One of the hardest things for me when I got into triathlons was finding goggles for swimming. For my very first swim class I used a $5 pair from Target. Those worked for a while, but eventually, as I started spending more time in the pool, I went looking for something better.
When you first start out in this sport you probably don't want to invest a lot of money in things such as goggles because you aren't sure if you are going to stick with it (I didn't know until after my very first tri that I would ever do it again, mostly because it involved swimming in the ocean and I didn't know if I would survive that). And goggles are one of those things that you could have a different pair for every day of the week depending on where you are swimming and what the conditions are.
That being said, I have spent a fair amount of time attempting to maximize my goggle dollars and usability (i.e. I want the fewest number of goggles possible for the least amount of money, but I still want a quality product that will serve me well). Sounds impossible? But it isn't!
Goggles I have tried that failed me
Cheap Speedo Goggles
I don't even remember the model on these, but I got them at Target and they were super cheap. They worked just fine for a short while, but they weren't comfortable and they wore out pretty quickly. The moral of the story is, if you need goggles in a pinch (like, you have a swim class and no goggles) go buy a cheap pair, they'll be fine until you have a minute to get something better.
TYR Special Ops 2.0 Transition
I got these goggles just before I did my first race. It was in Hawaii and I was concerned about the sun. I didn't want something too dark in case it was cloudy, but I also didn't want to use my cheap clear goggles because I did not want to have to squint in the sun while also watching out for sharks!
These goggles would have been fine longer term except they are pretty shallow and I got annoyed because my eyelashes were long enough that they got smashed up against the lenses. I liked the transition feature of these, it wasn't too dark and it transitioned slowly enough that it wasn't noticeable.
My favorite goggles
A friend of mine recommended these goggles to me and I love them! They have a great field of view and the price point won't break the bank (they are $35). They also come in a bunch of different lens tints for whatever your swimming needs might be. I have the dark vermillion which has been great for bright sun outside and they work fine in the pool. My last race was in foggy/misty conditions and this tint was not so great, I will likely purchase a pair of light amber tint for those types of conditions since that is the only situation that I've found that the dark vermillion hasn't worked well in.
Goggle wearing tips
- Most goggles have some sort of anti-fog situation built into them, so avoid touching the insides of the lenses and use the case they come in to clean them. But, if all else fails, spit on the insides of the lenses will do the trick (gross, I know).
- Don't wear lotion on your face before to swimming. It prevents a good seal between your goggles and your face and usually means lots of leakage.
- Rinse your face with water before putting your goggles on.
- Don’t press the goggles into your face. They are designed to “suction” to your face on their own, so a light press, is fine. Not pushing too hard will keep you from getting those awful goggle marks and prevent headaches.
- If you are swimming outside, wear tinted goggles for sunny days, and wear clear goggles for cloudy days, this helps protect your eyes, and allows you to see when you are swimming