Which goggles should you choose? Low-profile goggles without gasket, or gasket types? Perhaps you should aim for a mask instead, or even go without? And what do you do if you have glasses or contact lenses?
Read the ultimate guide to swimrun goggles below. It will guide you through the different types available, the pros and cons with each. What type of lens you should go for and why you should always have at least 2 pairs!
There are the many type of goggles on the market. That’s why it can be a bit cumbersome to choose a pair. Depending on what you plan to do, you basically have to decide if you want a comfortable pair with silicon, rubber or foam gasket, or a low-profile type that sits directly on your eye-socket. Also, if you’re going to use them for training, racing or both. There are pros and cons with all types.
Low-profile goggles without gasket
These are widely used by professional swimmers since they sit directly on your eye-socket and create less resistance in the water. Some find this uncomfortable, especially during longer swims.
However, with this type you get to assemble yourself and they can be adjusted to millimetre perfection. Using a thin elastic over the nose bridge, you adjust how the cups fit over your eyes. Around the head you adjust the accompanying elastic band which, depending on preference, can be fitted together or in a high-low split position. This type of google weigh next to nothing.
Gasket type goggles
This type of goggle is the popular choice among many swimmers given their comfort coming from a soft gasket lining. They come in a narrow–to-wide range, where the narrow lies closer to the low-profile type and the wider closer to a full size swim mask. These goggles doesn’t feature the same adjustment possibilities as the low profile. Some even have fixed-length over the nose bridge, but they usually come in different sizes. The wider type come with a wider lens that will provide the swimmer with enhanced peripheral vision. This is good in wavy open water (OW) conditions. But the wider the goggles become, the more resistance you’ll get in the water, the more they will weigh and the more cumbersome they’ll be when you run.
The mask type is very comfortable given its large surface area and even amount of suction on your face. However, they can only be adjusted around the head. The wide lens provide more peripheral vision and is a good choice for the beginner or kids. This type of goggle is good for open water swimming in tough wavy and windy conditions, but will create the most resistance in the water, will weigh more and will be less comfortable to run with.
There are a wide range of lens types available on the market and the most popular choices are the clear, mirrored, tinted, and polarized.
The clear, also called transparent, is a good choice if you swim indoors a lot, or prefer to run with your goggles on during swimrun training and racing. They will not distort any colour and is the optimal choice if swimrunning during sunset, evening or under night conditions. They can however be challenging in bright light and sunny conditions, or environments where light is strongly reflected. They are not recommended for people who are sensitive to bright light.
The tinted are good for most conditions with strong light or high glare since they provide good vision yet lowers the overall brightness. They are not recommended for darker cloudy or evening conditions, or when swimrunning in strong backlight conditions.
The mirrored are ideal for normal to very bright and sunny conditions since they reduce brightness and filters out all glare from bright light. This is especially good when swimming in wavy conditions and strong sun which will expose you to direct sunlight that might cause blurred vision.
The polarized type is very similar to mirrored goggles filtering out bright light and glare but keeps the vertical component of light which provides a more clear vision. Non-polarized lenses indiscriminately filters out all light, slightly limiting vision. This type of lens also reduce eyestrain.
There are a wide range of colours to choose from and normally bright colours like pink, yellow and orange will enhance light making them a good choice in darker conditions and vice versa with darker colours for brighter light conditions. If swimming outside always choose UV-treated lenses.
As it happens, in some shorter races or races with lower swim ratio, many swimrunners go without goggles. Even though goggles serve a purpose by protecting your eyes and providing vision in and under water, you still have to run with them and juggle them during all transitions. In harsh conditions they can become a burden during the transitions between swimming and running. If you plan to go without, remember to slowly accustom your eyes to their new environment and be careful in salty or dirty water conditions.
Unfortunately, some of us need correction for our vision and there are really only two options for swim goggles: contact lenses and goggles with prescription correction.
Contact lenses have made a lot of progress and you can find models that sit comfortably and stay on your cornea. This is convenient as you can run with them. However most opticians and manufacturers recommend not using contact lenses in open water swimming due to the risks of infection or in wavy choppy conditions where the risk of losing a lens is high. This is your choice and responsibility.
Most types of goggles we discussed previously accept correcting lenses. Either the plastic is moulded to your needs or you can have additional lenses fitted inside your normal goggles. You can find moulded prescription goggles at your opticians were they can be bought off the shelves, or on the Internet. For the added lenses option, masks are the best for this. Although this removes most of the risks of eye infection, it also implies that you may have to carry a pair of glasses for running and swap them over. It is cumbersome, time-consuming and therefore most people avoid this option. Nevertheless, few seconds wasted can be better than an infection.
WoS frequently test and evaluate swimrun equipment and in the near future we plan to test and evaluate a wide range of goggles, so stay tuned to our channel.
Remember to store the goggles separately and protected. If you get scratches on the surface it will impede on your vision and allow them to fog up more quickly. All goggles will fog up at one point. There is no such thing as fog-free goggles and fog spray is overrated.
Stay safe and have fun!
/The WoS Team
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