Inside the outdoor industry

FIELD TEST: I/O Mag Austin Smith goggles

New Smith I/O Mag Austin Smith range

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A good pair of goggles is an absolute must for anyone looking to go on a skiing/snowboarding holiday. Apart from the obvious – protecting your eyes from the effects of harmful UV radiation at altitude – goggles protect the eyes and face from any cold winds blowing down from the mountains and are much more efficient than sunglasses if the snow or rain starts to fall.

Smith has been dominating the snow goggle market for over 50 years, first originating in 1965 when orthodontist and ski fanatic Dr. Bob Smith developed the first sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam goggle. The firm has since grown into one of the biggest players in the sector, producing a staggering portfolio of goggles and lenses for the bike, off-road and snow markets.

The new Smith I/O Mag Austin Smith range come as a signature pair between outdoor and lifestyle clothing and accessories manufacturer, The North Face, and uber-cool snowboarding legend Austin Smith.

The goggles come in a padded gold carry bag, based on a North Face Himalayan suit that Austin Smith wears during his camping trips around the mountains in a converted fire engine camper. The ultra-wide, silicone backed strap features the same gold colouring (along with diagrams of the suit on the inside of the strap). It’s wide and distributes pressure evenly around the head or helmet, with QuickFit strap adjustment system and clip buckle offering easy adjustment for the perfect fit.

Two lenses are provided in a soft lens bag, a dark lens for bright days and a Storm Rose Flash lens for cloudier days, both featuring Smith’s ChromaPop lens and tapered lens technology, which provides better clarity of vision through crisp contrast and colour definition. The spherical lenses benefit from anti fogging properties, while the frames feature vents to allow maximum airflow to also help prevent any fogging issues. They’re a great shape too, offering excellent field of vision and a great fit when wearing a helmet.

What really separates these googles from the competition is the quick release technology designed within the frame and lenses. Side levers on each side of the lenses allow fast removal and replacement for varying conditions, with magnetic contact points helping to keep lens and frame together. It’s a great system and, with practice, the lenses can be replaced in seconds, helpful for when the sun drops behind the mountains and extra clarity is needed.

The ChromaPop polarised lenses are absolutely brilliant and we were especially impressed with the Storm Rose Flash lens – perfect for low light conditions when travelling back off the mountain after a days snowboarding. And, during a warm spring weekend when the weather rose to nearly 19 degrees, the anti-fogging lens and frame technology worked together and kept the lenses fog-free.

Couple this with the rimless frame design that offers a wide field of vision and gives the goggles its stunning looks, the Smith I/O Mag Austin Smith might just be the best goggles currently available on the market.

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