Cylindrical lenses that strike the perfect balance between performance and price.
Oakley Fall Line ($190)
Old-school goggle lenses were formed flat and then bent to fit goggle frames, inducing headaches by warping the light and forcing your brain to make sense of the distorted images. Then early iterations of lenses thermoformed on a cylinder (no need to bend them) took over the high end, only to be replaced with top-dollar spherical lenses that mimic the shape of the human eye. But recent refinements in how cylindrical lenses are built—less distortion for less money—have led to their resurgence. All the goggles we tested this year feature cylindrical lenses, but our favorite was Oakley’s Fall Line, which uses a deeply wrapped lens paired with a rimless frame to create the most peripheral vision we’ve ever had in a goggle. This alone makes it Gear of the Year worthy. But then there’s Oakley’s best-in-class Prizm lens tech, which cuts glare and adds contrast so you see the terrain better. And two nearly imperceptible cutaways at the temples mean you can fit a pair of prescription glasses inside. Finally, Oakley’s Ridgelock system lets you swap in separate lenses for different conditions but ensures a tight fit to keep out wind and weather. We ran the highly versatile rose lens in storms and full Colorado sun, but those with more sensitive eyes might want to opt for an Iridium (mirrored) unit. You could spend another hundred bucks on goggles tricked out with electric defoggers and rhinestones, but trust us: you won’t ski the fall line any better.
Shred Simplify Natural ($220)
Best For: Enviro-conscious skiers.
The Test: Tired of consuming petroleum products—like goggles? The Shred Simplify’s rig (the plastic lining around the lenses) is molded from recycled epoxy that’s a by-product of snowboard manufacturing. The strap is organic cotton. Even the bag is made from recycled water bottles. All that and it’s still a top performer. A special valve equalizes pressure between the two cylindrical lenses so they don’t bend and warp your vision as the weather or altitude changes. And a simple but effective groove system lets you swap in the included low-light lens on stormy days. The fit was on the big side, but it matched up well with Shred’s helmets.
The Verdict: Help save the planet while you shred pow.
Giro Ella ($180)
Best For: Women looking for top quality.
The Test: Like the Oakley, the Ella fits a medium to small face but still offers a big field of view. Our testers praised the sleek design for aesthetics, but this is a fully featured goggle loaded with updates. The Zeiss lens has a new Vivid technology that, like Prizm (Oakley) and ChromaPop (Smith), cuts “bad” or “flat” light (the kind that dulls contrast) out of the spectrum to boost definition and expose nuances in snowpack and terrain. We were also impressed with Giro’s new quick-action swappable system, which relies on four magnets to help align the four corresponding pins that anchor the lens to the largely rimless frame.
The Verdict: Finally, a women’s model that doesn’t make any compromises.
Dragon NFX2 ($179)
Best For: Small faces.
The Test: The NFX2 is a unisex model that just happens to fit small to medium faces particularly well. The women on Dragon’s pro teams love it, as did our female testers. The goggles aren’t totally rimless—there’s a slight frame around the cylindrical lens—but that rim is so thin it goes unnoticed. Dragon’s contrast-boosting technology—dubbed Lumalens—is just as good as most of the competition, and two lenses come included: the gray mirrored one was our daily driver, but the uncoated amber lens excelled in flat light. Swapping was quick and easy, and the frames kept all the wind out. But a heads-up: the lenses tended to pop out in a crash.
The Verdict: Petite faces don’t have to swim in large goggles anymore.
Smith Squad XL ($130)
Best For: Larger faces, smaller wallets.
The Test: As the name implies, the Squad XL is the biggest cylindrical goggle Smith makes. But it’s by no means egregiously large. The Squad fit seamlessly with a range of helmets we wore during testing, and it matched up just fine with medium faces, too. But the real story here is value. For $130, the Squad XL comes equipped with two lenses, both of which feature Smith’s ultra-sharp, contrast-boosting ChromaPop tech. We ran the nonmirrored ChromaPop Sun on bluebird days and the time-tested Chroma-Pop Storm—still the best blizzard lens we’ve ever tried—when it was dumping (which happened a lot last winter).
The Verdict: Plenty of protection at an affordable price.
Electric EGV ($120)
Best For: Skiers and snowboarders who are hard on their goggles.
The Test: If, like this reviewer’s teenage son, you tend to toss your goggles into your boot bag without a covering, then your goal is economy above all else. That’s the EGV, except they’re also damn capable. Three layers of face foam and a pliant, conformable frame let them fit pressure-point-free. And the peripheral vision is unobstructed. Is the lens as crystalline as those in the Oakley or the Giro? No, but you can pick up a replacement lens for $30 online. We tested the EGV on a storm day at Loveland and had no problem making out terrain features, nor did we ever have to contend with fogging.
The Verdict: Save your money so you can buy a burger at Vail.
Salomon Four Seven ($120)
Best For: All-day comfort.
The Test: The brand-new Four Seven (Salomon was founded in 1947) is hands down the most comfortable goggle we tested—and also quite affordable, like the Electric EGV. The comfort credit goes to unique cutaways in the frame and foam that create soft hinge points so the goggle is free to contour to your face. A wide-wrapping cylindrical lens changes tints in response to the light conditions so you don’t have to swap, except in the most extreme weather. Our test pair came with a lightly mirrored option, but if we were shopping for value, we’d buy the cheaper lens and own these versatile goggles for $100.
The Verdict: The goggle you need for days when you don’t even stop to eat lunch.