Even if 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.
Here, open-water swim coach and 220 Triathlon editor Helen Webster tests dozens of pairs from the best brands in the industry and offers her verdict so you can make an informed purchase.
What’s the difference between pool and open-water goggles?
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.
Open-water goggles also tend to be available with a wide range of lenses, allowing you to pick a tint or effect that will best suit the conditions you’ll be swimming in.
Tried and tested: Best swim goggles at a glance
- Best pool swimming goggles: Phelps Xceed | Buy now from Sports Direct
- Best open-water swimming goggles: Orca Killa 180 | Buy now from Pro Swimwear
- Best goggles for pool and open water: Huub Brownlee Acute | Buy now from Decathlon
Best pool swimming goggles in 2023
Zone3 Venator X
The Venator X last appeared in our September 2021 pool goggles test in a monochrome and smoked lens combo (see review below), which we felt looked a little dull – but that’s not a claim you could lay against this zingy gold and orange combo!
With soft, flexible silicone gaskets and a wide split strap with buttons that’s simple to adjust quickly, these felt like a quality set of goggles.
On this set, the lenses are mirrored and polarised, which, coupled with the relatively large size against others on test, made these feel much more like an open-water goggle, though they would be a good choice for someone looking to invest in just one set for pool and outdoors.
Although quite dark in the pool the Venator Xs weren’t as dark as the Aquaspheres, and this year they come in as as the second cheapest, which may add appeal. A simple cloth bag is also included to keep them in when out of the pool.
Verdict: Striking and comfortable goggles with mirrored, polarised lenses – good all-rounders.
Huub Pinnacle goggles
The new Pinnacle’s from tri stalwarts Huub have a slightly different gasket to the others on test here. A double-walled silicone gasket with air cushion design means they’re super-soft but also feel a little ‘bouncy’ and cushioned when applied to the face.
To this tester, this made them feel like they were achieving a seal without the high level of ‘suction’ on other models, so if you struggle with comfort or goggle marks, these could be the ones for you.
The smaller shape feels closer to a traditional pool goggle, while the mirrored lenses gave great clarity of vision and just enough tint to protect from harsh pool lighting.
We did find we preferred some of the larger, curved lenses on test as we could see quite a bit of the frames in our peripheral vision here as we swam, but for the pool that’s not such an issue and is personal preference. Multiple bridges plus a good-quality case add to the package.
Verdict: Unique gaskets that were very comfortable. Smaller fit and range of vision more pool-specific.
Zoggs Tiger LSR+
The Predator range has long been this tester’s goggle of choice for both open water and pool (it comes in such a wide range of tints) so we initially approached the new Tiger range with a tiny bit of anxiety. Would it perform?
Thankfully, the answer is a resounding yes. The Tiger is lighter, more streamlined and more flexible than our trusty Predator, but these things all made for an extremely comfortable swim experience.
The gaskets are made from Zogg’s ‘Liquid Skin’ silicone which was very soft against the skin and didn’t leave goggle marks, while staying perfectly in place.
The lenses here are mirrored, which we always thinks looks cool as well as protecting from glare – here, taking the edge off pool lighting without making things too dark.
The classic split strap and quick-adjust system will be familiar to Zoggs customers and works as well as ever. Several tints and two face sizes are available.
Verdict: Soft, comfortable and high-performing goggles at a reasonable price point, too.
Aquasphere Xceed Yellow
There’s a big caveat we have to put in place with the Xceed goggles – in this zingy yellow tint they’re designed for the brightest light conditions and marketed as such, so their submission in this test was a strange one.
In the fairly mellow lights of our local pool they were a touch dark, although the colour-contrast boosting lenses did give a sharpness to our surroundings.
Fit, meanwhile, was superb, with a close fit around the eye socket feeling streamlined and snug yet comfortable, while the curved lenses gave good range of vision.
Sturdy straps have a single buckle to adjust, while a choice of nose bridges are included and they stayed in place throughout our sessions.
Sadly, though, you don’t receive a case, which seems stingy for the £49 asking price. But the cardboard packaging was nice to see and is part of Aquasphere’s pledge to improve sustainability.
Verdict: Would have scored higher if we were testing for very sunny, outdoor swimming abroad!
Speedo Vue Mirror
Much as we believe in investing in quality kit for training (we’d rather buy once and buy right) that £60 tag for a set of goggles still made us gulp a little bit… Until we popped them out of the plastic case and put them on, that is.
Of all the choices here, this was the pair that instantly fitted to our face without needing adjustments and toed the line between feeling sturdy and secure yet soft and flexible.
The wide, curved lenses gave great visibility while still feeling ‘race’ enough for the pool. We’d quite happily use them in open-water as well, and, in fact, we added them to our kit bag for the last of our 2022 open-water races, the fit felt that good.
Speedo quote two-times the anti-fog properties of other goggles on the Vue and although we can’t comment on that, we certainly did not see any fogging in testing.
Finally, the mirrored lenses blocked bright lights while still keeping colours true and not being too dark.
Verdict: The pair on test with stand-out fit and features, but price makes them a considered purchase.
Speedo Fastskin Hyper Elite
Glance across these pages and the Speedos instantly jump out with their bright colours and colourful mirrored lenses. That comes at a cost though, with these being a full £20 more than any others on test. So are they worth it?
Well, these sit snugly in the eye socket and were easily the comfiest on test, and with the most secure seal, sitting very streamlined on the face.
Adjustment is via an unusual one-piece strap with marked adjuster, which was a little touch of genius as well as splitting into two and being very secure throughout our swim. You also get a massive hard case which, given the investment, we’d want to keep them safe!
Verdict: Expensive but superb features for marginal gains.
2XU Rival Clear
The Rivals from 2XU are a familiar set of goggles here at 220 Towers, appearing in our 2019 pool test in the same clear lens option as seen here, and in our 2020 open-water goggles test in a tinted version.
The only completely clear goggle on test this year, these do have a place in darker pools or for those whose eyesight means they aren’t a fan of tinted lenses – but for the rest of us, they feel a bit basic and lack the ‘pro’ feel of others here.
Previously a budget option, the Lomos trump them this year on price while others are close. And also as before, we found the gaskets allowed a little water in, although they did feel sturdy with a good bridge and wide single strap.
Verdict: Basic goggle but we’re not a fan of the clear lenses.
With a similar dark tint to the Huubs, these are a good choice if you find the bright lights in your pool a bit OTT. Mirrored lenses are always welcome, while we found these to be comfortable with soft gaskets and no fogging or leaking.
A hard case is included, which is good for the price point, while the double strap with single adjuster was typical of the goggles on test here and kept them securely in place.
We did find the side clips on the frames moved up and down the straps though, which was a little bit odd, and they were also a bit sharp to replace mid-swim. Again like the Huubs, the lenses would cross over well into open-water swims.
Verdict: Nice lenses and case for the price, but odd frame clips.
Huub Brownlee Acute
With prices ranging from £10-£50 in this test, the redesigned Acutes from triathlon guru Huub sit nicely in the middle, which isn’t bad considering these goggles wear the Brownlee name and were developed with Ali and Jonny, come with a hard shell case and a choice of nose bridges, and look pretty damn stylish, too.
In the pool we found they lived up to their promise in terms of comfort, staying leak- and fog-free, and we avoided goggle marks even on long sessions.
This white/gold colourway features a smoked tint to the lenses, which dimmed the harsh lights in our pool and also worked well in sunny outdoor swims – the ideal do-it-all goggle.
Verdict: Quality buy for both pool and open water; stylish looks.
Zoggs Fusion Air
The Fusion Airs have been around for a few years now and appeared in our 2017 pool goggles test, albeit in a different tint.
Whereas fans of the Predator Flex for open water might be tempted to go for the familiar brand name, though, these are quite a different beast.
They sit more closely around the eye socket (as pool goggles tend to) but in a way we didn’t find that comfortable during our longer pool sessions, with an odd ‘airfilled’ spongy gasket (hence the name).
That said though, they are at the cheaper end of the spectrum and the smoked tint was welcome under the bright lights of our pool, while the double strap kept them securely in place.
Verdict: The weird gasket wasn’t to our liking, plus no case.
Speedo Aquapulse Pro Mirror
The new Aquapulse Pro Mirror slot into Speedo’s fitness category for everyday training and racing. The wide, mirrored lenses offer plenty of peripheral vision and 100% UV protection, so they’re strong candidates for goggles that you could use for both pool training and racing in open water.
The anti-fog coating worked as new after multiple training sessions and, although on the dark side, the lens tint was fine to use during evening sessions in a dimly-lit pool.
One thing we weren’t so keen on was the gasket seal, which is large but quite firm, and dug into our cheekbones a little.
Speedo’s ‘IQfit’ straps have a handy numbered scale printed on the back, which is really useful for nailing your ideal amount of tension for when you need to buy your next pair.
Verdict: Dependable all-rounders that work in open water.
The Xceed Mirrored goggles are a collaboration between Michael Phelps and Aquasphere. Like the great man himself, they’re stone-cold quality – they tick every box when it comes to comfort, clarity and fit.
While you usually have to choose between low-profile racers and wider, more comfortable training goggles, the Xceeds do both by having a wide field of vision through the quality mirrored lenses, which have a hydrodynamic curvature to save you every last millisecond.
Three nose bridges are included, and the straps are flat so they’re incredibly comfortable on your head. To adjust, you just need to pull on either side of the rear clip, which is simple and effective.
Yes, they’re up with the most expensive here, but they’re worth every penny.
Verdict: Simply some of the best pool goggles you can buy.
The versatile mirrored lens is great for those who want one pair of goggles they can use indoors or in the sun. The Titanium Podium should also provide extra protection from reflected light, say Zoggs, which is good for outdoor pools.
Zoggs’ curved lens technology (CVT) give you a great field of vision and plenty of clarity, and we experienced little fogging.
The gaskets are adequately soft, although not the most comfortable on test, and the swivel-style nose bridge has flex that should mould to most face shapes.
The straps adjust via the rear buckle and are made of a soft silicone. The shape of the lenses and feel of the goggles are similar to the Huub Brownlees, with the latter just edging it for the softer seal, and useful extras such as a carry case and extra straps.
Verdict: Great vision and clarity; gasket comfort only adequate.
Having scored highly before in 220 tests, our opinion hasn’t changed on the Brownlee goggles: they’re some of the finest pool goggles around.
The brothers demanded optimal clarity and peripheral vision when they asked Huub to make them a goggle, and the lenses provide a crystal-clear view underwater in both the pool and open water.
Over 180° of peripheral vision is great for tight lanes, and the mirrored coating on the lenses is hard wearing. They’re as close to custom as you can get without actually being custom, featuring three sets of interchangeable straps and nose pieces in the carry case to secure your ideal fit and pressure.
While we prefer a flatter strap around the temples, those provided are perfectly serviceable and easy to adjust.
Verdict: Top-quality lenses and suitable for outdoor swims.
Described by Nike as their “most hydrodynamic goggle ever,” the Vapors have curved lenses that Nike describe as “oversized” to increase your field of view in the water, and the low profile offers some claimed extra drag reduction through the water.
We found the field of vision, while adequate, isn’t as wide as that of similar racey goggles such as the Phelps Xceed.
The seal is comfy and we experienced no leaks after changing the nose bridge (you get four). The straps are very firm, so it’s key to adjust them properly before starting your swim to avoid making the seal too tight.
The lightly tinted lenses are best suited to indoor pools, but for brighter conditions you can opt for the Vapor Mirror (£28). We found the lenses did fog up at the start of our swims and scratch quite easily.
Verdict: Comfy fit, but some slight fogging in the lenses.
Funkita Training Machine
- Buy now from Funkita (£17.95)
This ‘Ice Man’ colourway in these goggles from Funkita has a very similar look to the Zoggs at first glance, but at a couple of pounds cheaper and including a hard case (none is supplied by Zoggs) these immediately look a better proposition.
Three flexible bridges are supplied for a perfect fit and while they sit within the eye socket, they were comfortable and didn’t leave us with goggle marks.
The double strap kept them secure while the smoked tint did a good job of cutting out the glare.
We did experience a little bit of distortion on the edges of the lenses, but only a tiny niggle. As you’d expect, other funky colours are available!
Verdict: Budget goggle but comfy and some good features.
Swans Ascender Mirrored + MIT
Numerous goggles in Swans’ range have impressed on these pages over time, and we had a fine swimming experience with their latest pair.
They’re available in six different lens options and we tested the mirrored versions with Swans’ Mirror Insert Technology that has an extra anti-scratch layer.
As we’ve found after numerous swims, the tech appears to work a treat and there are no signs of scratching or damage at all.
There are also photochromatic and polarised lens options available for more than the £47 asking price, yet we can’t see that either would be essential as the mirrored lenses deflect glare well.
The tint isn’t too bright so we also found them suitable for indoor pools, and the size and shape of the lenses provide excellent clarity and field of vision.
There are three adjustable nosepieces to secure your perfect fit, and the gaskets are extra soft and flexible so should fit well on any face shape.
A single clip at the rear does the job for tightening/loosening, and the straps are replaceable to prolong the life of the goggles.
All of which makes the Ascender leap to the top of our picks when it comes to a goggle that you can use for both training and open-water racing.
Verdict: Expensive, but they provide superb comfort and clarity indoors and out.
Best open-water swimming goggles in 2023
Orca Killa 180
We haven’t seen the Killa 180 in a goggles grouptest since 2016 and the style remains essentially unchanged – though that’s definitely no bad thing where this design is concerned.
Available in several different lens tints and mirrored options, here we’ve got the white option with violet/green tinted lenses.
With big soft gaskets and a design that suited this tester’s face the seal was excellent – plus the lenses were tinted enough to take the glare off on a sunny day, but made everything warm in tone rather than grey. The curved design also gave a good range of vision.
Adjustment is via two simple lever clips which are easy to adjust on the fly, while the split design is good for security. We’d have liked a hard case (a mesh bag is included), but for the price these are a solid choice.
Verdict: Comfortable and effective choice; look good, too!
The black/red version of the Volares appeared in issue 370’s pool goggles grouptest, but are now included here in the open-water test in a jazzy white frame with jet mirrored lenses.
The fit of these has a streamlined design and low-profile fit that felt – and looked – good. These sit slightly closer to the eyes than others, which might not be for everyone, but we liked the feel and also the fact that smaller goggles are less likely to get knocked in a hectic swim start.
You get a choice of nose bridges, but no case is included here (it’s an extra £10) which feels a bit too spendy.
That tint on the lenses was nice, though, and we did think the goggles worked well, although there was some visual weirdness going on at the sides which would interfere with peripheral vision when racing in a pack.
Verdict: Nice touches, but distortion on the sides and no case.
Zoggs Predator Flex 2.0
It wouldn’t be an open-water goggles group test without an outing from Zoggs’ Predator, such is their iconic nature.
This year’s model is the Predator Flex 2.0 in titanium, which has many familiar features such as the easy-to-adjust side clips, flexible nose piece and double strap.
Visibility is great with the curved lenses allowing for a wide field of vision, and while the mirrored smoke lenses did a good job in bright conditions, they were also forgiving on murkier days.
One thing to note is that the 2.0 is larger than previous models and, on this tester, that meant the gaskets sat a little uncomfortably.
After longer swims, they left prominent goggle marks – although the seal they created didn’t allow water ingress! Smaller-faced swimmers may be better opting for an ‘original’ model.
Verdict: Classic design, hampered by gasket discomfort.
Aquasphere Kayenne Pro
The Kayenne has long been a solid favourite among triathletes – and with good reason. Hitting the sweet spot between being a smaller ‘race’ goggle and a larger open-water mask, these sit comfortably on the face with superb range of vision, but without taking up as much space as a full swim mask.
Here in a clearer tint, we liked the light mirroring on the lenses for murkier lake swims, though some may prefer a darker tint if racing in sun/abroad. The wide strap was comfortable and you get a hard case.
Though they are relatively expensive in this test, we can’t fault them for comfort, so if you struggle to find goggles to suit you, they may be worth it.
Verdict: Stone-cold classic; still a great choice, if a tad pricey.
Coming in a clamshell case and with three sets of lenses, two straps and three nose bridges, these build-to-suit goggles initially felt a bit daunting (disclaimer: this swimmer is a very clumsy person!).
But once we’d got used to how to pop the lenses in and out of the frame, we realised what a great idea they are. (Huub do a similar package with the Altair, £49.99.)
At the time of writing, though, these Guls were reduced to £23 online, which is ridiculously good value.
With gold, grey and clear lenses included you’ve got all eventualities covered. Favourite for us was the gold, which improved clarity but made everything bright and cheerful.
They do sit slightly proud on the face, which may be a concern in the washing machine of race day, but we still think they’re worth a try, especially if you can get them on sale.
Verdict: Ingenious multi-lens goggles at a bargain price online.
Sundried Legend Polarized
We’re a big fan of polarised lenses for the clarity of vision they give under the water and for the price. These offer good value, too.
The grey tint cuts out bright light but isn’t so dark it would deter us from wearing them on murkier days – making them a good choice if you only want to buy one set of goggles for varied conditions.
They feel rugged, too, with chunky, solid frames and large soft gaskets – although the frames were quite visible.
Adjustment is simple via two buttons and we like the sturdy split strap. Not having loops on the strap to feed the excess length through is an odd decision, though, meaning the sides flap about. But fit was good, plus you get a hard case included.
Verdict: Good lenses, comfy and a bit industrial! No strap securers.
Zoggs Predator Flex Polarized Ultra Reactor
That lengthy name is testament to just how many iterations of this triathlete’s favourite are now available. First up, yes, that price point puts them into serious pay-day treat territory.
That said, these goggles and are the only ones on test to be both photochromatic (so change depending on light conditions) and polarised.
One of our testers reported it tricky to find a good seal, the other had no such issues. With that in mind, it’s worth noting that two fits are available (regular and small).
Once on and properly adjusted, though, both testers were impressed by the superb clarity of vision offered, especially on changeable weather days in the lake where the sun kept briefly appearing.
They are very comfortable – even on longer swims – and feel appreciatively light on the face. Side clips makes adjusting them extremely easy.
We’ve previously had durability issues with the nose piece, so we’d always keep them in the supplied hard case in-between swims.
Verdict: A comfortable classic updated with superb lenses, but a considered spend at £60!
Speedo Biofuse Flexiseal
The Futura from Speedo last appeared here in 2015, when we had the smaller women’s size on test. In that review we struggled with fit but this year we have the standard unisex size, which is a lot better, creating a strong seal with little water ingress.
Visibility wasn’t bad, either, thanks to the wide curved lenses, although the blue gasket was visible when looking to the side or down.
The Futuras were comfortable thanks to the very soft gaskets and a flexible bridge, while the double strap was secure.
We did find the covered side buttons a little fiddly, though. Blue lenses were bright, but we’d have liked more protection on sunny days and they lacked the polarised clarity of others here.
For £21 and with a hard case included though, they’re decent value.
Verdict: Comfy but bright tint not ideal for open water.
If you like a bigger goggle without going full mask, then these larger Kayennes (smaller design also available) could be just the job.
They initially felt quite large on the face, but once swimming they were comfy and gave a wide range of unobstructed vision like nothing else in this test.
The polarised lenses coped well with a day of sunshine and showers (although lacking the underwater clarity of the Rokas) plus they stayed free of fogging on longer swims and left no goggle marks, while the double strap felt secure and was a cinch to adjust with the two side buttons.
Our only caveat with big goggles is that they lend themselves to being knocked in the race-day swim, but these are just about low enough that they should
Verdict: Larger design with quality open-water lenses.
We’ve had the Aphotics on test before and the fact that they remain unchanged reflects the popularity of this stylish google.
You get a hard clamshell case, and the overall feel of these chunky goggles is solid and good quality.
In the water they gave excellent clarity of vision, and the photochromatic lenses adapted quickly to changes in light from almost clear on a dull day to fully smoked when the sun came out – ideal if you only want to buy one pair for racing.
The adjuster buttons are easy to operate with cold, numb hands and the wide strap is comfortable – plus you get a spare one in the box, which is a neat touch.
Our female tester found these a little heavy on the face in longer swims, but the gaskets are soft and comfortable. Four colourways are available, all designed to match Huub’s range of wetsuits.
Verdict: Now a tri classic and a good-looking, versatile goggle, if a little on the chunky side.
First up, there’s no avoiding the fact that these goggles are almost identical in design to the Huubs. Frame size, shape and gasket feel is the same, meaning you enjoy the same great peripheral vision and comfortable feel (though again, these are bulky and can feel a little heavy on the face).
There’s only a couple of pounds in it, so a lot will come down to the small differences. Here, you don’t get a case – which seems stingy – but they’re a couple of quid cheaper (a case can be ordered for an extra £10, ouch).
We arguably prefer the finish of the Huub goggles with that silver edging, too. If you’re not keen on photochromatic, though, it’s worth noting that the Vapours also come in three other colourways and with polarised lenses for £35, with the pair including a mirrored finish being our preference.
Verdict: So similar to the Huub’s it boils down to brand preference. scoring less here as no hard case.
Blueseventy Hydra Vision
- Buy now from Blueseventy (£28.00)
Like others on test these come from an established tri brand. Yet, to be honest, for a specialist open-water goggle we found ourselves a bit underwhelmed.
The overall look and feel of these is a bit cheap and the gaskets didn’t feel as comfortable as we would like.
We also had some problems with fogging, although the tint on the lenses was nice and a mirrored finish is always welcome on race day for psyching out your rivals.
You get a wide double strap, which is appreciated, and adjustment is via a button on each side under the rubber of the frames.
A neat idea, but in practise we found them tricky to operate and, with cold, wet hands, it was hard to sense if you’d found or depressed the button.
They do sit quite close to the face (low-profile), which may reduce the chance of them getting knocked off mid-swim.
Verdict: Decent looks and lenses, though we had some fogging issues and the materials felt a bit cheap.
- Buy now from Lomo (£16.99)
Joining the battle between Huub and Zone3 in this test is budget brand Lomo, whose Vigour looks to have come from the same design studio as the other two.
Although they share the same shape and features, the quality isn’t quite there and we had concerns over the rattling adjuster buttons, although they actually worked fine in testing.
The lenses are what matter, however, and here you get a grey tint and polarised lens, which did a good job in our lake and pre-lockdown lido testing sessions.
Here we should mention the price, too, as at £15 these are less than half the price of Zone3’s equivalent polarised Vapour. Bargain.
Plus the gaskets are soft, the peripheral vision equally good and the similarly wide, double strap helped keep them feeling secure. You even get a hard case included for the money.
Verdict: Similar looks to top-end brands, but at a fraction of the price, decent polarised lenses.
On test here is the Speedo Biofuse Flexiseal Triathlon goggle, shown in the female fit (a male version is available, too, with a different face shape fit and white frame, which our male tester tried).
The fit and feel is closest to the Zoggs in this test and you get similar soft gel-like gaskets, although the lenses are a touch bigger.
The lenses are polarised, which we appreciated for the price point, while the tint gave good clarity – if a tiny bit dark – on murkier weather days.
In bright sunlight, though, they were great and protected well against glare. The straps are wide and secure, while many other brands here could learn a lot from those simple push button adjustors that were one of the simplest to operate.
Plus, it’s a small detail, but that neon orange strap made these the easiest to find in our kit bag. They look cool, too!
Verdict: Comfortable goggles with a quality feel and some decent lenses in mixed conditions.
Lomo Verve Goggles
For only £10 including a hard case, the Verves continue to prove that Lomo is cornering the market in budget triathlon kit – so if spend really is a top concern, look no further.
Once in the pool though, we found these goggles a little tricky to get in place, with a slightly odd strap-to-goggle frame construction and gaskets that sat oddly in the inner corners of our eyes (the bridge is one-size-fits-all).
The strap was also a bit fiddly to get into place on the head. The unusual lens size gave good visibility with no distortion, though, and would also be well-suited to open-water, while the smoked tint worked well in our brightly-lit swimming pool.
Verdict: Budget buy that’s a bargain.
Aquasphere Kaiman Exo
We’ve had good experiences in the past with Aquasphere’s range of goggles but sadly these fell short of the mark for both our testers.
These are the unisex ‘compact fit’ version and their looks are pretty uninspiring compared to others on test.
The main problem was we struggled to get a good seal on the face, with both swimmers reporting water leaking in and impairing visibility.
The straps were also a fiddle to sort out and the adjustment clips on each side were a bit small and tricky, especially with cold, wet hands.
On the plus side, we did like the curved lenses and the tint brightened up a dull day in the lake and gave good clarity.
It would be interesting to try the larger version of these, to see if they gave a better experience. For our money, though, the Aquasphere Kayenne remains a triathlon classic that we’d stick with over these.
Verdict: Poor visibility and fiddly to use. There are much better from Aquasphere’s open-water range.
- Buy now from Lomo (£12.50)
We can’t ignore the fact that many of us are competing with a squeezed budget this year, so the fact that for just over 10 quid, including a hard case and mirrored lenses, these Lomo goggles are likely to be the best value out there. But how did they perform?
Well, the one-piece flexible design felt sturdy, although this tester did find the overall fit a little large. And though relatively soft, the gaskets weren’t as comfortable as the Huub or Orcas here.
Adjustment is via a set of unusual clips, but they actually worked very effectively. The mid-grey tint worked well on sunny days but wasn’t too dark when the sun went in.
And although we didn’t have any fogging, we did struggle to get a really good seal (though again, face shape will have an impact here).
Verdict: Solid goggle at a bargain price pint; decent performer.
The Rival has been doing the rounds for a few years now and has appeared several times in 220’s grouptests in the clear option. This time we’re testing the tinted and mirrored version.
The design here is very simple – an integrated bridge and one simple clip on the straps to adjust. Of course that will appeal to some, although they did feel a touch basic.
Fit was reasonable, but the bridge was a little wide and we did see some water ingress in the corner of our eyes. We liked the mirrored lenses, but on the flipside the tint was quite dark which made them a no-go for murkier weather or water.
The shape of the lenses felt more suited to the pool, too, as there was distortion when looking towards the side. But they’re not a bad price, so they’d make a decent spare back-up pair as they do have some merit. You get a basic hard case, too.
Verdict: Simple design, but tint too dark for us and some leaking.
Yonda Hydro Glides
- Buy now from Yonda (£34.99)
Yonda have set 220’s reviews pages alight lately with their range of wetsuits, winning our women’s mid-range and men’s top-end grouptests in issue 391.
The brand’s goggles offer fine features, too, with polarised lenses at a penny under £30 keeping our eyes happy in mixed weather conditions.
They were a little darker in tint than some of the others here, though, so may not be our first choice for a murkier British race day.
The lens size is a good compromise between the larger (Aquasphere) and smaller (Roka) goggles on test, and the gaskets gave a good, comfortable seal.
The small adjuster buttons reminded us of Vorgee goggles tested previously and were easy to adjust, even with cold, wet hands.
Verdict: Solid set of goggles at a good price.
Roka R1 Goggle
Winner of our 2020 grouptest, the R1s are back, this time in a vermilion mirror tint designed for direct sun.
As such these excelled in our lake-training venue, partly down to the tint and partly due to the lens shape that’s small but curved to maximise range of vision when lifting to sight.
Personally, we prefer smaller goggles for racing and these sat comfortably in our eye socket without leaving marks – so much so that we also found ourselves reaching for them for pool sessions where they worked equally well in the brightly-lit conditions.
Adjustment is via a simple back clip so they can’t be adjusted on the fly, but once in place they stayed secure. We would like a hard case included, though, if anyone from Roka is listening!
Verdict: Second year on and these are still top class.
How to choose the best swimming goggles for you
Swimming goggles can often be a bit of an afterthought for triathletes. But with a wide range now available, which offer different features for pool or open water – as well as elements to suit different swimmers’ face shapes and preferences – it’s definitely worth spending a bit of time choosing the right ones for you.
After all, find the right ones and you will have a better swim experience (leaky goggles are every swimmer’s pet hate).
Plus, if you’re racing triathlon, the right goggles can help you sight better and get round the course more easily – and who doesn’t want that?
Whether you’re looking for pool or open-water goggles, there are a few things that will apply to both.
Firstly, think about your face shape and which kind of goggles you find comfortable. Some swimmers prefer smaller goggles that fit more closely within the eye socket, while other swimmers like larger goggles that sit further away from the eyes, more on the edges of the cheek and brow bone.
Different seals are available, too – the gaskets (the silicone or rubber bit that sits on your face and gives suction) are designed differently and fit differently depending on which model you choose.
It’s worth shopping around if you generally find swim goggles quite uncomfortable and if so, a softer, larger gasket may be for you.
At the other end of the spectrum, though, are ‘Swedish goggles’, which don’t have a gasket at all! These are traditionally used more within pool competition swimming, though.
Next, think about how big you want your lenses to be, as this will have a bearing on visibility, as well as the type of lens tint you are looking for (more on this later on). This will be based upon the type of water you’ll be swimming in, as well as the weather conditions for open-water goggles.
The next feature to look at is the type of strap. Double or ‘split’ straps are handy for security, plus swimmers who have a bun or ponytail tucked into their swim cap will find the strap sits either side of the hair.
Think too about how easily you would like your goggles to be to adjust as well. Most swimmers will just adjust the goggles and leave them, but if you do like to tweak the fit mid-session, then easily moved clips will be a good idea!
Finally, a note on fit. A set of goggles that fit you well should suction to your face without needing to use the head strap at all (that is there for added security), so when shopping around, try and attach the goggles to your face without the strap and see if you can achieve a good seal! See our guide on how goggles should fit for more on that.
What to look for in pool swimming goggles
Pool swimming goggles are often more simple in terms of the technology. Your pool goggles will usually be smaller and fit more into the eye socket for better streamlining and less drag in short swim competitions, as well as having less complicated lens designs.
The main reason for this is that in pool swimming or competition, we don’t need to look around to see a course – we only need to see the black line at the bottom of the pool or, at a push if racing masters, where the person in the next lane is!
The tint on your pool goggles will usually be one that’s appropriate for bright indoor lighting. They may be clear or have a light grey or blue tint. Mirrored lenses offer eye protection, too – and also (in our humble opinion) look pretty cool!
What to look for in open-water goggles
Open-water goggles differ from pool goggles in that they are usually larger to improve the field of visibility in open water. Some brands will offer curved lenses, while others will ‘zone’ the lenses, with facets offering better visibility to the front when sighting, or to the side when looking to see who, or what, is around you in the water.
There is a wider choice of lenses in open-water goggles too, as water and weather conditions vary so much.
Choosing the right pair for your race day can make a huge amount of difference to how well you can see, but all should offer eye protection from sunlight.
Think about the type of water you will be swimming in (for example, visibility in a clear ocean is very different to a peaty lake) and whether you would like your lenses to block light and/or improve clarity.
Budget of course plays a part, but if you can afford to spend a little more, polarised lenses would always be our choice for open water as they improve clarity.
We also like photochromatic lenses, which change colour (much like the same lenses in sunglasses) in bright sunlight. Perfect if you may be swimming in changeable or unpredictable conditions!
Finally, prescription goggles are available from several brands and are worth exploring if you struggle when swimming. Either made to your prescription, or off-the-shelf in a range of standard lenses.
What are the best brands for swim goggles?
There are many great brands offering swim goggles for both pool and open-water swimming and you’ll find many of them in the reviews above.
Getting the right pair of goggles can boost your confidence and drastically improve your swim. For extensive advice on getting your goggles on point, have a look at our guide to the best swimming goggles to buy for triathlon.