Frame 6

Amazing definition & clarity from ChromaPop lenses

Pivoting outriggers make on and off easy

Second sleeve in goggle bag for extra lens

Lens interchange system is challenging

Face foam is scratchy and uncomfortable

Clip buckle on strap isn’t compatible with some helmets

MSRP
$180.00
BEST DEAL
Optic Nerve Cortez
83
Field of View 8
Fit & Comfort 4
Anti-fog Power 6
Lens Quality 8
Features 7

Great for low light conditions

Wide nose cut

Great peripheral vision

Semi-soft shell case

Poor in really bright light

Frame too stiff

Flat frame

MSRP
$140.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Zeal Forecast with Automatic Lens
82
Field of View 9
Fit 7
Anti-fog Power 8
Lens Quality 5
Frame 7
Value 6

Impressive field of view thanks to the low-profile frame

No fogging even thought the lens is close to the face

Lightweight and flexible frame

“Automatic lens” isn’t great in bright or low light

High price for a lens that doesn’t deliver

MSRP
$239.00
BEST DEAL
Electric EGX
82
Field of View 7
Fit 7
Anti-fog 7
Lens Quality 5
Frame 6

Impressive field of view for mid-sized goggle

Plenty of venting & no fogging

“Press seal” doesn’t create a good seal

Impossible to change lenses without smudging

No sleeve or case for second lens

MSRP
$170.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Bolle Gravity with Modulator Light Control Lens
82
Field of View 7
Fit & Comfort 6
Anti-fog Power 4
Lens Quality 9
Features 6

Great lens in versatile lighting conditions

Good lens durability

Good lens tint

Face foam too wide

Average field of view

Lens too far from face

MSRP
$150.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
REVO Wordsmith
82
Field of View 7
Fit & Comfort 5
Anti-fog Power 6
Lens Quality 8
Features 6

Great lenses in changing conditions

Good peripheral vision

Good anti-fog

Pricey

Nose cut pinched a bit

Stiff frame-no flex at all

Lenses scratched easily

MSRP
$229.00
BEST DEAL
Spy Raider
82
Field of View 8
Fit & Comfort 7
Anti-fog Power 4
Lens Quality 7
Features 6

Good fit

Great peripheral vision

Good lens in versatile lighting conditions

Super-flexible frame

Lenses scratched easily

Lenses fogged easily

MSRP
$120.00
BEST DEAL
Spy Ace
81
Field of View 7
Fit 6
Anti-fog 7
Lens Quality 6
Frame 5

Lower price point for an interchangeable lens goggle

Good field of view for a mid-sized frame

Two-sleeved bag for carrying the extra lens

Impossible interchange system

Lens does not form a good seal on the frame

Rigid frame has little flex

MSRP
$130.00
BEST DEAL
Smith I/O 7
80
Field of View 7
Fit 8
Anti-Fog Performance 8
Lens Quality 7
Frame 5
Value 5

Versatile, fits well with different helmets

Extra lens includes hard carrying case

Choice of many mirrored lenses

Complex lens change function

Poorly placed clip-buckle

Expensive

MSRP
$225.00
BEST DEAL
Marker 3D+ OTIS
79
Field of View 7
Fit 6
Anti-fog Power 8
Lens Quality 6
Frame 5
Value 7

Sturdy frame

Great view through spherical “bionomic curve” lenses

Nice packaging with microfiber bag, extra lens sleeve, and vented neoprene carrying box

Lens interchange system is overly complex and clunky

“NMT OPTICS” technology is supposed to protect the lens but didn’t have a noticeable effect in testing

Bulky, hard-plastic frame sits far off the face

Impact-protection foam is not comfortable on the face

MSRP
$198.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Oakley Flight Deck XM

The Oakley Flight Deck XM has a large fit and impressive peripheral vision. The frame was relatively stiff, but curved around tester’s faces well. The nose cut was nice and large and the lens did not fog due to the dual vents. It worked great in a variety of lighting and weather conditions. Though, we’d like to see a little better glare protection for low, late in the day light.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at SummitSports.com

Oakley Line Miner Goggle

The Oakley Line Miner has a large fit and impressive field of view both vertically and horizontally. The frame was relatively stiff but curved around tester’s faces well. The nose cut was nice and large and the lens did not fog due to the dual vents. It worked great in a variety of lighting and weather conditions. As for negatives, it was the only goggle in the top five of this with a “traditional” lens change system (snap the lens into the nose cut, and then line it in the margins all the way around the frame).

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Backcountry.com

Snowledge Whistler Goggle

We really liked the Snowledge Whistler. Prior to the season, we had never heard of the company, and didn’t even write to them asking for goggles—they just showed up at our office. But when we gave them a try, we really liked so many of their features that we had to rank them in the top five, and even gave them a special new award: “The Dark Horse.” Not only are these very cool-looking goggles, but they have a revolutionary magnet system holding the lenses in place—we did a lens swap in under four seconds! Before testing, we thought there was no way the lenses would stay in with these nine magnets—but we were so pleasantly surprised. These are the easiest-to-change lenses on the market!

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

Zeal Portal Goggle

The Zeal Portal has an impressive field of view despite their medium-sized frame. They worked great in a variety of lighting and weather conditions, and we really liked the “slider lock” lens change system. It took a bit of getting used to—and practice to make it work on the first try—but once we got the hang of it, we loved the quickness of changing lenses. We loved the fact that you could not put the same pressure in the same spot during a faceplant, making the lens fly off. Our glasses-wearing testers also loved putting the goggles on without lenses, sliding their glasses in, then putting the lenses on.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Backcountry.com

Spy Legacy Goggle

The Spy Legacy has a large fit and impressive field of view both vertically and horizontally. The frame was very stiff but worked well with most adults. The nose cut was nice and large and the lens did not fog. It worked great in a variety of lighting and weather conditions. We were impressed with the clip and the ease of changing lenses and appreciated the fact that the second pair of lenses comes standard.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Backcountry.com

Giro Axis Goggle

The Giro Axis is a great goggle with a pin-and-magnet quick-change lens system. It has a large fit and impressive field of view both vertically and horizontally. The frame was relatively stiff, and the nose cut was nice and large. The lens did not fog due to the dual vents. It worked great in a variety of lighting and weather conditions, although the pair we had were a little dark for late-day skiing.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at evo

Optic Nerve Cortez

The Optic Nerve Cortez with Nastek Saturn lens is a great goggle for low light. In cloudy/mildly overcast conditions the tint of the lens was perfect, but when the sun came out we had to squint a little, and were wishing that the lens was a bit darker. Also, the oversized frame did not fit small or medium faces well—it left large gaps near the temples.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

Bolle Gravity with Modulator Light Control Lens

The Bolle Gravity with Modular Light Control lens was one of the better lenses for a wide range of lighting circumstances. The frame is lightweight, has comfortable face foam, and good venting. Because the lens sits a little far from the face, testers could see their reflection in bright sunlight. However, this works well for wearing prescription glasses under the goggles. 

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

REVO Wordsmith

The REVO Wordsmith was a great technical goggle, albeit a touch pricey. The lenses adapted very well to all light conditions but were more susceptible to scratching that others in the test. They felt a bit boxy on some medium-sized faces but sealed all the way around. 

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Amazon.com

Spy Raider

The Spy Raider is a great goggle—the frame and lens are both very flexible so they will conform to virtually any shape face. They fogged relatively easily, and scratched easier than most. The frame size has great field of view, and they did not pinch the nose, and they sealed well with most of the helmets used.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Amazon.com

See All Goggles Reviews

Review Results

by: Last Updated:

As for this year’s test, we awarded the Best In Class title to the Oakley Line Miner, with the Zeal Portal, Snowledge Whistler, Spy Legacy, and Giro Axis rounding out the top five.

Although the Oakley Line Miner didn’t score the highest in each and every category, we found that overall they were the best of the rest. The lens quality was the only 9 out of 10 awarded. They worked well in virtually all types of light, the foam was soft and had the right amount of sponginess, they had the right curvature to match most faces, the large cylindrical view tied for best field of view, and their venting was spot-on. However, they scored in the middle of the pack in both the weight and the anti-fog test categories. And the one category they could have scored much better in was what we titled “lens change ease.” They have resorted to the “traditional” system where one has to snap in the lens at the nose first, then snap the lens in at each of the corners, making sure that it stays in the rails of the frame all the way around. With a little practice, we were able to remove and replace the lens in 37 seconds (the next quickest “traditional” lens remove and replace was more than a minute, and most of them took up two minutes—and the lenses got fingerprints in the process). All of the newer lens swap systems are much quicker and don’t require you to get your fingerprints all over the lenses. So in future tests, we may give even more weight to this category.

 

Rounding Out the Top Five

As for the others in the top-five, we really liked the Snowledge Whistler. Prior to the season, we had never heard of the company, and didn’t even write to them asking for goggles—they just showed up at our office. But when we gave them a try, we really liked so many of their features that we had to rank them in the top five, and even gave them a special new award: “The Dark Horse.” Not only are these very cool-looking goggles, but they have a revolutionary magnet system holding the lenses in place—we did a lens swap in under four seconds! Before testing, we thought there was no way the lenses would stay in with these nine magnets—but we were so pleasantly surprised. These are the easiest-to-change lenses on the market! (We know Cebe has a similar magnet system, but despite our requests for some goggles to test, they did not get them into us before our deadline—I guess we will check those out for 2018-19!). And with Snowledge’s MSRP of just $65, we have to admit that upon opening Snowledge (and their semi-hard shell case, which is great) we had our doubts. How could a pair of goggles that inexpensive be good?

We are definitely eating those words! We were seriously blown away with the frame and lens quality. And we had to admit that we questioned the magnet system—would the lens pop off if we face-planted? I humbly have to admit that it does not. The lenses stayed intact (and scratch-free) despite me tomahawking myself down Aprez Vous in the back bowls of Vail (maybe more than once—I will neither confirm nor deny that). Those dudes at Snowledge can really run with the big dogs! Kudos! Keep up the great work!


Rounding out the rest of the top five, this elite group included three other pairs that we found were best of the rest. Each one had a lens quick change system we loved: the Zeal Portal had the lens “rail lock” system,  the Spy Legacy had the “Lock Steady” system, and the Giro Axis has a combination magnet & snap-in system. We also need to give props to the Scott LCG and the Native Dropzone (both of which just fell barely outside the top-five) but each has a great “slider lock” system where you slide a lever on the side of the frame, and the lens literally pops out.

 

 

 

 


The Other Side of the Coin:

On the other side of the coin, there were several pairs we tested that fell below the line, for several reasons. Each had its own set of flaws, with the biggest complaints being that the lenses were impossibly hard to change (after 5 minutes we literally gave up changing lenses on one), or they did not “seal” well with either virtually any testers’ faces or with multiple helmets, or scratchy foam around the goggles. All had lens quality issues as well, specifically, in changing light. In Colorado, we rarely get a day where the weather is the same from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.. So the lenses that could not keep up with the changing light conditions really got downgraded in our tests.

Lens Change

As we watch the industry really progress in this area, we added this category to keep up with the changes. In future years, “lens change” might not mean “swapping out from one lens to another” but instead might include photochromic lenses that change automatically with the brightness of the sun.

Our research tells us that even casual day-skiers want different lenses for different weather, and so changing lenses (either physically swapping them out, or with photochromic or photoelectric technology) is a must. So it just makes sense that this is the category we saw the most innovation since last year, with the Snowledge Whistler leading the pack. With its magnets-on, magnets-off quick change system, anyone can do a lens change in seconds, even in bad weather (or on a chairlift) when a quick lens change is most critical.

Frame & Lens Quality

The Zeal Portal’s have a solid frame and lens quick change “slider” system, but what really impressed us was the quality of the lenses. Great in all levels of light, and very scratch-resistant, we appreciated how versatile they were, receiving a well-above-average 9. The only lens that outperformed the Zeal was the Oakley Line Miner, which received Best In Class.

Field of View

Of all the oversize spherical goggles, the Spy Legacy took the number one spot in the Field of View category. We loved being able to see in all directions, without the lenses becoming distorted around the edges.

The Giro Axis really impressed us in this category, thanks to the almost universal shaped frame which fit hand-in-glove to seal with most helmets. We also loved how the Giro Axis fit with most of the tester’s faces, including some of the younger teenagers.

Weight, Fit, and Comfort

Our testers included several hard-charging, aggressive skiers and snowboarders, as well as from several novice skiers and even a few kids aged 11-14. Feedback about each of the twenty-three total entries in our review was collected from all of our testers, then compared side by side in six newly-updated categories: (1) field of view, (2) fit & comfort (3) anti-fog power (4) lens & frame quality, (5) lens change ease (a brand-new category this year!), and (6) features. This year many of the entries scored similarly in field of view, fit & comfort, and anti-fog power, so the test really came down to two main categories: lens & frame quality and lens change ease. We see these two main factors as the future of goggle technology–if a manufacturer can’t keep up in those two categories, they not going to be a contender for Best in Class.

Test Methods

The goggles were tested in the backcountry and in-resort skiing on sunny, cloudy, and snowy days, in temperatures ranging from 10 to 40 degrees. Testing feedback came from several hard-charging, aggressive skiers and snowboarders, as well as from several novice skiers and even a few kids aged 11-14. Feedback about each of the twenty-three total entries in our review was collected from all of our testers, then compared side by side in six newly-updated categories: (1) field of view, (2) fit & comfort (3) anti-fog power (4) lens & frame quality, (5) lens change ease (a brand-new category this year!), and (6) features. The Gear Institute Rating is the combined score across all categories, representing the highest overall level of performance, and we highlighted the five that stood out above the rest.

Future Trends

As for future trends in the goggle category, we really like watching the improvements in the lens-change technology. Seriously, on those really cold days, or on days that are snowy/windy, if it takes more than about 30 seconds to swap lenses, we got mad. And if, after the change, the lens was so finger-printed up because we had to manhandle the lens, we were even madder. Our advice is that if you can’t swap lenses out easily (and we’re talking while on the lift, in windy conditions, in about 30 seconds or less), just forget about it and make a fixed-lens system.

We also love the improvement in technology of the lenses, since over the years we’ve seen goggles going from a thin piece of plastic that was merely designed to prevent your eyes from watering too much (the 70’s and 80’s), to neon and fluorescent goggles that were more fashion statements than function (the 90’s), to where they are today: trusty assistants to make sure you see those unexpected “ghost” moguls in the middle of the run and don’t get knocked you on your ass (or worse, into another skier/boarder/tree).

The other trend we thought was coming—but were wrong (hey, we can’t always be right!) was starting to see more helmets with goggles that are permanently integrated (i.e., they slide up into the helmet/slide down over the eyes). These seem to be fading away, and we think that is due to the demand for multiple lenses, and quick-change lens systems.

Speaking of quick-change lens systems, the quickest of all just may be electrochromatic lenses, which are just starting to bud.

We got a sneak peek at the new Spy Ace with electrochromatic lenses, which have a very cool button on the side that you push to make the lenses darker/lighter. There are three distinct phases (light, medium, and dark). We loved the fact that the lithium-ion battery was small enough to not add much weight to the strap—the electrochromatic system was 6.0 ounces while the regular Spy Ace goggles came in at 4.9 ounces. What we did not like was that the “light” tint was not light enough for dark overcast or snowy conditions, although the “dark” setting was definitely dark enough for blue-sky days. And you only get a couple of days of use before the battery dies. So for you weekenders, if you forget to charge it on Friday night, you might be screwed on Saturday—and be forced to stick with the same tint level you ended with the weekend prior. So you might want to carry a Goal Zero recharger—which kind of defeats the purpose having electrochromatic lenses (because if you’re going to carry a recharger in your pocket, that’s pretty much the same as throwing a second pair of lenses into your pocket). Time will tell, and as the technology improves, electrochromatic lenses just might become the industry standard. From our talks with the reps at SIA in January, we know some of the largest goggle companies out there (no revealing who—but when we say “largest,” you can probably guess who we’re talking about!) are developing their own electrochromatic lenses, and at least one of the 800-pound gorillas is working on a photochromatic pair that is not electric—they adjust automatically based on the amount of sunlight they sense.

With all these great technological advances, we are really looking forward to our 2018-19 tests. Stay tuned to GearInstitute.com to see where the technology goes.