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Zeal Portal 2018-2019 Snowboard Goggles Review

Rail-y good tech

The Zeal Portal snowboard goggles debuting last winter with a frameless spherical design, made possible by a brand new lens-changing system. It’s the priciest pair in the eyewear speacialits’ range, but there’s no doubt that you get what you pay for.

The ‘Rail Lock’ system is a unique combination of magnets and plastic channels. Simply guide the lens down into the top of the frame, and once the attached forks have found the runners then the magnets at the bottom of the frame will do the rest. It’s simple, effective, and gives you the visual benefits of a frameless design without the feeling that the lens is sitting precariously ‘on’ the frame.

As with all Zeal goggles, the Portal gives you a choice of three different lens qualities. The baseline ‘Optimum’ version is pretty handy, but you can step it up to the polarized version for increased clarity. There’s also a photochromic option available, that adapts to the light as it changes throughout the course of the day.

“The visual benefits of a frameless design, without the feeling that the lens is sitting precariously ‘on’ the frame”

All three versions feature anti-fogging treatment, as well as a hard-coat finish that protects it against scratches and scuffs (to a point – keeping your lens out of harm’s way wherever possible should always be on your mind!).

As for the frame, vents both above and below the lens prevent the build-up of condensation within the Zeal Portal, and triple-layer foam – now the minimum standard for a high-end pair of goggles – is comfortable and fits well.

“Vents both above and below the lens prevent the build-up of condensation”

Two points of adjustment on the strap make it easy to get the perfect fit, and if you wear them on the outside of a helmet then keeping the system clear of the goggle clip is easily done. On the inside, three strips of silicon bring all the grip against your lid or beanie that you’ll ever need.

If you’re looking for a cylindrical alternative then the new Zeal Hatchet will be more your bag, but its big brother the Zeal Portal gets our vote for this year’s Whitelines 100.

Tester’s Verdict

Andrew Duthiewhitelines.com

“I’d normally avoid anything listed as ‘Medium Fit’, as they tend to be a bit on the small side for me, but the Zeal Portal goggles actually worked really well. The peripherals were great, and getting away with a smaller size meant that for once I probably didn’t look like a bargain-basement fighter pilot.

Right from the word go, the lens is so easy to release – possibly the easiest ever, as the top-down system means that hardly any effort is required to slide them up. Getting the new one in is a little more fidgety at first, but it didn’t take long to crack.

“Getting the new lens in is a little more fidgety at first, but it didn’t take long to crack”

The trick is to tilt the top of the lens right against your head, then the clips will find their way to the notches easily. Eventually I was able to do it with my goggles still on my head, although I imagine this technique might be a bit trickier if you wear a helmet.

Then once they’re in, they feel so secure – positively ragdoll-proof – and the visuals are amazing. The Optimum Polarized lens is crystal-clear, and fogging was never a concern.”

Trade Secrets

Fredi Kalbermatten – Team Rider, Zeal

“The Portal’s Rail Lock System makes it super simple to chain your lens, but it’s rare you even need to thanks to Zeal’s Automatic + lens, that automatically adapts itself to your lighting conditions. It doesn’t matter if your day turns from fog to snow, to sun and back, this goggle is smarter than the weather.

But if I take a tumble and fill my goggle with snow, I really like how easy it is to just slide the lens off and clean things out. Honestly though, more than all these high tech features, I just think the style of the Portal is next level dope. Clean, simple — definitely my goggle of choice!”

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