Featured Image: Frode Sandbech.
First showcased at the 2018 Outdoor Retailer conference in Denver, CO, Oakley’s brand-new Prizm React goggle technology earned one of FREESKIER’s coveted “Best of Show” awards upon first glance. Implemented on the new Fall Line XL goggle and going on sale this October for $299, Oakley’s impressive electrochromic technology lets riders adapt to changing on-mountain conditions by adjusting lens tints at the touch of a button, without a bulky battery pack. As gimmicky as it sounds, Oakley hit the nail on the head with this game-changing innovation. Let me explain.
At the trade show, I had the chance to get a quick spiel about the goggles by one of the designers, as well as wear them for a few moments under the convention center’s soul-sucking florescent lights. Bascially, Oakley has created a ski goggle that changes between dark, medium and light tints via a technology that shifts ions between two ultra thin lenses layered into the goggle’s main lens. Switching back and forth between lens tints is notably intuitive because of glove-friendly buttons on the edge of goggle’s frame and they weigh next-to-nothing, too. All in all, Oakley is marketing a package that eliminates the hassle of bringing multiple lenses (or goggles) to the ski hill; heck, with these eyeshades, you don’t even have to check the forecast.
Having the chance to play around with the Prizm React lenses at the convention center, I was excited but skeptical until I’d be able to test ’em out in the wild. Fast forward a few months and I had the chance to wear these goggles for a few days at Mammoth Mountain during Oakley Week, the company’s annual consumer-facing athlete and product summit. Ripping around the terrain park and the upper-mountain with some of the top skiers and snowboarders in the industry, including Øystein Bråten, Oscar Wester, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, Sean Pettit, Joss Christensen and plenty others, I gave the Prizm lenses a proper field test in a variety of on-mountain conditions.
At first glance, the Prizm React lenses on the Fall Line XL are stunning—they look like any other “normal” goggles on the market—because all of the technology is hidden within the frame, like the battery pack, charging port and other necessary electronics. The XL sized, rimless frame provides a truly panoramic field of vision, Oakley’s Prizm lens technology offers unmatched oh-hill contrast and clarity and, like I mentioned above, they’re really, really light, considering the tech that’s packed into ’em. Also, without an eyesore battery pack attached to the goggle strap, Oakley has solved one of the many problems plaguing manufacturers who have tried to foray into electrochromic optics (cue: SPY’s One Lens).
On the mountain, switching lenses while wearing gloves was just as easy as I remembered during the trade show; the frame also vibrated to indicate transition to a different tint (light state = one vibration, medium state = two vibrations, dark state = three vibrations). During my week in California testing out these new digs, if the clouds rolled in for a few minutes, I quickly transitioned to the medium setting; at high noon, I let the darkest tint protect my eyes; and, as the sun set on our days lapping Mammoth, I swapped the lens to the lightest setting to maximize time on the hill. Amazingly, transition between tints only takes a split second, and depending on usage, one charge can more than an entire week.
Available for purchase on October 15, 2018, for a price tag of $299, Oakley’s all-new Prizm React lenses featured on the Fall Line XL goggles are truly an optical quiver-killer. With the look and feel of a standard goggle, and for roughly the same price as other top-tier offerings with only two interchangeable lenses, Prizm React effectively eliminates the fuss about changing weather conditions on the mountains and matching your gear to the forecast—now, just make sure your goggles are charged up, and you’ll be ready for anything Mother Nature hurls your way.