Your open water swimming goggles might be one of your less expensive kit purchases, but it’s worth spending a bit of time thinking about your needs before you buy. Will you be using them to try and nail your ‘A’-race swim? If so, what will the conditions be like? If you’re heading to Lanza or somewhere similarly hot, then you’ll need a set than can cope with glare. If you’re targeting a UK race, however, or want your goggles to work for multiple different races, a set that can cope with mixed conditions from bright sun to murky water and cloudy skies will be better.
With so many different goggle options out there, choosing the right pair for you can sometimes feel overwhelming. And the inconvenient truth is that we all have different face shapes, eyesight and fit preferences. So, as with most tri kit, it’s simply a case of trying out as many as you can until you come across that hallowed pair that you can stick on and forget about!
While goggles aren’t your biggest financial outlay when competing in triathlon, the wrong choice can prove very costly if they don’t do their job properly in a race, which is why it’s important to settle on your go-to goggles well before racing in open water.
When choosing, you might want to consider some clear and additional tinted or mirrored versions of the same goggles to account for different light conditions.
Or you might find that the latest polarised and photochromatic lens technologies (found on many pairs in this test) work fine regardless of the weather.
There are numerous shapes and sizes of goggle in this test with various types of swimmer in mind, so we judged each on their own merits and compared where appropriate. We tested in the sea (Gran Canaria, not
the UK – we’re not that hardy) and outdoor pools to get a good sense of comfort, how each pair reacted to differing light conditions, in murky and clear water, and in various degrees of chop.
There’s no getting around it, sixty quid is a lot to be splashing on a pair of goggles, but Zoggs have thrown all their know-how into the Titanium Reactor versions of their popular Predator Flex goggles. The photochromatic lenses adapt to changing light conditions rapidly, and we were blown away by their performance in bright sunlight. The clarity was near perfect in all light conditions we swam in, and the wide, curved lenses give you loads of peripheral vision. Zoggs’ Flexpoint technology is responsible for the universally-pleasing fit of the Predator Flex goggles, and we’re yet to meet a swimmer who doesn’t get on with them. The only drawback is the dainty nosepiece, so keep them safe in their carry pouch out of the water.
Verdict: superb glare reduction and versatile fit – truly great goggles… it’s just that price! 83%
Buy from www.zoggs.com
If you’re new to open-water swimming and feel vulnerable without lane ropes and markers, a mask, rather than goggles, could be the way to go in order to get the best field of vision possible. Orca’s offering is hefty with a huge seal that covers most of the forehead, and creates such a vacuum we found it difficult to pull them off – not ideal for T1. We found the seal under the nose bridge too large, and after getting consensus from four other swimmers, all of them had the same issue. The tinted lenses are fine for most light conditions but don’t do much to reduce glare from bright sunlight, and the straps are quite flimsy. On the plus side, adjustment is simple and there are buckles to secure the excess straps. Definitely try these before you buy, and if they happen to fit and you want maximum peripheral vision then these will be ideal, especially at that price.
Verdict: too divisive, too large, and an awkward shape, but… great price, easy to adjust and top vision 65%
Buy from www.tredz.co.uk
These polarised goggles from Aussie brand Vorgee come with ‘ultra vision’ lenses that they claim will give greater clarity and wide-angle vision. In use, we actually found them a bit narrow and close to the eye sockets, similar to Huub’s Aphotics, but this is no bad thing as they have a more hydrodynamic appearance. Although the lenses are dark we found them fine for swimming in a pool with some natural light. Outside, they don’t quite offer the best glare reduction of the high-end photochromatic lenses in this test, but they’re good all-rounders that most swimmers will be able to live with. A split strap with a button to tighten/loosen and clips to secure the straps provide a simple and proven adjustment system, while the flexible nosepiece will work for the majority of swimmers.
Verdict: functional and comfortable goggles at a sensible price 84%
Buy from www.simplyswim.com