Smith 4D MAG Goggles Review
It was 1965 and a certain Dr Bob Smith, orthodontist and skiing obsessive, was searching for a solution to the problem of being able to ski in poor visibility. What he developed was the first sealed lens with breathable vent - it was a massive jump forward in goggle technology. That was five and a half decades ago and Smith Optics have been pioneers of sports eyewear development ever since.
And so we come to today. The all new Smith 4D MAG has again raised the bar for lens innovation with the introduction of BirdsEye Vision. This is a lens technology claimed to give a 25% increase of overall field of view compared to Smith’s already impressive I/O series. I have good prior knowledge of Smith I/O Goggles reviewed here and the Squad XL which I reviewed here. So, when Smith sent me some of the 4D MAG’s to review I was delighted to check out how they performed.
The first thing you’ll notice about the 4D MAG’s is the lens - you will really notice the lens! The patented BirdsEye curved lenses is a thing to behold and really looks like something a spaceman might wear. They are available in varied colours but I received a pair with sleek grey lenses reminiscent of the sort of thing Sandra Bullock and George Clooney wore in Gravity! Put simply, the lens curves at the edges to give a very sleek appearance. They look great.
But the 4D MAG lens is not only about looks. The reason it is so revolutionary is the increased field of vision it offers. This new technology is said to offer a 25% increase of overall field of view compared to the I/O MAG (which already had a great field of view!). Very impressive.
Beyond that, the goggles incorporate the Smith MAG interchangeable lens system. This is an efficient quick change system where the lens is securely held in place by magnets and the addition of a locking clip at each side ensures the lens can’t unclip accidentally. To change the lens you just need to flick the side switches and it will effortlessly pop off. This allows simple in the field lens changes.
Each set of goggles comes with two different ChromaPop snow lenses to cover bright and low light conditions. ChromaPop is another Smith technology which allows the lens to filter two specific wavelengths of light that cause colour confusion. This means the lens delivers greater definition, more natural colour and greater clarity. In simple terms it allows you to see more detail.
The flexible frames are designed to allow the goggles to mould to the individual shape of a users face and a triple layer of DriWix foam wicks away 50% more moisture than standard foam. This should help the goggles dry more quickly and also help eliminate fogging.
Smith focus hard on getting their goggles to integrate perfectly with Smith helmets and this goes into every design detail. It considers, for a couple of examples, whether the helmet air vents line up with those on the googles and ensures the shape of the helmet is designed to fit the goggles perfectly and in the best position for optimal comfort and performance.
The broad strap has a wide silicon ribbon running along the inside to ensure maximum helmet adhesion and features a clip at the back to allow riders to separate the strap for ease of removal. The goggles are supplied with a soft case.
So, as the feature list shows, these goggles are packed with tech. They are clearly a premium product and at the top of Smith’s already impressive goggle line up. But, how do they perform?
Well…..WOW! These are undoubtedly the most impressive goggles I’ve ever used. I may as well get that out there straight away. They are simply superb. As soon as you pull them on you will notice the benefits of the 4D lens which offers a substantially better field of vision. This is the first pair of goggles I’ve used where it felt like I could actually forget I was wearing goggles. During the test period I switched between a number of models from Smith and other brands and the difference is very striking. I consider 4D to be an amazing innovation.
The fit is also fantastic. Smith use a soft frame which really allows the goggles to contour to the shape of the face. I shared these goggles between friends and other family members and, despite significant differences in face shape and size, all reported back on how comfortable they are.
At no time, even after use in a variety of snow conditions (and with varied humidity, temperatures and wind speeds), could I get these lenses to fog up at all. It was noted that there were times when the lens of my companions had some degree of fogging and yet mine remained clear at all times.
It is only since starting to use goggles with easily interchangeable lenses that I realised how useful this feature actually is. On any typical skiing day the light conditions will vary considerably from full sunlight to perhaps overcast or the shady conditions at the end of the day or when you head onto the back side of the mountain. Now, I think this is a really excellent innovation.
And, as swapping lenses goes, the MAG system is fantastic. You clip the security tabs aside and effortlessly pull the lens off the frame. The magnets held you locate the new one and you reclaim the security tabs. Once you get used to it it is a 20 second job. Carry your spare lens in the goggle storage bag and you are ready for any light conditions. Perfect.
I have only had chance to test the lenses supplied and, as each colour is going to have slightly different characteristics, it would have been great to try a whole series. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible but I am very much liking the grey lens option for bright light anyway.
The broad silicone padded elastic head strap binds the 4D MAG’s securely to a helmet and they feel very secure. Buckles at the back allow easy adjustment and Smith have added a clip designed to allow efficient removal from your helmet. This is the only feature of the goggles that I could take or leave. This clip isn’t something I would use and it lies under the goggle retainer on my helmet making it really hard to use anyway. It isn’t a problem, but I can’t really see the point of it.
Getting your goggles to integrate with your helmet is a crucial feature. If they don’t fit together well you will soon know about it. Smith work diligently to integrate their helmets and goggles and I was able to test the goggles with one of their Mission lids. This is a slightly older Smith helmet and yet they worked superbly together. The shape of the helmet’s face opening was perfectly formed to allow the googles to fit snugly and yet there was no problem with fogging or other fit issues.
Having said that, the main helmet I’ve been using this year is a Giro lid and that has worked really well too. It was also tested with a Salomon and Movement helmet and again there were no issues. So, it is always worth checking, but I can’t imagine you’ll have problems with most helmets.
If you do choose to use a Smith helmet with the 4D’s the one thing worth considering is that every detail will have been considered. The helmet vents are designed to match up with the goggles to ensure efficient air circulation and the goggle retainer clip is sure to work seamlessly. Keeping it all Smith is optimum but not essential.
I think my review says it all really. I will score these goggles 15 out of 10 because I rate them so highly. The fit and features are excellent, but that MAG lens replacement system and the 4D technology is simply fantastic. Smith have gone to town with every detail and produced an industry leading product as a result. Yep, I really do love them!
Of course, all that technology and innovation comes at a price. The 4D MAG’s cost £250 (RRP) and that is a lot to spend on a pair of goggles by any stretch. I would never have previously thought about spending that much, but I certainly believe that once you’ve tried them you will likely be selling some precious family heirloom to buy a pair. They are THAT good!
Posted by Paul