Whether you’re training for your first open water triathlon, swimming laps at your local pool or reaping the rewards of a cold water plunge in the ocean, swimming goggles are key for protecting your eyes from both saltwater and chlorine.
Is there anything more annoying than an ill-fitting pair of goggles that leak every time you turn your head to one side to breathe or push off the wall? We think not. You should be able to pull a pair of trusty goggles on and not be met with leaky seals and awkward straps. Goggles are meant to make swimming easier, not harder.
So which are the best swimming goggles to buy, and should you opt for goggles with low-profile lenses for streamlined speed or wider, flatter lenses? Goggles with an adjustable nose bridge? Or with polarised lenses? We’ve tried and tested the best swimming goggles on the market — in the pool and open water — to help you decide which is the best for you.
What are the best swimming goggles?
There’s a tonne of different swimming goggles out there — all different shapes, sizes, and styles — some of which may work for you, while others may not. The best swimming goggles for you are the pair that feels most comfortable on your face — not too big, not too small, and don’t put too much pressure on your eye sockets. You want goggles to be completely leakproof (and not let any water in) but you also don’t want them to be so incredibly tight that you end up with panda-style rings around your eyes for the remainder of the day. Nobody has time for that.
Our current favorite swimming goggles are Zone3’s Volare Streamline Racing Goggles — a comfort-focused performance goggle that offers the best of both worlds; a streamlined racing design without any digging in the eye socket area.
We were also incredibly impressed by HUUB’s three-in-one design, offering interchangeable lenses to swap in and out depending on where you’re swimming, and what mood you’re in. Genius.
If you’re looking for a high-performance pair of goggles — that work both for training and racing, then you can’t get much better than Zone3’s award-winning Volare goggles. Zone3 was founded by elite triathlete James Lock back in 2004 while at Loughborough University — he aimed to create swim products to help improve his race speed. The Volare goggles, with a low-profile, hydrodynamic design, do just that. Aiming to eliminate drag through the water wearing these — these goggles are designed to be fast and streamlined. We found that even with a low profile, you still get excellent vision due to the horizon wide-angle lenses.
The polarized mirror lenses (which are a must for outdoor training) are available in three different colorways — green and black, black and red, and white and lime. And there’s a clear black and red version, too. We really rate the polarised lenses here — in fact, we love these goggles so much that we have purchased multiple pairs to match different swimwear.
There are a couple of interchangeable nose bridges that come with these goggles — which are always handy when a box says “one size fits all”. The adjustable nose bridge allows you to tweak the goggles for a more secure fit. Although, it’s worth noting that this feature isn’t a ‘must have’ for kids, beginners, and more casual pool-goers, but adjustable nose-bridge pieces do tend to come as standard for intermediate and advanced swimming goggles.
These lightweight goggles are a favorite among both competitive swimmers and triathletes alike — partly thanks to their sleek shape and the fact that they won’t fall off if you’re doing a tumble turn or diving off the blocks, but also because of their soft silicone seals which add comfort to any seriously long pool sets.
Anyone who has ever swum competitively will have, at some point, worn a pair of Speedo Speedsockets. Club swimmers will understand exactly what we mean when we say that these goggles are the ultimate staple to any swimming kit bag. They are the OG of race day goggles.
Featuring small frames, you don’t want to be wearing lashes of waterproof mascara in these — trust us when we say your make-up will end up on the entire lens, and then you really won’t be able to see much. Casual swimmers may find the lens shape too small, but the low profile hydrodynamic shape does offer increased peripheral vision. The double head strap also pretty much guarantees a secure fit (meaning they won’t fly off upon diving into the water) while the interchangeable nose bridges mean they cater to different-sized faces.
Ideal for racing, we particularly like the Speedsockets with smoked mirror lens — not only do they provide protection from sunshine, reduce glare and brightness (so they’re great for outdoor swimming) but they make you look like you mean business, and you’re stepping up to the racing block ready to win your heat or final. In three words, these goggles are classic, reliable, and secure. They’re also approved by FINA.
For open water swimmers plunging into salty oceans, shimmering lakes or fresh-water rivers, Zone3’s Vapour Goggles are the ones you need. With larger lenses, these are some of the most comfortable goggles on our list — and they suit both male and female faces. The polarized version is available in three different colorways — metallic gold, blue, and silver — plus, you can also get your hands on a swanky exclusive Tim Don inspired pair in navy and neon orange. If polarized mirrored lenses aren’t your thing, fear not, they also come in photochromatic and clear pale blue.
The silicone gaskets on the Vapour goggles are actually pretty soft in comparison to some of the smaller-sized designs — which helps to reduce any pressure around your eye sockets (and reduce any hideous suction marks around the eyes after swimming). They’re fairly easy to tighten too, you just push down on the small side button and lock them into place. The strap is chunkier in design to, say, Speedo Speedsockets or Zone3’s Volare goggles — it doesn’t have two separate straps, instead, there’s one slightly wider one that then splits into a loop (perfect for putting your ponytail through, if you have one).
Some may find that not only are the wider lenses more comfortable but that the curved style also gives a slightly wider vision — which is helpful for spotting buoys and other swimmers when swimming in the wild. Plus, with full UVA/UVB protection and anti-fog coating, there’s really not much to dislike about these. Our favorites are the white and silver pair.
It’s fair to say that American brand ROKA — founded by former swimmers Kurt Spenser and Rob Canales, who swam together at Stanford University — has taken over the triathlon world, sponsoring the likes of IronMan athlete Lucy Charles-Barclay and Olympic champion Flora Duffy. The pair decided to launch ROKA after taking part in an IronMan 70.3 back in 2011 — they realized that their kit (specifically their wetsuits) wasn’t doing them any favors, and so decided to create their own. Now ROKA is everywhere. And they don’t just make wetsuits, but sunglasses, tri kits and goggles, too.
With a patented design, the R1 goggles are ROKA’s premium goggle offering — and come in seven different colors (each designed for different swimming conditions). The light amber pair, for example, is for low light, mist, fog, haze and enhances orange and red buoys, while the cobalt pair is great for ocean swims and enhance yellow and green buoys. There are also mirrored options for direct sunshine and clear lenses for morning light and indoor swimming.
Because of the shape of the lens, you definitely get an expanded and unobstructed vision — which is especially great for open water and sighting targets (like buoys and other swimmers) more quickly. It also means you don’t need to raise your head out of the water quite so high — and can just opt for the ‘crocodile eyes’ sighting technique. We tested out the light amber pair and they gave off this ‘golden hour’ hue in the pool. They’re really rather comfortable, too.
Upcoming premium triathlon brand HUUB — which specializes in wetsuits for triathlon and outdoor swimming — have created the ultimate three-in-one goggle. As the most expensive goggles on our list, these are a bit of an investment, but with three different lenses (each designed for different light conditions) they’ll stand the test of time as you can swap the lenses in and out depending on when and where you’re swimming.
Arriving in a super-smart clam shell zip goggle case, we were immediately impressed by HUUB’s superior packaging and scratch-proof case. Too often goggles just get chucked in any old section of your gym bag with little to no thought — but having a designated case elevates them to almost ‘sunglasses’ level of care, and you’d never throw your Ray-Bans in your rucksack without their case on.
The Altair swim goggles come fitted with yellow mirrors (which are great for low light and helping to spot buoys in open water) and include a pair of silver mirrors (great for the pool) and a pair of black mirrors (excellent for strong sunlight). All of them help to reduce glare while offering UV protection. Although, it wasn’t immediately obvious how you change the lenses (without accidentally snapping them). After a quick demo on YouTube, we realized you simply pop the lens through the silver frame, and then you can easily stretch the black silicone off the lens and onto another. As soon as you’ve done it once, it becomes second nature. Also provided in the case are a couple of interchangeable nose bridges to help provide a better fit around the bridge of your nose.
We found the adjustable double silicone head strap both soft and easy to tighten, while the flexible ‘no pressure feel’ silicone gaskets helped provide a soft and secure feel around the eyes. If it’s good enough for the Brownlee brothers, it’s good enough for us.
Incredibly similar to Speedo’s Speedsocket goggles, these mirrored goggles from Italian swimming brand Arena (who produced their first competitive swimsuit more than 40 years ago) offer superior UV protection. If you’re planning on swim training when on holiday or you’re lucky enough to live somewhere warm enough to lap swim in an outdoor pool year-round, these are the goggles for you (and cannot be beaten on price).
With tight, low-profile lenses that are curved to enable peripheral vision, Arena’s Tracks Mirror goggles will suit competitive swimmers more than casual drifters — so if you’re not aiming for speed, opt for a pair of goggles with wider and flatter lenses instead.
The elastic straps flatten towards the back, so they sit flush against your head — and do not budge, so they’re particularly great for sprinting. They also come with interchangeable nose bridges, and, in our personal opinion, look rather stylish for under $20/£20.
Inspired by the scuba diving industry (take a look at yourself wearing these in a mirror, and you’ll see exactly why), Aqua Sphere’s goggles are considered some of the best on the market. The Kayenne and the Kaiman, in particular, are favorites amongst triathletes and open water swimmers due to their leak-resistant comfort, clarity, and field-of-vision. Designed to provide perfect vision underwater while keeping your eyes protected, Aqua Sphere’s Kayenne goggles have large, slightly curved, triangular lenses which offer wide visibility — and make them best for open water swimming. And if you like the mask-like shape of these, but you’re not quite convinced of the clear lens, they do also produce mirrored versions (which are much better for bright, sunny days). They also come in both adult and child sizes.
Easy to adjust — you literally just push down on a small button at the side of the lens and then tug on the strap, we were really impressed with both the sturdiness of the strap and how well the lenses of these Kayenne goggles managed to stay fog-free.
Our top tip for keeping your goggles fog-free? Always rinse your goggles after each use to remove any damaging chlorine and salt. And try to avoid touching the inside of the goggles (this can be tricky when you’ve got mascara-covered lenses, so ditch the make-up first to avoid needing to spit or rub on the inside of the lens).
How we test the best swimming goggles
To test the best swimming goggles, we went swimming! We put all of the goggles through their paces in the pool and in open water to look at how well they fit, how good the seal was, and how well the lenses performed in different conditions. Overall, the best swimming goggles for you are the ones that fit on your face most comfortably, so we looked at things like whether the goggles had adjustable nose bridges that help ensure a comfortable fit.
How to choose the best swimming goggles for you
When it comes to choosing the best swimming goggles for you, it’s a good idea to think about where you’ll be doing most of your swimming. If you’ll be doing most of your laps in the pool, you probably won’t need a pair of goggles with a polarized lens that offers UV protection. On the other hand, if you are planning on doing a lot of open-water swimming, you’ll want to keep the sun out of your eyes between strokes.
If you’re planning on wearing your goggles while racing, you’ll want to look for a pair with curved lens to enable peripheral vision when you’re swimming quickly. Casual swimmers don’t need to worry as much and may find wider, flatter lenses more comfortable.
Finally, whatever level of swimmer you might be, it’s a good idea to select a pair of swimming goggles that can easily be adjusted. Look for things like an adjustable nose bridge, which will help the googles sit comfortably on the bridge of your nose, and prevent you from having to adjust them each length of the pool.
How do you stop swimming goggles from leaking?
If your swimming goggles keep leaking, despite you adjusting them to fit your nose, and around your head, it might be that they aren’t the right pair for you. Despite these swimming goggles being the best on test, they might not be the best for your face shape or bone structure if they keep leaking.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re swimming quickly, diving into the pool, or doing tumble turns, your goggles might leak more than if you’re just doing laps. If tightening and adjusting them doesn’t solve your problem, it’s worth shopping around for a different pair.
What swimming googles does Michael Phelps use?
If you’re looking to shop like an Olympian, Michael Phelps wore the Speedo Speed Socket goggles for the first four Olympics of his career. After his contract with Speedo ended, Phelps signed with Aqua Sphere, and released a line of MP swimming goggles. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Phelps could be seen wearing the MP Xceed swim goggles.