In the same way that Apple came up with the magnetic power cord on their laptops (that meant when you tripped over the wire, you didn't pull the laptop off the desk) Oakley's Switchlock lens change technology is really a "finally, someone's done this right!" moment. Changeable lenses have been around for ages of course, it's a simple concept that is much harder to put into practice - what happens when you've got gloves on? How do you ensure the lens won't fall out in a hard crash? Is it lift up tab 'a' first, or unhook clip 'b'? Yes, interchangeable lenses are generally a hassle; to the point that you'll just live with an 'all-round' lens for every condition. An 'all-round' lens that is kind-of-okay in most light conditions, but never perfect. Cue the Oakley Airbrake.
Having previously worn Smith's top of the range I/O goggles with changeable lenses for a season (I ditched them for some tried-and-tested Oakley A-Frames), I was firmly rooted in the 'dubious' camp with these. The only time I would change the lenses would be in the comfort of the chalet, based on the weather that day. I wouldn't even dream of attempting to change lenses at the bottom of a run - I would quickly become 'that guy' that everyone waits for.
We have the Oakley Airbrake In Stock at Pretavoir. Buy them here.
The Airbrake rapidly changed my mind on interchangeable lensed goggles. The first thing I noticed was the rip-cord style tab that you pull in order to release the lens - definitely doable in all but the thickest mitts. Once you've pulled this, simply push the lens outwards from the inside and it comes away. That's it. No using both hands and a knee, trying to get your nail in behind and wondering how much pressure you can give before you break it. Putting a new lens in is almost as simple too: With the lever open, push the left hand side in first, then the right. You'll see it hook in. Then just close the lever and you're done. With practice, I reckon you could swap them on the move. See the quick video below on how to change lenses:
But what about the other features?
Oakley have, over the years, looked at each aspect of snow goggles and improved it. They've tackled the issues of fogging, comfort, helmet compatibility and lens clarity through evolution from years of research with top athletes. The technology found on their top of the range models gradually filters down into their more affordable pieces all the time, being superseded by newer and better solutions. The Airbrake is no exception to this rule. Let me take you through the features:
Triple lined polar fleece foam
Goes around your face, wicks away moisture, keeps you warm and toasty.
Oakley F3 Antifog Technology
This is several innovations all working together to keep your lenses clear: A dual lens design with a thermal barrier; vents at the top and bottom of the lens to promote airflow over the inside; an anti-fog coating on the lens. These all work together to make fogged lenses go the same way as zinc sunblock and fluorescent headbands - a thing of the past.
Rigid Front Frame, Flexible Rear Chassis.
The advantage of this is to offer a rigid fix point for the lens, which means the lens won't flex. The advantage of that, is no distortion - the lens is the exact shape its designer intended, all the time. However, some flex in a goggle frame is a good thing: you want it to fit snugly to your head and you need it to flex to fit various different shaped helmets. This best-of-both-worlds system works really well, you get the rigid front to keep the lens in the optimum position, and the flexible rear chassis ensures comfort and a good fit without any gaps.
ANSI Z87.1 Impact Protection
Something that's included in all Oakley lenses, but really becomes useful on a pair of goggles. This standard of impact protection has been tested using a metal spike dropped from 4 feet onto the lens (think ski tip, pole or tree branch). The result shows no shattering of the lens and no material coming in contact with the eye. In the other part of the test, a 1/4 inch steel ball at is shot at 102 mph into the lens. This produces the same result: no shattering, no material entering the eye.
Oakley Plutonite Lenses with HDO (High Definition Optics)
Needless to say with Oakley, all the lenses available for the Airbrake protect against 100% of UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light up to 400 nm. HDO Optics is another Oakley standard found across their range - it allows the wearer to see exactly where things really are, with no shift caused by distortion.
So are these the perfect snow goggles?
For me, there's nothing else I've tried that's better. No they're not perfect, but they do offer vast improvements over previous interchangeable lensed goggles. They're optically as good or better than anything else on the market, and in my opinion their lens changeover system works better than anything else right now.
In the box:
- Oakley Microfibre Pouch/Cleaning Cloth
- Zipped Oakley Goggle Soft Case
- Extra Lens