New goggles are loaded with features, and helmets increase safety and lose weight.
Protect and Adapt
Light quality can change from the top of a ski run to the bottom. In the past, the main strategy for dealing with that was to a pick a good compromise lens. This year, more companies are offering models with photochromatic lenses (they automatically adapt to changing light) and seamless helmet integration.
Elias Littenberg, senior buyer at Backcountry.com, notes, “‘Lens tech’ is the new buzzword when talking goggles. All the big brands have pushed the limits of lens technology,” and it’s resonating with consumers.
MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) is a relatively new technology in helmets. It works by separating the shell and liner with a low-friction layer that’s designed to protect against rotational impacts by allowing the helmet to slide relative to the head in a crash.
“MIPS is now considered a necessity,” says Littenberg. “With the minimal difference in cost to the customer, we’re seeing MIPS
sales outpace non-MIPS helmets in similar styles.”
The Symbol 2 Plus D from Scott ($220) addresses rotational impacts via MIPS. It has a low profile and ear pads that allow for improved hearing, adding style and function to its safety qualities.
The Smith Quantum ($300) provides protection from side impacts via MIPS and its exoskeleton shell design. The integration with Smith goggles aims to deliver ventilation and anti-fogging.
The Giro Axis and Ella models ($170) feature a medium-sized frame with VIVID, a patented lens technology developed in partnership with ZEISS Optics. VIVID delivers precise vision without color over-saturation by manipulating blue light on the color spectrum. It promises to reduce eye fatigue by enhancing color contrast.
The Zeal Portal Automatic Plus ($269) features an interchangeable system where the lens glides on a rail along the frame, allowing the user to swap lenses without smudging them. The Portal comes in several lens options, including the photochromatic Automatic Plus that transitions from gray to rose and from 18 to 28 percent Visible Light Transmission (VLT) for those who swap lenses only on the brightest and darkest days.
This article was originally published on p. 28 of the Demo Day issue of Outdoor Retailer Daily Winter Market 2017.
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to correct the meaning of MIPS. It stands for "Multi-directional Impact Protection System."