Zeal Optics is continually on the edge of lens technological advances. This time, they really shredded the slope with their Portal Automatic + Lens ski goggle. From top to bottom, back to front, I’d say these goggles are certainly worth a try. Being a fairly new downhill skier and a bit of a gear junkie, I’ve been trying many goggles to find the ‘right’ ones for me. So far, I’ve been fairly indecisive. Over the course of my Google search, I developed a set of criteria (1 low-5 high) for which to evaluate. Here’s how the Zeal Portals Automatic + Lens faired:
Overall comfort is extremely good. The face foam is soft to the skin and didn’t seem to leave goggle marks on my face. With the body of the goggles being wider, the foam is not as close to the eyes, which is a huge plus to me because I hate feeling the foam in my eyes.
The wide body style wrapping around the face temple to temple in combination with the frameless design creates a large visibility window. Wide angle viewing not only forward facing, but excellent periphery as well.
Through extreme temperature changes throughout the day from -5F to 40F, there was no evidence of fog. Even when my balaclava was soaked with moisture from covering my nose & mouth skinning up, there was no condensation.
Lens Options: 5
There are three lens options: Optimum, Optimum Polarized, & Optimum Polarized Auto+.
A huge variety of options for all skier levels & needs. I have terrible depth perception in low & flat light so the heightened definition & detail feature is one of my favorites. The lenses are also polarized which cuts glare & eye fatigue to ensure safe extended days on the mountain.
** Spoiler alert: a 2018 release of the Zeal RB lens will transition from light to dark rose providing both polarized & photochromatic technologies (usually you get one or the other). This blended technology actually highlights icy areas while you make your turns.
Zeal’s Rail Lock System (RLS) took a little practice. Once I got used to the RLS, it was a snap, literally. The RLS is a system that allows consumers to lift the lenses to various degrees without removing the goggle from the face because there are rails on both left & right sides of the goggle allowing the lens to guide, slide, and lock. The lock is from a magnet system and is great for an all-day mountain experience because it stays secure.
Where cheaper goggles often feel flimsy, the Portals do not feel too rigid. The frames, lenses, foam, and head strap feel as though they would hold up to some pretty good falls or encounters with snow banks. My only qualm about them is I took them off my helmet at the end of the day, fumbled and dropped them onto the ice-crusted snow. Sadly when I picked them up there was a small scratch from where they had hit.
Generally, I’m not a forefront of fashion type of person, so to have the lenses be so broad I honestly felt a little like a bug. On the upside, I did feel confident I wouldn’t get that awkward ‘goggle gap’ tan line between the helmet and goggle top! Also, I love the colors being a beautiful blend of teal & purple.
The MSRP of $269, seemed a little steep to me. However, in getting more into skiing I’m learning that nothing comes cheap, and it’s worth it to pay for higher quality gear for both performance & safety.
Overall Rating: 4
The strap wasn’t always the easiest to get back on. Once on my helmet, they stayed put, but with my big mitt gloves I had trouble getting them there. Newbie problem? Additionally, with the frameless design, I felt as though whenever I’d reach to adjust the lens I was going to smear the lenses with snow from my gloves. A small detail I’m sure I’d get used to, but coming from trying all framed goggles, it was just different. Sometimes change is an adjustment.
Throughout my testing, I’ve been extremely impressed with this Boulder-based company’s ability to deliver such a tech-forward ski goggle. Their ethical mantra of ‘Use Less, Give Back, and Explore More’ makes these an easy buy for me: Zeal really cares.
Off for a day on the slopes? I recommend you give Zeal’s Portal Ski Goggles a go, it will be well worth it.