Goggles for me have always been a struggle. I am the type of person who hates having extra gear like extra lenses or extra pairs of goggles and I can never quite find the perfect pair. Then a few years ago, on a blistery cold day at Stratton, I got my first case of frostbite on my nose and the real struggle began.
For those of you who don’t know, once you get frostbite once you are pretty much guaranteed to get it in the same spot unless you take precautions. So my fate was decided, I now had no choice but to wear a mask on colder days which for me is an issue. I tend to generate a lot of heat while snowboarding and I sweat more than anyone I’ve ever met.
This meant that the battle with fog had begun. For three years I tried numerous combos of masks, goggles, coatings, and wipes and some worked better than others but I wasn’t fully satisfied with any combo. I hit a bit of a breaking point this January when I was at Vail. It was a chilly pow day and my buddy Damian, a local, was showing me all the goods that Vail had to offer. The only issue was that fog was slowing me down.
Coincidentally(or more likely the result of sophisticated targeted ads) I had come across a Facebook ad for a company called Abom that had a fascinating fog elimination technology called KLAIR. Rather than using anti-fog coatings or fans, Abom used a microfilm sandwiched between the double lens to heat the lens and eliminate the fog. Needless to say I was intrigued and in luck as they were also attending SIA.
I stopped by their booth and talked to Jerome about their goggle tech and let him know that I was interested in demoing a pair. He must have been in a good mood as he tossed me a pair of Aboms with Flash Green Mirror lenses to keep. He simply said that if I happen to like them to write a review. Well, here I am a few months later writing a very honest review. By season’s end I logged somewhere between 30 and 40 days with the Abom goggles so rather than give an overall impression I want to highlight a select few days that really gave me a good feel for them.
Day 1 with my new Abom goggles was a quick lap up at Berthoud Pass. It was just one lap and it didn’t disappoint. As I always do, I skinned up in my favorite pair of sunglasses and switched over to the Abom goggles for the descent and was quite impressed with the Karl Zeiss lens as soon as I put them on. I didn’t really get to put them to the test until the 2 mile or so track out where I worked up quite a sweat and started to fog up a little. I simply put them in low power mode for the ride and the fog was gone. We only had time for one lap that day but day 1 was a success.
The next time I really needed some anti fog action was back on the east coast in February. It was a pow day at Hunter Mountain and like any proper east coast pow day it was cold, windy and puking snow all day. It was one of those days where I don’t think I would have survived without a mask. The turns were good and we were hot lapping Hunter West. It didn’t take long for me to see my first signs of fog. I turned my Aboms onto low power mode and kept riding. They worked really well until I got on the chairlift. I came to realize that while riding, the added airflow allowed the goggles to work perfectly but once I stopped moved I was generating so much heat and moisture that I was getting a bit of fog. I was turning on the added heat blast, which helped a bit, but I was still pretty fogged up by the time I was atop the chairlift almost every time. However, as soon as I made a couple of turns the fog quickly disappeared. The nice thing about the heated lens is that it does not let the moisture freeze on the lens so once some air comes flowing through, it clears the fog out pretty quickly. The battery also lasted all day. All in all I’d give em a thumbs up on this day.
The next time I had issues with fog was another pow day at Hunter Mountain but in March. This time the weather was even more brutal to the point that Interstate 87 was closed down during the day and we were lucky enough to have driven up the night before. Just like the February pow day, the Aboms got the job done all morning. We went in for a quick lunch and then in the afternoon I actually had a bit of an issue with them. The problem was that all of the caked on snow on my mask and goggles from the morning melted and refroze as ice in the afternoon. This meant that all of my generated moisture had nowhere to go. I had two options, go inside and try to dry everything out or take my mask off and bear the elements. I went with the latter and had people check my nose on every chairlift to make sure I was still ok. Once my mask was off, the goggles worked like a charm. No more fog and I developed my best ice beard to date.
The only other two days I want to mention are the day I tackled Elvis’s Crotch Couloir with Brent Meyer and my lazy day at Caribou a few days later. Both were bluebird days where the sun was really glaring. Although these aren’t the darkest lenses, they handled the sun like a champ. I can’t say the same for my skin but that’s a discussion for another day. I’ve also logged a handful of night riding sessions in these bad boys and they worked very well. I can’t comment on their other lenses as I haven’t tried them but I can honestly say the Flash Green Mirror lens is pretty solid in all lighting conditions.
Rather than continue my rambling I will wrap up my review with some final thoughts. The goggles have some cons. One being that they don’t fit my face and after a long day on the slopes they actually get a little uncomfortable. It is something very minor and if I remember correctly, Abom will be releasing redesigned lighter frames in the near future. Secondly, they work VERY well but you need to have reasonable expectations. If you clog up the foam surrounding the lens, air will not be able to flow through them and you will inevitable have issues with fog. Also, pushing the button to turn them on can be a bit tricky but over time I was able to figure it out.
However, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Since it is a heated lens, moisture does not freeze to the lens which allows them to defog very quickly if you happen to have any issues. They don’t have any anti-fog coating to worry about so they will continue working regardless if it’s day 1 or day 100. The Karl Zeiss lenses are very nice in all conditions. They eliminate the need for multiple pairs of goggles/lenses. The battery life exceeds what they claim is the expected battery life of 6 hours. I had mine on for at least 8 hours one day and they continued to work just fine. Most importantly, they eliminate fog and let you get the most out of your day.
In summation the Abom goggles aren’t perfect but for me they are pretty damn close and will be my goggle of choice going forward. If you have issues with fog like me, I would highly recommend giving them a shot!