Which Swimming Goggles are Right for You?
Find the perfect swim goggle based on function, fit, and fashion
Goggles are a swimmer’s best friend. For competitive swimmers, leak-proof goggles can make (or break) the race. For lap swimmers, a comfortable pair of goggles is essential during those long workouts. For open water swimmers, clear vision can literally be life-saving.
Just as there is a huge range of swimming activities, there is an equally large range of swimming goggles, all of which have their own unique benefits. With so many goggle varieties, it can be difficult to determine which one is the right choice.
How do you find the perfect pair of goggles? The three main qualities that differentiate swim goggles are function, fit, and fashion. Keep reading to get a breakdown of these qualities and find the right pair of swim goggles for you.
The first question you should ask yourself when shopping for a pair of swim goggles is: how and where will I be using these goggles? The functionality of your goggles, and therefore the best type of goggles for you, differs depending on where and how you are using the goggles.
Indoor versus Outdoor Swimming
If you are primarily going to be swimming outdoors, you will want specific goggle qualities that make them more functional for outdoor swimming. Goggles tinted with darker colors, such as blue or purple, are helpful when swimming in direct sunlight. Buying polarized or mirrored goggles, like Focevi Polarized Swimming Goggles, can also help mitigate glare from the sun. Long swims in direct sunlight can be hazardous to your eye health, so buying a pair of goggles with UV protection is also important.
Open water swimmers need the added benefit of having full peripheral vision. If you plan to swim in the ocean, lake, or river, we recommend buying a pair of goggles that offer a wide panoramic view. Goggles with unobstructed side lenses are a must.
When you are swimming indoors, goggles with clear lenses or a light color tint, such as pink or orange, can be helpful. Pink tinted goggles block blue light, which can increase contrast and be soothing on the eyes, especially in a pool where blue is the dominant color. Orange and amber tint enhances low light and is best used in poorly-lit pools or during early morning and late evening swims.
Competitive versus Casual Swimming
Regardless of your level of competitiveness, there is little difference in the type of goggles that will be most functional for you. The main difference for competitive swimmers is their preference for tinted and mirrored goggles over clear goggles. Many competitive swimmers prefer mirrored goggles so that their competition can’t see their eyes and so that they look more intimidating.
Both competitive and casual swimmers benefit from fog-free goggles. Although there are some tips and tricks to keep goggles from fogging up, the best way to avoid foggy goggles is to buy a pair like the Arena Cobra Ultra Swipe Swim Goggles with strong anti-fog technology.
Another small difference for ultra-competitive swimmers is how they prioritize comfort. They may opt for a less comfortable pair of goggles on race day if it will guarantee a leak-proof and anti-fog fit. A perfect example of this are Swedish goggles, which have no comfort seal, only hard plastic but tend to have less chance of leaking and condensation build up. However, during long workouts or for someone not used to wearing goggles for long periods of time, a soft, cushioned seal is most comfortable.
Finding the perfect fit is also essential when shopping for goggles. Most goggles come equipped with adjustable straps and nose pieces so that the fit is fairly customizable. Some goggles are a little more user-friendly, while other goggles can be a hassle to change the nose piece or adjust the straps. Thankfully, the process tends to be a one-and-done situation; once you find the right fit, you won’t have to keep re-adjusting.
There are three general types of nose pieces on swim goggles. The first is a one-piece frame, which is not adjustable. The entire frame is made of one piece of plastic or silicone, so the nose piece cannot be changed. However, the material of the frame is purposefully flexible and will mold to your face and nose as needed.
The second type of nose piece is an interchangeable nose piece. When you buy goggles like the Speedo Vanquisher 2.0, the goggles will come with two to five different size nose pieces and you have the option of picking which one fits you best. This type is the most customizable. However, these nose pieces tend to have a straight shape, are made of a firm plastic material, and are not always ideal for larger noses. They can also be the most difficult to remove and replace properly.
The last type of common nose piece is the adjustable step nose piece. Goggles with this type of nose piece will only come with one nose piece, but that nose piece will have different size notches to make it shorter or longer.
Most goggle straps are made out of silicone material and have adjustable clips located on the back of the head or on the side near the forehead temples. When the clips are in the back of the head, swimmers tend to feel like the straps are less cumbersome and more aerodynamic. When the clips are located on the side of the head, they are easier to reach and adjust while wearing the goggles.
Goggle straps also come in various widths. Thicker straps are helpful if you choose to swim without a cap because they are less likely to get tangled in hair. We like this about the Aquazone Adjustable Swim Goggles. Similar to the adjustable step nose piece, some of the thicker goggle straps also have notches. These notches keep your preferred adjustment in place and make it easier to find the right fit.
Most thin-strapped goggles have dual straps so that they still feel secure on your head. With the dual strap, you can place one strap higher and one strap lower on the back of your head, creating even more stability.
The eye sockets on goggles are not adjustable, and there is a wide range of shapes to choose from. Your preference of socket shape depends mostly on your face shape and desired line of vision. Some goggle companies even have face-reading apps to create or find the perfect eye socket shape to match the shape of your face. Those goggles tend to be on the spendier side though, so to find your preferred eye socket shape without breaking the bank, keep reading.
Most socket shapes are round, square, or triangular. Round socket shapes are most common in competitive swimming. They have the smallest range of vision but tend to hold the best seal regardless of face shape. Square sockets provide more comfort and are ideal for lap swimmers or beginner swimmers. Triangular sockets, like on the Aqua Sphere Kayenne, offer the broadest scope of vision, which is perfect for open water swimming. They are popular among triathletes for this reason.
Most swim goggle eye sockets fit inside your eye socket, meaning the goggle seal suctions below your eyebrow and above your cheekbone. If that fit is too small and you prefer the goggles to cover your eyebrows and cheekbones, you can buy large socket swim goggles, which look similar to scuba goggles without the nose cover. Large socket swim goggles tend to be less leak-proof than inner socket goggles, but can be more comfortable.
The seal is one of the most important aspects of fit when choosing a pair of goggles. What good are goggles if the seal doesn’t work and they let water in? All the parts of goggles work together, so a good seal is dependent on the right size nose piece, snug straps, and correctly fitting sockets.
The material and amount of cushion provided in the seal varies slightly. Most goggles have a thin silicone seal, which is effective, but not overly comfortable. For added comfort, some goggles have a thicker silicone or gel seal or will even have foam gaskets. Our reviewers preferred the thicker seal of the Speedo Futura Biofuse Flexiseal Goggles to enhance comfort while still proving effective in keeping out leaks.
The last quality to consider when buying a pair of swim goggles is fashion. Simply put, you should like your swim goggles and feel confident when wearing them! Fashion is all about preference. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a pair of goggles that make you feel good.
As stated earlier, the color of your lenses can have a specific function depending on where you are swimming. But the color of the straps and seal are purely your preference. Choose a contrasting color from your lenses to make them pop or choose the same color as your cap and swimsuit to have a sleek monochromatic look.
If you wear glasses, you may also want to consider splurging on prescription goggles. They are more expensive and likely can’t be shared with your swimming buddies, but you won’t have to deal with the hassle of putting in contacts every time you jump in the water.
Swim Goggle Reviews
Still unsure about which swimming goggle is right for you? DIVEIN has tried over two dozen pairs of goggles with various functions, fits, and fashions. We’ve shared our review of the 27 Best Swimming Goggles to help you find the perfect pair.
Best Overall: Speedo Futura Biofuse Flexiseal Goggles
Goggles with Peripheral Vision: EverSport Swim
Most Comfortable: Speedo Hydrospex
Frequently asked questions
Goggles usually come in a one-size-fits-all category with the addition of adjustable straps and nose pieces to help customize the size. Goggle lenses can vary by size and shape. Usually, goggles with a round socket shape are the smallest, followed by triangular sockets, and square sockets are the largest. If you have a broader face shape and want a more relaxed fit, opt for the square socket shapes when buying goggles.
What color goggles you choose depends on where you swim and your fashion preference. As stated above, darker tints are ideal for outdoor swimming, whereas lighter tints are great for swimming indoors.
Adjust, adjust, adjust! Start with your goggles too loose so that water can leak in. Then incrementally tighten the goggles until no water can get in.