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. We test pairs form the best brands in the industry and give you our verdicts 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.
What should you look for in a pair of pool swimming goggles?
Pay close attention to comfort, vision, the quality of the seal on the gaskets (rubber suction around the lenses) and effectiveness of the anti-fog treatments.
When testing, we also assessed subjective features, such as the lens and gasket shape, according to how likely it is that they’d work for the majority of triathletes.
Best pool swimming goggles in 2021
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, 90%
Funkita Training Machine
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, 80%
Zone 3 Venator X Goggles
These weren’t the most exciting-looking in the mix this time, with a monochrome housing and smoked lenses. However, once on the flexible construction and soft gaskets were very comfortable and these also had the bonus of side buttons for easy adjustment – perfect if you like to adjust quickly on the fly.
They were bigger than others on test sitting around the eye socket, so would also provide a good hybrid into open water, not surprising looking at the other colourways on offer (openwater specific), as well as the fact that Josh Amburger codeveloped them. Zone3 only provides a mesh bag for these goggles, though, which is a shame for the price.
Verdict: Perform well, but felt more for open water, 83%
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, 72%
Aqua Sphere Fastlane
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 midswim. 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, 84%
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 fogfree, 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, 90%
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, 65%
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 (if they suit your face), 68%
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, 81%
Zone3 say their Viper-Speed goggles are designed specifically for “pool-based speed sessions” with a hydrodynamic profile to make you look like you mean business. Despite the intimidating appearance, they’re surprisingly comfortable due to the soft gasket seal. The lenses have a heavy tint, but we could still see fine in a gloomy pool with little natural light.
The blue hue made things look different to what we were used to underwater, but the field of vision is wide and the anti-fog worked as it should. The patented ‘ultraFAST quickFIT’ rear buckle system has two buttons at the back of the strap to adjust the length, which is quick and easy to use. Extra nose pieces, a storage pouch and fitting instructions complete a fine package.
Verdict: Comfy, visually appealing, excellent lenses 92%
The Xceed Mirrored goggles are a collaboration between Michael Phelps and Aqua Sphere. 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, 94%
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, 84%
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 88%
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, 76%
These goggles are the cheapest of our selection. And it’s a case of ‘you get what you pay for’ as the Pulsar Mirror didn’t match the standard of the pricier pairs on test. The gasket seal is quite small and didn’t sit comfortably, leaving some marks around our eyes after swimming. The lenses are flat at the front with little peripheral vision, and we found them disorientating when trying to negotiate a busy lane swim. We also experienced some fogging after a couple of sessions, despite rinsing and storing them in the case between swims. For us, the Pulsar Mirror goggles will provide, at best, an average experience for most swimmers if a flat frontage is preferred, and some might struggle to get on with them at all. The highlight is the low price.
Verdict: cheap but prone to fogging, and sub-optimal clarity, 59%
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, 91%
What should you look for in a pair of open water swimming goggles?
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.
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.
Best open water swimming goggles in 2021
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, 82%
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!, 88%
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, 78%
Roka R-Series Model 1
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, 90%
Aqua Sphere Kayenne
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, 90%
Yonda Hydro Glides
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 (Aqua Sphere) 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, 85%
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, 84%
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, 80%
Blueseventy Hydra Vision
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
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, 75%
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Speedo Futura open water swimming goggles
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, 80%
Aqua Sphere Kaiman Exo open water swimming goggles
We’ve had good experiences in the past with Aqua Sphere’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 Aqua Sphere Kayenne remains a triathlon classic that we’d stick with over these.
Verdict: Poor visibility and fiddly to use. there are much better from aqua sphere’s open-water range, 63%
2XU Rival open water swimming goggles
Only one shiny pound more than the Lomos, the price tag put these towards the least-spendy end of our test. They also offer a much smaller profile than the others, so if you prefer pool goggles and find it hard to size up for open water, these could hold a lot of appeal. We liked the mirrored lenses and the tint gave good clarity on a sunny day in the lake.
Those cool looks are at the expense of a solid feel, however, as the thin double strap with basic adjuster and smaller frame isn’t the most secure on test. Our male tester wasn’t a fan of the gaskets, either, finding them uncomfortable and making him ‘look about 75’ after leaving their imprint on his face! Our female tester liked the feel of them, although the smaller lenses and wide black rims did mean a compromise on range of vision compare to others.
Verdict: More of a pool look and feel, so will divide opinion; nice lenses, gaskets could be softer, 73%