Smith I/OS Goggle — Big Views for the Smaller Noggin

Post by blogger | January 6, 2016      

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.

The goggles that saved me, Smith I/OS.

The goggles that saved me, Smith I/OS.

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.

Notice the strap is nearly fully expanded on my small helmet.

Notice the strap is nearly fully expanded on my small helmet.

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.

Swapping lenses is easy once you get the hang of it and get over your fear of breaking them.

Swapping lenses is easy once you get the hang of it and get over your fear of breaking them.

Lens swap instructions.

Lens swap instructions.

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.

Smith has installed a small pore filter in the top corner of the lens to allow the internal lens chamber pressure to equalize in changing atmospheric pressures. This reduces optical distortion and increases visibility when changing elevations on the mountain. The tiny pore is not visible when wearing the goggles.

Smith has installed a small pore filter in the top corner of the lens to allow the internal lens chamber pressure to equalize in changing atmospheric pressures. This reduces optical distortion and increases visibility when changing elevations on the mountain. The tiny pore is not visible when wearing the goggles.

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.

At 55% visible light transmission (VLT), the Red Sensor Mirror lens is my low light lens.

At 55% visible light transmission (VLT), the Red Sensor Mirror lens is my low light lens.

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.

Smith goggles and lenses available here.


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3 Responses to “Smith I/OS Goggle — Big Views for the Smaller Noggin”

  1. neil tilley January 6th, 2016 12:06 pm

    i have two pairs of the IO’S and two alternative lens for both , they give the ability to never be caught out with the wrong lens choice , just bought a spare blackout lens for those high altitude blue sky days , i find they adjust to a beanie day fit and a M/L helmet fit no probs. find the red sensor mirror is the best low light option for me .

  2. Harry January 6th, 2016 2:44 pm

    While I understand that the I/O series in incredibly popular and many people are very happy with their’s, I don’t understand Smith’s claim to excellent optics or wide field of vision.

    The coatings and “spherical” lens are supposed to deliver clear views but have more chromatic aberration (maybe its some sort of tint induced aberration as it seems to let in varying intensities of light as the exterior flash changes color) around the edges than any of the competitors I have tried.

    My purpose here is not to endorse a specific competitor.

    As my understanding is that the purpose of the spherical cut is to cause the all light entering the lens towards your eye to pass through a similar thickness of plastic, thus avoiding a prizm effect around the periphery, this is particularly galling to me.

    The red sensor is a very problematic lens. Put one on, go outside and look at a tree, then keep your focus locked on the spot and move your head until you are looking through the edge of the field of view and notice how the image both distorts and the light allowed to pass through varies. Or, if you already own a pair and don’t want to be ticked off at them don’t do that.

    Then try the same test with a similarly priced competitive google, preferably one where the coating has a single continuous tint, rather than the cool looking shifting tint that is a signature of Smith.

    They look very cool, but I don’t understand how they get away with their claims of good optics, at least comparative to other similar cost products.

  3. Rachel Bellamy January 10th, 2016 11:15 am

    I just had an extended conversation with some of the people behind the technology of Smith goggles to try and gain better understanding for your concerns. We talked a lot about the sciences behind the lenses and optics.
    So first, because the IO series goggles come in four difference sizes (and names) it is critical for the size to match your face correctly. This is because the lens curvature and mirror coating layers are engineered differently based on the average distance between the user’s pupils. So the coatings and curvature vary pretty significantly between the IO/S and IO,for instance, because they’re meant for different sized faces (measured by pupil distance). Therefore, if one has a goggle on that is too small for their face and sitting away from their eyes enough it can cause what they are viewing to be distorted.

    Secondly, Smith was curious of what year you got your Red Sensor Lens in as the technology for the mirrored lens has changed significantly in the last two years. So this may be part of it.

    Hopefully this helps explain what you may be experiencing. You can always feel free to contact smith as well. They have a lifetime guarantee and I’m sure they’d be happy to make you happier with your eyewear.

    Also fun fact, Smith and Oakley are the only brands in the industry to have government certified labs. Therefore, the work they do there is what contributes to the eyewear and protection that the military and medics use on the front lines.

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