Dragon NFX Review
Cons: Large fit, bulky, bold style not for everyone
Our Analysis and Test Results
When we first tested the NFX, we found that the overall lens and optical quality was pretty adequate — not the best, but somewhere in the middle. We put this goggle to the test once again and found that the cylindrical lenses of the NFX are still solid performers.
The lenses are manufactured with Lexan, which might sound familiar. It's the same substance that things like race car windshields and bulletproof glass are made from. To say the lenses are strong and durable might be an understatement. Dragon has updated the NFX lens with its new Lumalens technology, which is designed to enhance color and sharpen your overall picture. While we can't attest to a dramatic difference in optical quality between the previous and the current NFX, testers did feel the optics were pretty darn good. We were able to test both the red ion and rose lenses and found both lenses performed equally well when used in their intended light conditions. If you're looking for a resilient lens with clear optics, the NFX could be for you.
Once you put these goggles on, you'll feel the soft microfleece inner layer of the foam lining against your skin. Honestly, like all of the higher end goggles in our test lineup, the padding and lining of the NFX are more than adequate. All of our testers found it comfortable. With its armored ventilation, the NFX looks pretty stiff and unyielding, but when we took a closer look, we found the frame itself is a pretty pliable material. The pliability does help with comfort but is limited by the shape of the Lexan lens, which is really stiff. This somewhat limits the goggle's ability to conform to a variety of face shapes in comparison to more flexible models we've tested.
These goggles are large (dare we say extra-large?), and so their comfort won't be equal across the board. As you might expect, with a goggle this large, skiers and boarders with medium to larger faces will likely appreciate the fit more than smaller users. For smaller riders, Dragon also makes the NFXs, which has a smaller fit. One other consideration is for those of us with larger noses; a couple of our testers felt a little pressure to the bridge of the nose and felt like the goggles needed to be pushed up frequently.
In researching the NFX, we found some complaints on how well the goggles fit with some helmets. We tried the NFX with helmets from Smith and Giro with no issues as far as the helmet-to-goggle interface and comfort are concerned.
Ventilation and Breathability
During our test days, we expected the NFX might suffer a bit in this metric when compared to some of the other goggles in our lineup. The perforated plastic cover ("Armored Venting," as Dragon calls it) over a layer of foam at the top of the lens doesn't provide a wealth of airflow, but it was enough for our testers skiing at the resort.
To increase the ventilation of the NFX, most lenses Dragon offers for this model have vents along the entire top portion of the goggle lens. While we wouldn't recommend the NFX for backcountry sliders who wear their goggles while hiking uphill, we would recommend it for those who don't and for all in-bounds riders, the ventilation is a winner. The Lumalens lenses are also coated with an antifog coating that helps keep your vision clear during wet conditions days on the hill.
We didn't find the foam to be as breathable as some other models we've tested. When hiking to powder stashes at the resort, these goggles didn't expel the moist, warm air our efforts generates as well as the others. That said, very few goggles can handle this type of activity with grace.
Ease of Changing Lenses
When it came time to switch between the Rose and Red Ion lenses, we found the NFX to be an improvement upon previous versions of this goggle. The old model used to require twisting the entire frame to a somewhat fear-inducing extent, which felt like we were going to break the goggles every time. The current NFX model removes this fear! There are now two catches, one on either side of the lower goggle frame. You simply squeeze the small tabs, which start to release the lens. Grab your other lens and place it over the frame, add a little pressure, and the lens locks in place with only minor fiddling. Most of our testers had to remove our gloves to complete this task.
Swapping lenses has gotten a whole lot easier than it used to be, and the NFX has followed that trend. Goggles with magnetic technology are significantly easier than the NFX, and we ended up with fewer fingerprints on our lenses after swapping, but that comes at a higher price tag. If you don't mind just a little more effort and wiping away a few fingerprints, these are still better than what goggle technology used to be!
Being a big and burly goggle, expectations were high when it came to evaluating durability. If you guessed that the NFX stood up to days of skiing and being stuffed into jacket pockets and ski packs, you'd be right!
After testing wrapped up, we carefully inspected the NFX and couldn't find any signs of wear or tear at all. In the past, even though pretty minor, we'd experienced some lens scratches. This time around, both lenses looked good as new. The foam padding and frame were completely untouched, too, along with the burly armored vent up top. There was no strap wear or stretch, and it's just as elastic as the day we opened the goggles. Admittedly, a season of use isn't usually enough to wear out a pair of modern goggles, so our tests will remain ongoing. However, if you're tough on your gear, we expect these goggles to hold up just fine. One tester has been wearing a previous version of these goggles for three seasons now. Despite some minor lens scratches, it's holding up very well.
The NFX scores high on the style points with the right crowd and seems to be the standard in frameless goggles. Skiers who are looking for a subdued and traditional goggle need not apply…unless you want to up your style game and be seen!
The NFX has a large and bold style that looks like the goggles were somehow transported back in time to the current day, giving us a preview of things to come. Aside from the large dimensions, the mirrored coatings on those beefy lenses add to the futuristic look. You can pick these goggles up in several colors, and extra lenses with different tints are available, too. There are other goggle options with a similar style, but the NFX rules when it comes to making a statement on the hill.
Far from the spendiest and not the cheapest, the NFX is in the middle of the pack when it comes to price. When you factor in the sturdy construction and durability, along with an extra included lens, the NFX scores high on value. These goggles should last several seasons into the future…maybe even the future from where they came!
The Dragon NFX lands at a great value for snow sliders with larger faces and a desire to stand out on the mountain. It's solid build and average to above-average performance combine for years of fun on the slopes. Getting two quality lenses at this price is pretty awesome, increasing the bang per buck. Despite scoring toward the bottom of the pack, it should be recognized that they were up against competition that costs a whole lot more. In the end, these are a stylish and quality pair of goggles!
— Jason Cronk
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