I used to be of the opinion that goggles are pretty much goggles. How much could there be to worry about? You pay enough to be able to see through them and keep the cold wind out of your eyes, hopefully, look cool in the process, and there you go. A pair of goggles.
But now is now, and the POC Orb Clarity lens has changed the way I see it (so to speak). The overall quality of the goggles is readily apparent, and between the lens and the frame, there are plenty of great attributes to go around. But let’s start with the most important of the two, and the half where this goggle stands out the most; the lens.
POC Orb Clarity Goggle Review
POC collaborated with ZEISS Optics to develop high-tech innovations designed for use on snow in three specific light conditions, cloudy, partly cloudy, and sunny. The lens tested here is the party cloudy, called spektris orange. I am typically a big fan of having multiple lenses, namely a low-light and a highlight that I can swap out as frequently as I like as conditions change. I skied with them in every variety of weather, and as the branding suggests, they do perform the best on partly cloudy days when the lighting falls somewhere in the middle and changes throughout the day. But this lens really seems to be able to do it all. The “clarity” lens coating is made to accentuate natural contrasts in the snow, making the brights brighter and the darks darker. Which means that even though to the eye the lens is not as a bright as a true low-light, you are able to distinguish the contours of the snow ahead of you in flat light or heavy snow. This might sound like an over-blown selling point, but it seriously works. And when used on a bright bluebird day, I honestly forgot that they weren’t expressly designed for the sun. Beyond the specifics of lighting conditions, the whole world just looks so damn good through these things. From the moment I put them on it was clear these were made a bit better than anything I’ve worn before.
That being said, I spent part of a snowy day switching back and forth between my Smith I/O low light lens and this POC Clarity lens, and I still prefer the brightness of the low-light lens. As impressed as I was with how the POC mid-light treatment handled a snowy day, there just really isn’t a substitute for less tint. But luckily for you, the faithful consumer, these goggles are ready-made to swap out the lens! Which brings us to our next great attribute, frame quality.
POC Orb Clarity Goggles Durability
While these only came equipped with the mid-light Spektris Orange, you can buy their low-light offering and give them a whirl. The lens change system is a bit of a compromise. It is a little tricky and time to consume to use, although as with most things I am sure I would get more adept at it with time. The tradeoff is that the construction is far sturdier than what I am used to. Most other changeable lens frames I have encountered have one or two crucial parts, and all it takes is for a small bit of plastic or metal to break and there go the goggles. These are a bit different. The lens actually is built onto a thinner piece of the frame which then disconnects from the flexible rubber back part of the frame, making the whole construction feel much more solid. You have to take the extra step of removing and reattaching the strap, but in the long run, I think it would be worth the piece of mind that they are fairly bomb-proof.
As far as style goes, I felt pretty fresh skiing around the mountain with these things right out of the box if I do say so myself. I personally stopped considering POC a few years ago because I found their style to be far too big for my face. But these are a good middle-ground size. They still have the classic POC large lens/minimal frame look, but are a bit more fitted and curve around my face to keep the profile a bit slimmer than what I found the last time I tried on a pair of POCs. The large lens does translate to a larger field of vision, meaning better peripherals while skiing and less time trying to find your jacket zipper. And seriously, the first time you hold these things you will find yourself with a bit more swagger. They are just that high quality.
I’ll wrap up here focusing on that last point, because what might generally go unspoken in reviews of these goggles is that, well, they are kind of expensive. ($249.95) There are definitely other goggles in the same general price range, but they will typically include a second lens for you to use. But I keep finding myself coming back to the attention to detail that POC clearly put into every stage of building these goggles, from initial design right up to the manufacturing. What it comes down to in the end is that these are a beautiful object and a useful tool, made not for the casual skier but for someone who will put them to the heavy use they deserve. Happy skiing!