Not being able to see properly when skiing or snowboarding quickly ruins your day. Swapping lenses as conditions change is one way to counter this, and magnetic systems have made this much easier. In this Panda Optics Cobalt goggles review, we ask are they are the best magnetic ski goggles available?
Panda Optics are a British company that make reasonably priced goggles using the latest technologies. Every aspect of goggle designs including lens changing technology, frame shape and material, lens options, low light vision, straps, grip, anti-fog treatment, helmet compatibility, and lens quality have been considered.
Their goal is to create the highest quality google at the lowest possible price. And to offer the the best magnetic ski goggles available. The result is goggles that look great, but the question for this Panda Optics Cobalt goggles review is, are they also good to look through?
Panda also support a range of British and international athletes. Including four time Olympian Chemmy Alcott, freeride snowboarder Leon Butler, freestyle skier Justin Taylor-Tipton and freestyle snowboarder Maisie Hill. It’s great to see them supporting the industry and nice to know Panda goggles are good enough for pros.
The Cobalt goggles are large frameless goggles with a impressive looking mirrored and polarised lens. Lenses come in blue, green and pink options. They provide UV400+ protection that according to Panda offer “an even better visual display”.
To avoid fogging, the lenses are coated in Guma® anti fog technology. This is to ensure vision it maintained in challenging conditions, or after a faceplant in snow – we have all been there!
The frame is flexible but durable, offering TPU grade four rigidity. The frames are glasses compatible, so you can fit specs underneath. Where the goggle meets the face there is three layer dual density foam, with a soft fleece finish for comfort.
But the key technology for this Panda Optics Cobalt goggles review is the eight point magnetic lens changing system. According to Panda is it the “strongest, quickest and most robust lens/frame structure on the market. ‘Pull off, snap on’ to change your lens in under 5 seconds”.
The straps use a fixed wide rig to give a sleek look and flawless helmet compatibility, combined with twin silicone grips to keep it in place. The price includes a second maize yellow low-light lens, cleaning cloth, microfiber bag and storage box.
I have spent around 10 days snowboarding in the Cobalt goggles. Much of that time was in Finland over Christmas where the sun never really rises. This means you are snowboarding in low light and under floodlights, so I used the yellow low-light lens nearly all of the time.
And what a lens it is – I didn’t realise how good until I swapped the lenses over. Not only did the low-light lens mean I was able to see like normal on the pistes, but I headed off-piste through the trees in the dark. With just weak reflected light any other lens would have stopped me from playing in the fresh powder.
The goggles are very comfortable, with the foam and frame giving the right combination of softness and rigidity to provide all-day comfort. And because of the frameless technology the field of view is excellent. This means more peripheral vision which could help you avoid an accident.
For this Panda Optics Cobalt goggles review I also spent two days snowboarding in changeable conditions around Morzine. This meant switching lenses two or three times a day. This helped me to assess whether they are the best magnetic ski goggles.
The magnetic system is very easy to use. You just grip the lens with one hand and the frame with the other and peel them apart. When you start lining up the replacement lens the magnets guide it in for the perfect fit. There is no fiddling with catches or levers or faffing around lining the lens up with the frame.
The magnets are also very strong. Without holding frame and lens I can’t peel them off – this means you can trust them to stay in place during a crash. The system is so simple that I can change lenses with gloves on and the goggles still on my head. Just grip the frame with one hand and the lens with the other.
The Cobalt pear green lens looks awesome, and provides a slightly blue neutral view of the world. This means that wearing goggles on you see pretty much the same colours as you would without goggles, just less bright and without the glare.
Personally I am used to a slightly orange, yellow or pink view of the mountains, so at first I found neutral a little uninspiring. Don’t get me wrong the polarised lens gives a stunningly clear view and great definition, but I missed having a slightly rosey view of the world.
When the conditions are cloudy, but it is not yet low-light, to me the neutral view lacks a little in definition compared to other colour lenses. This meant I ended up wearing the low-light goggles in all but sunny conditions. So I’d prefer the Panda pink lens which gives a greeny yellow tint, or the blue Cobalt lens which gives an orange tint.
I discovered another drawback of the mirrored lens when I scratched them. Unfortunately, where the mirror scratched off there is now a different colour section in front of my eyes. I have scratched many goggles in the past and barely noticed it, so you need to be more careful with mirrored lenses.
To conclude this Panda Optics Cobalt goggles review I’d say they are fantastic goggles. They are comfortable, have an excellent field of view, don’t fog and stay in place really well. The low-light lens is one of the best I have used – even in the dark and a complete whiteout it excels. The pear green lens is great in the sunshine, less good in cloud.
But are they the best magnetic ski goggles? I have tried swapping lenses using other magnetic systems and I feel the Cobalts have the strongest magnetic grip. This makes them less likely to pop off in a crash. But the system is just as easy to use as others, which to me makes the Panda Cobalts the best magnetic goggle system.
If you want to get your paws on the best magnetic ski goggles the Panda Cobalt cost £119 including two lenses. Check them out here: www.pandaoptics.co.uk