Tech Talk | The Oakley Goggle Breakdown

Our Gear Guru runs through all things Oakley

Oakley was set up in the back of a garage in 1975, and by 1983 they’d brought their first snow goggle to market. Fast forward 37 years, and the name ‘Oakley’ is synonymous with the very best in eyewear, boasting a class beating R&D team, who have pioneered almost every major innovation in the industry. Oakley aren’t just a goggle brand, they’re the goggle brand.

“Prizm lenses work to filter specific wavelengths of light, emphasising colours to which your eyes are more sensitive”

There are so many different options on the market, and it can be overwhelming at times to try and decide which goggles are best suited for you. Like with most things in life, there’s no black and white, right or wrong with goggles, it’s all about addressing the situations you might find yourself in and the preferences that you have. We’ve put together this guide to help break down some of the information and to help you decide which goggles are all systems go.


Lenses tend to be the focal point when checking out a new goggle, whether it’s the colour or the shape, they’re usually the first thing to catch your eye. There’s an abundance of different styles of lenses out there, and it’s not always clear which option is the best for you.

As of 2020 all Oakley offerings use their contrast enhancing Prizm snow lenses. Prizm lenses work to filter specific wavelengths of light, emphasising colours to which your eyes are more sensitive, which in turn maximises visibility and clarity. You can detect previously unseen detail in the landscape, allowing you to react faster and ride with more confidence.

You’ll be able to see contours in the snow and differentiate between types of terrain. A wayward patch of ice or a mottled section of piste is no one’s idea of a good time, especially when it’s a surprise, so being able to spot these sections early is ideal for scouting lines or sticking landings.

Prizm manipulates the light spectrum and boosts contrast to offer top notch clarity, they’re tuned for certain environments and conditions. Prizm lenses use different dyes to separate and boost, or block, colours depending on their category, showing you exactly what you need to see.

“You can detect previously unseen detail in the landscape”

Prizm lenses can be broken into three groups that cover the whole spectrum of light, you’ve got Black Iridium and Dark Grey that cater to bright light conditions; Saphire, Jade, Torch and Rose are super versatile covering the mixed weather conditions between sun and clouds; and then for low light conditions you’ve got Hi-Pink and Persimmon.

If you’re planning to only ride bluebird days then one of the bright light lenses will be ideal, just like Persimmon are great for night riding, but if you’re wanting something for varied weather conditions then one of the options straddling the middle could be a better shout.

As of right now there’s no one ‘perfect lens’ to do it all but Prizm performs better across a wider range of lighting conditions, giving you greater leeway for weather changes. It quite literally changes the way you’ll look at the mountain.


When it comes to lens shape, you’ve got three different options to go with. Toric, Spherical, and Cylindrical lenses all have different properties, sit at different price points and even have different aesthetics.

Toric lenses are still relatively new to the snow sports goggle world, they take features from both spherical and cylindrical lenses and bring them together for a best of both worlds approach.

“They’re strategically shaped to reduce glare points and avoid distortion”

They’re the most optically correct lenses currently available, as they most closely resemble the curvature of your eyeball. They keep a true spherical curve horizontally across the X axis, with a slightly flatter curve vertically along the Y axis. They’re strategically shaped to reduce glare points and avoid distortion, the new Oakley Flight Tracker takes advantage of a toric lens to offer top of the range visuals for alpine riders.

Spherical lenses curve equally on both on the X and Y axis, giving a 3D shape to the goggle. They have more space between your face and the lens than a cylindrical lens, allowing for more airflow to reduce fogging. The fan favourite Flight Deck uses a spherical lens to be able to take on a range of terrain while still providing optimum visuals.

Cylindrical lenses are the cheapest to manufacture, they curve only along the X axis, and remain flat vertically. They sit closer to your face, which allows for a sleek low-profile look, but this can result in slight distortion of visuals. The Oakley Line Miner utilises a cylindrical lens, this helps it to retain its super low price point and works with the large frame to provide expanded peripheral view.


Frameless goggles, like the Oakley Fall Line XL, have soared in popularity in recent years, and the decision isn’t just down to style. Frameless options offer unobstructed visuals round the lens, and a wider peripheral view.

“Frameless options offer unobstructed visuals round the lens, and a wider peripheral view”

Framed goggles offer a bit more protection to your lenses and give some rugged durability, the Oakley O Frame 2.0 Pro is a good example, the frame isn’t super bulky, but it gives an extra barrier round the lens. Oakley frames are manufactured using their lightweight O Matter material, it’s ultra-pliable and retains its flexibility even at cold temps, so it’s an ideal option for long lasting snow goggles.

Nowadays, you get semi-rimless goggles as well, the Oakley Flight Path, for instance, offers a low-profile frame around the top of the goggle to give you a bit of a buffer zone between the lens and your helmet, but a frameless lower half for an increased field of view.


Oakley goggles come in three different sizes options XS, XM and XL. Think of them like small, medium and large options, and while certain sizes might fit certain faces bette r, there’s nothing wrong with rocking the oversized look if that’s your thing. Some goggles come in all three sizes, some just come in one, but they all carry the same Oakley seal of approval, all the way from the super wide Fall Line XL to the compact Flight Tracker XS.

Two different sizes of the new Oakley Flight Tracker


Jargon runs rampant in the snowsports industry, the ingredients in some kit reading like a NASA engineering book, it can sometimes feel like you need a PhD in cryptology to decipher what you’re buying. We’ve broken down some of the key terms you’ll find when swotting up on Oakley’s goggle offerings.

OTG or ‘Over The Glasses’, it’s all in the name with this one. They’re suitable to be worn with prescription glasses thanks to the discreet notched frames, they’ll sit over your specs for ease of use and premium visuals.

“A lighter lens with a high VLT is used for overcast or foggy days where the goal is to let in as much light as possible”

VLT stands for Visible Light Transmission and references the amount of light that can penetrate a lens. It’s shown in percentages and the lower the VLT, the darker the lens will be. It’ll block more light from passing through to your eye protecting you from harsh reflections. Oakley’s Prizm lenses run from around 5% – 45% VLT depending on their tint.

A dark lens is used for bright sunny days, where there’s an abundance of natural light whereas a lighter lens with a high VLT is used for overcast or foggy days where the goal is to let in as much light as possible.

Dual Pane lenses create a thermal barrier and work with the anti-fog coating and the venting systems found in all Oakley goggles. The two separate lenses sit almost flush with one another, creating an insulated air pocket, allowing for some airflow to regulate temperature and prevent condensation from building up in the goggle.

Iridium: Oakley use an Iridium layer with some of their lenses, it’s a proprietary metal-oxide coating that leaves the lens with a mirrored finish. The coating allows Oakley to further tailor the visuals, varying the amount of reflection, glare and light transmitted into the eye.

Lens Systems

Anyone who’s spent time in the mountains knows that Mother Nature can be a wily and capricious mistress, you get to the parking lot on a glorious bluebird morning and by lunchtime it’s flat light with low visibility. Swapping out your lenses can be the critical difference between a good or bad day on the hill.

With Oakley lens change methods vary from goggle to goggle, Oakley use three different systems; Switchlock, Ridgelock and Key-Way System. They’re all pretty simple to use, allowing you to swap out your lenses when the weather takes a turn while being secure enough that your they won’t pop out when you take a slam.

Helmet Compatibility

Oakley’s Modular Brim System makes it easier than ever to get a seamless connection between your goggles and helmet, putting paid to the dreaded ‘gaper gap’. The Mod 3 and Mod 5 designs offer interchangeable brims to suit different goggle sizes for increased compatibility and as a bonus you can chop and change your aesthetic day to day.

Oakley helmets also feature ventilation through the brim of the helmet, this allows hot air to escape your goggles, working with the Anti-Fog coating to prevent them fogging up. As a bonus the goggle clip on the back keeps the silicone lined goggle strap in place when you’re riding, or if you rock your goggles under your helmet, it can be easily removed as well.

Oakley Helmet/Goggle Ventiliation System
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