Six Open-Water Goggles

The right mask or pair of goggles can mean the difference between a comfortable, confident and fast swim, and one that is none of those things


Posted: 3 May 2010
by Nicola Joyce

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Aqua Sphere Vista Lady

It's the time of year when you take to the open water. You know you need a wetsuit, but have you considered a change of goggles? The small, clear goggles you've been using in the pool won't stand up to the demands of the open water.

When it comes to swimming in the outdoors, you can choose from goggles, masks or a hybrid. Some people like the extra feeling of protection offered by masks, while others are happy with larger styles of goggles (we've tested both types here).

Whatever you choose, your open-water eye wear needs to have some fundamental features to keep you safe and confident. Look for UV and anti-fog protection and larger lenses, which will stay put in the choppiest of swims.

You'll also need to consider the light: will you be swimming in bright sunlight, with glare bouncing off the still surface of a lake? Or are you likely to be swimming on overcast, cloudy days?

The different colours available will suit different conditions: smoke or mirrored will cut glare on sunny days, while pink, yellow or orange will enhance light on dull days. Blue and violet lenses are a good choice for moderately cloudy weather.

Whether you choose goggles or a mask is a matter of personal preference and practicality: smaller faces tend to struggle with masks, which can ride up the face due to their extra bulk. On the flip side, masks offer greater security in open water.

Goggles can be used in the pool as well, but may not offer the same feeling of protection in open water. Some of the goggles we tested come with a protective case and we'd strongly advise getting hold of one to keep your goggles safe from scratches. Never wipe the lenses directly (tiny scratches can appear very easily), always rinse your goggles in cold tap water after a swim and air-dry them before storing.

With these tips, your open-water goggles should last for a very long time but, once they're scratched enough for the clarity of vision to be compromised, it's time to go shopping again.


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