Spy Ace Review
Cons: Durability, lens swapping, uncomfortable
Manufacturer: Spy Optics
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|Pros||Breathability, two lenses included||High quality optics, easy lens changes, field of vision||Magnetic lenses, magnetic facemask, 2 lenses included, great optics, best performance for large faces||Magnetic lenses, 2 lenses included, great optics||Magnetic lens for fast swapping, great comfort, clear optics, lower price for higher tech|
|Cons||Durability, lens swapping, uncomfortable||Price||Expensive, larger fit not for everyone||Expensive, medium fit||Not as easy to swap lenses as other models with magnetic lenses|
|Bottom Line||This pair is OK but lacks the refinement and overall quality found in most of its competition||The best optics, lens changeability, style, and durability in a medium-fit goggle||This model knocks our socks off with great optics, user-friendly features, and an excellent fit for large faces||With a new magnetic lens system, this is the newest member of a classic and progressive line||Goggles that deliver today's modern technology but at a lower price|
|Rating Categories||Spy Ace||Smith 4D Mag||Anon M4 Toric||Smith I/O Mag||Zeal Portal RLS|
|Lens Quality (20%)|
|Ventilation And Breathability (20%)|
|Ease Of Changing Lenses (15%)|
|Specs||Spy Ace||Smith 4D Mag||Anon M4 Toric||Smith I/O Mag||Zeal Portal RLS|
|Number of lenses included||2||2||2||2||2|
|Lens tested||HD Plus Bronze, HD Plus LL Yellow||Chromapop Sun Red Mirror, Chromapop Storm||SONAR Red, SONAR Infared||Chromapop Sun Red Mirror, Chromapop Storm||Persimmon/Sky Blue Mirror|
|Lens Shape||Cylindrical||Spherical||Toric. Frame is compatible with both Cylindrical and Toric lenses.||Spherical||Spherical|
|Layers of foam||Triple layer||Triple layer||Triple layer||Triple layer||Triple layer|
|Ventilation||Scoop venting||AirEvac||Full Preimeter Channel venting, Outlast Fog Management Face Fleece||Anti-fog treated||Dual vent with anti-fog coating|
|Warranty||2 year||Lifetime||Lifetime||Lifetime||2 year|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Like a lot of goggle offerings today, the Ace comes with two lenses for varying light conditions. While the Ace isn't necessarily at the top end of Spy's snow collection, we found the overall lens quality to be quite good in both optical quality and eye protection even though the Ace is equipped with cylindrical lenses. Cylindrical lenses are flat, without the lens curvature more commonly found in higher priced models. For skiers and riders who prefer a more traditional lens, the cylindrical construction also fits closer to the eye, which some testers liked.
As far as optical quality, our testers found the Ace HD Plus Bronze with Red Spectra Mirror coating (VLT of 14%) to be quite effective at blocking bright sunlight. With a protection level that high, we were glad that Spy included a lower light lens. While skiing later in the day or when the clouds rolled in, we needed to switch the HD Plus Bronze lens over to the HD Plus LL Yellow with Green Spectra Mirror lens. While the overall lens quality isn't quite as high as other models in our lineup, our testers were satisfied with the view provided by the lenses. We do wish one lens was better suited to all-day use, though, instead of wanting to swap them out.
Regarding the field of view, we found the lower frame of the goggle was more noticeable than most others, blocking approximately 20% of our field of view. We were able to look past the frame, but it was distracting.
One of the first things most testers notice when it comes to goggle comfort is the quality of the padding. The Ace is equipped with a three-layer Isotron foam, which felt good on testers' faces, providing ample cushioning and a good seal from the elements. The innermost portion of the foam is a wicking Dri-Force fleece that assists in keeping the goggle's lens clear of moisture. While most other goggles include three silicone beads to keep your eyewear secure, the Ace has just a single bead. We were skeptical that this single bead would keep things in place, but it performed adequately. We do wonder how well the single bead will stand up to the test of time over triple-bead designs.
The Ace is a larger goggle, and our smaller testers found they preferred other models in our lineup. For our medium to larger testers, they found the fit was generally good, although testers with more pronounced noses noticed pressure. If you have the right facial anatomy, the Ace could be a comfy option for you.
Ventilation and Breathability
One area where the Ace impressed in testing was in the ability to keep the goggle fog at bay. Spy uses its "Scoop" ventilation system to keep your lenses clear for crisp and bright days on the hill. The Ace has light, air-permeable foam not just on the top portion of the lens, but also on the lower part, too. This cross flowing air did an excellent job of keeping our test lenses clear.
As we mentioned earlier, that soft and comfy foam that provides a buffer between your face and goggle frames also has wicking qualities that help keep your lenses clear of moisture.
Ease of Changing Lenses
Goggle technology has improved in many ways over the past several years, and the ease of changing lenses is one of the most significant advances. This is especially noticeable with magnetic lens technology, which the Ace does not have.
Our scores are all relative to the products in our test group. The "Quick Draw" lens system is not as quick as the magnetic lenses, but it is quicker than more goggles of the past you may remember. The Quick Draw lens system is comprised of two outriggers on both sides of the frame which are lifted to access the lens. Once these are lifted, the lens needs to be popped off of studs on both sides that insert into slots on the lens itself.
While it sounds relatively simple, we found it almost impossible to not smear our fingers all over the lenses in the process of changing lenses out. Lens swaps are definitely not something you can do with gloves on like the magnetic lens options. Those magnetic goggles come at a significantly higher price, of course.
If you don't routinely change lenses out, or generally at home and not on the hill, the Quick Draw lens system will most likely work fine for you, especially if the price is a major consideration for you. However, as we mentioned above, we found it often necessary to swap lenses toward the end of a ski day due to the extreme light-blocking quality of the bright light lens.
While testing long term durability isn't possible for us since we want to relay current and timely reviews for you, we can make some predictions based on what we see during our testing phase. During testing, we found the overall durability of the Ace wasn't up to the standards set by several of the other models in our review.
The frame is a seemingly durable polyurethane material that feels almost rigid to the touch. The outrigger latches of the frame were difficult to seat during lens changes and are easily removed from the frame, which seemed to unintentionally make lens changes easier. With that, the durability of the frame and lens mounting doesn't seem all that confidence-inspiring.
Even though we try to baby our test gear overall, keeping goggles and lenses in their protective bags, treating everything like we'd treat our own gear, we still experienced lens scratches. In spite of the anti-scratch coating, we actually experienced lens scratches on the HD Plus Bronze lens on our first day out and have no idea how that occurred. The lens scratch is relatively minor, but concerning nonetheless.
The Ace strap retained its elasticity throughout testing, and the low profile silicone bead remained intact throughout testing. We did have to reseat the strap once after stretching it to fit over a helmet without adjusting the length. This wasn't a major issue but did cause us to consider the long term durability of the strap to frame interface. The strap is simply folded over on itself and stitched, then slipped through a narrow slot on the goggle frame.
Evaluating style is pretty darned subjective, but we try to point out characteristics and features for your stylish needs. When it comes to style, the Ace has a fairly modern appearance, although not the fully frameless design that we currently see a lot of. Instead, this pair has a semi-frameless design that shows minimal frame up top and at the bottom with larger portions of the frame showing on the sides where the lens anchors. There are several different straps and corresponding lens combinations available if you're interested in matching the rest of your board or ski clothing.
The Ace has a lower cost than many of the other goggles in our test lineup. It also comes with two lenses. That said, with other options out there that our testers prefer at similar or lower prices, we can't say that the value is high in this pair.
The Spy Ace performed as well as we anticipated overall, although durability and lens swapping didn't quite live up to our expectations. If you like the looks of this model and the inclusion of light and dark lenses, the Ace might be worth a look. For anyone looking for a more refined overall product, we'd suggest looking at other models in our lineup.
— Jason Cronk