I really love snow goggles made by Smith, specifically the I/O series because it’s the smallest among the family (together with I/OX and I/O7). As a girl who comes from Asia, we tend to have a smaller head and face while compared to men, especially men from Europe and North America.
In this review, I’m going to show you the things I like and dislike about the latest version — Smith I/O ChromaPop Goggles. I’ll also get a bit into the technical side of the product and help clear some confusions you might have, for example, who is it best for? What if you wear prescription glass? Read on for more!
Reading tip: The “Quick Summary” section serves as a high-level conclusion. If you want to learn more information, feel free to navigate through the “Table of Contents” below and help yourself jump to the right section.
Smith I/O goggles have been on the market for several years and they continue to be a very competitive product when it comes to choosing the best snow goggles. Offered by a reliable brand, Smith Optics, the I/O series isn’t the highest-end in Smith’s product lines, but it remains a solid yet budget-friendly option.
- The latest version features an enhanced-contrast lens (a.k.a ChromaPop) which is super popular these days. Besides ChromaPop, it also offers you a crystal-clear vision, anti-fog inter-lens, quick-release system, helmet compatibility, along with several other cool features. We’ll cover them in detail below.
- Smith Optics I/O Goggles is best for beginner skiers who are on a budget but still prefer to purchase a reliable goggle from a prestigious brand. If you are a girl like me or someone from Asia (mostly Japan, Korea, China), be sure you also consider Smith I/O Asian Fit as this one is probably the best fit for you in size.
- However, if you are an intermediate or advanced skier, you probably want to look for a goggle that’s more fancy and techy and wouldn’t mind paying a bit more on the lens (as they say “The better you see, the better you ski.”), then look no further and consider Smith I/OX and Smith I/O7. We’ll put together another article on the differences among those products.
What is Smith I/O?
If you are into skiing or snowboarding, you should know Smith, a brand that has been dominating the snow goggle area for a while. Smith Optics offers a number of goggle options for its customers to choose from, while the I/O line is undoubtedly the most popular one.
Typically, the Smith I/O goggles (prior to 2017 model) comes with an extra lens by default and offers a flexible option to upgrade to ChromaPop lenses, which tend to be more expensive but you get what you pay for. The two lenses were extremely comfortable to fit with great ventilation.
However, since 2018 it seems Smith is pushing ChromaPop more into its products, my hunch is that the company has made big progress in developing the technology as ChromaPop truly offers superior color quality that can translate to a variety of slopes with fantastic clarity under different conditions.
What is ChromaPop?
Simply put, ChromaPop is a new polarized lens technology developed by Smith Optics since 2013. In Smith’s own words, the lens tech can help you see more details and color beyond normal capabilities. Compared to traditional goggle lenses, the ChromaPop lens lets you experience enhanced definition and clarity across a greater range of conditions.
ChromaPop filters two specific wavelengths of light that cause color confusion. By doing this the lens delivers greater definition, more natural color, and unmatched clarity to allow you to see more detail.
ChromaPop is grouped into three different categories: Sun, Storm, and Everyday. Getting the right one for the snow condition and changing the lens in Smith I/O is quite smooth. In the nutshell, a snow goggle with ChromaPop means less hassle when you need to switch between lenses while that can be time-consuming with regular lenses.
If you are interested in getting a bit deeper into the technical side of ChromaPop, Blister Review has put together this nice article that’s definitely worth taking a glance.
Smith I/O Goggles: Detailed Review
If you are not comfortable wearing a goggle, doesn’t matter how advanced it is, you won’t enjoy it during the trip. As I said, Smith I/O is generally best for skiers or snowboarders with smaller faces. That’s why I think most Asian or women players should consider the I/O instead of I/OX or I/O7. But the size isn’t the only factor that affects the comfortability of a snow goggle. Other factors like whether the goggle has soft brushed foam padding, whether it offers a flexible frame, etc. all matter.
Smith I/O has definitely taken all those things into consideration. As you see, it has a triple layer foam padding for optimal comfort, and it offers a traditional lock for easy interchangeability of lenses, best of all, you can take advantage of the adjustable strap for a customizable fit.
Field of View
Once again, a snow goggle is all about lenses. That’s why this saying “The better you see, the better you ski. It’s that simple.” is popular among us skiing enthusiasts. When the skiing resort is getting dark or in poor visibility, you’ll probably expect a pink, yellow or green lens; When the weather is sunny or too bright, you probably prefer a darker lens. Also, whether a goggle lens is cylindrical or spherical matters too as a spherical or curved lens usually provide better peripheral vision, meaning less distortion.
Smith I/O ChromaPop has all this covered. It’s spherical with the cutting-edge ChromaPop technology. And all goggles that Smith providers come with a second set of lenses, the low light one is for whiteout conditions or stormy weather, while the other for everyday use.
If you wear prescription glasses or sunglasses, you know how condensation feels like. Condensation occurs when the warm air usually from your breath meets the colder surface of your glasses. Your visibility can be seriously hindered that happens. Unlike regular glasses, snow goggles have ventilated frames that allow air vent on the top and bottom of the frames, to avoid condensation. However, the capability of anti-fog in different goggles especially made by different brands varies.
That’s one of the main reasons why I like Smith I/O, with two strong anti-fog technology: 5X Anti-Fog and Fog-X. Smith Optics surely has invested a lot into this kind of research to make sure their lenses have the most advanced tech to prevent fogging. For example, the Fog-X lens treatment employs a hydrophilic, micro-etched surface to absorb moisture and disperse it over a wide surface area to prevent fogging, as Smith claims.
Style & Size
When you shop for a product, not only will you expect it to do its job but you also expect it to look great. Choosing a snow goggle is the same. It doesn’t have to look too fancy, but surely the design and appearance shouldn’t be that ugly. In my opinion, a great snow goggle should be stylish and its color scheme is nature-oriented. You know, skiing or snowboarding is an outdoor sport, I prefer to use gears that cater to the color of the snow or the wild.
Smith I/O Goggles has a contemporary style though not quite as sleek as I/O7 based on appearance. I like it very much because it adopts an almost frameless design and offers a range of lens color combinations that will appeal to even more audiences.
What I like
Smith I/O is actually the snow goggle that I was looking for for a long time now. I have already tried a few other options like Oakley was the very first one I wore during my first skiing. There are many things I really appreciate Smith Optics for offering to us customers. Here are a few:
- It looks very stylish and beautiful.
- Lots of color options to choose from.
- It’s comfortable to wear with great compatibility with any helmet.
- The vision is pretty good especially thanks to the ChromaPop technology.
- I can breathe normally without experiencing any fogging or moisture buildup.
- Changing lenses and minor adjustments are relatively convenient.
What I don’t like
Although I really like this set of snow goggle, there are still some things that are lacking or I personally feel not that great, and here they are:
- The price is still a bit on the higher end while compared to other entry-level alternatives.
- It doesn’t offer customizations for people who wear prescription glasses. You probably have to turn to third-party vendors like SportRX while paying a premium fee.
- The appearance and strap setup could be improved to catch up with the Smith I/O7 line.
Below is a list of commonly asked questions about the product, some also showed up in my head before buying. I’m thus sharing them out.
Do all Smith I/O goggles come with a second lens?
Yes, the Smith I/O (as well as I/O7 and IO/X) comes with 2 lenses. One for cloudy or overcast days and the other for super sunny days.
Can I use Smith I/O goggles if I wear prescription glass?
You can, but you’ll need to insert a progressive lens which gives you a distance correction at the top and some reading correction at the bottom of the lens. As far as I know, SportRX (a San Diego company) offers this kind of service.
Is Smith I/O Asian-fit or Japan -fit?
Yes, I think Smith I/O Asian Fit Goggle is the one Asian skiers should check out, and it’s definitely Japan-fit. However, it’s best that you could try out some models before securing the one you feel most comfortable.
What are the best alternatives to Smith I/O?
It’s hard to say because you need to consider many factors. That said, here are a few options you may consider:
We just embraced 2020 and now it’s the snow season. Well, I mean for the Northern Hemisphere (sorry Australians and New Zealanders :-/) A snow goggle is essential for almost every skier or snowboarder unless you’re a pro player who’s fine with wearing a pair of sunglasses.
Smith Optics has dominated the snow goggle area for a while, and Smith I/O remains to be one of the best goggles for many. I’m very impressed by the comfort, fit, field of view, and general performance of Smith I/O though it’s not the highest-end in the Smith goggle family. It’s a great all-around product that you can wear at home or in the wild resort. Once again, in my opinion, it fits best for skiers or snowboarders who have a small face.
That’s why I recommend it to women and/or Asian skiers. However, it’s totally possible that you may not like this goggle. Just try a few different options and select the one that fits you best, of course with an acceptable price tag.