Smith IO/7 Goggles Review
Having previously tested, and loved, the Smith Highwire sunglasses with Chromapop technology, I was keen for more. Fortunately, Smith offered me some of their iconic I/07 goggles to test and the decision was very simple - with winter activities in Norway, Chamonix and Scotland on the agenda, I snapped their hand off. Here is why I am very glad I did…..
Firstly…..Wow! These are certainly very attractive goggles. Nowadays I am rather past wanting eyewear that is too brash or ‘over the top’ and the I0/7 is neither - they are subtle enough to suit a wide range of users but also bright and cheerful enough to add some flair to your winter activities and outfits - although there are a wide range of colour options so you can realise your wilder side if you like!
The appearance is cool and the styling is subtle and sleek. A single curved lens neatly covers the front but without an obtrusive frame to spoil the look. The frame is there of course, but it just doesn’t dominate the design in the way that some goggle designs do. They look great.
As I researched the history of this model, I was surprised to find that, despite their very modern appearance, the I0/7 has been around in various guises since 2007. I actually found a few photos of older incarnations and, although the styling has certainly been updated along the way, the bones of the original model remain. I think this is great as I always see it as a good sign when a design has stood the test of time - think Bic ballpoint pen, Dualit toaster or the ubiquitous post it note!
A stand out feature of this model is the interchangeable lens system and, although other manufacturers have their own interchangeable systems, well over a decade on the market has certainly allowed Smith to ensure their offerings works pretty much perfectly. For me, although I have used many goggle designs over the years, these were actually the first with lens interchangeability. I thought it might be a gimmick but soon saw its advantages - particularly for skiing activities where visual clarity makes such a big difference to both safety and the quality of experience.
The lenses are very easily swapped within just a minute or two (once you have worked out how to do it slickly) using Smith’s ‘single pivot quick release lens system’ and so you can carry the spare lens in the included storage bag and switch easily when the sun comes out - you can easily get these swapped over while sitting on that chairlift or in that funicular and then you’ll always be ready for the next down.
There are loads of colours and variations available, but the ones I received included both sun green mirror and storm rose flash lenses which means you have a lens suitable for low light and bright light - this makes the goggles practical for a range of conditions and, as I am as likely to use goggles in the wind blasted snowy storm conditions of Scotland as in the bright sunshine of snowy Alpine days, I have grown to really value this versatility.
As mentioned above, the lenses on the I0/7 feature Smith’s Chromapop technology. I have been using some of their Highwire sunglasses for some time and, as that model also features this technology, I am now very familiar with its advantages. ChromaPop is a Smith innovation which, as they explain, ‘filters two specific wavelengths of light giving greater definition, more natural colour and very impressive clarity’. It is a great addition and the difference is very noticeable when I compared the I0/7’s to either the Oakley or Bolle goggles that I own.
Alongside the lenses, Smith have incorporated some other very significant features into the frames. The face foam (that separates and cushions the goggle frames around the face) is a comfortable and well sealed 3 layer construction and the goggles feel really comfortable on my face (do check the goggles are a good fit before purchase as different faces obviously have slightly different shapes). I also like that I don’t need to have them too tight for a good fit and this mostly avoided the dreaded goggle marks around the eyes after a day on the slopes.
The goggle fit is also aided by the Dual Axis Outrigger System. This means, to put it simply, that each end of the strap attaches to the frame via a pivot attachment system. This allows enough movement to keep the google strap/frame well positioned and also allows a good fit when they are worn with a helmet or chunky hat. It also allows for the strap/frame to move independently and this allows a better seal in wild weather.
The I0/7’s feature a broad and comfortable elastic strap that adjusts easily and feels comfortable both against the head or when positioned around a ski helmet. Smith line the inside of the elastic with a high friction silicone band to help keep them in place and this works a treat.
These goggles also include Smith’s AirEvac Integration Technology. This is designed to work alongside Smith helmets to prevent fogging and regulate temperature by allowing an unobstructed air flow through air channels integrated into both. I haven’t had access to a Smith helmet to test this system but, in my use with a Movement helmet and various climbing helmets in very variable temperatures (from -21 degrees in Norway to just below freezing in Scotland), I have never had a single problem with any form of condensation.
Moreover, the I0/7’s have coped very well with these variable temperature conditions in terms of keeping me relatively cool around the face. This is subjective of course, because a pair of goggles and a tight fitting helmet or hat is always going to feel quite warm during active sports, but these goggles do compare extremely favourably with others I’ve used.
Smith define the I0/7 as medium fit and that seems about right. I compared them alongside various medium sized Oakley and Bolle models that I had available and they were comparable on size. This makes them an ideal size for my head and face but do be sure to check they will work for you. On my partner, who has a much smaller face, they were too big and my children also felt them a little big (although they were still desperate to use them because they thought they looked so cool!).
The I0/7 is a premium product and the price tag, with a RRP of £190, reflects that. However, you are certainly getting a lot of product for your money and no expense has been spared to make them a top end product. Remember too that this includes an additional lens, state of the art technology, a storage bag for both the goggles and additional lenses and even a cleaning cloth.
I very much look forward to plenty more use for my I0/7’s and hope you give some a try yourself. I’m also hoping to use them with a Smith skiing helmet during the coming season and will add to this review once I’ve had chance to see how the combined system works.
Posted by Paul