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Published Dec 28, 2021 12:51 PM

When you shop for swimming goggles, you basically want to find a pair that fit comfortably, keeps a water-tight seal around your eyes, and gives you the ability to see underwater. In other words, the things that they’re inherently meant to do. But there are also more than a thousand options at any given time, so how do you find what’s right for you?

For this review, we compiled a list of the best swimming goggles based on practical testing, personal experience, and expert opinion from competitive swimmers, all the way up to the collegiate level. So, read on to find out the best swimming goggles.

If you swim competitively, the TYR Tracer-X Elite are the best sprint goggles on the market. With the fit around the head and seal around the eye sockets, you’ll likely never experience leaks even under the most strenuous hydrodynamic forces like dives, turns, or open water currents.

The Tracer-X Elite goggle design is ultra-low profile and features HD lenses with an anti-fog coating and offers a full-range field-of-view. Using Durafit liquid silicone gaskets, they offer a deep inner-eye fit and water-tight seal. Plus, they’re equipped with stability side rails that fit like the temple on a pair of eyeglasses, which are nice for stability but can get uncomfortable if you wear them for a long time.

I call them “sprint goggles” because in competitive swimming, a sprint is a match at less than 200 meters, so if you are going for distance, the Tracer-X Elite might not be what you need. The aforementioned side rails end up pressing into your temples after a while, even when they’re properly adjusted.

TYR is one of the big names when it comes to swimming goggles. Their goggles offer best-in-class security, even against the turbulent forces of dives, flip-turns, and even ocean currents. And the TYR Tracer-X Elite are the best competitive swim goggles available today.

Product Specs
  • Available colors: Silver/black, silver/red, gold/orange
  • Lens shape: Flat front with angled peripheral
  • Material: 46% Plastic, 31% Silicone, 14% Rubber, 9% Nylon
PROS

Extremely hydrodynamic

Split-Y headstrap aids in secure mounting

Good peripheral vision

CONS

Uncomfortable for distance swimmers

Relatively high price

Limited color options

For more than 20 years now, the Speedo Speed Socket has been a popular choice for swimmers. They offer great comfort and an outstanding field of view all for a price-point lower than some high-end or professional swimming goggles.

The best feature of the Speed Socket 2.0 is probably their field of view. The goggles curve on the outside to support your natural ability to use your peripheral vision, which comes in handy during a race. And their biggest selling point is probably that they’re available in a wide range of colors.

However, their most notable characteristic is their comfort. When they’re adjusted properly, they’re great for swimming long distances and for extended periods of time. The key to their comfort is the soft rubber strap, but that also contributes to my criticisms.

First, they can be finicky to adjust and when they’re not adjusted correctly, you won’t get a proper seal and water will seep in. Second, the straps are so soft that they wear out over time, so you’ll need to replace them before they snap.

Product Specs
  • Available colors: 15 different colors
  • Lens shape: Curved front into peripheral
  • Material: 46% Plastic, 31% Silicone, 14% Rubber, 9% Nylon
PROS

Comfortable rubber strap

Outstanding peripheral vision

Broad color selection

CONS

Finicky fitment, leading to leaks

Rubber straps snap quickly

Low price is offset by the need for bungee straps

Editor’s Choice

If you have a narrow head and deep-set eyes like me, the Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 might be your favorite choice, too. Compared to the Speedo Speed Socket, these goggles are another great option for entry-level swimmers. The Vanquisher 2.0 has a sleek recurved profile, which brings their overall width down and provides an ostensibly more hydrodynamic form. Plus, they’re comfortable.

One of my favorite features of the Vanquishers is that they easily accept bungee strap modifications thanks to their large strap loops. While that’s something I do to all my swimming goggles, you might want to consider it with the Vanquisher as well because they feel and wear better than the standard rubber straps.

The Vanquishers also have an extremely narrow field of view, so they’re great if you’re easily distracted and need to focus on the black line on the bottom of the pool or that one particular ceiling beam to increase your split time.

The standard Vanquishers are only available in four color options, but Speedo does offer Extended View Vanquishers, which come in a wider selection of colors and offer a slightly wider front field of view. And for swimmers who wear glasses, Speedo has Optical Vanquishers for prescription lenses.

Product Specs
  • Available colors: Smoke, blue, clear, white
  • Lens shape: Flat front, angled side cutout for peripheral vision
  • Materials: 65% Silicone, 32.5% Polycarbonate, 2.5% Polyurthane
PROS

Secure fit

Fits deeper eye sockets

Outstandingly clear acrylic lenses

CONS

Fragile attachment points and lens coating

Poor peripheral vision

Low price is offset by the need for bungee straps

Best Women’s Swimming Goggles

Everything about the Women’s Vanquisher 2.0 is the same as the unisex version, for better or for worse, except for one thing: they are designed to fit common characteristics of the female face. Numerous studies have shown that women tend to be smaller and have softer and rounder faces than men. And the Women’s Vanquisher does a great job accommodating those features.

Of course, I’m a man with a more pronounced brow, cheekbones and jaw than most women, so I had to rely on research for this review and input from Shannon, a friend of mine who is a decorated collegiate swimmer. Based on their guidance, the Vanquishers were the best in terms of fitment and eyeseal, and they don’t limit peripheral vision.

Like the unisex version, the Women’s Vanquishers are equipped with large strap loops, so it’s easier to insert a bungee strap, which you might want to consider because they tend to be more comfortable than the standard rubber ones.

Product Specs
  • Available colors: Smoke, blue, clear, white
  • Lens shape: Flat front, angled side cutout for peripheral vision
  • Materials: 65% Silicone, 32.5% Polycarbonate, 2.5% Polyurthane
PROS

Secure fit

Fits deeper eye sockets

Outstandingly clear acrylic lenses

CONS

Fragile attachment points and lens coating

Poor peripheral vision

Low price is offset by the need for bungee straps

Best Swedish Swimming Goggles

Swedish swimming goggles are gloriously simple. They consist of gasket-less eye cups that connect across the nose by a piece of string and secure with a rubber strap. Given that their most notable feature is their lack of features, it’s difficult to improve upon the design, so the title for best Swedish swimming goggles goes to the company that designed them.

Malmsten AB launched in the mid-1970s as a swimming gear company alongside its most famous product, the Swedish swimming goggles. Today, the company makes a host of other competition gear for everything all the way up to Olympic lane lines.

Although Swedish goggles may look uncomfortable because of their complete lack of cushion, they’re surprisingly not. They rely on the tension of the goggles against your eye sockets to maintain a water seal. Also, Swedish goggles won’t leave you with raccoon eyes, which is what happens when you wear goggles with rubber gaskets.

Under water, Swedish goggles don’t really interfere with your field of view. In fact, just how close it is without goggles is unprecedented. You should have almost no issue glancing out of the corner of your eye to check the position of opponents or find your way around underwater obstacles.

When you buy Swedish goggles, they come in a bag of parts, which may seem confusing at first, but there’s a two-part explanation for it. First off, Malmsten does this so you can customize the goggles to your preferred fit and facial shape. However, it may take a bit of trial and error before you figure out your preferences. The other is that it cuts down on cost (since they don’t have to pay anyone to assemble the goggles). They typically cost around $10.

Product Specs
  • Available colors: Smoke, blue, clear, green, red
  • Lens shape: Flat front, angled sides
PROS

Lowest Profile

Fits deeper eye sockets

Inexpensive

Totally customizable

CONS

Leaky unless adjusted just right

Can be uncomfortable at first

Needs user set up

Why you should trust us

For this article, I interviewed competitive swimmers and swimming instructors. While I did swim competitively in high school, my ability was nothing compared to the nationally-ranked athletes I interviewed. Nonetheless, combining the experiences gave me greater insight into what to look for when buying a new pair of swimming goggles. 

Types of swimming goggles

Swimming goggles generally come in three major configurations: traditional, Swedish, and dive mask. However, I only covered the first two because the last option is a complex category on their own and merit a separate article. 

Traditional

Traditional swimming goggles are the category that every one of our picks fits into, simply because they’re the style of goggles that most people are familiar with. They consist of two separate eyepieces with rubber gaskets that create a water seal that prevents water from entering. They secure around your head using rubber straps and they have a removable nose piece. You can also get traditional swimming goggles with prescription lenses. 

Swedish

Swedish-style goggles are gloriously simple but an acquired taste. They consist of plastic lenses with no gaskets, they’re held together by string, and come from the factory unassembled. While they may sound odd compared to traditional goggles (and you have to assemble them yourself), they are extremely low profile and totally customizable.

Dive mask

Dive masks include a range of goggles like snorkeling and SCUBA masks. They’re much larger than swimming goggles, but offer an increased field of view; a rubber nose covering, which force you to breathe through your mouth; and large flat lenses instead of eye cups. You generally wouldn’t wear them for recreational or competitive swimming. 

Key features of swimming goggles

Eye cups

The eye cups are the primary component of swimming goggles and when you’re looking at them, you’re really looking at two things: socket size and lens size. The former is a reference to actual size and comfort, while the latter determines optical clarity. 

Swimming goggles with a small socket size tend to be more streamlined as they fit right over your eye socket. For the increased performance, though, you give up some comfort and field of view. Large socket goggles, on the other hand, are more comfortable and offer a wider field of view, but at the expense of performance. 

Field of view

Field-of-view refers to how much you can see in front of you. Your standard unobstructed view is 120 degrees, but when you’re looking through swim goggles (or through a camera or scope), your field-of-view narrows. When it comes to swimming goggles, an increased field of view often comes at the expense of hydrodynamics. 

Strap

The strap is how you secure the goggles around your head. On traditional swimming goggles, they’re made out of rubber, or similar material, and more often than not there’s a split in it. One part is meant to go high and the other low on the back of your head for increased security and stability. There are also aftermarket options like bungees. 

Lens coating

Lens coatings are largely a matter of personal preference, but they do come in handy if you swim outside or in an indoor pool with glaring lights. The most common include: 

  • Colored tint
  • Mirroring
  • UV protection
  • Anti-fog

Whatever coating you choose, or combinations of coatings, they can wear out over time, especially with repeated submersion in salt- or chlorine-treated water. Something like anti-fog treatments typically only last a few months before you have to apply more. 

Benefits of swimming goggles

Underwater visibility

Water, especially against the naked eye, obscures your vision, but you can exponentially increase clarity by adding a layer of air and a transparent lens. By essentially giving your eyes a screen to focus on, swim goggles allow you to see as far as the water will let you.

Focus

A good pair of goggles will help you focus on swimming and turning instead of water getting into your eyes. Pool water is usually treated with chlorine, which is a mild irritant, and having mild irritants in your eyes is unpleasant, especially after long periods of exposure. While there’s no evidence suggesting that it causes permanent damage, it can cause short-term issues like dehydration and in worst cases, lead to infections (in dirty pools). 

Pricing considerations for swimming goggles

Budget

For less than $15, you’ll find economically priced swim goggles that are ideal for beginners and growing children, but they tend to be featureless and use lesser-grade materials, which might scratch or wear out. More often than not, you might buy them for one-off use or for kids, who tend to beat up their gear. 

Mid-range

The vast majority of goggles, even competition-grade, cost between $15 and $30. They tend to fit better, have more features, and use more durable materials than low-end goggles. They’re good for recreational use and for workouts. 

Premium

Goggles above $30 tend to be of higher quality and are meant for competitive swimmers or triathletes. They’ll endure daily use and/or they’ll be equipped with very high-end features like optical tech and heads-up displays for tracking workouts. 

How we chose our top picks

When selecting the top picks for this article, I reached out to swimmer friends that I knew could be honest with me and give me what works for them. In some cases, they spoke against the brand that sponsored their team, instead preferring another brand, or pointing out lesser-known deficiencies of popular brands. I’d like to personally thank Theo and Shannon for their assistance with this article, since my own experience is somewhat out of date, and was never that diverse to begin with.

FAQs on swimming goggles

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q. How do you keep swimming goggles from fogging?

A: Swimming goggles, safety glasses, and any other form of eye protection that doesn’t allow for airflow will be susceptible to fog. Some goggles will feature a proprietary anti-fog coating, but I have never found these to be very effective. Instead, using a good anti-fog compound such as Cat Crap has worked for me in the past.

Q. How do you clean swimming goggles?

A: After every use, you should rinse your goggles in fresh water, which will prevent the chlorine from degrading the coating on your goggles, making the rubber brittle, and leaving residue on your goggle. Doing this will prolong the lifespan of your goggles.

Q. Can I wear swimming goggles after LASIK?

A: Once fully healed from LASIK, there should be no issue with swimming with goggles. However, consult your optometrist with this question, as we don’t have any doctors on staff that I know of.

Q. How do you remove scratches from swim goggles?

A: Depending on the severity of the scratches, and whether or not you have a mirrored coating on your goggles, you may be able to use a compound like Polywatch to buff out some scratches. However, this may not make the goggles as clear as they were before.

Q. How do you adjust swimming goggles?

A: Your goggles should be snug, but not overly tight, and should stay on even when diving into the water, pushing off of the wall of the pool, or in heavy surf when in open water. For competitive swimmers, wearing your goggles underneath a swim cap may help with maintaining fit, and other swimmers may find it helpful to change out the nosepiece of their goggles.

Q. Can I wear contacts with swimming goggles?

A: You can, however, many swimmers who require corrective lenses instead prefer to wear prescription swim goggles to avoid the possibility of chlorine infiltration under their contacts, which could cause far worse irritation than against the naked eye. 

Q. How do you assemble swimming goggles?

A: This mostly applies to Swedish swimming goggles, since most swimming goggles require little to no set up. Swedish goggles need to be adjusted for your eye width by lengthening or shortening the string that connects the goggles over the bridge of your nose, and then the rubber straps need to be adjusted. To properly size the straps, whether you use rubber straps or bungees, you’ll run the straps through the goggles once on each side, giving you an open end and a closed end. Tie off the open end or use a bungee gather, if using bungees, and adjust the tightness until the goggles feel secure on your head. Try the fit of the goggles underwater, and continue to adjust the length of the nose string and rubber straps until you achieve a secure fit, even in the most vigorous water conditions.

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Matt Sampson is a Task & Purpose commerce writer. An 0861 in the Marine Forces Reserve and a Virginia native, he worked in tactical gear retail in his past life and is an avid firearms enthusiast. The farthest the Marine Corps has sent him from home is California.