Foggy goggles are the worst. That thin layer of moisture is the grave enemy for all eyewear, especially for mountain bikers, who have learned to endure it for years.
Mountain bike goggles of the past have been adapted from snow or moto and never really addressed the needs of mountain biking specifically. Smith Optics set out to change all of that with their new Squad MTB goggle.
The Squad MTBs still have many of the same features Smith has pioneered over the years, such as the ultra-wide, silicone-backed strap, the Sweat-X F.A.T. 3-layer face foam and tear-off compatible lenses. However, unique to these is Smith’s open lattice frame that dramatically increases airflow through the goggle.
Smith opted for the open lattice construction for a couple of reasons; the first being to increase airflow though the google to help with fog management. Since mountain biking tends to be much more of an aerobic sport then say, snowboarding or riding dirt bikes, many goggles fog quickly when used for mountain biking, as your perspiration and body temp increase when you start cranking the pedals. The open lattice design hopes to eliminate this issue by introducing greater airflow through the goggle itself. The second benefit of the open lattice design is that it provides flexibility in the frame, which Smith says helps improve the overall fit of the goggles.
I’ve used Smith goggles for years now, primarily in the snowsports realm, so I was excited to try out a pair of their MTB-specific goggles. Smith lists the fit as medium, and although they widened the nose bridge to help relieve pressure, I still felt a slight amount. Nothing too uncomfortable but, still noticeable.
The Sweat-X F.A.T. 3-layer face foam, which on my snow goggles was usually the first thing to go, works wonderfully on these goggles. Being a bald guy, sweat management can be a primary concern, especially on long, hot days. The foam was comfortable against my face, and most importantly, kept sweat out of my eyes. I’ve had other goggles that have had the foam blow out pretty quickly, but after a few months of use and abuse, the foam still looks as good as new and doesn’t show any signs of premature wear.
My set of Squad MTB goggles came with two lens options, a Green Sol-X for the bright days and a clear lens for pretty much everything else. Being that I live in the Pacific Northwest, even when the sun is on full display in the sky, very little of it manages to penetrate the forest canopy. Due to this fact, I almost always rode with the clear lens over the Green Sol-X lens. I did try out the Green Sol-X a few times on trails with more exposure to sun and I was surprised how well they handled darker conditions considering the tint and mirroring, but I still found myself hesitating on sections on where the trail went from bright and exposed to heavily shaded. For bike parks like Mount Bachelor or areas like the Southwest, I can see the Green Sol-X being the go to lens over the clear, but in the PNW, clear is king.
The most notable feature and the one I was most eager to test, is the open lattice frame design of the Squad MTB goggles. When I took them out of the box, the lack of foam surrounding the frame was the first thing I noticed. Immediately I had two thoughts. The first thought was, “Wow, that’s a lot of air flow!” The next was, “How much stuff am I going to get in my goggles when I ride a dusty trail?”
On the first ride, I could definitely notice the increased airflow. The trails for the first few weeks of riding were pretty tacky, so I never ran into any issues with debris finding its way into the goggles. However, as spring warmed up and the trails dried out I did start to notice that I would get some dust in the goggles, especially if I was riding closely behind a few other riders. This was most noticeable at Whistler’s Opening weekend, where riding in trains is the norm and the trails were a bit dry and dusty. After a few laps through the park, I started to notice some buildup on the inside of the lenses. However, a quick cleaning with a lens wipe and they were good to go again, but it did confirm my suspicions that dust can get into the goggles.
The goggles never fogged up during riding and even the few odd times when I would prop my full-face up over my brow after a lap and get some sweat condensation in them, a couple of shakes in the air would take care of any moisture.
Overall, I am very satisfied with my Smith Squad MTB goggles. They’ve rarely had any moisture inside the lens and the few times they did, it quickly dissipated as soon as the air started flowing. The foam has held strong and does a good job keeping sweat out of my eyes while providing a comfortable fit. The open lattice provides good airflow without ever seeming excessive and while dust does occasionally find its way in, it was manageable and a tradeoff I was willing to take over fogging. If you’re more concerned about dust than mud, or one to never put more than a few pedal strokes in, you may not enjoy the tradeoffs quite as well, but for everyone else, I think the Squad MTB goggles may be just the ticket.
See more at www.smithoptics.com