I’ve never before tested any products from Spy. I’ve seen their sunglasses and goggles referenced from time to time, and it seems to me that they have a pretty broad demographic based on the products available on their website.

This season I was tasked with testing their Ace ski goggles, Spy’s offering in the high-performance, low-cost category. I was anxious to give them an honest comparison to the crop of similar “savvy-yet-sendy” models that I’ve been testing lately. The Ace performed as expected, though with a few surprises both in and against its favor.

Below we’ll give you a detailed report on the Spy Ace based on our experiences riding with it. We’ll also provide comparisons with goggles across different styles and price ranges.

Our Overall Review

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

4.6

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Competitive optical quality
  • check-mark
    Super efficient venting and fog mitigation
  • check-mark
    Comfortable mid-sized frame

Things we don't like:

  • check-markHeinous lens change system
  • check-markAwkward fit for larger faces
  • check-markSub-optimal field of view

Where to buy:

spy-optic-ace-ski-goggles-product-image

Spy Optic Ace Ski Goggles

My fickle infatuation with the Spy Ace

My parking lot impression of the Ace Spy was among the most positive I’ll give any goggle. I thought they felt comfortable on my face and was impressed with the initial clarity in the bright morning light. But after a few more weeks of testing, I now have a few major reservations worth mentioning.

See the complete list of the best Ski Goggles here!
Spy Optic Ace Ski Goggles Overview

Lens Quality

The clarity and quality of the lenses caught my attention and earned my initial admiration. I’m a sucker for the look and feel of high-quality cylindrical lenses, and the Ace looked promising.

We chose to test the Ace’s premium Happy Definition lenses. According to Spy’s product copy, these lenses filter out select wavelengths in a way that boosts your mood and improves attentiveness. I’m hopelessly cynical about any health-boosting quackery I come across in the outdoor industry and can assure you that if I found these lenses to do anything to that effect, I’d be wearing them around all day, every day.

So what are the Happy lenses? In short, they’re Spy’s proprietary take on color filtration- similar to what we see from Smith’s Chromapop and Oakley’s Prizm technology. The idea is your lenses filter out specific wavelengths of visible light that make it difficult to see in alpine environments. I found both the high and low light lenses that came with my set to have the crisp, high-contrast quality I’ve come to expect from leading goggle manufacturers.

HD Plus Gray Green with Red Spectra (Mid/High Light)

I’ve had a hard time tracking down the exact VLT percentages in each of the lenses included with our model of the Ace. Despite this, it’s not too difficult to see that these dark-tinted, reddish lenses are best when the sun is out. Fortunately, I’ve had some beautiful weather and had the opportunity to give them an honest couple of weeks of testing in spring-like conditions.

These lenses were the hook that caught my initial attention. It was my first go-round trying out red high-light lenses, and I was more than happy with their performance. I was capable of deftly reading the snow and making terrain choices based on sneaky icy patches that I could see in the very variable snowpack.

I was reasonably pleased with their performance in patchy cloud cover as well. There was a little bit of guesswork involved when it came to split-second decisions, but as a whole, I’d say they had a wider range of applicability than dark-tinted mirrored lenses that I’ve been testing from other companies.

HD Plus Yellow with Lucid Green (Low Light)

It was a couple of weeks into the testing period before I had a good weather window to try out the lighter tinted lenses. For the sake of thoroughness, I rode with them both during the typical dreary Cascade drizzle and during a much more enjoyable cold storm cycle.

Like the Gray Green with Red Spectra lenses above, I thought the low light set held up well under proper conditions. In the rainiest, foggiest, most socked-in conditions that I’ve ever skied, I was very grateful that I hadn’t decided to test any budget pairs. In the more recent snow that we’ve been receiving, I found myself picking out unfamiliar, spicy lines like I would in a set of daily drivers.

When the clouds break, you’re better off taking a break and swapping these for something darker. In bright conditions, they’re better than nothing- but barely. I had my retinas seared by wayward sunbeams several times.

spy-otic-ace-ski-goggles-used-skiing-outdoor

Related Reviews

Lens Change System

The Spy Ace drops the ball on the lens change process. It’s unfair to hold everything to the magnetic swap standard that we see from brands like Smith, Glade, and OutdoorMaster. But it’s a new low even by the standards of Oakley’s vilified Ridgelock lens swap in the Flight Deck and Fall Line.

I’d ridden in the Ace several times before I finally gave up on figuring it out on my own and turned to Spy’s online instructional videos. The process hinges on two largish plastic buckles on either side of the lens. To change the lenses, you need to pry these retainers up and away from the frame, nearly to the point of breaking, until you pull their stubborn plastic prongs from their slots.

You then need to pop the lenses free, replace them, and reverse the process. More often than not, you’ll end up smearing your grubby ski fingers all over the outside of the lens and need to give them a thorough wipedown before heading back out.

The first time I had to switch lenses in the field, it was raining steadily. My hands were freezing by the end of the ordeal- even in relative shelter. I very nearly abandoned the process several times over but saw it through primarily out of spite.

Ventilation and Fog Mitigation

Even if my assessment of the lens swap system is scathing, I have to credit how well the Ace was able to handle high-moisture conditions. The only time I ever had issues with fogging was after negligently leaving them wet inside of my ski bag overnight.

I’ve worn the Ace in a veritable alpine monsoon. Regardless of the weather, I’ve found the Ace to be fog-free so long as they stayed on my face at a consistent temperature. While I certainly wished I had windshield wipers on that occasion, I was grateful water beads were my only concern.

I had no issues during aggressive, sluff churning runs that left me breathless with screaming quads. Nor did I find myself squinting through fog after short sidecountry hikes. The Ace has performed better on this front than other, more expensive models that I’ve tested, and I highly recommend it specifically if fog is a point of frustration for you.

sky-optic-ace-ski-goggles-closer-lense

Fit and Field of View

The Ace fits more on the small to medium side of things compared to the popular “XL/XM” style frames we’ve seen a lot of lately. This isn’t a criticism, but for my part, I found I had a harder time getting it to fit my admittedly large head the way I wanted. The goggles themselves are pretty comfortable- I just have anxiety about looking like a dork at the mountain.

I’ve read quite a bit of criticism about the field of view on these goggles, but I thought the severity of the issue was a bit overstated. There is indeed a bit of obstruction around the bottom of the lens, but I rarely find myself looking at my skis. Peripheral vision and overall optical clarity were on-point, which is where I typically stake importance. Even for a smaller frame than I usually use, the Ace didn’t perform significantly worse.

Spy Optic Ace Ski Goggles Inner Details

Helmet Compatibility

I mentioned above that I had difficulty getting the Ace to fit the way I wanted. I had recurring issues with a pretty unforgivable forehead gap. But, I also favor bigger frames and need something more substantial on my face. The Ace should be a much better face for people with smaller faces who want a modern, stylish pair of goggles to complement their kit.

As a final note, the Ace only has one line of silicone around the strap to help it grip your helmet. That said, I had them up on my forehead for a few aggressive runs in hopes they would dry out after being left in my wet bag and had no issues.

Conclusion

Spy delivers top-notch optical quality at a reasonable price. Retailing for about the same as most mid-range goggles, savvy buyers can often find it on sale online. But a few hitches in the Ace make it a less than ideal option for skiers after the best value in its price range- namely, a miserable lens change system and some minor fit issues.

In terms of what it does well, Spy’s Happy Lenses hold up with the best of the rest for high-contrast, dependable vision on the slopes. I also found that the Ace was able to prevent and clear out fog buildup uncommonly well compared to the industry as a whole.

I was pleased with how the Ace performed under various conditions, and it made me excited to try out other models from Spy in the future. But for what it’s worth, I don’t think I’ll be riding with them in lieu of my more dependable favorites.

Spy Optic Ace Ski Goggles Side Strap Details

The Competition

Even though we had our issues with the Ace, there are plenty of reasons to love it. If you’re after something similar, we’ll do our best to hit on each of the key points mentioned in the review and offer a noteworthy option or two. Alternatively, you could head to our ski goggle buyer’s guide for a closer look at all of our favorites.

Skiers after the best of budget goggles should keep a keen eye on Glade Optics. They’ve been a favorite for us this season- the closest thing you’ll find to the Ace is their Challenger model. Those who want something with a little more panache should check out their MagFlight to skip any clumsy lens swap process.

Oakley’s Fall Line is a great choice for another pair of high-quality, cylindrical goggles we found a little higher value than the Ace. You’ll pay more for spare lenses, but it’s one of the best choices for looks and comfort.

Finally, if you’re after top optical quality, we love Smith’s Chromapop lenses. They have similar high contrast technology to Spy and Oakley, but their models seem to perform a little more consistently across the board. I’d recommend their I/O Mag for something closer to the price range of the Ace.

Our Overall Review

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

4.6

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Competitive optical quality
  • check-mark
    Super efficient venting and fog mitigation
  • check-mark
    Comfortable mid-sized frame

Things we don't like:

  • check-markHeinous lens change system
  • check-markAwkward fit for larger faces
  • check-markSub-optimal field of view

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FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What are the best ski goggles?

There are an overwhelming number of snow goggles on the market, and it can be difficult to figure out which pair is best suited for you. We’ve put in the time on-snow to find the best model for every purpose and price range, and assembled our favorites into a best-of page for your convenience. In the meantime, here’s a short list of some of our top picks.

Best Ski Goggles

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

Spy has a hard-earned reputation for making high quality eyewear across a wide range of demographics and disciplines. Their snow goggles deliver the same quality that we’ve come to expect from industry mainstays, with some slight nuances in design. To see how Spy compares to the rest of the back, take a look at our ski goggle buyer’s guide.

Where are Spy goggles made?

Spy Optic is based out of California but their eyewear is manufactured in Italy, setting them apart from the majority of goggle manufacturers. You can read more about how Spy goggles compare to the rest of the pack at our ski goggle buyer’s guide.

How to change lenses on the Spy Ace goggles?

The Ace is a little tricky to figure out, and getting your lenses swapped can feel potentially harmful to the goggles themselves.

How to swap lenses on the Spy Ace

  • Pry the lens retainers away from the frame until their prongs snap out
  • Pop the lens out of the frame and replace it with your desired alternative
  • Reinsert the lens retainers, making sure to snap them into place

There are many more efficient ways of changing your lenses found in other goggles across the market. For examples and an overarching look at our favorites, head over to our ski goggle buyer’s guide.

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