Field of View
Here we are looking for the best degree of vision through the goggles. The Oakley Flight Deck, the Optic Nerve Nastek and the Spy Raider goggles all tied for the top contenders in the Field of View category. All three had a similar 170-degree view, with only a slight obstruction from the nose cut while looking down. The Bolle and REVO were rated not far behind in the Field of View category.
Fit & Comfort
The Oakley Flight Deck XM was the leader in the Fit & Comfort category, with the Spy Raider coming in as a close second. The combination of Oakley’s large nose cutout and the aggressive curvature of the Flight Deck made a perfect match for medium-sized faces. They did not slip around at all, making them overall the best fitting and most comfortable of all the goggles tested. The foam was nice and soft but durable, and the strap was easy to adjust. We paired them with five different helmets and found no major issues with a goggle gap. There are discreet frame notches at the temples for compatibility with most prescription glasses. Alternatively, the Raider’s soft rubber frame was extremely flexible and fit most, but not all, of the testers’ faces.
Anti-Fog Power is an important category when it comes to goggle features. The testers measured this not only on the mountains of Colorado, but performed an in-home test in a steam room as well. The Optic Nerve and the REVO goggles had the best anti-fog lenses of the goggles tested. No fogging occurred in the either lenses while tested in the relatively dry climate of Colorado. The Bolle and Spy Raider goggles scored the lowest of the goggles in the test.
All of the goggles had very high quality lens, with Oakley and Bolle tied for the highest score mainly due to performing better than the others in many different lighting conditions. The Oakley Flight Deck lenses performed well even in flat light, helping define the texture of the snow better than any other goggle tested, and there was no distortion around the edges. Testers did experience a small amount of glare that was not cut by the lens on bright days when the sun was low in the sky. Also, a scratch managed to appear despite careful handling. The Bolle Gravity also had some of the best lenses in the class. The tint was just right, and they adapted to all light conditions. Most of the days we tested them, the weather went from sunny to cloudy to blizzard and back to sunny again.
The Optic Nerve Nastek Saturn glasses scored highest in the additional features category. The strap was easy to adjust and it stayed in place on and off helmet due to the three lines gummy silicon that go all the way around the inside of the strap. The strap is one continuous piece, and the elastic was just stretchy enough for moving them from face to forehead without issue. It comes with a lightweight bag and a semi-hard shell case, which the testers loved. On the down side, the Optic Nerve goggles do not come with other lens options.
As for future trends in the goggle category, we really like seeing the improvements in the lens quality. Over the years we’ve seen goggles go 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 florescent 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 down – or worse, into another skier, boarder or tree.
The other trend we see (and this is partially credited to helmet manufacturers) is that most goggles really do fit most helmets, and you rarely see that centimeter band of “cold forehead” between the two.
We are also starting to see helmets with goggles that are permanently integrated (i.e., they slide up into the helmet/slide down over the eyes). We are undecided as to whether or not this is a good idea – we like the fact that when you take the helmet off, you just slide the lens up and it is completely protected. But we don’t like the fact that the lens you bring with you in the morning might be too dark (or light) and you might want to change it mid-day – especially if the weather goes from cloudless blue skies to blizzard (note that no lens we tested adequately covered the entire spectrum of weather with 100 percent perfection). We also don’t want to faceplant and not have the protective foam layer all the way around the lens, thereby possibly injuring your face more than if you had worn regular goggles. So we are excited to watch them iron out these kinks, and see just where the industry goes.
Over the course of a few weeks, our testers (of varying skill and age) used the goggles at multiple ski areas and backcountry of Colorado. There were also several at-home tests performed in a more controlled environment. They aim to test under a variety of different conditions and terrains.
Each tester of the wear-test team individually evaluates each model on five different criteria: (1) field of view, (2) fit and comfort, (3) anti-fog power, (4) lens quality and (5) additional features of the goggles.
The Team Lead collects the feedback into a combined review that highlights areas of agreement and disagreement. Individual assessment of each category is scored on a scale of 1-10, and the individual scores are tallied into an overall Gear Institute Rating. The ratings are meant to measure how the product will hold up in a variety of conditions. The goggle with the highest aggregate Gear Institute Rating based on all five criteria is awarded Best in Category for that round of testing.
What is a Fixed-Lens Goggle?
The fixed-lens goggle is a necessity when it comes to skiing and snowboarding in different conditions. When evaluating a fixed-lens goggle, meaning the lenses are not interchangeable, it is important to be sure the lens quality is high and can handle a variety of conditions. Another type of goggle to consider would be one with an interchangeable lens for a more customizable experience.
One trend in the fixed-lens goggle category is the improvement of tinting so the rider can depend on a single pair of goggles without having to buy multiple pairs or worry about switching out lenses to match changing conditions. Another trend from manufacturers is a focus on fitting goggles to a variety of face sizes and a variety of helmets.
The price range for the goggles we tested ran between $90-$225. The lowest rated goggle was also the lowest priced, however it was still a top contender compared to the larger group. The “best in class” goggle was on the upper end of the price spectrum, but was not the most expensive. As trends shift and technology expands, we foresee quality fixed-lens goggles becoming even more affordable.