Swimming goggles

Your guide to finding the right pair of goggles this summer.
 
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01 .Introduction

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Walk into any retail outlet that sells goggles and you'll be faced with a sea of different colours, shapes and sizes. The packaging will bamboozle you with technological acronyms you've probably never heard of, such as TPE and TPR. 

Our test aims to help you decode the different terms and suggest which types of goggles are generally the safest bet. As a general rule we found:

• Goggles that have moulded or fixed frames and are anti-fog are more likely to perform best
• Price generally indicates the quality of a pair of goggles and how well they perform

Please note: this information was current as of November 2009 but is still a useful guide today.

How we tested

CHOICE conducted a trial of 17 goggles priced between $3 and $50. We selected from brands typically sold at department stores such as Kmart, sports goods retailers and swimming centres. We bought the highest and lowest priced, as well as the best-seller for each brand. Fifteen regular swimmers were recruited, and they did the trial in two sessions on two different days. Each participant was given ample time to adjust their goggles before swimming 100 metres of freestyle. After finishing the two laps, they rated the goggles on how easily adjustable, watertight, fog-free and comfortable they found them.


 

 
 

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With the exception of a couple of standout cheapies and the adjustable Eyeline Conquest, the top 10 goggles rated by our trialists cost $20 or more, have moulded frames and are anti-fog. The top scorer is Italian-made Aqua Sphere Kayenne, which is also the most expensive pair on trial ($50). 

Our Best Buy is the high-scoring Torpedo Adult Omega, at just $7, available exclusively at Kmart. Its eyecups are made of thermoplastic rubber (TPR) and it scored the highest for watertightness. The other surprise find is the Tyr Stealth 2 ($13), which has silicone eyecups and straps and scored second-highest for watertightness.

All the goggles in our Top 10 list (see table) are anti-fog. Most have silicone eyecups, have moulded or fixed frames and cost more than $20.

Our Top 10 Best Buys

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Pictured, left to right: Aqua Sphere Kayenne, $50; Eyeline Conquest, $32;  Tyr Nest Pro, $30; Aqua Sphere Mako, $25; Torpedo Adult Omega, $7; Speedo Cyclone, $40; Tyr Stealth 2, $13; Zoggs Phantom, $24; Zoggs Predator, $43; View Imprex, $25. 

About the rest

All the bottom seven goggles on trial have either PVC or TPE/TPR eyecups, rather than silicone. “PVC is of a lower grade than TPR, which is very similar to silicone, while silicone performs much better than PVC and TPR,” said Bob Wong, regional merchandiser of Power Sky International, manufacturer of the Torpedo goggles.

Generally, these goggles are not anti-fog and come with frames that are connected by adjustable nose pieces. They all cost less than $20, suggesting price generally reflects quality as well as performance – although the Torpedo Adult Omega ($7) and Tyr Stealth 2 ($13) are notable exceptions.

Swimming-goggles-table

 

In our trial, features such as anti-fog, what materials the eyecups are made of, and design, figure significantly in how watertight, fog-free, comfortable and easy to adjust a pair of goggles may be.

Anti-fog / no anti-fog lenses

The inner surface of anti-fog goggle lenses are coated with plastic additives during manufacturing to prevent condensation. If your goggles are not anti-fog or if their anti-fog coating has worn out, you can spray and smear the inside of the lenses with anti-fog solution, available at most sporting goods retailers.

Moulded or fixed frame / adjustable frame

Swimming goggles have either adjustable frames that consist of separate eyecups connected by adjustable and/or removable nosepieces, or moulded/fixed frames with non-adjustable nosepieces. In our trial, all seven goggles that had moulded or fixed frames made our top 10. Two of the goggles on trial, the Eyeline Conquest and Speedo Cyclone, come with individual nosepieces of three different sizes.

Silicone / non-silicone eyecups or gaskets

The eyecups or gaskets have the most contact with your face and determine how comfortable and watertight the goggles are. Most of the higher-priced models have silicone eyecups. Some eyecups – typically those made with silicone – can be shallower than conventional ones, as we discovered when a few of our trialists reported that their eyelashes batted uncomfortably against the inner lenses.

TPR and TPE

When you see TPR (thermoplastic rubber) or TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) on the goggles packaging, they simply refer to the synthetic material, which is a combination of plastic and rubber. Eyecups may also be made from polyvinylchloride (PVC), which is commonly found in the lower-priced goggles.

 

Did you know?

  • Foam goggles were once popular because they were comfortable and inexpensive. However, they don’t remain leak-proof for long and their watertightness and comfort levels decrease as the foam misshapens and deteriorates quickly from chlorine and sunlight. Competition and advances in technology making more durable goggles have rendered the foam goggles defunct.
  • If you take good care of your goggles, they should last for years. Experts contacted by CHOICE say that rinsing out your goggles with tap water and storing them out of direct sunlight will prolong their effectiveness and lifespan.

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