Smith’s new 4D Mag goggles are certainly head-turners, but will the eye-catching eyewear find favour with our tester?

The Ski Club’s content manager Joe donned the new Smith goggles ahead of the launch of the product in the Autumn. Find out how the American brand’s latest flagship model fared in our review.

Smartphones and protective eyewear don’t have too much in common. However, Smith’s new BirdsEye view technology on their 4D goggles has a definite resemblance to the curved screens that are trickling into the smartphone market. The curved LED screens have been applauded by some, but boo-booed by others, will Smith’s new lenses receive the same polarising verdict? 

I headed to the Freeride World tour in Fieberbrunn to find out how well the new goggles would perform.

Initial Impressions

Straight out of the box, the patented BirdsEye vision curved lenses had the gear fanatics in the editorial team drooling. The striking design has a space-age look about it and on paper seems to be a fantastic idea that offers a superior field of vision. Trying them on for the first time I’m tentatively inclined to agree, I say tentatively because with any new tech the proof is in the pudding, or in this case the skiing.

The construction and materials are exactly what you would expect from a top end goggle. Flexible frames match the curves of my face while the triple layer foam feels smooth and cushioned. The shape of the goggles will suit those with medium size faces or larger. Unsurprisingly, the goggles fit perfectly with the Smith helmet I’m simultaneously testing, with the numerous of air vents matching up perfectly with Smith’s AirEvac system on the helmet.

Overall I found the goggles very comfortable, although they were slightly snug around the nose, possibly in order to make way for the fancy curved lens. As always it’s important to try before you buy to ensure the goggles fit with your face but also with your helmet.

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Field Test

Ski Club of Great Britain

Out on the mountain, the first-to-market Birdseye tech curved lens undoubtedly offered increased peripheral vision, something that became particularly apparent when switching goggles with a colleague between runs. The spherical goggles I compared the Smiths to are by no means narrow in their range of vision, it is just that the curved lens design offers that much more. Smith claims the goggles increase the field of vision by 25%, although we aren’t sure how that’s measured, either way, we were very impressed. The goggles are particularly suited to snowboarders who are constantly looking over their shoulders.

There is one compromise that I found with the eye-catching new lens shape; there is some distortion where the ‘traditional’ spherical lens shape meets the new curved lower limit. While I thought this would be a nuisance on the slopes, I actually barely noticed it. The only place it slightly got on my nerves was in lift lines and walking around resort where I was going slow enough and looking down for extended periods.

In performance terms, the Chromapop lenses really are some of the best we have tested. Although the Sunshine Platinum lenses are most at home in bright sunshine conditions, they also performed exceptionally well in flat light, during a relatively miserable day on the mountain. High contrast and real colours meant that my retinas were not etched with blue light when removing the goggles at lunch or otherwise.

The silver-grey lens tint works fantastically but for some reason, it didn’t excite me, a strange comment perhaps, but bear with me. The lenses improved contrast but the colours seemed muted. When I put colour tinted goggles on it feels like game time, something switches in my mind as I experience a colour filtered vibrant world. The Sunshine Platinum tint on these goggles was a little too normal for me.

However, there is hope for those who like me prefer to ski in a colour saturated world, there are plenty of other lens tint options available covering almost every shade in the rainbow. Coincidentally, Markus Eder, the winner of the men’s ski category in Fieberbrunn was wearing the same model of goggle but with a fiery red tint, I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous! This is purely personal preference though, and despite the colour not quite being to my taste there is no denying that the performance of the lens is up there with the very best I have ever had the pleasure of testing.

Each set of goggles comes with two different ChromaPop snow lenses to cover bright and low light conditions. Switching between the lenses couldn’t be easier, thanks to the patented magnetic system with locking clips at each side. Simply turn the key to unlock the lenses then pop them out with minimal full and avoiding any fiddly clip system. It really is very difficult to do this wrong as the magnets auto-locate the lens into the frames, a very well thought out industry leading system found on several models of Smith goggles.

The strap has an extra wide silicon ribbon running along the inside the ensure maximum adhesion to your helmet. The strap also has a clip at the back allowing riders to separate the strap and is designed to ease removal, but personally, I have never seen the use of this kind of clip. While some people love the feature, I always find the clips a little clunky. In addition, when worn with a Smith helmet (as well as most of the other helmets on the market), the goggle clip on the back of helmet prevents the use of this clip.

As mentioned at the top, these goggles are exceptionally comfortable and over the whole day I never once felt the need to remove them due to discomfort. The mild nasal pressure from the goggles was unnoticeable after the first run, the frames seemingly accommodating my nose shape. The three-layer DriWix foam wicks away 50% more moisture than standard foam, which meant that even after the goggles had been resting on a wet helmet, when I returned them to my face the foam dried remarkably quickly. To boot, even when transitioning from the warmest most humid warm Austrian mountain restaurants to cold snow showers we couldn’t get the lens to fog, a real triumph in ventilation and a credit to the design team.

Unsurprisingly, all of these features are not without a fairly hefty price tag. At over £200 the 4D MAG goggles may seem astronomical for the average holiday skier, but if you are riding for longer periods of time and are willing to squeeze your wallet for the best of the best, then you can’t do much better than the 4D MAG goggles!

Conclusion

If you are looking for ultimate peripheral vision, then these striking goggles could be the next big thing. Comfortable, well constructed and packed with features and Smith’s new curved lens design oozes quality. Unlike curved smartphone screens, these space-age lenses don’t divide opinion, anyone who has tried the goggles only has positive things to say about them. 

However, there is some bad news; you will have to wait until autumn to get your hands on a pair!

For

  • Unrivalled field of vision
  • Head-turning looks
  • Fantastic lens-swap system

Against

  • Mild distortion at foot of lens (we really are nitpicking here)
  • Some unnecessary features
  • Expensive (but we think it’s worth it!)

What Smith says about the goggles:

Continuing to evolve snow sports through true innovation, Smith developed the 4D MAG™ to raise the bar in lens design and construction with the introduction of BirdsEye Vision, a

proprietary new lens shape that extends and curves below the sightline. First to market, this state of the art lens technology offers a 25% increase of overall field of view compared to the I/O MAG™ goggle. By reducing peripheral distraction, the 4D MAG allows you to see more of what is around you, so you can do more, anywhere on the mountain. 4D MAG also features Smith’s updated MAG technology by integrating the dual locking mechanisms into the goggle frame outriggers to make a quick and easy lens change system. This design evolution keeps the lens locked in place, and a simple push of one of the levers on either side of the frame releases the lens quickly to adapt to varying light conditions.

Find out more on the Smith website.