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Smith I/O Mag Review – Great Goggles For Under $300

Smith I/O Mag review

I’ve been skiing Smith I/O7 goggles for years. Their newest I/O version is the Smith I/O Mag ski and snowboard goggle. These are a frameless goggle design with magnetic swappable lenses. They offer modern styling with great clarity and an excellent field of view. I purchased a set to upgrade my aging goggles to something with a more modern lens swapping system. Let’s take a detailed look at the design, features, and performance in this Smith I/O Mag goggle review.

About Smith Optics

Smith Optics was started in 1957 by Dr Bob Smith when he started producing ski goggles in his garage. Along the way, they have been responsible for producing many ski goggle innovations. They produce some of the best ski goggles available today. The original Smith I/O goggle was introduced in 2007. The I/O Mag was introduced in 2018.

Features of the Smith i/o Mag Ski Goggles

Smith I/O Mag Ski and Snowboard Goggles

  • Magnetic interchangeable lens
  • Frameless design
  • Anti-fog coating, vents and dual pane lens
  • Many lens and frame options to pick from
  • Chromapop lens technology for increased clarity and color refraction
  • Spherical carbonic x lens

Smith i/o lens technology

Smith MAG lens system – The biggest change for the I/O Mag verse older versions of Smith I/O is the quick-swap MAG lens system. The system uses 7 magnets in the frame and 2 mechanical clips at the outboard edges. The purpose of the mechanical clips is so you can’t lose a lens in a hard fall or while lifting your goggles up on a chair lift. The system is easy to use and an improvement over the i/o and i/o7 lens swapping system. It now takes seconds to swap lenses instead of a couple of minutes.

Chromapop Lens – All the available lenses utilize Chromapop technology. This allows for better clarity and color refraction letting you see better. It works by filtering colors between blue and green and red and green. Your eyes naturally have a difficult time differentiating these wavelengths. Lenses are available in a variety of colors, finishes, and VLTs. Photochromic lenses are available as well.

Tapered Lens Technology – Smith goggles also incorporate tapered lens technology or TLT. This is an adjustment to the lens shape to reduce visual distortion caused by looking through curved lenses.

Spherical carbonic x lens – Smith i/o Mag goggles use a spherical lens with a toric shape. They are molded from Carbonic X Material. This produces a lens with excellent clarity and minimal distortion.

lens front
lens back

Smith i/o anti fog technology

5x Anti fog – These goggles have the standard dual pane lens with 5x anti fog treatment on the inner lens.

AirEvac venting – The goggles have a lot of venting to help keep fog away. They are designed to work with the AirEvac vents in Smith helmets to improve airflow in the goggle.

Smith i/o goggle frames

Triple layer foam – 3 layer foam is used for comfort.

Responsive Fit frame – the frame is made out of flexible PU material that conforms to your face for a better fit and better seal of the foam.

Goggle strap – The goggles have a buckle in the strap for easy removal. The strap is long enough to fit over most ski helmets. The strap has a silicone band in it to keep it from sliding on a helmet. The goggles no longer need a strap extension to work with helmets as the original I/O and I/O7 did.

Goggle frame front
goggle frame back

2 lenses

All Smith i/o Mag goggles come with 2 lenses. You will get a primary lens which will be a low VLT lens for bright days and a higher VLT lens which is good for flat light and darker conditions. Both lenses use chromapop technology. The goggles have a different frame and strap color combination for different primary lens colors.

My goggles came with the following 2 lenses

  • ChromaPop Sun Green Mirror VLT 9%
  • ChromaPop Storm Rose FlashVLT 50%
2 lenses

Goggle bag

They include a microfiber goggle bag that can be used to store the goggles. It can be used to wipe the goggle clean as well. The bag design has a replacement lens sleeve to keep your extra lens.

Goggle bag

Not OTG Compatible

The Smith io Mag goggles are not OTG compatible. I have tried to put them on over my glasses. They do not fit over the frames. The Smith I/O Mag XL goggles are designed to be OTG compatible if you need OTG snow goggles.

How do they work?

Helmet compatibility

Smith goggles are designed to be worn with Smith ski and snowboard helmets. They have very good fit with minimal to no helmet gap. The AirEvac vents in a Smith helmet are designed to channel air through the vents in Smith goggles to keep them from fogging. See the images below of how the goggles work with a Smith Mission MIPS helmet.

See our full review of the Smith Mission MIPS helmet here.

smith i/o goggles side view
smith i/o goggles front view
smith i/o goggles iso view

Fit

These goggles have a medium fit. The frame is round shape. I find it fits on my face with minimal bending of the frame. The triple layer foam feels soft and comfortable. For those wanting larger or smaller fit goggles, Smith has the I/O Mag s goggle and I/O Mag XL goggle. They also have “Low Bridge Fit” or “Asian fit” versions to fit people with a smaller nose profile.

Lens swapping

Anon was the first company to introduce magnetic lens swap ski goggles with the Anon M1 in 2012. Smith introduced the i/o Mag goggles in 2018 6 years later. There seem to be 2 schools of thought out there with magnetic lens swapping systems. Some people want nothing but magnets. Other people don’t fully trust magnets and still want some kind of mechanical clip. Anon, Giro, OutdoorMaster, and Zionor all use only magnets. Smith, Oakley, and Wildhorn all have some kind of clip or latch.

To swap lenses on these goggles you have to push in a clip on the side to release the lens. After this is released you can pull the lens free. With some practice, I can pop the lens off with the goggles on my head. It takes some effort to release the latch. I can’t do it with gloves on. It’s an improvement over the original I/O system. It’s not as easy or quick as a pure magnet system.

lens release latch

To put the lens back into the frame you put the tab into the clip one side and then push the rest of the lens into the frame. The lens has a tendency to catch on the nose piece. It takes a little nudging to align the nose piece to get the lens fully into the frame.

The below video shows a demonstration of removing the lens and putting it back in.

smith IO lens swap

Smith has stuck with this lens change system for their latest design the Smith 4D Mag goggles. They seem to be sticking with the idea that a secondary mechanical latch is needed along with magnets.

In my opinion, the 2 side clips are unnecessary. I have friends who have been using pure magnet goggles for years and have never had a lens fall out. Having latches only slightly reduces your chances of dropping a lens off the chair lift. You still have to take your gloves off to swap. This gives plenty of opportunity for losing gear on the chair. If you are wearing a helmet and not wearing your goggles with a giant gap, you can’t grab your goggles from the top of the lens to put them up on your head.

Other designs with a latch are easier to use. The Wildhorn Roca goggles have latches that can be pulled open easily while wearing ski gloves with goggles on your face.

Lens clarity

The Chromapop lenses have excellent clarity and very little distortion. There is a slight hint of distortion towards the outside edges of the lens if you really look for it. Everything looks just a little sharper when looking through both lenses. The color of the lens is clearly visible when viewing through the lens. The green and rose lenses give everything a noticeable green and red tint. You do not see natural color when looking through these lenses.

I have used Chromapop lenses on a variety of light conditions including very flat light days. They have better clarity and color refraction over not wearing goggles. I have used them for many foggy days at Whistler and a lot of overcast flat light days in Michigan. I have also used them for night skiing. The lenses have always performed well in bright light and low light.

The 2 images below show how the 2 lenses look on a bright sunny day.

chromapop lens tints

Anti-fog

Anti fog performance has been really good with Smith I/O goggles when used with a Smith helmet. I have been using this combination for years and have never had a fogging problem. This included several trips very foggy trips through the lower mountain at Whistler BC. I’ve never used any goggle that had better defogging performance than the Smith goggle and helmet combination.

Peripheral vision

The frameless design gives a very good field of view. They have similar peripheral vision to the I/O7 design and are competitive with any goggle out there. For those who want more, the Smith 4D Mag goggle reportedly has 25% increase in field of view. They have a significant cost increase to get it.

Cost

These goggles will set you back anywhere from $200 to $270. This puts them at the top end of ski and snowboard goggles. You do get a spare lens for that price which is good. Their closest competitors are the Oakley Flight Deck and Anon M4 goggles. The i/o Mag has an edge in changing lenses over the Oakleys but not as easy as the magnet only Anon M4. All 3 have similar lens technology.

Smith I/O Mag Summary

Smith I/O Mag Snow Goggles

The Smith Mission MIPS Helmet is a great performing helmet at a reasonable cost. The AirEvac helmet venting helps you get the most of your Smith goggle anti fog features. See my review of the Smith Mission MIPS helmet here.

What we liked
  • Excellent lens clarity and color differentiation
  • Anti fog performance
  • Stylish appearance
  • Many lens and frame color options
  • Includes 2 lenses
What we didn’t like
  • The lens swap mechanism still requires releasing mechanical clips that are difficult to do while wearing the goggles
  • High cost


Overall Impression

The Smith I/O Mag is an excellent set of ski goggles. They have first rate lenses and anti-fog performance. The clips in addition to magnets are a miss that makes lens swaps not as easy as they could be. Buy these goggles if your main concern is lens clarity, flat light performance, and anti fog performance. They are a big improvement in lens changing ease over the original I/O design. They are not as easy to swap as designs just using magnets.

See our article OutdoorMaster vs Smith to see how these goggles compare to the OutdoorMaster Pro goggles.

For a great lower cost option to the Smith I/O Mag goggles that perform great, see our review of the new OutdoorMaster Ultra XL snow goggles.

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About the author

My name is Doug Ryan. I am an outdoors enthusiast always looking forward to my next adventure. I spend as much time skiing, biking, and paddleboarding as I can. I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for all things outdoor adventures and to help other people have as much fun as me.

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