Snowboarder Goggle Exam 2019—Intro
Last spring, SNOWBOARDER Magazine traveled all the way to a famed cat operation outside of Nelson, British Columbia to partake in a vision quest of sorts. While we won't confirm or deny any ingesting of Scooby Snacks, we will admit to spending four days straight tripping out on the chest deep conditions! And then there were the visuals…
More than merely an excuse to experience this snowboarding Shangri-La firsthand, our purpose for heading to Baldface was to put some of the best new goggles of the 19/20 season through their paces in real world conditions, albeit without any ice or hardpack or liftlines or crowds,etc…maybe "real world" is a misnomer.
Not long ago, goggles were largely looked upon as an afterthought and often, the last item acquired when dialing in one's kit. Price and fashion were a selling point, leading many to view them as a commodity item. In turn, consumers were largely unsophisticated when it came to how tints affected definition, the benefits of proper ventilation or how adaptable and practical goggle design could be. This perception shifted over the last decade when industry changing innovations began to evolve how goggles were—ahem—viewed. Now in 2019, the term "accessory" can hardly be applied to how these high-tech tools are viewed and more importantly, to how they improve what's viewed by snowboarders while they are strapped in.
Begun by Jeff Pensiero, Craig Kelly and a handful of other like-minded visionaries as a post-Y2K antidote to stodgy, old world heli-ski traditions, Baldface Lodge has long been a beacon to shredders looking to experience an idyllic powder paradise without the pretense of more elite destinations. With snowfall measured in meters and a tenure packed with a lifetime's worth of untracked trees, chutes, open bowls and off-piste goodness, Baldface provided all the terrain and accoutrements we could ever want for a test of this sort.
The protagonist of our Goggle Exam was famed French Canadian jib aficionado Frank April. While Frank is more known for his skills in the back alleys of Quebec than the backcountry of BC, his enthusiasm, accent and charisma while laying down powder turns and occasionally "tumbling" was infectious. Frank's discerning set of eyes provided insightful evaluations of every pair of goggles we placed on his toque.
After countless cat laps, multiple tomahawks, several clutch high-speed butters and 48 lens changes, Frank had gathered enough firsthand knowledge to be considered an eyewear expert. The following four evaluations are intended to help SNOWBOARDER's readers see their way to the best goggle for this upcoming season. — Pat Bridges