Smith 4D Mag Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: High quality optics, easy lens changes, field of vision
Manufacturer: Smith Optics
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The 4D Mag carries on Smith tradition of using the latest and best materials. With features like their spherical ChromaPop polarized lenses (one for low light and one for sunshine), convenient magnetic lens attachment system, solid anti-fog technology, and an anatomy-responsive frame, it's no wonder this model is our testers' favorite.
Smith equips the 4D Mag with two of the popular and proven ChromaPop lenses. For our testing, we chose a ChromaPop Everyday Red Mirror for bright conditions and a ChromaPop Storm Rose Flash for low light conditions. Both lenses are spherical, which enhances optical quality, adding to a higher level of safety and fun on the mountain. Spherical lenses are curved in both the X-axis (horizontal) and the Y-axis (vertical), intended to provide greater clarity and an improved fit. The theory behind spherical lens construction is in the lens curvature, mimicking the curvature of a skier's or rider's eyeball to grant a more natural view through the goggles.
What is unique about this particular spherical lens is the BirdsEye Vision, the curvature along the bottom edge of the lens. No other model we tested has this design feature. This curvature is meant to increase the field of vision at the bottom of the goggle. We can confirm that it does, slightly, which we appreciated. There is a minimal amount of distortion at the lowermost portion of the lens, but we didn't find this distracting. We aren't sure this new feature is game-changing, but our testers generally approved.
With such a technologically advanced lens, you'd hope durability isn't an issue, and you won't be disappointed with the Carbonic-X outer lens. These lenses are molded individually and have a high level of resistance to both scratching and impacts. Smith's spherical Carbonic-X lenses are defined as Class 1, which means they are classified at the highest level (think industrial safety glasses). That's pretty darn durable and protective! That said, we always recommend care with lenses!
ChromaPop lenses are designed to aid in color definition and overall image clarity. The human eye has difficulty in differentiating color when both blue and green wavelengths and red and green wavelengths cross over. Smith's ChromaPop lenses eliminate these crossover points, which provides more sharpness and clarity. With a VLT (Visual Light Transmission) rating of 25%, the Everyday protects your eyes in all but the very brightest or the lowest flat light conditions. That's not to say the Everyday lens didn't perform adequately on the brightest days, it did. But if your ski or snowboard days are generally above treeline in sunny conditions, you may want to check out one of Smith's Sun lenses with a 9% VLT.
We found the ChromaPop Storm Rose Flash lens to be a top performer in low light conditions like in the trees, later in the day, and on cloudy days. For lower light skiing and riding, the ChromaPop Storm lens would definitely be our lens of choice among all tested.
As you should hope to assume, goggles at this high-performance level deliver in all metrics. All of our testers found the medium fit of the 4D Mag to be, well, a happy medium. When it comes to overall fit, this goggle was a favorite with everyone who tried them, whether with a helmet or without.
The frame of the 4D Mag sports Smith's Responsive Fit construction. The nature of the frame is in the flexible latticework construction. Rather than a solid, single piece, the frame is divided into two main portions, which are interconnected with approximately 25 narrow strips. This enables it to flex and conform to a huge variety of skiers' and riders' facial anatomy. We also found this provides a softer fit without any hot spots or pressure points. Smith describes it like this: "Smith's frames act like a suspension system that micro-adjusts to your unique facial structure, assuring a precise, comfortable fit," and that's what our testers of all shapes and sizes appreciated.
Beyond the frame construction, Smith doesn't skimp on the padding of the goggles either. Like most of the top performers in our test, the 4D Mag is equipped with a three-layer foam system. The padding layers are open-cell foam of different densities with a soft and plush layer of DriWix foam that provides the comfy layer that contacts the skier's face. Along with providing padding between the face and goggle frame, this foam also aids in wicking moisture away from the lens, which helps keep fogging to a minimum.
The 4D Mag's strap is a nice and wide, comfortable size, providing a solid connection without creating pressure points. Rather than equipping the 4D Mag with multiple narrow beads of silicone, the silicone bead has a very low profile yet covering a wide area. This created a stable connection between the goggles and our helmets or hats, and we didn't experience any slippage. If you're used to rigid face-crushing plastic in a goggle, this model is nothing of the sort.
Ventilation and Breathability
Smith accomplishes a similar level of ventilation as other top models through a couple of features. The primary method of a goggle's ventilation is usually through vents and the 4D Mag is no exception. The frame construction provides a wide air inlet between the frame's inner and outer layers. All of those skinny supporting strips have openings on either side of them, which also encourages good airflow. A thin layer of AirEvac vent foam provides an air-permeable layer over the vents which keeps snow and moisture on the outside of the goggles where it belongs.
Another step in the 4D Mag's carbonic lens construction is in the inner lens. Smith uses their Fog-X lens treatment, which is a hydrophobic (water-hating) coating that repels moisture very efficiently. Where the majority of manufacturers use an anti-fog coating, Smith's Fog-X is actually etched into the lens. With the permanently etched construction, the Fog-X doesn't wear off either, and the lenses of the 4D Mag should be in for the long haul.
Ease of Changing Lenses
Even with the latest tech, if you can't change lenses easily, that fancy lens becomes less than ideal. Thankfully, today's goggle manufacturers are addressing this common problem of the past. Smith has taken this problem head-on and has made lens changing easy.
We found the Smith Mag interchangeable lens system to be one of the easiest and secure systems to work. The interchangeable lenses are attracted to the 4D Mag frame by strong magnets that also keep the lens securely attached to the goggles. Where some manufacturers call it good at this point, Smith has taken an extra step and utilizes easy to turn securing latches on either side of the lens. This extra layer of security should keep that expensive magnetically attached lens safe in even the worst of yard sales. It does add a step, though it is still easy to accomplish.
We think this goggle is made for years of use at both resorts and in the backcountry. The more flexible nature of the goggle's construction seems to be right at home crammed into a backcountry ski pack, and the 4D Mag was none the worse for wear after testing.
We found the Responsive Fit frame to be strong and up to the task, and didn't show any signs of wear or tear. The goggle strap retained full elasticity throughout two months of testing and didn't show signs of stretching out. We've also noticed separation issues with the silicone beads on the straps of some goggles in previous years, but that isn't the case with the 4D Mag. The silicone strip on our test goggle's strap is still attached solidly and still looks as good as the day we opened the box.
As a lot of you have likely experienced, lenses are typically the first part of a goggle to wear out. With the Carbonic-X lens construction, Smith seems to have remedied this potential weak point by creating a strong and durable lens that should last for season after season of heavy use. Our 4D Mag test goggle lenses look as good at the end of our review as the day we started the process.
While not an actual part of the goggles, Smith also includes a two-compartment goggle bag for easy and portable storage of your goggles and an extra lens, whether in your pocket or backpack. Smith also earns extra style points for including a more rigid storage case, which protects your investment even further, especially if your snowy endeavors include air travel. This product also has a lifetime warranty.
The 4D Mag has a sleek and modern look, with a nearly frameless design which should appeal to a wide variety of skiers and boarders. The 4D Mag doesn't quite have the huge, alien-esque appearance of other goggle options out there. They strike a balance between traditional and modern designs.
Currently, the 4D Mag is available with many color choices from a conservative solid black frame and strap to bright fuschia, so something for everyone! The multiple lens options available are not just tinted in different colors but are provided with different colored lens coatings for just about any light condition and style choice.
While not the most expensive in our test stable, the 4D Mag is on the upper end of the scale. If you demand top-level performance in a stylish and durable package, we think this model is the best you can buy. Keep in mind the included extra lens, nice goggle bag, and beefy case along with the lifetime warranty when you're considering value.
We expected the Smith 4D Mag to be a top-performing goggle that checked all of our boxes, and we weren't disappointed. It earns the title of Editors' Choice with its form, functionality, and durability. Smith delivers a top-shelf eyewear choice with high-quality lenses that are easy to change, sturdy construction, great comfort, and extras like the storage case and second lens.
— Jason Cronk