Like a well worn in saddle, goggles are a piece of gear that some folks like to keep around for a while. The tattered and soiled strap says “I’ve been doing this for a minute.” Also, well made eye protection is expensive. Eventually, all great ocular guards wear out, and can’t be fully refurbished with a fresh lens. If that day has come for your trusty trail goggles, here are seven different sets worth consideration.
Since all but one of the adjustable straps are silicone-lined to stick to your favorite lid, we’ll be focusing on the fit, airflow, clarity, fog-ability, protection, and field of vision across these seven pairs. The last photo in each set is shot through the goggle lens to give an idea of its tint and clarity. They were all photographed on the same cloudy day with the same camera settings, aimed at the same wall-scaling plant.
|Blitz Edge Drop MTB||€69.50||126g|
|Fox Vue Vlar||$134.95||159g|
|Leatt Velocity 4.5||$39.99||157g|
|Pit Viper Midnight||€169||135g|
|POC Ora Clarity||$/€90||149g|
Blitz Edge Drop MTB
The Edge Drop MTB goggles from Blitz come in a few different colors, with a clear or tinted lens option. The edge of the frame is covered in open vents, with a thin foam strip to keep dust on the outside. Between the roundhouse ventilation and a double-pane lens, these little goggles breathe quite well and don’t fog up easily. That thick polycarbonate windshield is reportedly unbreakable, though I don’t have the guts to fully test that claim.
These goggles are on the slightly smaller side, and will likely work well for riders with small to medium faces and eye spacing. The lens is unnoticeably clear, and can quickly be exchanged for a lens with a different tint. The strap attaches to “flexible side clips” that allow the frame to somewhat naturally sit into a variety of helmet shapes.
Edge Drop MTB goggles include a soft storage bag so you can hang them from the bars while you climb, or keep them scratchless in your bag. For the price, this is a nice and simple set with good air flow for any sort of gravity riding.
Fox Vue Vlar
Compared to the above pair, the FOX Vue Vlar goggles have a massive field of vision to suit nearly any face size or eye spacing. The material that touches your skin feels about as soft and comfortable as I could imagine something that’s not skin, and I certainly forgot I had this pair on when it was cooler outside this spring. The extended strap anchors let the frame rest deep into any helmet you prefer.
The single-pane lens is very slightly tinted in this pair, providing just enough shade for any exposed or tree-lined singletrack. Similar to the Blitz frames, this Vue Vlar goggle from FOX is vented and foam-lined all around, and the polycarbonate lens stays clear on the hottest days and wettest slogs as long as you slide it on right before dropping in. Swapping out the lens is as simple as turning the anchors outward, removing them, and making the switch. This goggle has the easiest lens swap I have encountered that isn’t magnetized. More on that later.
Vue Vlar goggles come with a set of tear-offs and a goggle-size bivy sack they can rest in. While these are on the more expensive end of vision protection, their wide field of view and cozy fit are nearly unbeatable.
This Trigger goggles from IXS are similar to the FOX set above in a number of ways. Their 360° foam lined vents and single-pane lens, simple lens swapability, tall outriggers for helmet compatibility, and massive field of view are directly comparable. The key difference is that the Trigger frame has a nose guard. While I have yet to find out precisely what that chunk of plastic is for, it’s becoming a popular element of goggle construction. Unlike other nose guards I have worn, this one stayed in place consistently during testing.
The Trigger lens is made of tough polycarbonate and, as the current goggle lens trend suggests, it’s wicked strong and protective. These goggles from IXS are available in six colors, with a variety of lens tints including a polarized version to cut glare. The brand also has a less expensive pair called Hack that sells for $45.90.
Trigger goggles come with a soft sack that doubles as a cleaning wipe. The frames can now be upgraded to work with a tear-off or roll-off system.
Italian optics brand KOO has taken a few steps to make their goggles stand out from the crowd. The lens is held in place by a series of L-brackets that lock it tight and allow riders to swap lenses by simply pressing a button and sliding the windshield a few millimeters to one side. This goggle has the simplest and quickest lens changing system I have seen since the magnetic setup from O’Neal. While the nose guard on this pair also stays put, it is removable should you prefer to roll without.
On the similarities front, the single-pane Zeiss lens is super tough, vented all the way around, and doesn’t fog easily. The clear lens is laughably hard to fog up, making it a perfect match for wet winter and shoulder season rides. The Edge goggles have a field of vision similar to that of the FOX and IXS.
KOO Edge goggles are available with four lens tints, black or white frames, and, of course, each pair comes with a softy sack.
Available from Amazon.com.
Leatt Velocity 4.5
We took a look at the first goggle offering from Leatt last year, and these more affordable frames feature the same broad anti-fog lens as the fancier Velocity 6.5. pair, at roughly half the price. The South African brand now makes three levels of goggles that all share this bulletproof double-pane lens, maintaining a high level of optical clarity across the board. With ventilation covering all but the nose bridge, the Velocity 4.5 mask keeps the fog off with the best of them.
The frames are deep enough to wear over glasses. The goggle strap mounts sit high to allow the frame to nest in most helmet shapes, though if I were consistently wearing goggles with a full face I would prefer the larger outriggers of the Velocity 6.5. Changing lenses is also far faster and easier with the 6.5 set, whereas with the 4.5 you have to gently pull the frame away from the lens all the way around and then click the new one in place.
Pit Viper Midnight Gogglés
The Midnight Gogglés by Pit Viper are a bit of a mispick for this list, since they were technically designed with snowsports in mind. That means that their lenses are darker for dealing with snow glare, and the strap isn’t silicone-lined since some folks like to shred pow without helmets.
That said, these do make some sweet MTB eye protection for exposed summer riding. The double-pane lenses are surrounded by the same foam protected ventilation ports that the above pairs use to keep the lens clear, and as long as it’s a bright sunny day in the park, the Midnight Gogglés will serve your snow and soil shredding needs alike. The frames are on the smaller and narrower side, and the adjustable strap that attaches closer to the face could make them fit funny with some full face helmets.
These goggles from Pit Viper come with a second double-pane lens, a soft sack, a hard case, and sweet sweet splatter paint.
POC Ora Clarity
The Ora Clarity uses a double-pane lens and broad venting around roughly 70% of the frame, with a massive field of vision similar to that of the above IXS frame. Instead of covering the vents with foam to keep dust and insects out, POC accepted the small contaminant risk and left the vents wide open. While the open vents allow max air flow, they could pose a problem on super dusty summer trails. Given the frame’s close fit with any POC helmet, this issue is likely somewhat minimized if used with their lids.
The super clear Zeiss lens has just enough tint to keep the rider from squinting too much, while allowing maximum light in on forested trails. Also like the FOX goggles, this pair from POC is super comfortable. The final perforated layer of foam that sits against your skin doesn’t leave the typical raccoon stamp around your eyes, and it seems to dry rather quickly on warmer days.
Thanks to the respective brand for providing their goggles for testing.