Open-water swim goggles: 9 of the best reviewed and rated
Make sure you have the best visibility on race day with a set of good open-water goggles. We test and rate 9 of the best
Your 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? 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.
HOW WE TESTED THE GOGGLES
All nine goggles tested here have open-water credentials, such as bigger lenses for more peripheral vision. We took them to Lanzarote to try them out in Club La Santa’s lagoon and 50m outdoor pool. We swam a minimum of 2km in open water and did shorter pool tests in each pair. We also dived in from a racing block to check each goggles’ seal integrity – useful for the lucky few triathletes who start racing from a pontoon. Finally, we sought a second opinion on fit from other 220 testers, to account for differing face shapes.
The Kameleons have a slimmer profile and smaller lenses than Aqua Sphere’s much-celebrated Kayenne goggle, which gives them a more hydrodynamic appearance. They’re also at least half the price of most goggles on test here. Their soft rubber gaskets are very comfortable around the eyes, and although one of our testers found them a bit too close-fitting the other didn’t have the same issue with them.
Unlike any of the other goggles in this test it uses two straps that feed into a buckle at the back and then loop back on themselves to create tension. It works well enough and we had no issue getting a decent fit but it left us with a lot of excess strap, which could prove annoying for some. The narrow gaskets may take some getting used to, but the Kameleons are great value if you get on with them.
Verdict: Try before you buy, but if they fit your face you can’t argue with the price 81%
Zone3 tell us their Vapours ‘certainly look the part’. However in our experience this was open to interpretation, as the
bright gold Elvis-style lenses proved divisive among our testers. We were expecting the heavy tint in the polarised lenses to restrict the Vapours to bright and sunny days only, but they’re remarkably good in overcast conditions and pools too.
They have a split strap that you adjust by pulling through the frames, and once you get the perfect fit there’s a grip button on each side to secure it. The chunky frames may be an issue for swimmers with a narrow pull – we occasionally knocked them at the start of the pull phase. For that reason they wouldn’t be our goggle of choice, but the Vapours are a flash, well-fitting pair that provide very good peripheral vision for all light conditions.
Verdict: Divisive looks and very wide, but comfortable and versatile 79%
For the same price as Aqua Sphere’s Kameleon you can buy Lomo’s Vortex and get a goggle that comes with anti-fog and UV protection. That’s all well and good but the trouble we had with these goggles isn’t lens clarity or glare but the gaskets.
They’re so large that they’d start digging into our cheekbones as soon as we put them on. They do provide a good seal, despite the discomfort, and during dives and swimming in rough seas there was no movement from the goggles at all. Their split strap is complemented by a simple adjustment system inspired by diving masks that just requires you to pull the tail-ends of the strap straight through. Two extra nosepieces and free earplugs are also included in the case, so the Vortex goggles would just edge it on value if they were better able to fit your face.
Verdict: Amazing value, but the gaskets are just too bulky for us 77%