Over the last few years we have spotted a growing trend at many events—from Sea Otter to the Kamikaze Games and everything in between. Companies such as Giro, Smith and Troy Lee Designs have even designed their helmets to accommodate goggles, using adjustable visors to allow more clearance and built-in strap clips to keep the goggles from falling off. So with the goggle revolution in full swing, we asked ourselves, why are we still getting laughed at by fellow riders when we show up to the trails with our mirrored lenses and flashy colored straps? Is ditching sunglasses only for downhillers, or is there a time when wearing goggles for a trail ride makes sense?
Goggles: A rider wearing goggles will receive the utmost protection for days when the trails are dusty and rocky.
Goggles versus sunglasses:
Sunglasses have been the norm among trail riders for years because they are lightweight, breathable and come in all shapes, sizes and colors to serve even the most fashion-conscious. With sunglasses in such popular demand, why are so many riders using goggles?
Goggle technology has advanced tremendously over the years. Manufacturers now use multiple layers of foam for moisture wicking, and better-structured air vents allow more airflow. The lenses themselves have also come a long way, with anti-fog coatings and the option to use tear-off papers. These tear-off papers can come in handy in ultra-muddy conditions when wiping your lenses will just smear them and make visibility worse. As goggle technology continues to progress and new trail helmets are designed with features to support them, goggles may become more popular for trail riders.
To test this theory, we grabbed some goggles and some sunglasses and headed out to do some repeats on our favorite trails. We wanted to see which option was more comfortable and functional going up and down the mountains. When descending with the sunglasses, we noticed more air around our faces, which we liked, but the goggles seemed to put us in a racier mood (although it felt a bit as if we were going in slow motion due to the lack of air hitting our faces). When riding solo, the protection level seemed about the same with goggles or sunglasses, but when chasing a buddy down the trail, we noticed the dust coming off his or her rear tire never hit our eyes when we were wearing goggles. This allowed us to chase a little closer and still feel comfortable and safe.
Glasses: A pair of sunglasses offers the rider the best balance of protection and breathability for long days out on the trails.
When we started to head back up the hill with goggles, they stayed clear and fog-free, but retained a lot of heat, which eventuality caused us to take the goggles off and wrap them around our helmets. Sunglasses offered us the best balance between comfort and protection for climbing and descending, but when riding with big groups on loose or dusty trails, the goggles provided the most protection against flying debris. So, will the goggle fad continue to grow? We aren’t quite sure. Sunglasses will meet the needs of trail riders in most situations, but there are definitely times and places where goggles are a better choice.
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