2016 Spring Goggle Review
We've thoroughly tested the sport's most prominent goggles on the market and broken down their performance into the specific needs of an open water swimmer. This is a simple guide to help you select a pair of goggles that is appropriate for you.
ROKA F2$20 1 of 6
These goggles are specifically created for open water swimming, and they execute in a big way. Perhaps the first of its kind, these lenses have no framing or plastic obstructing the field of view. Because of this, you'll find an expanded window with maximal peripheral visibility, allowing you to sight more efficiently. The gaskets are low profile and sleek, ultimately reducing drag. The soft unibody design is super comfortable and even the fixed nose bridge is flexible and soft.
The flat silicone dual straps with a single clasp in back are perfect for open water comfort, laying flat and in place even through big surf. We used and abused these goggles in the ocean over many sessions and the anti-fog property held up incredibly. Overall these goggles are a home run.
TYR Blackhawk Racing$18 2 of 6
The sleek, minimal profile design of the Blackhawk is very attractive. While these are not specifically purposed for open water swimming, they do execute well on many levels in the ocean. The super soft and appropriately sized gaskets provide comfort for longer swims. The design is low profile and very sleek--there is no excess in materials here, adding to the clean aesthetic. The ability to switch out the nosepiece to best fit the bridge of your nose is a plus.
Unfortunately, after two wears in the ocean the anti-fog property of these lenses was completely destroyed. The viewing window is also quite limited for open water, but they are fantastic for pool application. The dual strap with a single clasp in the back is ideal for a secure fit that will stay in place during your swim (especially in the pool). However, the rounded cord strap gets tangled easily and can shift around when swimming through waves.
Aquasphere Kayenne$40 3 of 6
Tried and true, the Kayenne has graced the faces of triathletes around the world for quite some time now. While the large, cushy gaskets are very comfortable, they're also a bit cumbersome, and the profile lacks a clean, streamlined design.
The Kayenne's fixed nosepiece is super soft, but slightly obstructs visibility and sighting because of the large plastic bridge connecting the lenses. The peripheral field of view is fantastic, expanding beyond what many other goggles have achieved. The lenses are rigid and incredibly durable, but unfortunately the anti-fog property of these lenses is inadequate. After one wear in the ocean, the salt water broke down the integrity of the lenses significantly. We like the split strap design, displacing the pressure to two contact points, but we found the push button lock system to be unreliable and inconvenient for triathlon swimming, as it is easy to accidentally unlock the straps inadvertently loosen your goggles.
ROKA R1$35 4 of 6
ROKA continues to outdo themselves with the new R1 open water goggles. These are designed specifically for an open water application, and this is evident in their construction--their expanded peripheral window is unparalleled in the market.
Additionally, the top frame of the goggle has a tilt/angle that increases forward visibility. The thoughtful and intelligent architecture of the goggles' contoured lenses is truly one of a kind and we found this feature is a complete game changer for the mechanics of sighting and open water navigation.
The premium polycarbonate lenses are incredibly durable--the lenses have a hard coat for anti-scratch, as well as a superior anti-fog coating that holds up longer than any other goggles we've tested. The comfortable dual silicone straps lay flat on the head and stays in place well.
Finis Surge$40 5 of 6
The design approach of the Surge is testament to classic open water optics. The super soft, cushy gaskets offer comfortable wearability, even on longer open water sessions. But the traditional, large format of the goggles may be their biggest shortcoming, creating excess drag profile.
These days it's all about maximizing field of view, and unfortunately this design has a limited viewing window because of the thick frame around the lenses. The lenses are a bit thin, but their anti-fog property holds up very well in salt water. The fixed nosepiece is flexible and comfortable and accommodates different face shapes well. We were quite impressed with how secure the strap lock system is on these goggles--particularly valuable in open water, ensuring goggles stay in place during a triathlon.