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Swimmers usually use three pieces of equipment: swimsuit, swim cap and swim goggles.
So what is it that you need to know or explore when buying swim goggles, so you are satisfied with your purchase?
Here are the top things to look for or think about before you make the deal:
1.) What are you going to use them for?
Open water swimming (triathlon), indoor or outdoor pool swimming.
Depending on what it is, you need a different shade of the lense color and also how softly they fit your eyes (but more on that one a bit later).
Indoor, you might not want to get very dark goggles unless there is a lot of lighting.
The opposite would work on outdoors, here you might want to protect your eyes from the sun and choose darker with UV protection. The best would probably be polarized lenses.
2.) Size of the gasket
Usually, the smaller the better as you have less resistance in the water, however, they also have to be comfortable, so don't get too hung up on this.
If small goggles scare you or you want a larger than normal angle of visibility, just get the ones that look like they are for scuba diving.
If you ask me, this is quite weird to swim in since they are so bulky, but if they work well for you, just get them.
At the end of the day, it comes down to what feels comfortable for you.
3.) Do they have rubber, silicone, foam or plastic seals
These are the pieces that actually touch your skin around the eyes and create pressure around your eye sockets.
Usually, rubber or silicone material is the best as you can create suction on your eyes and no water will get in.
These days, silicone is very popular, but they are a bit more expensive.
However, foam might also work for you if you are not allergic, but be careful, as foam might start deteriorating soon.
4.) How do they sit on your eyes?
Are they too big or too small?
Do your eyelashes touch the goggles when you blink? This could be quite annoying.
One thing to consider here is how long you will be wearing them at a time.
If you are after half an hour in the pool, it is not a huge issue, but if you want to swim hours and hours in the open water, then perhaps the goggles need to be very soft and gently sit on your skin. Otherwise, you will regret it later.
5.) How do they sit on your nose?
Do they hurt your nose or you cannot even feel them on your nose.
Good goggles should be snug on your nose, but not hurt it. That is why it is also important to try before you buy.
Some goggles have larger nose pieces, so people with higher nose bridges are happier.
Make sure it is possible to adjust the nose piece. If it is not possible, then you need to test them out before you buy them for sure. Otherwise, you cannot be sure they will fit you since you cannot adjust it.
6.) What kind of a strap do they have?
Is it adjustable to fit my head?
Usually, the straps are ok and can be adjusted just fine.
For adults, a double strap is quite standard. For kids, ideally, the strap is a bit larger, so it is easier to untangle from the hair :).
However, beware of bad quality material used to make the strap. The way you tell is by stretching a piece of the strap very tight and see if the color of the strap changes white. If yes, then the strap is not made out of quality material.
7.) Do I need prescription goggles?
This is probably not that important for most people with very cheap contact lenses out there, but there are also goggles with prescription.
So, if you cannot see the swim clock or worse, the wall, and you don't wear contact lenses, you can totally get yourself some goggles with a prescription made just for you and swimming does not have to be off-limits for you.
Here is an interesting pair of prescription goggles.
8.) Do they fog when you have them on for a bit?
This is tougher to try in the store, but sometimes, the really bad goggles will start fogging within a few seconds.
If you buy goggles and they start fogging upon you, spit into them or lick them with your tongue inside before putting them on your eyes.
Yes, you read it right, spit or lick will do the trick. Don't be afraid. :).
However, do not do this right at the start. Quality goggles have a thin anti-fog coating on the inside of the lense which should not be disturbed. This coating should last for a bit, but after awhile it loses its anti-fog properties.
Learn more about how to prevent foggy goggles.
9.) Never buy goggles in sealed cases.
You do need to put them on your eyes in order to see whether they will fit, so if the manufacturer seals them for you in a way that you have to destroy the case to try them, they are probably of bad quality.
10.) Obviously, one of the last things to consider is the price.
The range is just amazing. From under 10 USD to hundreds.
You can buy great Swedish goggles for as little as $7.99 and they work wonderfully compared to overpriced goggles for $50.
There are probably even more expensive ones out there, but unless they are made out of gold, it is plain dumb to buy them.
Finally, in this technological era, you also should consider if you want your goggles to do more than just protect your eyes from the water element. For example, there are goggles that have a digital display to show you some statistics about your swim. Check them out here.
Good luck. Hope this was helpful.