A high performance frameless toric lens ski goggle with advanced ChromaPop lenses, wide field of view, and OTG compatible (XL only)
Top Pick – Best OTG Ski Goggle (XL Size)
- Smith I/O Mag Ski Goggles Review and Test
- Recommendation – Buy or No Buy?
- Other ski goggles to consider
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The Smith I/O Mag goggles are the latest version of the popular Smith I/O ski goggle range. The I/O Goggles have easy to swap toric lenses. The Mag version adding magnetic swapping to them. The I/O Mag is available in 3 sizes. The XL being OTG compatible. They are available with a wide variety of lenses and all include a second lens. We have skied with them in bright days and flat days and they always give a clear sharp view of the snow. The Smith I/O Mag is a goggle for people who want the best performance in all light conditions, combined with excellent anti-fog performance.
What we liked:
- Excellent lens clarity and color differentiation
- Photochromic lens option that works well with most daytime light conditions
- XL size works well when worn OTG
- 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
- No hardcase included for storage
- Lens Type – Toric
- Fit – Large
- Included Lens – 2
- Interchangable Lens – Magnetic & Latches
Smith I/O Mag Ski Goggles Review and Test
We have tested 2 sets of Smith I/O Mag goggles now. Smith provided us with a set of I/O Mag XL with the following lens
- ChromaPop Photochromic Rose Flash VLT 30-50%
- ChromaPop Storm Yellow Flash VLT 60%
We purchased the first set ourselves which was a regular size version with the following 2 lenses.
- ChromaPop Sun Green Mirror VLT 9%
- ChromaPop Storm Rose Flash VLT 50%
Smith I/O Mag goggles come with a microfiber bag that can hold the goggles and an extra lens. Recently they started including a goggle sock as well.
As with all reviews, we will give you all the good and bad points whether we bought the goggles ourselves or a vendor gave them to us. In this case it is a mix of both.
1 – Lens Clarity (9.5/10)
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.
With our I/O Mag XL goggles with the photochromic lens, everything has a slight orange to it. One of our testers tried them on after wearing some cheaper Amazon ski goggles and noted how sharp everything suddenly looked. I’ve been really impressed at how well the photochromic lens works on brighter days. I thought with a max darkness of 30% that it would not be dark enough for a sunny day. It gets dark enough to work well. Not as dark as a 10% lens but it doesn’t leave your eyes feeling like they’ve been starting at bright sun all day.
All versions of the I/O Mag goggles have ChromaPop lenses, Tapered lens technology and use Carbonic X lens materials. Here is a quick rundown of what those mean.
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.
2 – Field of View (9/10)
The frameless design gives a very good field of view. The toric lens shape gives a distortion free view out to your periphery. They are competitive with any goggle out there. For those who want more, the Smith 4D Mag goggle has 25% increase in field of view but have more lens distortion towards the bottom edge. They cost a bit more and no 4D Mag’s are OTG capable.
3 – Flat Light Performance (10/10)
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 Photochromic lens which has a VLT range of 30-50% really shines as a flat light lens. It works okay in bright conditons but works great as soon as any clouds or haze shows up. It really brings out the terrain without ever making things look too dark. This lens really surprised us as to how good an all purpose lens it really is.
4 – Anti-Fog Performance (9.5/10)
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.
5 – Lens Swapping (8/10)
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.
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 lens swap design is the worst part about the Smith I/O Mag. You can see with the Squad Mag and 4D Mag that they changed to small latches you can release from the front while wearing the goggles.
The below video shows a demonstration of removing the lens and putting it back in.
6 – Comfort (9/10)
The I/O Mag goggles have a soft inner layer that feels good against your face. It’s moisture wicking so it keeps the sweat away and doesn’t feel like you are wearing a sponge. The overall foam stiffness feels on the stiff side compared to some other Smith goggles. The nose area doesn’t feel like it is pinching or squishing my nose at all. Overall they feel good to wear for an entire ski day.
7 – OTG Compatible
The I/O Mag XL size is OTG compatible. The regular and small fit versions are not. The XL is very big and roomy and feels good worn over glasses. The frame and toric lens give enough air space for the ventilation to work when you have a set of glasses inside.
8 – What is included
Smith includes a double pocket microfiber bag that can be used for storing the goggles and for cleaning the lens. They also now include a goggle sock you can put over the goggles to protect them from being scratched. I love the Gogglesoc because I scratch my goggles all the time on the lift gate of my Explorer when loading the car.
They still do not include a hard case with the I/O Mag. For the price, they really should include the case that the 4D-Mag’s come with.
Recommendation – Buy or No Buy?
The Smith I/O Mag is an excellent set of ski goggles. We would recommend buying them. 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. The photochromic lens option works great. The XL works great as an OTG goggle. Buy these goggles if your main concern is lens clarity, flat light performance, and anti fog performance or you need OTG goggles. 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.
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Other ski goggles to consider
The Oakley Flight Deck and Anon M4 are the most popular comparable ski goggles. They all have large spherical or toric lenses with a frameless design. They all utilize advanced color optimized lenses to improve performance in flat light conditions. The I/O Mag has the best flat light performance. The Oakley Flight Deck has a slight edge in anti-fog performance. The Anon M4 has a much better magnetic lens swap system.
See the below table for a comparison of features and ratings.
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Staff Writer | Skiing
Craig grew up in Northern Michigan and spends an unhealthy amount of time these days skiing at Mount Bohemia. He has been known to take more than a trip or 2 out west. His favorite ski destination is Whistler, BC where he goes almost every year. He loves glade skiing and alpine bowls. Craig is a big fan of stand up paddleboarding and camping in the summer. If he can’t be on the mountains he’s out in the woods or on the water.