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  • Jun

    The Expert Review: Open Water Goggles

    By Julie Stupp, Olympic Trials finalist

    Tell us in the comments below where you will be doing your open water swimming this summer and you could win a pair of open water swimming goggles featured in our review!

    Competing in the open water can be very intimidating for many swimmers and non-swimmers alike. The conditions in open water can often be a challenge. The water can be cold, choppy, there may be a current and most of the time it is murky so you have no idea what is lurking beneath you. Not to mention in most races there is a high probability of getting hit in the face with an arm or a leg of a competitor.

    One of the few things you do have control of is what you are wearing and how well you react to the obstacles in the race. Having a great pair of open water goggles can relieve a lot of stress by helping you clearly see where you are going and what is going on around you.

    Open water goggles are quite different from pool goggles and unfortunately I learned this the hard way during my first triathlon. I realized there are four main components I need to have in a great open water goggle.

    My personal criteria include:

    1. 360 Visibility – The most important aspect of an open water goggle to me is having what I like to call “360-degree visibility.” This means you have the ability to sight the turn buoys at a great distance, you have good vision clarity in the water and you’re able to effortlessly see out of the periphery of your goggle for your competitors.

    2. Anti-Fog – The goggles must have a strong anti-fog coating. In the middle of an open water race you don’t have time to clear your goggles and no one wants to purchase a new pair for each race.

    3. Comfort – This is key, not only because you are wearing the goggles for quite some time, but also because most races have a mass start. During a mass start you may have contact with another swimmer and an uncomfortable goggle can cause some pain or injury to your face and or eyes.

    4. Tint – Lastly, tint is very important depending on what time your race starts and what the weather entails.

    Nootca 207 ($22.99)

    The Nootca 207 had all of the components I want in an open water race goggle with its best feature being excellent 360-degree visibility.

    360-Degree Visibility: This goggle definitely had the best clarity of any of the goggles I tried on. I could not only see very well in the water but also when sighting for buoys in a race or in training it was effortless. The periphery vision in the Nootca was also excellent because of the wrap around lenses.

    Anti-Fog: The only con I would say is the Nootca 207 didn’t have the best anti-fog coating. It stays fog free for a majority of my training swims, but every once and awhile I need to clear the goggles for better vision.

    Comfort: This goggle is very comfortable. It has just the right amount of eyepiece cushion and nosepiece flexibility.

    Tint: The brown tint on the Nootca was something I have never tried but I loved it. It gives you the ability to swim and see clearly in dark or light weather. I think you could race in this goggle at any time of the day.

    Barracuda Fenix ($21.65 – regular, $25.95 – mirrored) 

    The Barracuda Fenix is definitely the most comfortable goggle I tested in this review.

    360-Degree Visibility: The Fenix is a great goggle for open water clarity, but depending on the amount on sunlight during your race, seeing buoys way out in the distance could be a little tougher compared to others because of the dark tint. The Fenix does have a good wrap around lens for periphery vision.

    Anti-Fog: The Fenix has a good anti-fog coating, that seems to last for long open water swims.

    Comfort: The Fenix has the most comfortable eye cushions of the goggles I tested. The goggles are quite big but they fit really well and create a very comfortable yet strong seal from the water.

    Tint: The Fenix has the darkest tint of the goggles I tested. They have a dark reflective tint on the outside of the goggle and create a bluish tint when swimming. This dark tint is excellent for swimming in really sunny weather but on a cloudy or dark morning, it might be a touch too tinted.

    Aqua Sphere K180+ ($21.03)

    The Aqua Sphere K180+ reminds me the most of a pool goggle in its shape and size, but stood out as a great open water goggle because of its strong anti-fog coating.

    360-Degree Visibility: The K180+ clear lenses made sighting buoys and open water clarity easy but they did lack in periphery vision. The lenses don’t wrap very far around your eyes at all giving a limited field of vision.

    Anti-Fog: The K180+ had the strongest or longest lasting Anti-Fog coating of any of the goggles I tested. The coating helped me swim for over 30 minutes at a time before having to clear the goggles out with a little bit of water. These goggles could be a great long distance training option.

    Comfort: The lenses on the K180+ were not the most comfortable because of a lack of eyepiece cushion. The eye piece of the goggles are very firm and very small so they could become uncomfortable in a long swim by putting extra pressure on your orbital bones.

    Tint: The K180+ lenses that I tested were clear. They also come with a smoke lens. These clear lenses that I had would be a great option for an early morning race start, when the sun hasn’t come up yet.

    View Shinari ($19.95) 

    The View Shinari also had a very similar eyepiece shape to a pool goggle, but they had the best level of tint out of the goggles I tested.

    360-Degree Visibility: The Shinari goggles are a great option for 360-degree visibility. The light mirrored tint really helped with sighting buoys and water clarity in the sun and the wrap around lenses are excellent for periphery vision. I could clearly spot while wearing these goggles when someone was swimming next to me.

    Anti-Fog: The Shinari had a pretty good anti-fog coating that seemed to last for the majority of my longer training swims. I cleared the goggles more often due to a lack of comfort than a fogging issue.

    Comfort: The Shinari fit much like the K180+ and could be uncomfortable for long races because of its small and sleek eyepiece shape. The goggles have a flexible yet thin eyepiece cushion that could overtime irritate your orbital bones. But it makes them very streamlined.

    Tint: The Shinari mirrored lenses have the perfect reflective tint on the outside. It is light enough for an early morning sunless race start and dark enough for a sunny race start. The inside of the lenses create a brownish, blue hue when looking through the goggles and the color combination must be the perfect blend because it made sighting on a sunny or a cloudy day effortless.


    Don’t forget to tell us in the comments below where you will be doing your open water swimming this summer and you’ll be entered for a random drawing to win a pair of open water swimming goggles featured in our review! All entries must be received Wednesday, June 18 at 11:59pm. One entry per person per email.

    Read the 2018 Top Open Water Goggle Review here.

    Email Address Invalid. Please enter an email address in the format: xx@yy.zz
    4 years ago.
    Missouri Lakes :)
    5 years ago.
    Ohio River!
    betzy massic
    6 years ago.
    Bethany Beach Ocean mile swim!!
    Eric Shi
    6 years ago.
    Across Boston Harbor
    6 years ago.
    Erie, PA in prep for Chattanooga this fall!
    6 years ago.
    Swimming from Bayfield WI across to Madeline Island in their annual 2.1 mile race. Hopefully it'll be warm enough!
    Brian King
    6 years ago.
    Santa Barbara CA
    East Beach Reef and Run 1 mile Ocean Swim Series
    Tammy Powell
    6 years ago.
    Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, Lake Arthur, Woodcock, Gulf of Mexico. So many different open water swims so a great pair of goggles is essential!
    6 years ago.
    Desperately seeking a decent replacement for the Technoflex Vision goggles that Tyr discontinued
    6 years ago.
    Alum Creek State Park near Delaware Ohio
    Teresa Fowler
    6 years ago.
    I swim Anishnabek Cove off Naubinway Bay in northern Lake Michigan. I also swim Cozy Cove at Floatplane Beach, northern Lake Michigan.
    6 years ago.
    I am a very competitive swimmer and would love a pair of these googles. I do alot of swimming competitions in pools and in large bodies of water, and I can never seem to find a good pair of goggles that will do the job right.
    6 years ago.
    I've been training for my first sprint Tri at Fox Island, Fort Wayne Indiana
    6 years ago.
    I'll be swimming in Lake Michigan, for USAT nationals, and Lake Monona in Madison, WI for the MOWS 2014 2.4 mile race. I'd love to have a pair of these goggles.
    Thai Sanders
    6 years ago.
    Would love to have these goggles to aid in vision at the Gulf of Mexico that meets Galveston, TX.
    6 years ago.
    Hampton Beach, NH - riding the waves with my boogie board!
    6 years ago.
    Hayden triathlon July 12 in Hayden, ID. It will be my very first triathlon. The very next weekend I will be doing the Steve Omi 1 mile swim in Lake Coeur d'Alene.
    6 years ago.
    La Jolla, CA Pacific Ocean
    6 years ago.
    6 years ago.
    NYC Triathlon on August 3rd! :)
    6 years ago.
    Looking forward to my favorite summertime hobby of diving for crawfish in the beautiful mountain lakes of Northern California!
    Jim Wheeler
    6 years ago.
    Lake Perris and La Jolla
    6 years ago.
    I just did my first open water triathlon at Blue Lake in Oregon and loved it. I am hoping to do another tri very soon!
    6 years ago.
    Chris Greene Lake and the James River in Virginia.
    6 years ago.
    I have been swimming in the James River with a local Richmond, VA group. Also, just competed in the Jamestown International Triathlon, with an open water swim in the James River further downstream.
    Displaying   1 - 25 of 211
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