The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Anon M4 Toric Review

The M4 may be expensive, but they are incredibly user friendly with excellent optics, innovative integration, and a great fit
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $300 List
Pros:  Magnetic lenses, magnetic facemask, 2 lenses included, great optics
Cons:  Expensive, larger fit
Manufacturer:   Burton
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 17, 2018
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88
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 13
  • Lens Quality - 20% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Ventilation and Breathability - 20% 8
  • Ease of Changing Lenses - 15% 10
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Style - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Anon M4 is a newcomer to the OutdoorGearLab goggle test and quickly rose to the top of the rankings to take home our Editors' Choice Award. These goggles impressed our testers in every way with high scores in all of our rating metrics. They come with two Toric or cylindrical lenses, you can choose which style you prefer, and the frame works with both, for bright and low light conditions. The SONAR by Zeiss lenses provide excellent optical clarity with no distortion and a huge field of vision. Anon's magnetic lens system is also incredibly easy to use, you can even swap lenses while the goggles are on your face. The pair we tested also comes with an innovative facemask system that also integrates into the goggles with magnets. They have a larger fit, though testers found them to be comfortable on a range of face sizes and shapes, and they fit well with or without a helmet. They are expensive, but the M4 is among the most comfortable, user-friendly, and high-performance goggles we've ever used. For almost-as-good performance with a magnetic frame and lens interface, check out our runner-up, the Smith I/O Mag.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Anon is a branch of Burton Snowboards, and they have been producing high-quality ski and snowboard goggles for many years. A few years ago, they introduced their first magnetic lenses, and now there are a number of competitors on the market offering similar products. We added the M4 to the test this year to see if could compete with the top of the line offerings from Oakley and Smith. Spoiler Alert: they can. Our testers were impressed with them right off the bat due to their great optics, the magnetic lens system, integrated magnetic facemask, and comfortable fit. Read on to find out more about our new Editors' Choice Award winner.

Performance Comparison


Testing our Editors' Choice Award winner in mixed light conditions at the resort.
Testing our Editors' Choice Award winner in mixed light conditions at the resort.

Lens Quality


Anon uses their SONAR by Zeiss lenses throughout their M4 goggle line, and they include a bright light and low light lens with each pair. Zeiss is one of the premier names in optics, and it shows in the incredible optical clarity of the Toric lenses we tested. Toric is a spherical style lens that is designed to mimic the curvature of the eye to prevent distortion. You'd be hard pressed to tell the difference looking through a typical spherical lens versus a Toric lens, but we found the optics of the M4 lens to be very good and distortion free.


SONAR is a lens technology developed exclusively for Anon through their partnership with Zeiss. It is similar in intention and function to Smith's Chromapop and Oakley's Prizm lenses as it increases depth perception and enhances contrast to help you see the world around you more clearly. Testers found the SONAR Red lens to work very well in bright light conditions while still providing great visibility in shady terrain or on overcast days. In very low light conditions, cloudy or storming, the SONAR Infrared lens works very well and helps to brighten things up and increase contrast. The lenses are incredibly easy to swap out, and the goggles come with a hard curved lens case to store the spare when not in use. A microfiber goggle bag to clean your lenses with a sleeve to store the spare lens is also included.

Taking the lens quality assessment seriously with some back to back comparisons while riding the chairlift on a cloudy flat light day.
Taking the lens quality assessment seriously with some back to back comparisons while riding the chairlift on a cloudy flat light day.

Goggle lenses keep improving, and these days it's really challenging to differentiate between the best lenses on the market. Spherical and Toric lenses provide clearer and less distorted vision than cylindrical lenses, but even then the difference is quite minimal and often unnoticeable. That said, testers found the optics and overall lens quality of the M4 to be on par with the Airbrake XL, the Smith I/OX, Smith I/O Mag, and the Electric EG3, all of which offer the least distortion, clearest vision, and best depth perception in our test selection. Not surprisingly, these are also the most expensive goggles in the test. All of the other models in our test have relatively good and functional optics as well, notably the POC Lobes, Dragon NFX, and the Julbo Aerospace.

Comfort


When it comes to comfort, the M4 has a lot of things working in its favor, and this is one of the most comfortable models we tested. The frame itself is nicely contoured and relatively large, especially in its width, and it fits our testers with large faces very well. Interestingly, people with medium and smaller sized facial features also found these goggles to fit comfortably, and no one complained of air gaps or unwanted pressure on any part of their facial structure. The triple layer face foam provides ample cushion, with an especially soft Outlast fleece that makes contact with your face and helps wick moisture.


Anon has put a nice wide strap on the M4 with two beads of silicone to help keep it in the place where you want it on your helmet or beanie. The strap is highly adjustable and can easily be extended to fit around a helmet or cinched down for use without. The frame shape fits well with most helmets with no gaps to speak of. As mentioned elsewhere in this review, the ventilation of the M4 works very well, we never found ourselves getting overheated, nor did we have an unwanted draftiness around the eyes.

Comfort is key  and the Anon M4 is one of the most comfortable goggles in the test  especially for people with large facial structures.
Comfort is key, and the Anon M4 is one of the most comfortable goggles in the test, especially for people with large facial structures.

Getting a goggle that fits your face properly is one of the most important elements for your comfort. The size of the M4 is comparable to the Oakley Airbrake XL, Smith I/OX, and Dragon NFX to name a few. They are visibly larger, concerning the opening of the face foam, than goggles like the Electric EG3, Smith I/O Mag, or Zeal Nomad. Our testers with larger facial structures found the M4 and the Oakley Airbrake XL to be the most comfortable goggles in the test. Those with small to medium sized facial structures preferred the fit of the Smith I/O Mag, Electric EG3, and Oakley A-Frame 2.0

Ventilation and Breathability


During testing we found the ventilation and breathability of the M4 to be very good. The frame has open cell foam across the top, on the bottom, and on the sides which allows for great breathability while never feeling drafty. Additionally, the lenses are treated with an anti-fog treatment called Integral Clarity Technology (ICT) which we found to prevent fog throughout all of our testing. The outermost layer of the face foam, the part that touches your face, is soft fleece material made with Outlast which is intended wick sweat away to help in fog management. Should you ever feel too hot in these goggles, you can always remove the lens for a minute while you're riding the chair to let any fog dissipate or clean the lens.


To be honest, all of the high-end goggles have adequate and functional ventilation and breathability. It's only when you really exert yourself and work up a huge sweat if hiking uphill for an extended period, that you might notice fog in any of these competitors. The M4 is one of the top-performing models in this metric, along with the Smith I/O Mag and Smith I/OX. Both of the Oakley goggles in this test, the Airbrake XL and the A-Frame 2.0 also provide excellent ventilation and breathability, although with noticeably more air movement around the eyes. Our top-scoring model for ventilation is the Julbo Aerospace with its unique pop-out lens that extends away from the frame for periods of high exertion. The Dragon NFX and the Electric EG3 also perform admirably, although they can't quite match the top performers.

While testing we never had any issues with fogging in the M4.
While testing we never had any issues with fogging in the M4.

Ease of Changing Lenses


Have you ever wondered how magnets work? I know that the Insane Clown Posse has, they even mention it in their song "Miracles." If you've never heard that song, I suggest you watch the music video on YouTube right now. And you're welcome.


Seriously though, the "Magna-Tech" magnetic lens system on the M4 goggle works incredibly well and results in the most user-friendly lens changing system imaginable. Anon has integrated nine small but powerful magnets into the inside of the frame and the edge of the lens' thin frame. They hold the lens securely in place until you wish to remove it for cleaning or to swap to a different one. Simply grasp the top and bottom of the lens on either side and pull out. With a little force, the lens comes right off and can be swapped out just that easily. To put the lens back in you simply need to line it up and get it close, the magnets do the rest of the work. This system is so easy to use that you can swap lenses on the fly while the goggles are still on your face. They also include their MFI (magnetic facemask integration) with the M4 which is a facemask that attaches to the bottom of the goggle with magnets just like the lenses.

The Anon M4  changing lenses has never been easier.
The Anon M4, changing lenses has never been easier.

The M4 is by far the easiest goggle to change lenses in our test fleet. The Smith I/O Mag uses a strikingly similar magnetic system, although theirs requires you to unlock the lens from the frame by pressing a small tab that is hidden underneath the strap-frame connection. The Smith magnetic lens system is still remarkably easy to use, though you can't really swap lenses with the goggles on your face. The non-magnetic lens competition all fall in behind these competitors in this metric with the Oakley Airbrake XL's Switchlock system not far behind, as well as the Smith I/OX and the Electric EG3 with their easy to use press-seal system. The lenses of the other competitors can all be swapped out, and with relative ease, though their lens attachment system requires a little more time and effort than any of the above-mentioned goggles.

Durability


During testing, we found the durability of the M4 to be quite good. We ripped around the resort on powder days and frequently stuffed them into our packs for backcountry ski tours, and they appear no worse for the wear. The frame is on the stiffer side with more torsional rigidity than most of the other models in the test. The frame is a dual molded PC-ABS/TPU plastic combination, and it seems to be very solidly put together.


The straps have maintained all of their elasticity, and the silicone beads are still very well attached. The foam covering the vents and the face foam are all still in great condition. We've experienced no issues of any kind the magnets of the Magna-Tech system. Since the lenses are so easy to change, you are also less likely to mess them or the frame up during the lens change process. As with all shiny goggle lens coatings we were concerned about the scratch resistance of the lenses on the M4, but as of yet, we haven't done any damage to them. Assuming you take reasonably good care of your expensive ski accessories, these should last you for many years of faithful service.

We slashed  we crashed  the Anon M4 goggles are no worse for the wear and appear to be highly durable.
We slashed, we crashed, the Anon M4 goggles are no worse for the wear and appear to be highly durable.

Style


The M4 has a pretty modern look and a very clean style. They don't have the completely "frameless" look, like that of the Electric EG3 or the Dragon NFX, that is pretty popular these days, but they are pretty close. They are on the verge of looking space-age or bug-ish, without actually going all the way. They have a large lens with just a thin bit of frame around the outside edge all the way around. The Red color frame we tested has a two-toned red strap and highly reflective SONAR Red lens, they definitely pop. They are also offered in a variety of color and lens options to suit your tastes or match your kit.


Style is incredibly subjective, but we feel the M4 strikes a good balance of modern/futuristic without being over the top. For those of you who really want the freshest look on the mountain, these are a good way to go. If you're into the trendiest look, you may want to check out the Electric EG3 or the Dragon NFX with their full coverage frameless designs. If you want to look like you're about to go to space, maybe the Oakley Airbrake XL of the POC Lobes are a good fit for you. If you prefer a more classic looking goggle, check out the Smith Squad or the Giro Blok.

The M4 strikes a good balance style-wise. They are big and shiny  but they don't have the completely frameless look of some of the competition.
The M4 strikes a good balance style-wise. They are big and shiny, but they don't have the completely frameless look of some of the competition.

Best Applications


As our Editors' Choice Award winner, the M4 is the perfect goggle for any user and any application. Whether you ski or snowboard or spend time at the resort or in the backcountry, or both, the M4 has you covered with a comfortable fit, great optics, incredible user-friendliness, and good style.

Value


The M4 is the most expensive goggle in our test selection, and by a fair margin, yet we still feel this is a good value if you can justify spending that much on a pair of goggles. You get two high-quality lenses for different light conditions, innovative design like the Magna Tech lens system and integrated magnetic facemask, comfort, and style in a durable package. With the M4 we feel you get what you pay for.

Our Editors' Choice Award winner  the Anon M4  during testing at the resort.
Our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Anon M4, during testing at the resort.

Conclusion


We weren't entirely sure what to expect from the M4. It didn't take long for our testers to realize that this is one of the best goggles for skiing and snowboarding on the market today. High-quality distortion-free optics by Zeiss, incredible user-friendliness, extras like a storage case for your spare lens and an integrated magnetic facemask, durable construction and lenses, the list goes on and on. We are enamored with the M4 and we think you will be too. They are expensive, but these are the best goggles we've ever tested.

Accessories


Anon makes a full line of goggles, replacement lenses, helmets, and accessories.

Replacement lenses for the M4 are available in both cylindrical and toric lens styles and range in price from $85-$120. There are 13 lens options for both styles including 10 SONAR options including Red (14% VLT) (tested), Infrared (57% VLT) (also tested), Pink (39% VLT), Bronze (19% VLT), Night (77% VLT), Smoke (7% VLT), Silver (6% VLT), Green (23% VLT), Blue (46% VLT), Infrared Blue (39% VLT). The non-SONAR options are less expensive, and they are: Amber (55% VLT), Dark Smoke (8% VLT), and Clear (85% VLT).

Anon also sells a variety of aftermarket MFI neckwarmers in a range of colors and styles, although most are not compatible with the magnet layout on the M4 we tested other than the MFI Tech Balaclava ($65) which has full head and face coverage.


Jeremy Benson