The 10 Best Sports Goggles
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in October of 2015. The proper eyewear is essential to prevent injuries when playing basketball, football, racquetball, squash, or handball — not to mention when you're biking or cruising on your motorcycle. These sports goggles come in a variety of styles, from glasses designed to improve your view to protective models made with tough, durable materials. We've included options for adults and kids. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
April 06, 2021:
This list was still in good shape, and we got through this round of updates without making a lot of big changes, although we did remove the Ponsoon 1809 due to availability issues.
We also added the Birdz Eyewear Flyer Extreme to our list. We liked the way this model came with a cleaning cloth and storage case, and were especially grabbed by its self-tinting lenses, which automatically darken during daylight, but lighten up in darker environments. So, whether you’re on the playground or in a gymnasium, this pair should have you covered.
We tried to keep this list focused on multipurpose options, but if you’re interested in protection for a specific activity, then you might have better luck with one of our specialized lists. We’ve got rankings for everything from swim goggles and air soft goggles to ski goggles and motorcycle riding glasses.
February 18, 2020:
Two items were no longer available: the RockBros Polarized and Eversport 1601. We pulled these from the list. We also removed the Golden Vision Eliminator and Pyramex I-Force; both suffer from serious fogging issues, while the latter offers poor clarity to begin with.
While the Supertrip Safety are an economical choice that provide clear vision and glare-blocking properties, we did note complaints that they tend to allow wind past the seal, which can irritate some users. We downgraded this one a bit.
We added several quality items to the list, including the Bangerz HS-OTG, which can be worn over traditional glasses to act as an extra layer of protection. The Gear District UV400 are a nice replacement for the polarized pair we eliminated, and the Pellor SHSG05 are a logical option if you plan to get prescription lenses installed.
Xabe Optics Progear Thanks to several sizes and a huge variety of available colors to choose from, you’ll be able to incorporate a substantial amount of customization into your Xabe goggles. They feature ample cushion on the sides and around the nose, and they have a waterproof lining for water sports. xabeoptics.com
Pilla Eyewear It’s not cheap, but Pilla’s equipment is designed for more than protection — the goggles and glasses in this collection are created to improve an athlete’s performance. They utilize color enhancement technology to provide reliable optical clarity for those involved in shooting, archery, horseback riding and aviation. pillasport.com
A Brief History Of Eye Protection In Sports
If there's one thing that's remained true throughout history, it's that it's hard to excel at sports if you can't see.
If there's one thing that's remained true throughout history, it's that it's hard to excel at sports if you can't see. As a result, protective eyewear has been around for almost as long as sports themselves.
Fencing was as much practice for military endeavors as it was a sport, but either way, blinding your best soldiers isn't really a recipe for success in battle. The first fencing masks were used in Egypt at around 1200 B.C.E..
The next innovation in sporting goggles was actually made for horses. Around the 18th century C.E., blinders began to be used to keep the horses focused on what was ahead of them. This made them run faster in races, as well as perform their duties as carriage horses while remaining docile.
Meanwhile, in the 19th century, America was beginning to fall in love with a little game called baseball. There was just one little problem: batters and catchers alike were getting mangled by the newly-invented curveball. A young catcher at Harvard, James Tyng, was concerned that he'd be permanently disfigured if he didn't take do something, and so he created a modified fencer's mask to give him a layer of protection.
Tyng was initially mocked for wearing the mask, but as catchers began to move closer to the batters, more players began to see the sense in his idea.
The next breakthrough in protective eyewear came in the 1960s, when skiers began using anti-fog goggles. They had been using single-pane goggles for years prior, but those were prone to fogging up at inopportune times (like, say, while skiing).
This led basketball players to adopt the style, with notable pros like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wearing them during games. They offered protection from accidental scratches while jockeying for a rebound, and some even had prescription lenses to maximize vision.
Visors would begin cropping up in football and hockey about a decade later, although players in both sports were initially resistant to the idea. The NHL eventually made visors mandatory, while many football leagues banned everything besides clear visors, as seeing a player's eyes is central to diagnosing concussions and other injuries.
Today, goggles are commonplace in virtually every sport that involves contact of some kind, as well as in others, like shooting, where debris can be thrust into your eyes. Regardless of how you feel about their style, protecting your vision is a smart idea.
Besides, sports are hard enough on their own. You don't need to add an extra layer of difficulty to it.
How To Choose The Right Goggles For You
Finding the right goggles depends on a variety of factors, not least of which is the sport you'll be playing. However, finding the right pair can even improve your performance while protecting your vision.
Finding the right goggles depends on a variety of factors, not least of which is the sport you'll be playing.
The first thing to consider is what, exactly, you'll be protecting yourself from. Does your sport require you to play out in unfriendly elements, or do you just have to worry about balls and your fellow competitors? If the former, you'll want something that's a little snugger, and that's not prone to fogging up at the wrong time. Additionally, a little UV-protection is also a smart idea.
If it's the rigors of the game that are your main concern, then you can be a little more relaxed on the snugness. You'll want to make sure that your pair is tough, though, so look for scratch-resistant polycarbonate lenses set in plastic frames. Also, if you have to wear a helmet or other protective gear, make sure that your glasses will be able to fit inside it.
Wraparound lenses work well for any sort of racing sport, as they can help deflect the wind around your eyes and minimize watering. They're also good for users who wear contacts, as they reduce the chance that dust (or a stray finger) will get in your eyes.
More than anything, though, check the fit. It's better to have inferior glasses that fit well than a high-dollar pair that's never in the right place. This is especially true if you're buying for young children, so resist the urge to get something that he or she will grow into.
At the end of the day, buying sports goggles is a lot like shopping for regular eyeglasses. Take your time, and get it right the first time — because you could lose a lot more than the big game if you get a pair that doesn't do its job properly.
How To Convince Children To Wear Protective Eyeglasses
Realizing your kid needs to wear protective eyewear is one thing. Getting them to do it is quite another.
When you're young, the fear of being different is powerful, and so many children will be resistant to wearing goggles, especially if they're the only ones on the team who needs to do so. Luckily, there are ways to make it happen with as little resistance as possible.
Realizing your kid needs to wear protective eyewear is one thing.
First off, let them choose the frames, provided that they select a pair that's suitable. If they're allowed to have a say in the matter, they'll be much more receptive to the idea.
Also, be sure to point out other notable athletes who have worn them — and there are more than you might think. Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, and Michael Phelps are just a few of the star athletes who have rocked goggles at one point.
Let them wear them around the house to get used to them, as well. You may even invest in other types of glasses, like gaming glasses, to get them accustomed to the fact that wearing specialized gear is a part of playing a game.
Of course, if push comes to shove, you can always just make wearing the goggles a condition of playing the sport. That should be a last resort, however, as it's likely to create resentment. Fortunately, if you follow the guidelines above, it should never come to that.
If anything, you might just have to yell at them to take their goggles off occasionally.