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Flat’s Back For 2014 Snowboard Goggles

For next year's goggles, many brands are finding inspiration in the past.  Shunning the spherical lenses that have dominated the last decade, these brands are embracing the simplicity and classic styling of cylindrical—or flat—lenses.

Companies are crediting riders for this resurgence.  "We have a number of athletes such as Wolle Nyvelt, Lucas Debari, and Forest Bailey who prefer the traditional aesthetic of a flat cylindrical lens over a curved spherical lens," explains Dragon Director of Product Mike Tobia.  "That same mindset applies to everyday snowboarders who are willing to sacrifice performance over looks in order to keep their kit clean and basic."

For some brands, like Ashbury, cylindrical lenses have always been a staple of their arsenal.  "A cylindrical goggle is simple and will never go out of style," offers Cofounder Lance Hakker.  "For a long time spherical goggles were like those wrap around sunglasses runners wear—you might see a little better out of wrap arounds, but can you seriously perceive it?"  According to Electric Goggle Product Designer Jesse Dawber, the popularity of cylindrical goggles can also be attributed to their price.  "Riders today are looking to stay within budget without compromising quality and performance," he notes.

To maximize this performance, cylindrical goggles are tapping fresh technology.  Giro's BLOK, for example, uses lenses that eliminate the distortion historically associated with cylindrical optics.  "For the BLOK, instead of just using a wobbly, bent sheet of polycarbonate, we use the best injection molded cylindrical lenses you can get—lenses from Carl Zeiss Optics," explains Category Manager for Giro Snow Phil Notheis.  "They are all taper corrected for a distortion-free view."

Taking a cue from their spherical goggles, many brands are also infusing their cylindrical offerings with wider frames and lenses to enhance peripheral vision.  Electric's EGV, for example, blends a retro, BMX-inspired style with a wide frame.  In the midst of the resurgence in cylindrical lenses, some brands are even abandoning the classic frames that tend to contain them.  By using a frameless design and Dragon's Advanced Projects X technology, the NFX offers the ability to readily swap out lenses for changing light conditions.

Although cylindrical goggles find their inspiration in the past, their aesthetics and performance are anything but antiquated.  Consequently, optics like Airblaster's Air Goggles offer plenty of reasons to celebrate.  After all, notes Airblaster Cofounder Jesse Grandkoski, the goggles "function really well and do not look like an alien and a robot f#*ked on your face."