How To Find Goggles That Fit and Don't Suck

Goggles can ruin a good swim workout or even prevent you from having one.  A good pair of goggles should fit without fuss, without pressure and should just do their job without having to give them a second thought during your workout.   But how to find that perfect goggle?  There is no magic here, mostly just a bit of trial and error. And you'll soon find out it doesn't matter a bit what your training partner or anyone else says is the "best" goggle.  If it doesn't fit you, it will suck somehow. 

Here are some of the features you'll find.  You decide which ones matter to you:

1.  Anti-fog  

Most goggles come from the factory with some kind of anti-fog coating but this coating is very delicate and will only last a week or two, for less than a dozen workouts typically.  After that, you need to restore the anti-fog with drops, wipes or sprays.  Wipes like "Foggies" will also clean off any other residue and won't require rinsing or drying time but the new Arena "no rinse" drops are also great.  

Having said all of that, some goggles are better than others for maintaining anti-fog qualities but keeping your goggles in a protective case has definitely proven to help.

2.  Polarization

We've seen lots of brands come out with polarized goggles aimed at the open water swimmer but, quite honestly, most of us have swam for years without polarized lenses.  Polarized lenses are great for reducing reflective glare off the water but it's only a benefit if the goggles fit and they stay fog-free.

3.  Adjustable nose bridges or different size options

Some of us have smaller faces and some of us have bigger faces. So, when my training partners swear by a pair of goggles like the Tyr Special Ops which doesn't have an adjustable nose bridge, I just have to take them at their word that these are the best goggles ever.  They will never fit me so I'll never experience the joy they claim to get from these goggles.  Size matters and adjustibility helps too.

4.  Straps

Double straps, single straps, split straps.  You might have a preference, you might not. Double and split straps when placed properly will help keep you goggles at the best angle for proper fit and security.

How do you fit a goggle?

At a glance:   Most of us will have an eye socket that is more ovalized vs rounded.  Look for goggles that are of a similar shape as yours eyes in the spectrum of oval-round.

Size matters:  If you have a smaller face or a smaller head, look at the smaller size or a women's fit goggle when there are options.  


You are unique:  Some of us have deep set eyes, a pronounced brow bone, pronounced nose bridge or other unique qualities that make goggle fit more of a challenge.  You will eventually learn what goggle features work for your unique issues. 

Goggles don't have to hurt or pinch. If they actually fit you properly, you don't have to have the goggles straps cinched very tightly at all.  To test goggle fit do this without using the strap:

-  For fixed nose bridge goggles, gently press goggles to your eyes and see if they will stay on with just a gentle amount of pressure. 

-  For goggles with an adjustable nose bridge, gently press one side of the goggle to your eye socket.  If that works, try the other side.   If both sides want to stay suctioned to your eye socket for a second or so, then try both together. If you can't get both sides to "stick", change the nose bridge to a smaller or larger one, depending on which way you need to go.

This won't guarantee 100% that the goggle that seems to fit in the store will never, ever leak, but it is going to help you eliminate a bunch of ill-fitting goggles.

What about open water swim goggles?

We're seeing more and more goggles that are marketed as open water goggles but what does that really mean?   Is there something specific you should look at for an open water goggle or is it all a bit of marketing hype?   I'll let you decide but here is what I would look for in a goggle I would choose for an open water swim:

 Wide field of vision.  For siting, you want to lift your head as little as necessary in order to minimize throwing off your body position.  Good peripheral vision is also nice to have.  Look for a goggle with a curved lens, ideally, and one that wraps around the side of your face a little.  Mask style goggles work for some as well.

-  Tinted.  In sunny conditions, tinted goggles can be nice but sometimes, if I'm swimming in a place with lots to see like tropical fish and coral, light tint or clear lenses are nice.  

-  Polarized.  Nice to have at sunrise and sunset if you are swimming towards the sun.  

-  Anti-fog.  Good luck with this one. Your best weapon here is going to be your chosen anti-fog treatment.  Be awarer that goggles will fog up more and faster in colder water so just because something fogs up in open water doesn't mean the goggles are past their prime.   



Split Strap Design:




 Mask Style Design:






Double Strap Design: