Good eyewear is important for many reasons in the skiing world. We’d be foolish to leave our eyes unprotected from thrashing pine boughs while dropping into an untouched glade. Similarly, any amount of time spent out with naked eyes on a sunny Rocky Mountain backcountry day would give your ophthalmologist reason to scold you. Last winter, my move from the gray Northwest to the seemingly perpetual brightness of Colorado really had me noticing the abilities and limits of my eyewear.
This review covers the Smith I/OS goggle frame and its compatible interchangeable lenses. While unisex, Smith I/OS is designed to fit smaller adult faces, which makes it a nice goggle choice for women.
First of all, I really appreciate the smaller fit of the frame without the shape being silly and childish. Smith kept the same sleek appearance as the other goggles in the collection. The I/OX has the largest fit, the I/O and I/O7 have more of a medium fit, and the I/OS has the smallest in the series.
Not only is fit important for comfort, but also for reducing gaper gap. Yeah, that space between the top of your goggles and the brim of your helmet. These goggles fit well with my older Salomon helmet. Also, from what I’ve seen with other people’s kits, the frames seem to be pretty compatible with most modern ski helmets. This reduces that amount of wind and snow that can get in to your forehead and ego.
One feature that I could foresee giving people issues is the expansion range of the strap. I have a particularly small head and therefore wear a small helmet. For people with even moderately bigger heads or helmets, it seems as though the straps could be too tight when fully expanded. I recommend bringing your helmet when purchasing new goggles for this reason. If you are ordering online, keep that receipt. I always ski with a helmet, but these goggles easily adjust for quick après style at the outdoor bar.
Smith has figured out a easy system with their interchangeable lenses. Swapping is quick enough to do that I can actually do it mid-day when the light changes. Plus, with such a wide range of lenses for each frame size in the series, you’re not missing out by having a smaller frame. I’ve found with other brands that it can be hard to find smaller frames that have such a wide range of interchangeable lenses.
The lenses don’t like to fog. When they do, it is generally when my mouth is tucked in the collar of my jacket, I’m bending over, and warm air is pretty much going straight to my goggles. As soon as I move, the fog disappears. I’ve had no problems with fog building up between the two lens layers.
The spherical shape of the I/OS lens is designed to increase the viewer’s range of vision, optical clarity (reduced distortion), and reduce fog collection within the goggle. I would say that these goggles have a moderately wide range of view but are not the widest that I’ve seen before. This is partly due to the smaller frame.
I’ve tested this frame with the Green Sol-X Mirror lens and the Red Sensor Mirror lens. The Green Sol-X Mirror lens is good for high light conditions and allows about 12% of light to reach your eyes.
I like both lenses a lot, but I do have to say that living in sunny Colorado at +10k elevation, a lens that blocks out more light on bright days is wise. Darker Smith lenses can be purchased as well.