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Oakley Airbrake Review


Ski Goggles

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Editors' Choice Award
Price:   Varies from $110 - $200 online  —  Compare at 6 sellers
Pros:  Comfortable, two lenses, flush frame/lens interface, great protection, durable, great snit-fogging capabilities.
Cons:  Expensive, must keep the strap tight to avoid sliding.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Oakley

Overview

The Oakley Airbrake won our Editors' Choice award. This goggle stood out with fantastic lens optics, comfort, and protection from the elements. It has a contemporary style and great fit for most size heads. But when the dust settled, the ease of changing lenses and the security of then lens in the frame is what pushed this goggle to the top of our goggle search. This is truly a 2-in-1 product. See all of the products we tested in The Best Ski Goggles Review.

Airbrake Signature Series
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In addition to Oakley's sweet new colors for 2016, they have also included new lines of their Signature Series googles. This series includes the Oakley Airbrake Jake Blauvelt as well as a signature series by Shaun White. These series of googles includes all the award winning qualities of the classic Airbrake, but include some great new designs.

RELATED: Our complete review of ski goggles

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Aaron Zanto
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Monday
November 7, 2016

New Colors for 2016


While some of the popular previous colors are still available, the Airbrake is now available in a new assortment of color options. Oakley has confirmed that other than the color changes, everything about these award winning goggles remains the same.

Hands on Comparison


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Fresh turns with the Oakley Airbrake and low light lens in a wet storm.

Protection


This goggle worked well in the sun, wind, and rain. The frame was moderately flexible, allowing it to fit our testers' faces well. Because of this good fit, we did not notice gaps around the edges of the frame. While skiing at high speeds it did a fantastic job of keeping wind out at the top and on the sides.

Breathability


While testing the breathability of this product we tried to get it to fog up while skinning up hill. Most users will not use their goggles to go uphill, but the fogging that occurs is most commonly generated by the user and hiking uphill is a fantastic way to test the breathability. This design did a great job of venting out the moisture created from within. The vents worked well, allowing in enough air exchange. The anti-fogging coating also did its job well. Even when they did fog it was always possible to get them to unfog with the airflow produced by descending. The lens to frame interface really made this goggle stand out. The lens sits flush with the frame, allowing outside moisture to flow off of the lens without collecting in the corners. It is never advisable to wipe the lens with anything hard that can scratch it. However, sometimes there you have no choice but to clear the water or snow. Having the flush frame aids in the ease of clearing moisture off the frame with a soft cloth.

Comfort


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The goggle crew testing goggles deep in the back country of Nevada. Andy with Smith I/O, Dave with Oakley Airbrake, and Mark with Julbo Orbitor.
For this test we had a very discerning tester that did not want to test anything but the most comfortable product. His choice was the Airbrake. He said he really liked how little pressure he felt around his eyes. The three layers of foam do a fantastic job of creating a comfortable snug fit. We also found that the outside layer of foam worked especially well to wick away any moisture from the face. We did test this product with a helmet but found that there was plenty of room to expand the strap to fit. There was also enough room on the strap to fit even the smallest head. The one area we had a small issue was when the strap was not tightened enough. When slightly loose the strap was prone to slide up or down the back of the head.

Lens Quality

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Oakley Airbrake with the two lenses that come standard. The lens on the right is for low light and the one in the frame is for sunny days. Two goggles for one price.
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Changing the lens on the Oakley Airbrake is as simple as pulling up the lever and releasing the lens. In the photo you can see how the lens hooks onto the white tab of the frame. Once the lever locks the lens into the tab.
The lens quality of this goggle is fantastic. There was little to no glare or distortion from the lens. It comes standard with not one but two "High Definition" lenses. The optics look so good that there is no need to take them off. The two lenses make this the choice for any condition. One lens is designed for bright light and the other is for low light. This is a true interchangeable lens system. We changed the lenses multiple times in the field with no issues. The system is easy enough that it can be done with gloves. See the video from Oakley to see how to change the lens.


Durability


The anti-scratch coating worked well on the Airbrake. This particular goggle saw the most use of all the contenders, but still showed the least amount of scratches of the products tested. The storage bag that comes with the goggles has an extra internal sleeve for storing the second pair of lens. This goggle also comes with a thick storage tote.
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Carrying case for the Oakley Airbrake included with purchase. A great option for carrying and protecting your goggles in your luggage while in the car or on the plane.
This storage tote is a great option when traveling in luggage to the snow. Because the lenses are so easy to interchange, if you break or scratch a pair beyond use it is possible to buy new lenses and save the cost of a new pair all together.

Style


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The Oakley Airbrake fit well for Dave's larger face structure while the Julbo Orbitor fit better for Mark's smaller face.
The style of the Airbrake is contemporary and clean. This style has been around for several years and seems to have a good following. It looks good with or without a helmet. It fits medium to large faces well, but does not seem to overpower the entire look. The flush lens/frame interface is very streamlined and has the appearance of a quality goggle. There are dozens of different options for colors and styles. Quite a few big name skiers and snowboarders have their own signature Airbrake style.

Best Applications


This goggle is best suited for inbound or backcountry riding. It works well for any snow sport where clear vision is required and the light can change on a moment's notice. With two lenses offering superior optics, any rider is sure to have one more reason to say "that was an epic run" even when conditions are sub par.

Value


This is not an entry level goggle. This is the goggle everyone should have to stay at or get to the top of their game. The price tag may cause some riders to shy away. However, anyone that has said I wish I had a pair of low light goggles will appreciate having two sets of lenses. Furthermore, once you try on these goggles in comparison to those with a lower quality lens, it will become clear why it was the Editors' Choice. This is the goggle you buy once and use forever, so it is worth every penny.

Other Versions and Accessories


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Oakley Splice
  • Cost - $120
  • Quality spherical lens goggle
  • Offered with clear optics

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Oakley A-Frame
  • Cost - $100
  • Good but not great quality goggle
  • Highly flexible frame

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Oakley Crowbar
  • Cost - $140
  • Thorough protection from the elements
  • Good fit on most faces

Airbrake Replacement Lens
  • Cost - $75
  • A replacement lens for your goggles
Aaron Zanto

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: November 7, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 1 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
Write a Review on this Gear

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   Feb 25, 2016 - 12:54pm
Coloradeaux · Backpacker · Denver, CO
I've used mine 16 days this season in a variety of conditions. Ventilation is great when you're actually skiing/boarding but be weary of long gondola rides. I'd recommend putting them into a goggle pocket on your ski jacket or backpack if possible. The anti-fog coating can get overwhelmed otherwise. It pairs very well with my Smith Variance helmet and the field of vision might not be on the same level as the Flight Deck, but it's more than plenty enough.

I've used 3 different lenses: black iridium, hi persimmon, and then bought the Prizm black iridium. Lens performance has been great. Hi persimmon worked well in clouds and during night skiing sessions at Keystone. Despite the low light transmission of the black iridium lens, it still performed well even in partially cloudy days. The Prizm lens is at another level. I've had no problems using it in super low light conditions as well as super bright light conditions.

I've only managed to scratch one of the lenses but that was due to a high speed collision where I was taken out from behind. Otherwise, normal usage and care should keep them in good shape.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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by Aaron Zanto

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