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
<a title="Continue reading our guide to this year's best race wheels (2/3)" href="http://www.220triathlon.com/gear/swim/goggles/10-of-the-best-pool-goggles/" style="display:none" " style="display:none" our guide to this year's best pool goggles (2/3)
With an RRP we’ve only previously seen on Zoggs’ reactive-lensed Predators and never on a pair of pool goggles, we were expecting a lot from the Speedos from the second we took them out of their (very fancy) box and plastic case. The largest goggles on test, they’re instantly very comfortable, with wide, soft gaskets and a flexible nose bridge.
Adjusting them is simple thanks to a buckle on each side and the single strap (which splits in the middle and is less fiddly to get in place than some of the thinner ones on test) stayed put throughout our sessions. We found a good seal with these and experienced no water ingress, although they did leave weird-looking goggle marks! Those light blue lenses give good clarity and a bright tone both under fluoro pool lights and in the sunlight in our lido swim sets, and peripheral vision is very good.
Verdict: Quality package with good visibility but very expensive for pool goggles 88%
Buy from www.speedo.com
Bagging a ‘Cutting Edge’ award in our 2018 test for the same goggle with MIT (mirror insertion technology), the Valkyrie is back again this year, yet in the slightly less-expensive version without the lens tech borrowed from ski goggles. Not that we’re going to penalise this model for that, as straight out of the hard plastic case these are instantly a stand-out goggle. There’s a very secure fit with no leaking and the ultra-soft gaskets fit like a dream. The curved lenses give a wide range of vision and the size is a neat halfway house between the tiny and bigger goggles on test – small enough to feel racy and hydrodynamic, but not so small they irritate the eye socket. That mirrored tint gives good clarity in bright pools, Swan’s anti-fog tech works perfectly and the double strap has a clever single ‘snap’ adjuster for added security and fit. swansuk.co.uk
Verdict: Superb fit and clarity, stylish and very comfortable, plus not too expensive 93%
Buy from www.swansuk.co.uk
The Rival come in as the second-cheapest pair on test but, once out of their gigantic plastic box, they look and feel disappointing. We aren’t keen on the basic blue/clear design and clear goggles aren’t usually our first choice, with more pro-looking tinted and mirrored versions on test for not much more money.
But if you like clear lenses (they have their place for darker indoor pools or for those who don’t like tints), then these have some plus points. First there’s that bargain price point and, comparing them directly to the Head Tigers as the only two clear goggles on test, these feel more comfortable and sit less close to the eyes. We didn’t experience any fogging, but we did see a little water ingress when turning at the end of each length. The bridge is very flexible, while the double-strap is wide, sturdy and secured with a typical single buckle. 2xu.com
Verdict: Low price, but feel and look a bit cheap. We’d spend a few pounds more on the Zoggs 74%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
<a style="font-size: 1.5em;" href="http://www.220triathlon.com/gear/swim/goggles/10-of-the-best-pool-goggles/" style="display:none" target="_blank"" style="display:none" our guide to this year's best pool goggles (3,3)
Another £5 would get you a mirrored pair of these low-profile goggles. Although clear wouldn’t be our personal choice (no glare reduction from fluorescent lights or the sun, plus mirrored just look, well, cooler) some people do prefer them, especially for training in a darkly-lit pool. These come in a good-quality plastic case and, compared to the 2XU, feel a more stylish offering, with a red and orange colour scheme. The curved lenses offer good visibility, although they’re quite low-profile and we did run into trouble with our eyelashes brushing the lenses when we blinked once they were adjusted tight enough to avoid leaking. They’re comfortable enough and adjustment on the double strap is via a single buckle. Like the Huub goggles, the strap is quite a round, thin one and, with no spares supplied, we do have durability concerns. head.com
Verdict: Decent-looking goggle, but 2XU edge it on budget comfort 72%
Buy from www.swiminn.com
These goggles are designed in collaboration with Michael Phelps for his swim range with Aqua Sphere. Much like the Speedos they’re a very bright blue, although these aren’t mirrored, which surprised us in a release from a pro swimmer (mirrored are available for a higher RRP). Pulling them on we instantly found a good seal, with the squarish shape comfy and soft against the face, much like the Swans. Three extra nose bridges are supplied and the double strap is thick and flat, while a single clasp takes care of adjustment. In our outdoor pool swims, that blue tint is a bit dazzling, but it comes into its own in dingier swimming pools where things are brightened up with good clarity of vision. These are also comfortable over longer swims, as well as being leak-free and with no fogging, and you get a quality plastic case.
Verdict: Provide clear vision and a bright tint with impressive comfort 87%
Buy from www.amazon.co.uk
Coming in as the least expensive goggle on test this issue, there’s a lot to like about the Pulsars. First up, they look pretty cool with that neon green, silver and black, plus you get a tinted and mirrored lens with anti-fog coating. The nose bridge is flexible and two spares are supplied, plus you get a hard case. Overall the fit is secure, although the double straps are a little short when let out to fit over our hair, meaning after longer swims the goggles felt tight and left us with impressive goggle marks. The grey tint does a decent job of dulling bright pool lights and, although we did experience a little fogging, it didn’t impede our swim. The shape of the lenses does create some weird visual distortion in the water within our peripheral vision, however, but, as stated previously, that’s less important for the pool compared to swimming in the open water.
Verdict: Swimmers on a budget will appreciate the features, but the design isn’t our favourite 78%
Buy from www.maruswim.com