Skiing and snowboarding is possibly one of the moroe gear intensive outdoor activities, and the quality of certain pieces of gear can directly impact the quality of experience (for better or for worse). Goggles are one of these items. Having good clear vision with good depth perception can not only make a drastic difference to your comfort level (and therefore riding security and movement skills) it can also impact the amount of fun you have!
Coming from CO and the sunny San Juan Mountains, I used to be a fan of skiing in sunglasses. I have changed my tune. I have been ski patrolling, ski guiding, and teaching avalanche courses using with the Smith IO/7 goggles with the ChromaPop lenses for two seasons now for a total of roughly 170 days combined. These goggles stand out as exceptional eye wear for several reasons.
- They’re LARGE! I have an average size face/ head and am a big fan of big lenses. Small goggles can inhibit your peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is important in all aspects of skiing, but especially important when I’m ski patrolling and skiing inbounds. I want to be able to the skiers and boarders that come flying from all directions. The large lenses of the IO/7 are as large as comfortably possible without being too big.
- The lenses are super easy to change. Having a variety of lease options and being able to switch them is only a benefit if you actually change them. The IO/7 lenses are extremely easy to switch. There is only one small flip tab (compared with several tabs on the IO/X). Typically I have two lenses in my ski patrol pack. A low light lense and a bright light lense. The dark lense I use is the ChromaPop Sun. I ski in contacts and seem to be light sensitive, so I prefer an extra dark. This lense has a 9% visible light transmission (VLT). The lense is a layered green mirror over a gray base. This helps ease the harsh glare of high elevation sun. For super flat light days and evening sweeps when patrolling I use the Red Sensor Mirrored lense. This lense is a 55% VLT, so the other end of the spectrum for light transmission. When I’m skiing down in the dark, which often happens ski patrolling, this is my lense of choice. It still cuts down on glare while helping features stand out. This is what one wants when skiing in flat light and dark conditions. The third lense I use, primarily for ski guiding on overnight hut trips where weight is an issue, is the Photochromic Red Sensor lense (20% – 50% VLT). While these do not get as dark as I would prefer, carrying one lense is a great benefit. It’s also a great benefit to not deal with switching the lenses out as the lighting conditions of the day change.
- They don’t fog. Goggles that fog are more of a hindrance than they are a help. I still would not hike in these. However, the IO/7 seem to fog less than comparable and less expensive goggles. This goes for both hard skiing as well as when it’s snowing heavily.
Overall, these goggles are awesome! I find the optics good enough that I have two pairs, a patrol pair that lives with my patrol gear at the resort and a guiding pair that stays with my guiding gear. With all the storms and snow this winter in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, I’m psyched to have them and put another couple hundred days of use on them!
Happy pow pow!
Owner / Lead Guide
Kling Mountain Guides, LLC