SMITH SQUAD XL CHROMAPOP GOGGLE REVIEW
Review by Drew Rohde
If you’ve read our earlier reviews on Smith’s eye-doping ChromaPop technology, then you’ll know we’re huge fans! And while we really liked their sunglasses, we weren’t huge fans of the goggles offered by Smith, but the new Squad XL MTB is set to change that. Build using Smith’s largest cylindrical frame for a wide field of view, anti-fog tech, comfy face foam and an aggressive, semi-rimless frame, would these glasses perform as well as they look? Let’s find out if the new Smith Squad goggles have changed our minds.
Built for enduro and DH riders, the Smith Squad XL MTB goggles have some unique design features to make them better-suited to non-motorized applications. Open ventilation channels are incorporated throughout to allow for better airflow on slower sections of trail or traverses where sweat and heavy breathing often lead to foggy goggles. Smith also uses an anti-fog lens treatment to further increase the reliable clarity riders need in the dark, misty woods. Speaking of lenses, Smith offers the Squad XL goggles with either ChromaPop, Cylindrical Carbonix-x or clear lens options.
Designed to fit optimally with Smith’s Forefront and Mainline helmets, we found the goggles also worked well with other options like 7iDP’s P23, Leatt’s DBX and more. The XL goggles feature an ultra-wide silicone-backed strap to help keep the goggles in place. The straps slide right into the side of the goggle frame and do not have an outrigger, which we found to be a little bit of a bummer when it came time to adjust the goggle’s position when putting them on.
Once on and in place, three-layer face foam keeps the goggles in place, conforming to the rider’s face and plenty comfortable. The foam layers wick moisture away nicely and breathe well too.
Smith ships the Squad XL goggles with a microfiber goggle bag and a spare clear lens and they also offer a lifetime warranty.
After opening the box from Smith our initial impression was, “That’s a lotta lens!” The massively curved lenses offer a wide field of view, especially out the top of the goggle. A very important place to have good visibility for downhill applications as steep terrain and chutes often have riders looking out to the top of their goggles to negotiate the oncoming terrain. The large field of view combined with the amazing properties of Smith’s ChromaPop technology make line selection and trail awareness easy.
The large frames run border to border and so there isn’t an outrigger, which we felt was a bit of a drawback. Everytime we’d drop-in and put our goggles back on, we’d have to struggle a bit to find a grasping point to make the micro-adjustments to put the goggles right where we wanted them. Once in place however, the goggles stay put and are comfortable, even during long days in the bike park. The foam does a good job of absorbing sweat and keeping moisture from running. The large and open vents also help with sweat and moisture management too.
One downside to the large vents however is that debris can and has entered the goggles. We’d love to see a slim mesh liner or something installed to prevent little bits of dirt, rock and loam from flinging up into the goggles through the large open vents.
Now that the nitpicking is behind us, let’s get to the most impressive part of these goggles: the view! Our goggles came with the ChromaPop Everyday Red Mirrored lenses and we very happy with how they performed. Normally we’re not huge fans of mirrored lenses in mixed light conditions often found in the forest, but these did very well. Mirrored lenses are great for looking cool and full-sun conditions but can have some limitations in darker spots of trail. While we did wish for something a bit lighter as the evening sun dipped, we were quite pleased with how well they pulled definition compared to other mirrored lenses.
Despite their impressive lower light abilities, they absolutely excel in full sun and brighter conditions, as you’d expect. We believe that the ChromaPop Rose option could also be great for mixed light and wooded trails.
The Wolf’s Last Word
If you missed our Goggle Shootout review and video then you’ll know we take our vision and eye protection seriously. At the time these goggles were not released although we wish they were because they’d be a serious contender! From a perceived safety standpoint, the frames aren’t as stiff, strong feeling as the Oakley Airbrake or Leatt Velocity goggles, but the goggles are still impact rated and they feel much stiffer than the older Squad goggle. The lens offers a bit of structure to the design so they’re not as easy to twist and bend, which gives some confidence in the event of a faceplant.
While we have a few critiques about the lack of an outrigger, the unlined vents, and the lack of a nose-guard, which we love for sun protection, there isn’t much to criticize when it comes to the Smith Squad XL mountain bike goggles in terms of optical performance. They are some of the best performing goggles we’ve recently worn when it comes to field of view, clarity and definition. Smith’s ChromaPop technology is our favorite visual enhancement tech on the market and they’ve done a great job applying it to their XL goggle. We like the breathability and ventilation for keeping us fog free, field of view, specifically out of the top of the goggle and the vibrant pop the lenses give the terrain ahead. We’ll certainly be adding these to the mix depending on the day and terrain, a noseguard to help protect from sun exposure on long bike park days would take these to the next level though and put them that much closer to the top of our gear bag.
Price: $59.50 – $85
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