The 10 Best Swimming Goggles in 2021
Review by Phil Gerrard, Updated 16th of April 2021
The best swimming goggles in 2021 showcase design innovations and premium materials that distinguish quality goggles from the competition. The best swimming goggles don’t leak. They have anti-fog coatings that keep your vision unobstructed. They are durable. They are comfortable.
This article discusses the features of the best swimming goggles for a range of swim purposes including racing, training, triathlons, open water swimming, and general use. It also recommends goggles that have these features, and are of proven quality. Top picks - by elite swimmers - of the best swim goggles are:
Features of the Best Swimming Goggles
Over the years I’ve spent lapping in the pool, competing in open water swims and triathlons, and exploring reefs with my family, I’ve found there are definite standout swim goggles in the various styles available... and some most definite flops. I don’t know about you, but there’s no bigger killjoy than having water trickling into my goggles - or fogging up - because they don’t fit well. But with that right pair, you might even forget you’re wearing them and just enjoy your splash. In this review, I aim to help you choose quality swim goggles with features that will meet YOUR needs.
Swimming Goggle Brands
You would think designing a quality pair of swim goggles isn’t that hard. But in general, brands that don’t specialize in swim goggles often struggle to get basic features right. And some companies that do know their stuff make you pay a premium for their quality gear, while offering below standard products at the cheaper prices.
A few goggle brands stand out from the crowd. When you buy a pair in their range, you know you will get quality swimming goggles. These trusted brands are TYR , Aqua Sphere , and Zoggs . TYR offer excellent products for swim racing and training. Aqua Sphere and Zoggs are more focused on triathlon, and more spacious ‘comfort’ goggles.
These three trusted brands don’t encompass all of the best goggles out there. But they do produce consistently good goggles across their range of models.
Variable quality brands
In contrast with these trusted brands, there are some brands that should never be touched. But there are also brands that do offer quality – but you need care selecting from their range, as they produce high quality AND poor quality goggles. For example, take Arena . Their Cobra goggles are an exceptional racing goggle. But their entry level goggles are sub-par. Same goes for Speedo, Finis, HUUB, Zone3, Blue Seventy… The list goes on.
As for general rule, it’s best to steer clear of general sporting brands such as Nike and Adidas.
Swim goggle fit and adjustability
Goggles have changed so much over time. I remember when I was a kid having goggles that just glued foam pads to the rim. Of course with due time, the glue came unstuck and water would just pour in. It was the same for all the other kids - it was just the way things were. I was allowed one new pair each half a year, and so I spent about five out of six months with sore red eyes! Thank goodness technology and goggles have moved on since then!
This is the absolute number one feature to look for in goggles – a quality silicone seal. This will determine whether your swimming goggles are going to remain comfortable, leak-free, and fog free over a long period of time. I cannot emphasise this enough - make sure your goggles have high-grade silicone that remains supple. A great pair should see you through even a year or two of constant use – with comfort. While ultra-cheap goggles give away their awfulness with stiff and thin silicone, it’s often difficult to tell the quality of the silicone used in goggles until you actually use them. Remember when I mentioned trusted goggle manufacturers? Well one thing TYR, Aqua Sphere and Zoggs all do is use quality silicone in their entire range.
Adjustable nose pieces vs fixed bridge
Almost all racing goggles have an adjustable nose piece. Whereas triathlon goggles generally have a fixed bridge. That is, triathlon goggles don’t have any adjustment in the nose piece. Why is it that some goggles require adjustment, while others don’t? The reason is that racing goggles have a smaller silicone gasket on each lens, and a small gasket isn’t as obliging as a large gasket. So a racing goggle will not fit well if the nose piece is the wrong width. In contrast, a triathlon goggle with a larger silicone gasket will accommodate a range of face shapes. For this reason, one style is not better than the other. But the different styles do have advantages. Adjustability ensures you can achieve a suitable gap between your eyes, whereas a fixed width goggle will fit most, but not everyone. Modern fixed bridge goggles have flexibility in the bridge, allowing the goggles to contour to your face. Fixed bridge goggles are also desirable in pack swimming as there is less that can go wrong – should your goggles be hit by another swimmer.
Strap material and adjustment mechanism
Good goggles are manufactured with high-quality materials that last over time and can take some wear and tear. There’s no excuse for straps snapping in this day and age, with all the great materials out there for makers to use.
An important difference between goggle straps is the adjustment mechanism. Many goggles these days have a ratchet style adjuster at strap attachment points on the side of the goggle frame. Personally I’m not a fan of these adjusters - once I get my goggles adjusted correctly, the adjuster is just adding bulk.
Swim goggle vision
It’s always nice to have clear vision through your swimming goggles. In triathlons and open water swimming, you need to be able to easily sight where you’re going. In the pool you need clear vision of the wall for turns. But not all goggles are equal. Some poor quality goggles have plastic that distorts the image. Some change focus in and out of water – which is an issue for breathing. Others restrict your field of vision with small lenses, or bulky lens frames.
When you swim, what you need to see isn’t always directly in your focus. For example, a triathlon swimmer needs an understanding of their position on the pack, as well as buoy positioning. A lot of information is gleaned from your peripheral vision. If your goggles block peripheral vision, you are at a disadvantage. It is realistic to expect a pair of goggle to not impede your peripheral vision at all.
Perfect peripheral vision can be achieved with racing goggles, such as the TYR tracer-X. It is also achieved with triathlon goggles designed with peripheral vision in mind.
Prescription swimming goggles
Prescription lenses are available in goggles and even swim masks, with ranging magnification. Some alternatives allow the choice of differing magnification for the left and right lens. This can make a huge difference to your enjoyment in the water.
If you are looking for a prescription goggle, the TYR Corrective Optical Performance swim goggle is a popular choice, and a quality item. If you require vastly different magnification in each eye, I suggest purchasing two pairs of these goggles - the lenses can be swapped, and you will have two pairs that meet your prescription needs. Just what you need if you’ve never been able to see where you’re going underwater.
TYR Corrective Optical Performance Goggle
• Prescription lenses
• Quality TYR product
• Variable magnification
Swimming goggle type/profile
Different profile goggles are designed for differing swim needs. For example, Triathlon goggles are perfect for triathlons or open water swimming, but are far too bulky for elite pool racing. Below I categorize the main types of swim goggles available, and present a recommendation for a quality swim goggle of each type.
Racing goggles are low profile. They will often have firmer silicone gaskets to allow the goggle to be tightened for dive starts. The will have an adjustable strap with a toggle located at the back of the head to reduce drag. Racing goggles don’t prioritize comfort, or peripheral vision. A perfect example of a racing goggle is the Arena Cobra Ultra Swipe.
Arena Cobra Ultra Swipe
• Best Racing Goggle
• Ultra-low profile and drag
• As worn my numerous professional swimmers
Training goggles are very good for general use. They are not far off racing goggles, and can be used for racing at the non-elite level. They are also suitable for triathlon or open water swimming. I suppose they are half way between racing and triathlon goggles in terms of their profile. Many swimmers will use training goggles for all events. I personally use, and highly recommend TYR Tracer-X goggles. These are an excellent example of a training goggle. I’ve used TYR tracer goggles almost exclusively for the last couple of years for all my training in the pool and ocean races, and have been very pleased with their performance. The TYR Tracer-X sits low and close to your face, and has low drag through the water. This low design is coupled with unaffected peripheral vision. I find the soft silicone seal makes the TYR Tracer-X comfortable to wear over a long period, and the silicone gasket stays supple for MANY months of constant use. The anti-fog is excellent – and you should never have the need to clear fog. In fact, once I put on these goggles, they will stay on my face from start to finish - even for over 3 mile training sessions.
• Best all-round swim goggle
• Suitable for racing, training, triathlon, open water
• Very soft and comfortable silicone
• Full peripheral vision
Triathlon/open water goggles
Triathlon and open water racing goggles are generally one piece frames with a fixed nose bridge. They have a higher internal volume, and an increased focus on comfort. They are designed with vision in mind. They are built strong for pack swimming. An excellent example of a triathlon goggle is the Aqua Sphere Kayenne. While some may find this too large a goggle for lap swimming, it’s forte is triathlons and open water swimming. It has unobstructed vision in the water. Aqua Sphere’s quick fit buckle is also very helpful for adjustment on the go, but can be a detractor in other ways. Normally once a goggle is adjusted you should not need regular adjustment, and the adjustment system does add a level of bulk to the frame sides. The anti-fog coating is excellent, as you would expect from a quality brand such as Aqua Sphere. Durability is also excellent.
If you only lap swim, and race day is your focus, you will want the least drag, whilst also requiring a very securely fitting goggle that will not dislodge when you dive. For racing, many like the bare bones ’Swedish’ style goggles. These goggles have no silicone seal - the Perspex lens sits directly on your face. Swedish goggles can be hit and miss, and do take some adjustment of the nose string/adjuster to get a perfect fit. But once you’ve got it just right, you’ll have a highly personalized piece of racing equipment that will be reliable and durable.
For further information about Swedish goggles, be sure to check out our detailed Swedish goggle review page here.
Malmsten AB Original Swedish Goggles Jewel
• Swedish racing goggle
• Adjustable string bridge
• Mirror finish and anti-fog coating
The TYR Socket Rockets 2.0 are basically a Swedish goggle, but have a hard contoured silicone edging around the eye sockets. This contoured edge improves fit and comfort over Swedish goggles. The Socket Rockets are a unique product.
TYR Socket Rockets 2.0
• Swedish goggle with solid gasket
• Low profile
• Racing goggle
Recently the popularity of swim masks has drastically increased, and for good reason. If you like a very spacious and comfortable goggle, you may appreciate a swim mask. Some swimmers like this style goggle as it does not leave goggle marks around your eyes, meaning you won’t get unusual looks from others in the hour after you swim! Personally when I use a mask for swimming I find them very comfortable, but too large. Not in terms of fit - they have fitted just right - but in terms of drag.
If you want a quality swim mask, look no further than the Aqua Sphere Vista Mask. The Aqua Sphere Vista Pro is the latest version release of this goggle, and has a few small changes from the original Aqua Sphere Vista mask. The two main differences being a single lens design in the Aqua Sphere Vista Pro (rather than the separated lenses of the Aqua Sphere Vista), and a buckle redesign. I found the single lens was more about styling than resulting in improved vision. The new style buckle performed as expected. I personally find the Aqua Sphere Vista Pro styling unusual in comparison to the original Aqua Sphere Vista (which is styled like classic goggles), and as a result I continue to recommend the Aqua Sphere Vista mask.
Considering Aqua Sphere Vista vs Kayenne? This is a common query, and really depends on your needs. These are actually very different types of goggles with one being a classic triathlon goggle design, and one a mask design. The Aqua Sphere Kayenne is appropriate for competitive triathlon and open water swimming, but the vista is not. The Vista would be too large for this purpose, but for a leisurely swim at the pool or beach the Vista is a comfortable choice. Both are quite similar in terms of other features, such as the strap style, and the quick fit adjustment buckle.
Aqua Sphere Vista Swim Mask
• A Spacious Swim Mask
• Unmatched comfort
• No pressure on or around eyes
Aqua Sphere Vista Pro Swim Mask
• Pro version of the Vista mask
• Unmatched comfort
• No pressure on or around eyes
Kids require smaller frames that adults. Kid’s goggles also need to be made tough. A quality kid’s goggle is the Aqua Sphere Moby Junior.
Aqua Sphere Moby Junior
• Trusted quality with Aqua Sphere
• Rugged design
• Easily adjustable strap
For more kids goggle recommendations, check out this review of kids goggles .
Lens coatings and tints
Many swim goggles come in a wide range of options regarding lens coatings, and tints. Coatings include anti-fog coating, which is present on the inside of the lens. Some lenses can have a mirror finish. Some are polarized. In addition to these coatings, the lens itself can be tinted. The most common tint is a smoke tint for swimming in bright conditions.
The lens on a quality goggle will include an anti-fog coating on the inside of each lens. The durability and effectiveness of this coating varies by brand. My biggest tip regarding anti-fog coating is DON’T TOUCH IT!! If you poke around in the goggle lens with your finger, you WILL damage the anti-fog coating.
Nothing says ’I look good and I know it’ like goggles with a mirror finish! Whether the mirror finish lasts well depends on how well you look after them. A mirror finish is applied to the outside of the goggle lens. As a result, even if you put your goggles in a case, the mirror finish is easily damaged.
Polarizing goggles are a recent invention that unfortunately is not very effective... If you are looking for goggles to use in bright light, think about smoke tinted lenses.
Many swim goggles offer a range of tints including clear, blue, red, orange and smoke. Some people just like to be individual, and nothing says individual like a pair of red or orange tinted goggles! I recommend untinted (clear) for indoor pools without bright light, and a smoke tint for sunny conditions. Clear will give you an accurate view of what’s around you, and smoke will do the same, but reduce sun glare - like a good pair of sunglasses.
For open water swimming and triathlons, some will claim different tints help with sighting. This is not always the case. I once raced in blue tinted goggles, and the purple colored buoys sure were hard to distinguish from the background.
Caring for your swimming goggles
Maintaining your anti-fog coating
Lenses do scratch. This is particularly the case for lens coatings, including mirror finishes, and the anti-fog coating. Keeping your goggles within a case or a sock will minimize inadvertent damage. The anti-fog coating needs special care otherwise your goggles will fog. Many people find their goggles don’t fog for the first week or so, and then start to fog. This is due to the anti-fog coating being damaged or not cleaned appropriately. You should rinse your goggles under fresh water after each swim. In addition, in the moments before each swim, lightly rub dish-wash liquid (anti-fog spray, or even spit - how gross!) on the inside of your goggles, and quickly rinse under fresh water. And stop touching inside your goggles! If you keep touching to try and reduce fog, you will damage the anti-fog coating. If you’re fogged up mid-swim, the good old spit-and-rinse technique can come in handy.
Silicone seal care
Rinsing your goggles after each swim will keep the silicone seal free of grime. To prolong the life of the silicone seal, fit your goggles with the strap as loose as practically possible. This will reduce compression damage and deformation of the silicone over time, and also result in a better and more comfortable seal with your face.
Using a goggle case
Some goggles come with a case. Other goggles come only in disposable packaging. A hard plastic case is highly recommended to care for your goggles. It will not only protect the lenses, it will protect the silicone gaskets, as well as the nose piece when you put the goggles in your swim bag. Take extra care with mirror finish goggles as they scratch very easily.