The world of open water swimming can be a challenging and often frightening place. Human beings are not meant to be in this environment. The last thing you need it to lose your sight also! That’s why Swimmers Should have the Best open water goggles they can get. Here I list my Top 5 favourite Goggles. Plus my Top Tips on buying and using Open Water Goggles.
How I test
I test in Anger. In the heat(or cold?) and the Melee of Ironman Open water Swim starts. During hundreds of training session. I use the products as they are intended and not an afternoon in a pool with some free products, thinking of things to say about them.
My Favourite Goggles and my actual race Goggles of choice for the last few season. I don’t take chances with goggles as they are so important and I 100% trust the Zoggs Predator range. The polarized version of these are excellent when the light is low on the water. impressively reducing glare. But in less glary conditions they add an odd tint to the world like things are covered in orange scales. Unfortunately it looks like the Polarized version are being phased out but I will still race in the other standard versions. Because for me these goggles just work. Vision is almost full, meaning there is almost no frame visible when worn. They rarely fog even in very cold water while working hard. And even old goggles still resist fogging. And best of all they Never Leak! The large soft Silicone skirts mould brilliantly to the face and the seal is just about perfect. I’ve been punched, kicked and swum over and never had these shift! Really they are everything you could want from a goggle.
Not far behind the Standard predators are the Flex. For me the fit was not quite as perfect as the Regular. They just felt tight across the bridge of the nose. After an hour swimming this could cause me a little pain. I do have a slightly large nose so maybe this will be less of a problem for most. There is slightly less visual range as the frames are just slightly more visible. Also the strap is in my opinion overcomplicated. Its bulkiness actually leads to a less secure fit than the simpler dual strap in the regular goggles. Its all small stuff though. These are still exceptional goggles. And the polarised lens are class leading. Low sun on an early morning ironman start is no problem. If the Polarized version of the Regular Predators stops becoming available. It will be a tough call come race day!
Some people like the idea of having a mask while in open water. Its a personal thing and for me its never appealed. But others simply love them. The Large lens or lens’s give exceptional Vision. The large surface area of the skirt gives a perfect seal. Number 3 in my list as I just prefer Goggles but if you are looking for a mask this the number 1. Loads of different lens colours to give you the perfect mask for the conditions you will be racing in. Also available in a Female specific version.
These goggles make the list because, well they are the best looking goggles out there. While this may not be the single most important factor in choosing goggles, there is still a very solid pair of goggles behind the good looks. The anti-fog works well, especially when new and the polarised lens’s are very good at reducing glare from the water. A good double strap helps keep the goggles very secure. but overall I found a little bit of leaking on occasion. Rare but did not inspire the confidence I have with the Zoggs predators.
I struggled with whether or not to put these on the list. They are a very highly rated, very popular set of goggles. But for me they really fell a long way short. I bought them a month before a big race as my race goggles, but during the breaking in period I found they leaked almost every swim. Pool swims they leaked regularly for the first few sets. In the one open water session I tried The lens’s filled straight away. They didn’t fog, but then they wouldn’t full of water. An eye full of salty water for the 3.8k is the last thing I needed to worry about. So they got relegated to an emergency spare pair…I think they are still rotting in the bottom of my swim bag. However, there popularity must stem from somewhere? Goggles can be incredibly personal with some styles just not suiting certain facial shapes. So I put it down to this. they just didn’t fit me right. So its definite no from me but if you find issues with my other recommendations could be worth a try.
TIP 1 : New Goggles for a BIG race
Old Goggles can fog up easier and impair your vision. They are also more likely to fail completely. Imagine being 400m into an Ironman swim when your straps fail on your trusty goggles, and the only thing keeping your vision going, sails off to the bottom of the lake/sea.
Its the Stuff of nightmares. So its prudent considering the minimal outlay to replace old goggles shortly before a race. But not too close. Remember NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY. You need a few practice swims before a Race to check the goggles are OK for you. Any leakage or Strap problems and you may need to Re-Think. Problem Goggles can cost you a Finish very early on in your big day! I continue to use my old goggles well after race season and through the winter to get value from them.
TIP 2: Ultimate De-Fog
Most Goggles now come with a anti fog coating and this works very well when new. So if you follow my tip1 then you should have an almost new pair come race day. So no fogging issues. When using older goggles in training fogging can be an issue. Its highly distracting and no fun spending a session in a beautiful open water environment practically blind.
There are lots of anti fog sprays available. I really don’t use them though. While they do work they often don’t work any better than my free method, which is far simpler. I have also heard stories of irritation to eyes if not used 100% correctly.
I simply use saliva! yep just a good wet lick in each lens then a rinse in whatever water you are to swim in. That’s it. Its pretty much a pre swim ritual now and I haven’t suffered fogging in years.
TIP 3 : Spare pair
Goggles are not the most robust item in the world and they do fail. Ruining a race or training session. Carrying a spare pair can easily save a session or race, although I’m sure on race morning a faulty pair could be replaced by asking around, I know I would donate any spares I have to a worthy cause. But its stress you don’t need. I simply never throw out a serviceable pair of goggles so when replaced prior t racing, they just stay in my swim bag in case they are called upon.
TIP 4: Try not to lose them
Obviously, but easier said than done during a race! an errant arm or foot can easily dislodge your goggles. While its possible to finish a swim without them. Its not easy and its not fun. At Ironman Lanzarote, the water was so clear on the second lap the bottom of the ocean was littered with goggles from poor souls who had been unable to keep them on their head. Solution? Wear your strap under your swim cap! So simple. But it provides a last line of defence against losing them. Even if they are knocked from you eyes the straps will still hold them to your head allowing you to recover them and replace! Phew, race saved!
TIP 5: Admit defeat
Some Googles will just not suit some faces. The Zoggs I recommended are so squishy and flexible they should suit almost any face there is a chance they just might not. If the goggles you choose simply do not seal its time to give up on them and try another pair. Finding a pair to really suit your facial shape is paramount. If your goggles are letting in water you will not be able to focus on your training they will distract from your race and you risk irritation from chlorine or worse infection from a waterborne nasty. Its just not worth it! Goggles just should not leak.
Hopefully now you can have a safe, exciting enjoyable race. and get the the swim exit ready for the day ahead. Let me know in the comments if you have any other Goggle related tips of if you have a specific favourite pair of goggles.