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Glade Optics is a fearsome up-and-comer in the outdoor eyewear industry. After the first few preseason storms, I took Glade’s Challenger Goggle out for some laps in the Mount Baker backcountry.

I came away impressed with how it walks the line between value and on-slope performance. So when the lifts finally started spinning in December, I was more than excited to take their premium MagFlight model out for a spin.

The MagFlight is everything we liked about the Challenger, with a subjectively more stylish aesthetic and a practical magnetic lens swap system. Below we’ll take a closer look at the MagFlight piece by piece and see how well it really stacks up against the best goggles we’ve tried.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

5

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Great visual quality, great fit, great fog mitigation
  • check-mark
    Performance keeps up with our top models

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markNot much by way of spare lenses yet

Where to buy:

glade-optics-magflight-product-image

The MagFlight Goggles by Glade

On every run, in every condition that I’ve tested them, our Glade MagFlight goggles have performed well above my expectations for their price. As far as high-quality cylindrical lenses go, I’d take the MagFlight alongside any high priced competitor. Here’s why:

Glade Optics Magflight Worn Outdoor

Lens Quality

Looking at the industry at large, there are a few essential aspects that need to be addressed by your goggles to be worthy of more than just a single ski trip. We like to see UV protection, an aggressive anti-fog and anti-scratch coating, and no compromises on visual quality.

Every goggle manufacturer in the game uses similar technology to achieve these ends but obfuscates this behind walls of proprietary jargon. Glade checks out on all accounts but chooses to keep things simple and understandable, sparing you the price hike at the expense of confusion.

The difference between Glade lenses and the very best goggles that I’ve tested comes down to shape. Glade uses a curved cylindrical lens instead of a spherical or toric lens. In layman’s terms, Glade lenses are curved across one axis like a soda can, while spherical lenses are shaped more like a space helmet or a fishbowl.

While the difference is noticeable in peripheral vision, having tried both varieties, I can leave you with this conclusion. If I weren’t in the privileged position of testing gear, there’s no way I would ever shell out the extra money for a toric or spherical lens compared to a solid cylindrical alternative like we see from Glade.

Every set of MagFlight goggles comes with two lenses, one you select upon purchase, and the other is a bonus low light lens for cloudy conditions or night skiing. We’ll give our impressions on each below.

Silver 9.2% VLT

If I’m being honest, opting for the Silver lens may have been a bit naive on my part, seeing as the sun is a rare commodity during Pacific Northwest winters. Regardless, I’ve seized on every patch of blue sky thus far to put these dark lenses through their paces.

Sitting at a juicy 9.2%VLT, I found the Silver lenses great for proper retina-scorching conditions. Think open snowfields, high noon on a bluebird day—no more squinting through the glare bouncing off irradiated rollers.

On the other side of things, these lenses aren’t good for much else. As soon as the light even thinks about flattening out, navigating the hill becomes more tactile than visual. They’re great for what they are, and I anticipate getting much more out of them in the spring.

Glade Optics Magflight Dark Lens Front

Related Reviews

Lowlight Lens

Their low light lenses are fantastic. In fairness, I’ve never tried a pair of lenses as aggressively opaque as these before, so I can’t fault the lowlights I’ve had in the past- but I can certainly say I’ve found my new preferred storm setup. You won’t have the fun Robocop mirrored visor look, but it’s worth being able to see where you’re going.

Making a late-day switch to these goggles near the 3 PM dusks we have during Washington Decembers is a world of difference. If I’m going to call it quits before closing time, it’s usually because I can’t see where I’m going anymore. This rectified that problem, and I’m left with no excuses other than my legs aren’t in good enough shape to ride all day.

Glade Optics Magflight Lowlight

Lens Change System

The magnetic lens swap system is fundamental to the entire concept of this goggle and is the most significant factor that sets them apart from Glade’s flagship Challenger model. In my previous experience, magnetic lenses were very hit or miss.

Either they require some additional locking mechanism to swap the lenses (and don’t really deserve the distinction), or the magnets aren’t strong enough to reliably stay attached to the frame in the event that your big cliff huck does not end as intended. This was not the case with the MagFlight.

The lens swap system is excellent and fell just short of the best pair of goggles I’ve ever tried, the M4 Toric. The magnets are strong enough that if I ever bit it hard enough to send them flying down the hill, I would likely have more significant problems on my hands.

I have only one piece of criticism about the system, and while it may be minor, if you’re competing with the best of the industry, it comes down to the details. I’d like to see a pull tab that would make prying the lens out a little bit easier. As it stands, you can do so just by flexing the frame, but that makes it hard to do while the goggles are actually on your face.

Glade Optics Magflight Magnetic Lenses

Ventilation and Fog Mitigation

So the actual quality of the lenses and the swap system are great; what about when it comes to keeping things clear? To keep things simple, I’ve been using the MagFlight while I’m still in pretty poor ski shape for the season. I’ve been riding heavy, chopped-up powder in steep terrain. In other words, I’ve been working pretty hard and haven’t noticed any fogging.

While temperatures have been comparatively pretty cold, I’m happy with how the MagFlight is ventilating for now, and I’ll be sure to update the guide if anything about this changes. If I put them on right after ripping skins post-climb, there’s a little bit of fog buildup that dissipates as soon as I get moving.

In terms of material components, I’ve seen goggles with more ventilation channels around the bottom of their frame, but not many outdo Glade when it comes to the massive breathable foam section around the top of the frame.

We’ll see how they do in warmer, wetter weather. I’m not expecting the MagFlight to do significantly better or worse than the premium models they’re competing against.

Glade Optics Magflight Breathable Foam Details

Fit and Field of View

The MagFlight definitely has a bit more heft compared to their Challenger model. It’s more akin to the Oakley Flight Deck (though still not quite as oversized). I usually like how larger frames feel on my face, but I did have some issues getting the MagFlight to form a windproof seal in certain circumstances.

Their frame is flexible and should be able to hug your face regardless of the shape, but it took a little more arranging than usual to get the fit just right. Having wind streaming in through my goggles generally isn’t an issue for me, and I was a little surprised to find anything to criticize about the MagFlights genuinely. I think that the issue would only be more pronounced for anyone with a smaller head.

They perform about as I expect a pair of largeish cylindrical goggles to in terms of field of view. The view is expansive, cutting off only at the extreme ranges on the periphery. I never found myself wishing for more, albeit I spent a lot of time looking at the ground, trying to plan my next turn.

Glade Optics Magflight Cylindrical Goggles

Helmet Compatibility

The oversized build of the MagFlight lets them fill out a helmet brim, keeping your forehead protected and avoiding the dreaded gaper gap. The straps are adjustable enough to fit around my helmet, and the textured grip on the inside allowed me to ski confidently without a goggle retainer.

As a final note, as someone who likes to wear their goggles under the helmet, cumbersome buckles can get uncomfortable over time. I thought that the MagFlight was good enough to wear all day without even taking them off for lunch.

Conclusion

The MagFlight brings everything that we need out of a pair of eye protection with style and panache. Between the optical quality, style, and price, I can only think of one reason that you wouldn’t want to grab a pair- that there are no additional lenses available for purchase at the moment. I’m sure this problem will be addressed in the future, but for now, I don’t think it’s at all a deal-breaker.

Glade, in large part, is the competition to the major goggle manufacturers out there. Based on my experience with their eyewear lineup, I’d say that they’re the only newcomer, industry “outsider” that can keep up with Smith and Oakley turn for turn.

They’re one of the few products I get excited about telling my friends about. I feel like I’m actually doing them a service by directing them towards a quality product that is significantly more affordable to anything of similar quality and supporting a business rooted in the best parts of ski town culture.

glade-otics-magflight-oversized-goggles-outdoor

The Competition

While the MagFlight isn’t exactly within the “budget” range, Glade’s flagship goggle- the Challenger, is. Though a bit smaller in size and without the benefits of a magnetic lens change system, the Challenger is an awesome goggle for just under $100.

If you want to see the premium point of comparison to the MagFlight, Anon’s M4 Toric is one of the nicest goggles that I’ve ever tried. It practically bleeds quality and boasts of better peripheral vision with its “toric” shaped lens. I skied many days with it last season and have my thoughts about it here.

Another option within a similar price range is Smith’s I/O Mag. I’ve had two pairs of these over the years and have loved every moment I’ve spent with them. Again the frame size is a little smaller than the MagFlight, and their lens swap system isn’t quite as dialed, but they’re a good option if you want the backing of Smith’s reputation.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

5

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Great visual quality, great fit, great fog mitigation
  • check-mark
    Performance keeps up with our top models

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markNot much by way of spare lenses yet

Do you want more?

Stay updated with guides, reviews and more about paddling.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What are the best ski goggles?

The best pair of goggles for you is based on your build and budget, and it’s difficult to navigate what is certainly a very flooded market. Our goggle buyer’s guide has all the details you need to make your decision, along with side by side comparisons of our favorites. In the meantime, here’s a short list of the best.

Best ski goggles

  • Smith I/O Mag
  • Anon M4 Toric
  • Oakley Fall Line
  • Glade MagFlight
  • Smith Squad
Are Glade goggles any good?

Glade may be a smaller company compared to the mainstay names in the industry, but their lineup of affordable goggles punches way above their weight class and price tag. For a closer look at their flagship model, take a look at our review of their flagship Challenger model. If you’re in need of more information on goggles at large, our buyer’s guide can help you decide between Glade and the rest of the competition.

Where is Glade headquartered?

Glade’s team is based out of Breckenridge, CO and is dedicated to making high quality goggles for skiers, by skiers. You can take a look at our review of their Challenger goggles for a better idea of what they’re all about, and head over to our buyer’s guide to see how they stack up against the competition.

What is VLT in goggles?

VLT (or Visual Light Transmission) is how we measure how much light your goggle’s lens filters out on any given day. High VLT lenses are great for cloudy days when there isn’t much glare and your goggle needs are more concerned with wind and snow. Low VLT lenses are made to filter out more sun, and are more similar to a pair of sunglasses. There are lenses out there for every condition, some even automatically adjust for changes in the environment. To read more on VLT and to see our favorite goggles in every category, check out our buyer’s guide.

What is the difference between spherical and cylindrical lenses?

Spherical lenses represent the best of what lens shaping technology can do. They minimize visual distortion while allowing for the greatest amount of peripheral vision anytime you’re on the ski slope. In terms of shape, they tend to bubble out and are curved like a “sphere.” Cylindrical lenses, on the other hand, are only curved across one plane. People opt for cylindrical lenses either for a sleeker look, or because they tend to be much more affordable.

To learn more about lens shapes, and the groundbreaking “toric” lens, head over to our buyer’s guide for an overview of the best in the business across all styles.

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