Zeal Beacon Review
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|Pros||Photochromatic, fog resistant, stylish, wider field of view||High quality optics, easy lens changes, great field of vision||Very wide range VLT photochromic lens, excellent ventilation, large field of view||Wide transitional range, great price, excellent optical quality||Inexpensive, durable, multiple lenses included|
|Cons||Narrow photochromatic range||Very expensive, distortion at the bottom of the lens||Expensive||Low-light snow surface detail is lacking||More basic styling, lenses aren't the easiest to change|
|Bottom Line||A stylish goggle that offers various lens types, resists fogging, and provides high-quality optics||Outstanding and innovative eyewear that is at the top of the heap in almost every category||A photochromatic goggle that offers a wide VLT range and a large field of view in a casual but stylish design||One of the best values on the market, this high-performance photochromatic goggle is suited for all almost conditions||An affordable and functional goggle, this pair feels good on your face and keeps your wallet padded|
|Rating Categories||Zeal Beacon||Smith 4D Mag||Julbo Cyrius||Glade Adapt 2||Smith Squad ChromaPop|
|Lens Quality (20%)|
|Ventilation and Breathability (20%)|
|Ease of Changing Lenses (15%)|
|Specs||Zeal Beacon||Smith 4D Mag||Julbo Cyrius||Glade Adapt 2||Smith Squad ChromaPop|
|Number of Included Lenses||1||2||1||1||2|
|Tested Lens||Polarized Automatic + RB||Chromapop Sun Red Mirror, Chromapop Storm||REACTIV 0-4 High Contrast||Photochromatic Blue||Chromapop Sun, Yellow|
|Layers of Foam||Triple layer||Triple layer||Dual layer||Triple Density||2-layer Dri-Wix|
|Ventilation||Upper lower venting with Everclear Anti-Fog||AirEvac||Air Flow||Foam||Not specified|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Zeal Beacon goggle leverages the company's long-term experience to provide solid optical quality and a large field of view in a durable and comfortable package. It uses a cylindrical lens and Observation Deck Technology to allow you to see the most on the mountain with no recognizable distortion.
Zeal is known for producing very high-quality lenses, and the Beacon is no exception. It uses a cylindrical lens and Observation Deck Technology to increase the field of view and minimize the amount of frame impeding your vision. The large field of view, color enhancement, and detail on the snow surface make this a worthwhile goggle.
Zeal's Automatic series is offered in three lens types, a yellow base, a gray base, and a rose base. In this review, we tested the rose base, which offers adjustments from 38% to 20% VLT. This lens worked well within that range, and its ideal conditions were sunny to high overcast. However, the VLT band was too narrow to work in snow storms and whiteout conditions. We would need a second lens or goggle around 45% to 80% VLT for those conditions.
That aside, these lenses provided great optical performance related to color enhancement and definition of the snow surface. Generally speaking, we experienced a slight red color shift amongst all colors with the rose-based lens, especially with more white or blue-toned features. The color enhancement was noticeable in all colors. The color shift's effectiveness and vibrancy directly correlated to where the lens was within the transitional range. Shiny surfaces like ice were emphasized, and we appreciated that added detail on the snow surface. It became easier to pinpoint where firm snow was in cloudy conditions. However, in low light or stormy conditions, the details of the snow surface got lost as we were operating outside of the range of this lens.
Overall, these lenses performed great and enhanced colors and details among average mountain conditions, such as partly cloudy with pockets of sun.
The Beacon is a very comfortable goggle when used on a beanie or over a helmet. Despite the larger field of vision, they employ a medium size frame that is quite versatile across different face shapes. Testers with both large and small facial structures found these goggles to fit quite well. The model uses a triple layer of foam to offer a durable attachment point to the frame and a contour-like fit. The foam is finished with a micro fleece to ensure a comfortable next-to-skin feel. Like most goggles, that also has a silicone bead along the goggle strap to secure its place throughout the day. The Beacon provided a pressure point and draft-free experience in the backcountry and at the resort.
Ventilation and Breathablity
The Beacon uses a full-length top vent to maximize surface area and air intake and help reduce fogging. The lower rim of the frame has small holes instead of full-length foam vents. The bottom part of the goggle reduces the overall ventilation potential of these goggles. The rationale behind this is to help keep the frame's footprint low. The ventilation, coupled with the anti-fog coating, was enough to resist fogging when riding in the resort. However, in our uphill tests, we did note the lack of ventilation produced some fogging. Fortunately, we don't often do a lot of uphill travel wearing goggles except for very windy tours or when hiking to particular terrain in the resort. Expect a light fogging issue if you're working hard while wearing these goggles.
Ease of Changing Lenses
The Beacon offers a relatively easy lens-changing system — we could easily change the lens within 2 minutes. This model also works with all the Beacon lens options, ranging from polarized standard lenses to higher-end photochromatic lenses. The photochromatic lenses operate within a relatively narrow band but still cover sunny to cloudy conditions. This reduces the importance of having a user-friendly and streamlined magnetic changing system as the frequency is reduced. That said, Zeal still put in the effort to ensure that changing the lenses was fast and easy.
The Beacon has stood up to all of our tests, whether getting tossed in a tote bag to head to the resort or stuffed in our backcountry bag for a day in the wilderness. The lenses are coated with Perma Shield anti-scratch coating and remained unscratched through our test period and beyond. The strap is reinforced with plastic brackets at the attachment points and has maintained its elasticity. With proper care, these goggles should last for multiple seasons.
The Beacon was a fan favorite in our style polls which factored in skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels. Its modern, nearly frameless design with a cylindrical lens gives it a versatile and casual aesthetic. Zeal offers this product in an astonishing 30 colors (at the time of publishing), so there's bound to be a color that resonates with you.
Should You Buy the Zeal Beacon?
We recommend these goggles to skiers and snowboarders looking for that versatile everyday google but who are also willing to have a dedicated storm day model for those whiteout days when the Beacon can't quite hack it.
What Other Ski Goggles Should You Consider?
If you're looking for one lens for every condition, check out the Julbo Cyrius Photochromatic. If photochromatic lenses aren't your jam, then consider the Smith 4D Mag.
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