The only thing that’s unclear is how Smith keeps the pricing so competitive
Editor’s Choice 2020
The Smith Squad XL is the equivalent of a 70in 4K TV for your face. Boasting pin sharp optical clarity and unhindered panoramic vision, it actually enhances your view of the trail ahead as well as protecting your eyes from insects, flying debris and encroaching vegetation. There’s plenty of airflow to keep you from getting stuffy or misting up, and there’s none of the claustrophobic tunnel vision that comes with some goggles.
Every product review should start with a confession. Here’s mine. I love riding in the woods, but I’m terrified of getting a branch stuck in my eye. It’s why I use goggles or glasses every time I ride. Glasses are cooler, at least in terms of ventilation, but goggles offer more comprehensive protection. Also, goggles don’t jiggle around as much and I like how the strap helps secure your helmet more snugly too.
The problem: goggles are prone to steaming up as humidity rises. Smith pretty much fixed that issue when it introduced the original Squad goggle. By removing the foam that surrounds the frame, air passes freely through the goggles, making them less prone to steaming up and faster to clear if they do. The Squad XL employs the same design, only the frame and lens are larger than the standard version. As such the frame is even less intrusive in your line of sight. And because the frame is shallow and the lens sits closer to your eyes, you don’t get the claustrophobic tunnel vision often associated with goggles. The low-profile design also means the goggles sit on the bridge of your nose, so the frame and foam surround don’t pinch your nostrils and restrict breathing either.
Then there’s the lens itself. Because it’s a hard-formed lens, it doesn’t twist or distort, so you never get that ‘fishbowl’ effect. My personal favourite is the Contrast Rose Flash ChromaPop lens as it offers just enough of a tint to mute bright light, but lets in enough rays so you can transition easily to dense woodland. Contrast and clarity are first rate, and if there isn’t sufficient light for this lens, there’s also a clear one included in the price. And for this level of optical clarity, the only thing that’s unclear is how Smith keeps the pricing so competitive.