Whether you are a beginner or professional triathlete, choosing the right goggles for your triathlons can make the difference between shaving milliseconds or minutes and winning or losing. Proper swim goggles for your competition level will also improve the safety of your sport. Comfort and fit are paramount when choosing goggles for triathlons, and triathletes especially need good anti-fog and anti-leak features for longer competitive swims, often outdoors amongst waves of other swimmers.
Many athletes are surprised by the complexity of modern goggles, making choosing the right one even more perplexing. Features of lenses, gaskets, nose bridges, hinges, buckles, anti-fog and choice of color and level of mirroring have improved by leaps and bounds in the past decade. Advancements in sports equipment have kept pace with rapid advancements in sports overall, leaving athletes in any field with a myriad of choices. Gone are the days when the everyday swim goggles would be suitable for any type of practice, race, or swimmer.
Choosing the best swim goggles for the triathlon can be a matter of trial and error. A buyer’s guide can save consumers time, money, and hassle by educating them on what products are available, their features, and the pros and cons of each product. The purpose of this guide is to do just that.
The guide will walk the buyer through determining goggles quality and the different features and goggles types available today. Beginning with the different types of swim goggles, this buyer’s guide will help triathletes make an informed decision among five of the best goggles for triathlons currently on the market. Once goggles arrive, buyers can refer to the section on how to test the quality of their goggles, alerting them to what they may need to watch out for our special care that some goggles may need.
Best Triathlon Swim Goggles 2018
|TYR Sport Special Ops 2.0 Polarized(Editor’s Choice)||Polarized||Yes||Yes|
|Aqua Sphere Kayenne||Polarized||Yes||Yes|
|Zoggs Predator Flex Reactor||Photochromatic||Yes||Yes|
|Michael Phelps (MPS) XCEED||Mirrored/Titanium||Yes||Yes|
|Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 Mirrored||Mirrored||Yes||Yes|
Whether swimming lengths in a pool or venturing out into open waters, choosing the right goggles will help to slash personal bests while providing you with maximum comfort so you can focus on your swimming. This lists of the top five triathlon goggles have been created with various preferences and needs in mind.
The range here consists of both unisex sets as well as goggles developed with women in mind. Some have adjustable nose bridges and a variety of lens choices. Although no one set of goggles will fit every athlete, all on this list have been evaluated and passed the test for fit, comfort, durability, shape, and image.
Some goggle features should be a priority no matter the skill level or preferences of the athlete. For safety and competitiveness, all swimmers need maximum clarity underwater, especially in murky pools or ocean waters.
Athletes also need to be able to change the fit of goggles quickly without dropping them or having them slip out of their hands. One-touch buckles help when one-handed adjustments are needed mid-swim.
UV protection is always a good option, and many modern lenses add to lowering the amount of light coming in, keeping glare to a minimum while offering UV protection for the eyes. Outdoor swimmers in sunny climates benefit most from added UV protection.
Anti-fog coatings on lenses and anti-scratch lenses also need to be a priority feature to look for when selecting the right goggles, no matter what type of swimming an athlete plans to do. The anti-scratch feature is great for goggles that come without cases or for those who tend to throw goggles into gym bags without giving it any thought. Anti-scratch lenses especially benefit triathletes, as goggles are frequently quickly thrown off at the end of a swimming leg.
1. TYR Sport Special Ops 2.0 Polarized – Best All-Around Swim Goggles
Not your everyday pool goggle, TYR Sport Special Ops 2.0 Polarized goggles were made with the triathlete in mind. Polarized lenses protect the eyes during outdoor pool and open water swimming, reducing glare, squinting, and headaches. With a wider fit than pool goggles, allowing for greater visibility, these goggles are comfortable and lightweight, perfect for long swims while DURAFIT gaskets ensure no leakage.
These are large-fitting one-size-fits-all goggles and are not the best choice for smaller or more narrow faces. Children’s sizes are available. Adults with especially small facial features may find more success with the children’s version of these goggles.
These goggles are ideal for those that compete with contact lenses due to the DURAFIT technology ensuring a comfortable fit without letting water in, even in choppy waters.
2. Aquasphere Polarized Kayenne – Best Polarized Triathlon Swimming Goggles
Ultra-durable and oversized Plexisol lenses withstand rough waters of open water starts and swims, providing maximum visibility with 4-point expanded lenses. Improve performance times with Aqua Sphere’s Quick-Fit, One-Touch silicone strap adjustment capability. Experience long-lasting clarity during leak-free swims with anti-fog and anti-UV lens technology built in.
The anti-fog coating on these goggles tends to look slightly greasy from the inside. Rinsing these lenses with warm water and soap will eliminate the issue of anti-fog coating impeding vision. Alternatively, you can clean them with a non-abrasive toothpaste.
These are ideal for those who swim in open water or who are very hard on goggles.
3. Zoggs Predator Flex Reactor – Best Triathlon Swim Goggles for Race
Superb visibility and a flexible, 4 Flexpoint Technology™ frame are the hallmarks of Zoggs Predator Flex swim goggles. Comfort is reinforced through silicone, split-yoke silicone straps, reducing eye pressure. Flex Point Frame Technology molds the goggle to the face to prevent leakage and provide maximum comfort during longer competitive swims.
Configurations for lenses include anti-glare and mirrored, allowing for distraction-free swims and maximum eye protection during competition. Curved Lens Technology provides a clear, 180-degree view of surroundings, eliminating tunnel vision. Durable and strong silicone straps are easily adjustable.
Note that these are not the ‘Polarized Ultra’ product. As such, these goggles do not include any polarization in the lenses.
Zoggs Predator Flex goggles may be the ideal choice for those with hard-to-fit facial features.
4. Michael Phelps (MPS) XCEED Goggle Smoke Lens – Coolest-Looking Competitive Swim Goggles
Developed by Olympic Champion Michael Phelps and Major League Baseball executive Bob Bowman, the MPS XCEED Smoke Lens goggle features anatomically fitted, ultra-soft Softeril gaskets and interchangeable nose bridges for maximum comfort. The goggle’s semi-rigid Exo-Core exoskeleton is made of a combination of two different materials, improving strength and durability.
The low-profile, silicone straps and buckle are quick-adjusting and hydrophobic, allowing for a secure grip during starts, turns, and open water swims while repelling water. Polycarbonate, anti-fog, and anti-scratch lenses provide maximum field of vision for sighting competition and walls while keeping the head in position.
Due to the Phelps factor and 360-degree visibility, these goggles are ideal for image-conscious swimmers who frequently find themselves among packs of other swimmers.
Note that the lens shape of these goggles can cause objects to appear closer than they really are. This is called distance distortion. A distorted sense of distance can be a safety issue when approaching walls, rocks, or other swimmers, so be sure to practice enough in these so that you get an accurate sense of distance by the date of your next competition.
5. Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 Mirrored – Best Cheap Triathlon Swim Goggles
The rigid frame of the Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 and its low-profile, sleek G.O. FIT™ System inner eye fit to ensure a leak-free practice or competition every time. The Speedo Vanquisher goggle blocks water from entering through its cushioned, soft, silicone eye seals with a rigid frame and a two-toned silicone head strap featuring an adjustable, ergonomic clip.
Wide, mirrored, panoramic lenses deliver superior peripheral vision while minimizing glare. Anti-fog and UV protection provide added competitive advantage and improved safety. Interchangeable nose bridges add to comfort and durability.
Different color versions of the Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 can vary widely in pricing. The price you see reflected online or in a store for one color may be up to 50 percent higher in a different color. This is due mainly to supply and demand.
These goggles are ideal for those who frequently swim outdoors under bright sunlight.
How to Determine Goggle Quality
A buyer’s guide can only tell athletes so much about the quality of a product. The only surefire way to test product quality is to try the product once it arrives. Below are three tests that can be used to assess the quality of goggles for triathletes.
Test for the comfort of lenses or eye cushions.
Remove the goggle’s straps and press the lenses against the eyes. Then, relieve some pressure and lightly press again. This will show whether the goggle will be comfortable over eye sockets during long practices and competitions and the amount of suction eyes may experience during quick application and removal of goggles. Lenses that are padded with silicone or rubber tend to be more comfortable.
Check nose bridges.
While the lenses are pressed against the eyes, ensure that the nose bridge does not bother the nose. If goggles come with interchangeable bridges, change a few out and back in to ensure bridge strength and durability. Also, check that the nose bridge you plan to use fits well and doesn’t cut your nose or hurt.
Secure the straps to the lenses and stretch the straps before trying on new swim goggles. This will provide a more secure and comfortable fit and allow you to test the strap’s propensity for breakage when putting goggles on or removing them. If straps feature buckles or promise one-click adjustment, test these features as well, using only one hand as one might during competition.
Test the anti-fog quality.
Most goggles come with anti-fog coating these days, but some perform better than others. Before planning to wear new goggles to the next practice or competition, wear the goggles in the shower or take them for a leisurely swim in the pool to assess the quality of the anti-fog feature.
How to Choose Triathlon Swim Goggles
Goggles help improve vision and protect eyes from the sun, chemicals, dirt, and microorganisms during triathlon competitions and indoor and outdoor swims. Not knowing which type of goggles is most appropriate for the sport and level can cost precious time and money.
Goggles need to not only be safe for the intensity and environment of competition, but they need to be comfortable and provide maximum field of vision so that the body or head can stay aligned and you can focus on your swim without worry of goggle malfunction. Dives, turns, and rough waters also need to be considered when choosing the right goggle, as the wrong goggles-type can easily fly or roll off the head during this part of practice and competing.
A good suggestion is to purchase more than one pair of goggles for different environments. Triathletes experience a variety of indoor and outdoor conditions during racing and practice, and a goggle that works well one place may not work well in another.
Users shopping for goggles just for practice can usually opt for a cheaper pair that might not perform as well as higher-grade goggles, but purchasing a different pair of higher-grade goggles for competition, too, would be a sound investment in a triathlete’s career. Whatever the buyer decides to do, it is always prudent to practice at least a few times with new goggles before wearing them for competition, ensuring goggles do not slip, leak, or flip at the eye, especially during starts and turns.
Experienced swimmers who often lead the pack in the water will most likely feel more comfortable wearing racing-style goggles with hard lenses, minimizing drag (since nobody is ahead to cut drag for them!) and guaranteeing clear-as-possible vision allowing swimmers to clearly make out other swimmers and objects ahead. Beginner triathletes who find themselves mashed amongst a pack of other athletes may opt for models with softer and wider lenses. All of the top picks in this buyer’s guide have a wider lens than the everyday swim goggle, but beginner triathletes, especially, appreciate a wider fit.
Skin irritation can be an issue with some goggles, as well, with some swearing by silicone and others swearing by foam around the eyes. Silicone goggles, in practice, normally have more of a tendency to flip and leak if the athlete is not aware of how to form a perfect suction-backed seal with the goggle, but foam can cause redness for longer periods of time around the eyes. Users who have sensitive skin who insist on foam goggles (and a great many swimmers do!) can apply petroleum jelly around the eyes after goggles use or ask a pharmacist for an eczema-type cream that is safe to apply on the face near the eyes.
That being said, below are explanations of the many choices in lenses, frames, and colors of goggles for 2018. Some have silicone behind the lens, and some use foam. Regardless of preference, it is usually a good idea to have one of each for different environments and circumstances. Use this section below as a starting point for choosing the best goggles for triathlons.
Lens types for swim goggles include polycarbonate and optical grade goggle lenses. Optical grade lenses are made from high-grade plastics and are lightweight and resist scratching better than polycarbonate lenses. Both optical grade and polycarbonate lenses are scratch-resistant, but polycarbonates tend to be more durable. Polycarbonate lens goggles come in mirrored and un-mirrored tints of varying shade gradients and support anti-fog and UV protection.
Most goggles incorporate anti-fog coating into their lenses, but this coating can wear off over time, sometimes in as little as two weeks of use. Anti-fog sprays and creams can be applied to goggles with a failing anti-fog coating.
Lenses come in a variety of colors, but the most common ones include:
• Mirrored or ultra-mirrored
• Varying degrees of tinting
Photochromic, prescription and polarized goggles round out the modern selection of lenses.
Clear is the color, or non-color, of choice for indoor swimmers. Swimmers who practice or compete in pools that lack adequate overhead or in-ground lighting or those who often take night swims will especially want a clear lens goggle.
Mirrored goggles deflect and prevent glare more than tinted goggles and are ideal for championship competitions, which often come with the glare of lights and cameras. Backstrokers especially favor mirrored goggles, as do most swimmers frequently out in the water when the sun is high. If you swim at night or are predicting that leg of your race will be completed after the sun sets, mirrored goggles are probably not the best option.
When choosing mirrored goggles, be sure not to choose a mirrored swim mask. These are normally used by jet-skiers or by children for recreational swimming and are not suitable for practicing for competition or for races.
Tinted goggles often look like a smokey or gray color. The tint reflects light off of the water, especially during outdoor swims. Tinted goggles may not be the ideal choice for indoor swimmers or those who practice or compete in low-light conditions.
Today’s newly discovered technologies in goggles offer photochromic lenses. These are lenses that darken and lighten as the sun or surrounding light shines and fades.
Polarized goggle lenses, like their mirrored counterparts, are especially good for triathlons and open-water swimming. They provide maximum visibility and eye protection with little suction and blocking more sunlight than any other type of goggles. They are like smaller, waterproof and leakproof polarized sunglasses.
Speedo is only one among many manufacturers of prescription swim goggles. Triathletes may prefer prescription goggles to wearing contact lenses with goggles over them.
Swim Goggles come in many frame styles, and some are one-of-a-kind. The sleekest frame types are designed for a low drag through the water but can have a tendency to slip more easily. Many swimmers who swim recreationally for pastime use these frame types.
This form of swim goggle is widely known among serious swimmers and is becoming an increasing favorite. Swedish goggles don’t have any gasket or cushioning. They are pressed directly onto the eye either before or after being strapped on.
This provides for much less water drag and slightly less weight than goggles with traditional frames when milliseconds count. Swimmers who use Swedish goggles often use on a gasket goggle for practice and Swedish goggles for competition. These goggles can cause unsightly rings around the eyes, but rings dissipate within a few hours.
Classic Gasket Goggles
Gasket goggles are the most common type of swim goggle and are usually what people think of when picturing goggles. Various materials are used in manufacturing gasket goggles, including rubber, foam, and silicone. Silicone normally provides the best grip and lease chance of skin irritation. Second to silicone are foam gasket goggles, but foam often irritates the delicate skin around the eyes if goggles are not properly cared for. Although silicone goggles tend to be more popular, they do tend to have a greater chance of the lens flipping when facing rushing water than foam goggles do.
The swim mask is a cross between a traditional snorkeling or shallow-dive mask and a pair of goggles. These are not designed for competition, due to their bulkiness and weight. They are often preferred by light recreational swimmers and children rather than competitive athletes.
Other considerations include choosing the proper gasket shape and goggle size. Oval-shaped gaskets tend to suit competitive athletes better, especially for smaller faces. Goggles normally come in regular, women’s, and children’s sizes, with some offering men’s sizes. Men who order goggles online need to be aware that the goggles ordered maybe women’s goggles unless otherwise specified. Women’s goggles tend to run smaller than men’s or regular goggles.
TYR Sport Special Ops 2.0, hands down, are the winners this season for the best swim goggles for triathlons. Their durability and visibility are ideal for the various triathlete swimming environments. Although they are not as sleek as some other goggles on this list, they do reduce drag more by allowing swimmers a maximum field of visibility while maintaining body and head position. Add to that their flexible fit, comfort, and their hot looks, and any other goggles pale in comparison.
Choosing the best swim goggle for triathlons is often a much more complicated process than most athletes set out to expect. Novice shoppers find that choosing the right swim goggle can be frustrating, at best. Knowing what to look for online or in a sports store using a buyer’s guide will help alleviate some of that frustration. This page guide offers tips on what to look for in a swim goggle if planning to compete in triathlons for fun or for competition so that shoppers can make informed decisions on the most important piece of equipment in the sport of swimming.