Providing the ultimate eye protection for trail, enduro, bike park and downhill riders, the best MTB goggles are lightweight, work with both trail and full face helmets and have amazing optical clarity.

Eye protection is essential for mountain biking; the best mountain bike goggles reduce the chances of injury from low hanging branches and flying debris, stops dust and mud getting in your eyes, stops harmful UV rays getting in and can help improve clarity and contrast in bright or low-light conditions so you can read the terrain better.

If you are looking for the best cycling sunglasses for trail riding, however, we’ve tried and tested a lot to recommend only the cream of the crop.

Smith Squad XL goggles

Smith’s Squad XL is the cream of the crop.

1. Smith Squad XL goggles

Best goggles for contrast, clarity, and comfort

Lens: Contrast Rose Flash, Clear lens and goggle bag included | Weight: 119g | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Cinematic riding experience
  • Great ventilation
  • Comfortable fit

Reasons to avoid:

  • Not cheap

Smith’s Squad XL let you view the trail ahead in the full 4K widescreen glory. When we tested them, we raved about the “pin sharp optical clarity and unhindered panoramic vision”, that “actually enhances your view of the trail ahead as well as protecting your eyes from insects, flying debris and encroaching vegetation”. Yet airflow is generous, so we didn’t feel stuffy or claustrophobic, and the frame design didn’t pinch our nose. While they aren’t the cheapest priced goggles out there, for the quality, the clarity and the features, they’re actually competitively priced.

Read our full test review of Smith Squad XL

Giro Blok goggles

There’s a lot to like about the comfortable and quality Giro Blok.

2. Giro Blok MTB goggles

Best goggles for wide field of view and helmet compatibility

Lens: Black/grey smoke, Kryptex/smoke, matt lime/grey green, matt vermillion/purple red | Weight: 116g | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Quality option from the helmet brand

Reasons to avoid:

  • You can spend a lot less

One of the best sets of goggles out at the moment. The Giro Blok give an almost uninterrupted field of view, which is pretty much everything you need from your eyewear. Lens clarity is particularly good with the blue tinted mirror lens. The foam cushioning is covered in a super soft fleece-like material, leaving very few pressure points.

Ventilation is on a par with the best, any steam issues quickly clear with a bit of airflow. Overall an excellent goggle choice for all types of gravity based riding in terms of vision and comfort.

Read our full test review of the Giro Blok MTB goggle

Bell Descender goggle

The Bell Descender is a great all-round goggle at a low price.

3. Bell Descender goggles

Best budget mountain bike goggle

Lens: Mirrored or clear | Weight: 117g | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Comfortable
  • Light
  • Flexible
  • Decent lens

Reasons to avoid:

  • Nothing

Bell has done a great job with the affordable Descender goggle. When we tested it we commented: “The fit excellent is excellent, and combined with the ultra stretchy strap, kept the Descender goggles tight and stable on rough ground”. At under 120g, they’re so minimal we barely noticed we were wearing them either.

The Descender doesn’t boast any tricks or gimmicks, but Bell has done a great job at creating a top goggle at a price that won’t make your eyes water.

Read our full test review of the Bell Descender MTB goggle

Leatt Velocity 4.0 goggles

Leatt’s Velocity 4.0 is heavily built.

4. Leatt Velocity 4.0 goggles

Best goggle for durability

Lens: Multiple mirrored, tinted and clear  | Weight: 153g | Rating: 8/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Heavy-duty build
  • Excellent lens clarity

Reasons to avoid:

  • Not the lightest
  • Some internal reflections depending on frame colour

Leatt’s well-vented frame uses a dual-layer foam with extra sweat-absorbing properties and a wide, 170° field of vision. The pink/blue lens here produces excellent detail on brighter days or out in the open.

We did notice the frame being reflected on the inside of the lens, but this depends on the combo chosen. We’d suggest picking a darker frame colour to eke maximum advantage from these otherwise great goggles.

Read our full test review of the Leatt Velocity 4.0 goggle

Koo Edge goggles

Koo’s Edge goggles boast a lens by one of the most revered names in the business – Zeiss.

Koo Edge mtb goggles

Top-quality mountain bike goggles

Lens: Mirrored and clear  | Weight: 190g | Rating: 8/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Sharp and contrasty Zeiss lens
  • Lens changes are rapid

Reasons to avoid:

  • Pricey compared to competitors
  • Face foam is too soft and squishy

Koo’s Edge goggle comes with a crystal clear Zeiss lens, which goes a long way to explain the high price. The lens is crisp and sharp, and also really easily removed using a plastic tab system.

The Edge is a decent google with good optics, a wide viewing window with no annoying tear-off pegs in your line of sight, but it’s expensive compared to rivals like the Smith Squad, particularly as the Smith comes with two lenses – mirror and clear – for £90.

Read the full review of the Koo Edge mountain bike goggles

How we tested

All the goggles included in this list have been thoroughly and comparatively tested in a range of conditions to suit the purpose of the goggles. So for example, goggles designed for bright light conditions were tested on sunny days, while low light level goggles on shady days. A variety of trails were ridden so the stability of the goggles and how the lens performed moving between open and shaded areas could be gauged, as well how effective ventilation and anti-fog measures were.

Canyon Sender CFR 29

Goggles are essential for DH riding, where uplifts mean you don’t need to worry about steaming up.

What to look out for with mountain bike goggles

Goggles offer much more comprehensive protection, allowing you to really open up your eyes for maximum vision without fear of getting hit by debris. MTB goggles also offer more protection than glasses, sealing out debris, weather and pesky flying insects, and also help with helmet stability thanks to ever-improving design. They’re also often great value for money, so make financial sense too.

Frame type

POC Ora Clarity Fabio

An open frame allows plenty of airflow to help prevent the goggles fogging up

Some have an open frame top and bottom (no foam), which allows air to circulate to regulate your temperature and let the lens clear quickly if it fogs up. The downside of these is that debris, water and insects can get inside. The alternative is an enclosed frame, where foam layers top and bottom prevent dust entering the frame, but also restrict airflow.

Double or single lens

Some goggles use two polycarbonate lenses sealed together like double glazing. This is heavier, but it helps prevent fogging in cold/wet conditions. Most MTB goggles are single lens, which is cheaper and lighter but won’t stay as clear in cold weather.

Google straps

Bell Descender goggle

A silicone strip helps keep the strap secure around the helmet

Goggle straps should have a broad elasticated band with silicone strips to prevent it slipping, and be adjustable to different size helmets. Dual density foam gives a more comfortable fit against the face.

Lens type

The lenses on mountain bike goggles are almost always replaceable, and many brands offer a range of tints that can be bought separately once you’ve worked out what you need. These range from completely clear which are ideal for dull conditions to amber tinted to improve contrast in poor flat light conditions, to more shaded and/or reflective lenses for bright and sunny conditions.

Goggles aren’t just for pairing with full face helmets

Why use goggles instead of glasses?

There are a number of advantages that goggles offer over glasses. Because they seal around the eyes, there’s less chance of debris getting into your eyes, plus you won’t get blasted by wind at high speeds or cold air on a winter’s day. The combination of a secure fit around the face that that strap around your helmet help stabilise it and stop it moving, which can be useful on rough descents. With your eyes completely enclosed you can open them wide and allow maximum light and information to penetrate.

On the other hand, they can get hot on a climb, so you’ll likely end up stashing them above or below your peak and allow maximum airflow to your face. When it rains, or there’s a lot of spray from the ground, they can become useless as the water droplets will coat the lens and obscure vision. The lens is also easy to scratch when wiping in wet weather, although replacement clear lenses are usually pretty cheap.

Finally, if the weather does turn on a ride, or you decide you don’t want to wear them, they’re not as easy to stash as a glasses as they are bulkier.

Enduro racers also run goggles for maximum protection Pic: Enduro World Series

How much do goggles cost?

At full retail prices, expect to pay around £30 upwards. Some goggles are a lot more expensive, even approaching £100. But in terms of pure performance, you’re unlikely to find a great deal of benefit spending that kind of money and you’re often paying a premium for the brand name.

Dual or single lens?

Dual lens goggles are a bit like double glazing, in that they trap air between two sheets of polycarbonate which helps prevent fogging and keeps the lens clear in cold conditions. Mostly they’re found on ski goggles, and obviously the cost goes up owing to the additional materials and processes involved in the production.

For most mountain biking we would say that a double lens is not necessary. It can be a help on cold days, but usually single lens goggles will clear quickly once air is flowing over the lens, and it’s easy to take them off while climbing and only put them back on at the last second before dropping into a descent. By doing this, you’ll usually avoid them misting up.

What about mtb goggle tear-offs?

Tear-offs are a set of plastic covers that sit over your lens and are used in wet and muddy conditions. When one gets covered in mud to the extent that it impairs visibility, the top one can be torn off – hence the name – to reveal a clean one underneath, and so on.

They are, or have been, popular with downhillers, but owing to concerns about single-use plastic and the fact that most tear-offs are simply chucked on the ground and left there, most racers now use a roll-off system where a thin strip of clear plastic gets pulled across the goggle every time the rider pulls on a cord attached to the frame.

They’re still single use, but at least they don’t end up littering the woods. Unless you’re a serious racer, however, you really don’t need a tear-off or roll-off system. Just stop and wipe your goggles with the bag they came in.

What type of lens is best for mountain biking?

The answer to this question depends entirely on where you are riding. If you live in a desert, then you’ll want a mirrored or tinted lens. If you ride in a more temperate climate (for example the UK) with trails that often go in and out of the trees (also the UK), a clear lens will probably be the best option, although some light mirrored lenses would also do the job.

Good news though, clear lenses are always the cheapest, and that also means you don’t need to be so precious with them (they will get scratched). Bear in mind that the peak on your helmet will do a good job of keeping sun out of your eyes in most situations, so even on bright summer days, tinted lenses probably won’t be necessary.