After almost seven years my trusty Smith I/O ski goggles were starting to show signs of aging. So about half way through this ski season I started shopping for some new goggles.
The problem I ran into in shopping for new ski goggles was one that I think most avid skiers who also have young kids can relate to. That problem was budget! The last time I shopped for ski goggles I didn’t have budget constraints like I do now because I didn’t have kids back then. This time around I had my daughters’ college funds to consider as I shopped for goggles.
While I would have liked to just go and buy another pair of Smiths, it just wasn’t in the budget this time. On Instagram, my partner came across a brand that I hadn’t heard of before. That brand was Glade Optics.
I was intrigued by Glade Optics because they’re based in Breckenridge, Colorado and appear to have an actual physical presence in the U.S. even though the goggles are made elsewhere. The other intriguing thing is that they weren’t priced ridiculously low like some knock-off brands you’ll find on Amazon, but they weren’t as expensive as the goggles I was replacing (you won’t find Glade on Amazon at all).
Glade Optics also offered a pro discount for people who work in the ski industry. I submitted the requisite paperwork to prove that I actually am a ski instructor working at a ski mountain. About a week later I got an email from Glade Optics inviting me into the pro program. The discount offered was significant and I was able to purchase a pair of Glade Optics Fathom goggles for well under $100.
Unboxing the Glade Optics Fathom Goggles
I ordered Glade Optics Fathom goggles and they arrived in the mail within a couple of days. I opted for the “team edition” Fathom goggles because I wanted the darkest lens option and because the team edition comes with a free goggle case (a $25 product on its own).
The goggles were delivered in the goggle case inside a sturdy cardboard box. Within the case there was a goggles with the dark lens installed. A lighter lens to use on cloudy days was also in the case inside a cloth sleeve.
This is a good time to note that I chose the Glade Optics Fathom goggles over the Glade Optics Adapt 2 goggles because I prefer to swap lenses rather than rely on photochromic lenses to adapt to changing light conditions. I’ve had some less-than-good experiences with photochromic lenses while mountain biking which has made me timid about trying them in other settings.
First Impressions on the Snow
“Whoa! These are dark!” was what I said the first time I put on the Glade Optics Fathom goggles with the dark lens installed. It wasn’t a super bright day when I put them on, but it also wasn’t what I would call a dark day. I’m sure there is some scientific method to measure how dark the lens is. I don’t know what that method is so I’ll just say the dark lens felt like it was blocking a lot of light.
Skiing down for the first time with Glade Optics Fathom goggles on I immediately noticed some wind noise that I hadn’t noticed before. I stopped and adjusted the placement of the goggle strap and the noise persisted. On the next run I adjusted the strap again and the noise went away.
The wind noise must have been due to the fact that my helmet from Smith is made to mesh with Smith optics without any futzing around. The same is not true when using another manufacturer’s goggles. Not a big deal at all, it’s just something to be aware of.
Three Days of Powder and Changing Light!
After getting them I wore my Glade Optics Fathom goggles for every ski lesson that I taught. Wearing the goggle while teaching on the magic carpet and beginner terrain isn’t quite the same test as wearing them while charging through glades covered in 20″ of fresh snow!
Last week I got three full days of skiing at Jay Peak in Vermont. It snowed a few inches every day that we were there. It also snowed 20″ the night before we got there. To say that we hit it right is an understatement. It was freaking fantastic skiing!
On Wednesday it was quite overcast and snow was falling while we were skiing over the bumps and through the glades. I wore the light lens that came with my Glade Optics Fathom goggles. Swapping lenses was super easy because the lenses attach to the frame magnetically. There isn’t any fidgeting with tricky tabs or weaving the lens through a slot in the frame to worry about. While I did take my gloves off to swap lenses, I bet that I can do it with my gloves on if I have to.
On Thursday we woke up to sunshine at Jay Peak! I swapped the light lens for the dark lens on my goggles. The dark lens was the perfect choice. Never once did I have any problems picking up shadows or weird undulations in the terrain while wearing the dark lens. Equally important, I never felt any eye strain from glare off the snow.
In the afternoon on Thursday the clouds rolled in quite quickly. Unfortunately, I had left my light lens back in the condo we were renting. I could have gone back, but I didn’t want to miss any time on the slopes. That was a mistake because on one particularly dark run I couldn’t pick up any of the undulations in the slope. I checked up and told my buddy to go slow and I’d follow him until we got out of the clouds. He did.
Friday we woke to mostly clear skies. I chose to go with the dark lens again. It worked out well in light that I would call flat. It wasn’t bright, but it wasn’t dark either. Once again the dark lens performed well and I was able to pick up all of the nuances of the surfaces we skied including glades and high-speed groomers.
For the price, I don’t think you’ll find a better pair of ski goggles than what Glade Optics offers. Like any ski goggle, after lens quality the fit is what matters most. Glade does have a 30 day return/ exchange policy with free shipping both ways so that you get the goggles that fit you best.