This model won a Top Pick Award in a previous review of ours because of its lens quality; while it does not win an award this go around, it did earn one of the highest scores for having a high-quality lens. Unfortunately, it scored towards the bottom of our fleet and earned below-average scores for breathability and comfort. The Lobes have a modern look and are similar to the Smith I/O X and the Electric EG3 in their clean, frameless appearance. The Lobes are an all-around performer both in and out of bounds with lens quality on par with all of our other high-end goggles. The assortment of available lenses and ease of changing them is definitely appealing as well.
POC Lobes Review
Cons: Specific fit, moisture build up, only 1 lens included
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|Price||$159.98 at Backcountry||$266.06 at Amazon||$240.00 at REI|
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|Pros||Great lens quality, modern style, relatively easy to change lenses||Magnetic lenses, magnetic facemask, 2 lenses included, great optics||Magnetic lenses, 2 lenses included, great optics||Excellent optics, durable, easy to change lenses||Inexpensive, durable, multiple lenses included|
|Cons||Specific fit, moisture build up, only 1 lens included||Expensive, larger fit||Expensive, medium fit||Expensive, visible frame around nose, drafty||More basic styling, lenses aren't the easiest to change|
|Bottom Line||A decent all-around option that falls behind when compared to the new high-quality options on the market.||The M4 may be expensive, but they are incredibly user friendly with excellent optics, innovative integration, and a great fit||This model carries on the quality and performance tradition of Smith's popular I/O line of goggles with a new user-friendly magnetic lens interface.||A top performer in nearly every way and one of our highest rated models.||An affordable goggle for all purposes and conditions, the Smith Squad is our Best Buy Award winner.|
|Rating Categories||POC Lobes||Anon M4 Toric||Smith I/O Mag||Oakley Airbrake XL||Smith Squad ChromaPop|
|Lens Quality (20%)|
|Ventilation And Breathability (20%)|
|Ease Of Changing Lenses (15%)|
|Specs||POC Lobes||Anon M4 Toric||Smith I/O Mag||Oakley Airbrake XL||Smith Squad...|
|Number of lenses included||1||2||2||2||2|
|Lens tested||Butylene Blue/Persimmon Red||SONAR Red, SONAR Infared||Chromapop Sun Red Mirror, Chromapop Storm||Prizm Snow Torch Iridium, Prizm Rose||Chromapop Sun, Yellow|
|Lens Shape||Spherical||Toric: mimics the curvature of the eye. Frame is compatible with both Cylindrical and Toric lenses.||Spherical||Spherical||Cylindrical|
|Layers of foam||Triple layer||Triple layer||Triple layer||Triple layer||2-layer Dri-Wix|
|Ventilation||Anti-fog treated||Full Preimeter Channel venting, Outlast Fog Management Face Fleece||Anti-fog treated||Dual-Vented Lens with F3 Anti-fog coating||Not specified|
|Warranty||Only factory defects||Lifetime||Lifetime||1 year||Lifetime|
|Unique?||MFI: Magnetic Facemask Intergration, Facemask included. Magnetic lenses, frame can accomodate Anon Toric or Cylindrical lenses.||Magnetic lenses||Switchlock lens system|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The POC Lobes is an all mountain option with great fit and comfort for skiers and snowboarders with a smaller facial structure. Our smaller testers, especially those with narrower cheekbones, enjoyed the fit whether used with a helmet or beanie. The optical quality is excellent with POC's Zeiss-made lenses in conjunction with the large field of view provided by the frameless style. The Lobes performed equally well at the resort and in the backcountry.
POC wisely chose to use Zeiss as their lens manufacturer and the quality really shows. Zeiss is well known for high-quality lenses which they have been producing since the mid-1800's. The optical quality is excellent and the spherical shape provides a wide field of view in conjunction with the frameless style. After multiple uses, both uphill and downhill, we didn't notice any scratches or dings on this test model. The optical performance was superior in most conditions and the included Butylene Blue/Persimmon Red mirrored lens gave our testers a crisp, clear picture in all but the darkest of light conditions.
Unlike some of our other test goggles, like the Oakley Airbrake XL, Smith I/O Mag, and the Anon M4, the Lobes aren't supplied with extra lenses although they are available as an aftermarket purchase.
Overall, the comfort of this model was good for some testers, with the triple-layer foam providing a nice cushioned interface between cheekbones and the goggle's frame. The strap is comfortable both with a helmet or without and has two silicone strips integrated on the inner side of the strap. The shape of the strips is somewhere between the Oakley Airbrake XL and Smith I/O X, wider than the Oakley version, but narrower than the Smith style. The Lobe's frame is curved more than all of the other goggles which suited our testers with narrower faces, but put pressure on the cheekbones of our larger testers. Our smallest testers also complained that the frame left gaps around their cheekbones which allowed air infiltration and dried their eyes. Overall, this model scored a 5 out of 10 and was among the lowest scorers in the comfort metric.
Ventilation and Breathability
For general use, the Lobes give a comfortable, well-ventilated ride, allowing enough air in to keep the lens clear. The top and bottom of the POC Lobes have a thin layer of open cell foam, much like the Smith I/O Mag, Smith I/O X, and Smith Squad. Ventilation was adequate until we upped the exertion level on a wet and snowy day. While shoveling and blowing snow, the lenses didn't actually fog, but water collected and was visible in the lower portion of the frame where it meets the lens. We dumped out approximately 5mL of water from each side of the goggle, but no fogging occurred! Even with the water collecting in the goggle, they continued to feel well ventilated. We also tested the Oakley Airbrake XL on that same soggy day and didn't experience the same issues.
Ease of Changing Lenses
Extra lenses are available for the Lobes and the lens swap is relatively easy, similar to the Dragon NFX's lens system, simply by pressing the lens to the frame and sliding six pins into place on the edges of the lens. A new breed of magnetic lens goggles has recently taken the market by storm, however, and you can change the lenses on goggles like the Anon M4 without even taking them off your face. The Oakley Airbrake XL is somewhat quicker to swap lenses, but the Lobes switch is easily done, even on the chairlift.
Along with the great optical quality comes great durability and our test goggles didn't seem any for worse for wear after our testing process was complete. We couldn't find any signs of wear and tear to any component of the goggle, from the lens surfaces to the still fully elastic strap. The Lobes goggles seem to be in it for the long haul, much like the Smith Squad and Oakley Airbrake XL.
The Lobes have a clean modern appearance, similar to the Dragon NFX and Smith I/O Mag, but in a smaller package which will likely appeal to skiers who want to keep their look a little less flashy. A frameless design keeps the look sleek and modern and the Lobes are available in several color options, sure to please most riders.
The Lobes are suitable for use by skiers and snowboarders and are just as at home ripping laps at the resort or in the backcountry. Assuming these goggles fit you comfortably, they are a versatile option that is up for anything.
At a retail price of $200, the Lobes aren't the most expensive goggles in the test, but we feel they are pretty spendy for a model that only comes with one lens. Most of the goggles in our test selection that cost more than $100 come with two lenses for bright and low light conditions and we think it is unfortunate that POC doesn't include an extra at this price. Otherwise, they seem like a quality goggle with excellent optics and a sleek modern frameless look.
The POC Lobes, like the Smith I/O X and Oakley Airbrake XL, is a good all-around goggle that can be used by snowboarders and skiers of all abilities and in any terrain, although it has a unique and interesting fit that may not appeal to all users.
Other versions and Accessories
Poc makes a full line of goggles and replacement lenses for snowsports. The Lobes we tested is currently available in 4 frame/strap color options and 6 different Contrast lens options.
They also make a model called the Lobes Clarity ($240) that has the same frame design but comes with 2 lenses and is offered in 5 different colors. The Lobes Clarity comes with a Clarity base lens as well as a Clarity No Mirror lens for low light conditions. Lobes Clarity replacement lenses cost $90-$100.
— Jason Cronk