After your boots and bindings, a solid set of goggles is arguably your most important piece of gear. It’s hard to shred out a perfect line when your goggles are fogged up or making you cry from a shoddy seal. Fortunately, the 2016/17 winter season has brought boatloads of awesome new innovations in goggle technology to the ski and snowboard world. We tested dozens of this season’s goggles and came up with a list we thought performed exceptionally well in each area, along with some solid runners up. Here are our 10 favorites.
The best lens technology – Tie
Smith I/O ChromaPop
Smith’s I/O’s have been killer all-around goggles since they revamped in 2016. The spherical lens is equipped with Smith’s patented 5X anti-fog technology that uses a hydrophilic chemical treatment to absorb and dissipate any moisture trying to seep in. Three layers of foam create a solid seal and provide additional moisture-shedding properties that allow for a dry, fog-free view of the terrain ahead. Add to that a distortion-fighting Porex filter, a quick-release lens system and seamless helmet/OTG compatibility and you’ve got a great set of goggles before even talking about texture or visual clarity. This year, Smith made these standout goggles even better by adding the brand’s ChromoPop technology.
ChromaPop lens tech—a long-running staple of Smith’s sunglasses—works by filtering out specific wavelengths of light to reduce ambiguity in the part of our brain that processes color. The result is shred-hard, sweat-ready visual clarity that lets you rip powder lines or tear up the groomers in virtually any light conditions with better optical clarity than just about anything else on the market. It comes in three tints— the Storm which brightens up flat light and enhances contrast on darker days; the Sun which reduces glare and fills in shadows on blown-out, bluebird days; and the Everyday, meant to perform well under any light conditions. Those with larger faces or like a huge eye port will want to check out the I/OX, while smaller or medium faces may fit better the I/O or I/O7, which also have the new ChromopPop but feature a more petite frame.
SPY Bravo Happy Lens
The Spy Bravo Happy Lens markets itself on the idea that by filtering out the “bad” short-wave blue light while allowing the “good” long-wave blue light to penetrate through the lens, you can enhance your mood on the hill. The claim is based on research that suggests long-wave rays improve your mood and make you more alert (AKA “on your game”). The verdict is still out on whether the lenses actually make you happier (we’re usually pretty stoked on the ski hill to begin with); however, the overall optical quality of the Bravo is enough to merit a mention in itself.
The spherical lens brings out texture with incredible clarity and delivers on its promise to make colors really pop. Additionally, the Bravos feature Spy’s Lock Steady interchange system that lets you swap out your lenses with a quick tap that unhinges the lock without requiring you to dirty up the lens with your fingerprints. It holds together well upon impact and has solid anti-fogging technology too. The goggles’ mid-size frame will fit most faces fairly well.
Runner up: Oakley Prizm