We thought the Abominable Labs F-BOM and the Julbo Aerospace goggles (both available next winter) were so cool and so promising that we awarded them 2015 Gear of the Show awards at the SnowSports Industries America and Outdoor Retailer trade shows, respectively. Now we’ve had the chance to test both products in the field to see if they actually work. Here’s how they stacked up.
These goggles fight fog in two different ways. Like the heating element on a rear windshield, the Abominable Labs F-BOM ($250) uses an extremely thin invisible film embedded in the lens. Press a button on the frame and the mini defroster keeps the goggle from fogging. The F-BOM has two settings: an active mode continuously warms the lens for up to six hours straight, and a 10-minute power mode clears the goggles after a snowy face-plant. Relying solely on power mode, you can use the goggles for seven days before you need to recharge them.
The lens of the Julbo Aerospace ($220), on the other hand, can be pulled about a centimeter away from the frame to create a mechanical venting system that boosts airflow and eliminates fog. Interior hinges and four gripping points make setting the lens easy.
First, we wanted to get the goggles as foggy as possible in a variety of sweaty, off-the-slope situations, including running hill sprints on a 50-degree day, doing TRX-training pull-ups and jumping rope in the gym, eating a steaming bowl of soup at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant, and soaking in a hot tub.
That was fun, but we also needed to test the goggles in a real-life scenario. So we took them up 14,180-foot Mount Shasta. Over the course of a 14-hour day, we gained about 8,000 feet of vert before skiing down. My videographer, Gareth, and I donned goggles the minute the sun rose and wore them for 10 hours of hard, sweaty exertion. Halfway through our climb, we swapped goggles so we could compare notes.
The short answer: Both goggles worked extremely well. But if I were going to pick one, it would be the Aerospace.
In active mode, the F-BOM never got foggy, but I preferred to use the power mode because it conserves the battery and defogged the lens in seconds. I could feel the warmth from the heating element on my face, which was nice in the morning but less pleasant as temperatures rose in the afternoon. My main issue with the F-BOM, though, is that the button (which requires one long push for active mode and one short push for power mode) was difficult to work with gloves on.
That’s one reason we prefer the Julbo Aerospace. The design is simple, and it works. It was easy to grab the four corners of the lens—even with gloves on—and pop it away from the frame. In this position, it eliminated fog throughout the day, even during the sweaty skin up the mountain. We also liked how the Aerospace looked: It was lower-profile than the F-BOM, and the mirrored lens looked sharp and blocked light well.
Our only concern with the Aerospace was how the goggle might work in a snowstorm. Snow in your goggle can be worse than fog, and although the Julbo ships with a slim cover that slots between the lens and the frame to block precipitation, we weren’t able to test this system’s effectiveness (first, we need it to snow on the West Coast).