Tried and True – POC Iris X Goggles (& Synapsis helmet)

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POC helmet and goggles up at Rogers Pass, BC.

Rogers Pass, BC.

One aspect of reviewing gear on Wildsnow is that we’re able to test gear for long periods of time. A few pieces of gear I’ve tried stand out above the rest, particularly in terms of durability. Consider my POC Synapsis helmet and Iris X goggles. I began using these items almost four years ago, and have been abusing them almost exclusively since. Nearly everything else I ski with has been worn out in that time, some items several times over.

Helmets are fairly durable, and can hold up to a few seasons of abuse if not damaged or asked to absorb a hard fall. The Synapsis is no different. It’s in superb condition, only with some of the interior padding worn out. Goggles, however, are much more fragile. A key element of the Iris X goggles’ longevity is their easily replaceable, relatively cheap lenses. I prefer flat lens (as opposed to spherical lens) goggles. Not only are the lenses cheaper, but they are smaller and more flexible for stuffing in the backpack. Replacement lenses for the Iris cost about $20 (as opposed to $80 for spherical lenses), so it’s a trivial cost to buy 2 or 3 pairs a season. Looking through clear, non-scratched goggle lenses is priceless.

So that’s the lens, but what about the Iris X frames? I’ve been using them for four years of about 100 days a year. They have held up incredibly well. There aren’t any parts that are noticeably worn out–pretty impressive with the amount of abuse they’ve handled. The frames are fairly simple, made of soft plastic, with adequate venting. The soft plastic makes the goggles super flexible, and keeps them from breaking when they’re stuffed into a pack. They also provide a bit of safety with some padding and protection for your face.

Besides durability, Iris X boasts other impressive features. The goggles are simple but have some of the most impressive anti fogging tech I’ve ever seen. Out of all the goggles I’ve tried they fog the least — almost never. The only times when I’ve had a bit of an issue is after leaving them in a wet goggle bag overnight. (Effective venting is built into the goggle frame, along with an anti-fog treated double lens, and more.)

For more details, check out this review I did a few years ago shortly after I started using the Synapsis Iris combo.

Shop for yours here. Highly recommended for backcountry skiing.


7 Responses to “Tried and True – POC Iris X Goggles (& Synapsis helmet)”

  1. Nick December 16th, 2013 6:12 pm

    After damaging an expensive pair of Smith Turbo Fan goggles by stuffing them in my rucksack I made a rigid protector for them out of glass fibre so they wouldn’t get squished and twisted.

  2. Wookie December 17th, 2013 6:02 am

    Another really good idea is to always buy goggles that offer a non-mirrored lens. These are usually not only cheaper, they also don’t get scratched all that easily, meaning they last forever. The good ones are just as dark as any mirrored lens and provide the same level of UV protection as well. Many are polarized, which is a great feature.
    Another plus: I find wearing those mirrored lenses kind of aggro. Its not a huge deal – but not being able to see someones eyes when you talk to them sends a not so subtle signal. Even really dark black lenses, which still block all the light, don’t seem to isolate you as much.

  3. Lou Dawson December 17th, 2013 6:36 am

    Wookie, another consideration, apparently the POC clear lens is mirrored. We use clear lenses quite a bit, so I’m concerned that 1.) my clear lenses will be prone to scratching and 2.) that they’ll attenuate the light of my headlamp or snowmobile headlight. I’ll have a tester soon and will report back. Lou

  4. KMS December 17th, 2013 7:35 am

    On a sidenote: Where in Rogers Pass is that picture from?

  5. Lou Dawson December 17th, 2013 8:00 am
  6. alf December 17th, 2013 8:22 am

    does this helmet have removable ear flaps?


  7. Louie December 18th, 2013 6:26 pm

    alf, yep, the ear flaps are removable. I personally rarely ever take them off, but it’s pretty easy.

    Interesting point about the mirrored coatings, I’ll have to try that. The lens I use most often is a low light mirrored one.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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