Even if pool goggle purchases are never going to break the bank, buying an unsuitable pair can be frustrating and a waste of cash that can be spent on kit elsewhere.
Try on the goggles that take your fancy before buying them if possible. Or, if you can borrow a pair for a couple of lengths, then even better.
Pool goggles differ from open-water goggles in that they’re traditionally smaller, less mask-like and offer less peripheral vision. But things are changing with the former, where even competition goggles now offer greater vision. This means stronger swimmers can scout out their opposition and less experienced swimmers and those sharing public lanes can swim with more confidence thanks to wider, curved lenses. Plus, the updated shape can actually decrease drag.
But the three things you’re really looking for are fit, comfort and clarity. You want your goggles to be easy to adjust and fit perfectly every time; the seal shouldn’t leave huge red rings around your eyes; and you don’t want them to fog up.
The 10 pairs on test are of various shapes and sizes and differ greatly in style and price point, so we were keen to see if each pair would tick off our three golden rules of fit, comfort and clarity in testing. Time then to hit the chlorine!
Kudos to Huub for knowing how to put a quality package together. With these Brownlee-collaboration goggles you get a stylish clamshell case, two extra nose bridges plus two spare straps – a silver one with ‘Jonny’ and a gold one with ‘Alistair’ printed on it, in a nod to their 2016 Olympic feats. But it’s in the pool that our points are awarded and, after we took a little time to get a leak-free seal (other testers found they sealed instantly, proof that face shapes vary), they’re very comfy.
The low-profile design gives excellent clarity and good peripheral vision without fogging, plus the mirrored smoke-tinted lenses do a good job of cutting glare. The overall look and styling is similar to the £25 Zoggs Podium goggles here, but the mater
Verdict: Quality and good-looking goggle, with extras making a fine package 85%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
Three colourways are available in Zone3’s Volaire goggle, with these black/red options offering the darkest lens tint. This proved okay on a bright sunny day in an outdoor pool, but once in the dingy local leisure centre they’re just a bit too dark – although there’s an argument for saying they’d work well as a crossover goggle into sunny sea swims as well (although these are sold as pool goggles). We like the aerodynamic shape, and they’re both comfy and leak-free. The lenses remain fog-free as well, although the shape of the lenses creates some visual weirdness when looking upwards or to the sides. The gaskets are soft and you get a choice of four different solid plastic nose bridges for the perfect fit. Cases aren’t included but can be bought online for an additional £10, which for a near-£30
outlay feels a bit mean. zone3.com
Verdict: Nice fit, but tint very dark and some visual distortion when swimming 80%
Buy from /www.swiminn.com
Coming in £10 cheaper than the Huub Brownlee goggles, the Podium from major swim brand Zoggs immediately look like a bargain alternative featuring a similar lens size and shape, curved swivel-style nose bridge and split strap with single buckle adjuster. We found it easier to find a good seal with the Zoggs (admittedly a very personal thing based on face shape) and the curved lenses give a similarly-excellent range of vision and clarity in the water.
We really appreciate the tinted, mirrored lenses at this mid-range price point, which doesn’t fog up and produces a good job of cutting glare both in the indoor pool and sunny outdoor lido. On balance, we prefer the tint on the Huub goggles as it’s a little gentler on the eyes, and we’d have liked to see a case included with the Zoggs. But a decent goggle for a reasonable price, as you’d expect from this brand. zoggs.com
Verdict: Good value goggles with some stylish features and at a decent price point 82%
Buy from: www.zoggs.com