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To truly know if a pair of goggles seals comfortably against the unique contours of your face, you have to swim in them—more than once. But whether you’re in a shop or online, knowing a few key things about goggle design—as well as your own preferences—can help you find the pair most likely to keep you swimming happily.
Forget the suction test: We’ve all heard of pressing goggles against your face to see if they can hold in place. Stop “hoping for magical suction,” says Tyler Clark of BlueSeventy. “Put the goggles on like you’re going swimming, with the strap over your head at about a 30-degree angle.” This pulls the nose bridge apart slightly, which impacts how the gaskets lay on the face. If they sit comfortably, they’re worth a try in the pool.
Know your size: One thing you can know without touching a potential new goggle is where you want the gaskets to contact your face. Some, like the Aqua Sphere K180, sit within the eye socket while others, like TYR’s Special Ops 2.0, press against the bone itself. Goggles that contact the bone “tend to be very comfortable and have a universal fit as well as a wide field of view,” says TYR’s Jared Berger. Smaller versions that sit closer to the sockets often only feel comfortable after the swimmer acclimates to the pressure, but their harder gaskets can last longer. Try both styles to determine which is best for you—and keep in mind that your preference for racing (tinted, wider field of vision) may not be the same as for training (lower profile, clear).