Prizm vs ChromaPop Ski Goggles; Which Is Best?
Interested in upgrading to either a pair of Oakleys that use Prizm technology OR a pair of Smiths that use ChromaPop but not sure which delivers the best bang for your buck?
In this guide I'll explore the difference between Prizm and ChromaPop, comparing the pros and cons to help you decide which ski or snowboard goggles to invest your hard-earned money in.
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Both the Smiths ChromaPop and Oakleys Prizm deliver the very best in goggle lens technology. Crisp vision, high contrast, excellent detail, and beautiful color tones.
Smiths Optics I/O has an easier system for changing lenses while the Oakley flight deck has a wider field of vision. Both are similarly priced but crucially Smith Optics I/O comes with two lenses.
While I don't think you can go wrong with either lens, my top pick is the Smith Chromapop Optic I/O because it comes with two lenses which are very slightly easier to change.
If you're looking for a wider field of vision - go for the Oakleys, if you want the benefit of having two lenses bundled in one buy, go for the Smith Optics. If you want more detail about the technology behind each lens then read on.
1. ChromaPop by Smith
ChromaPop is Smith's signature lens technology which provides crisp clarity and high contrast across all conditions with its range of 11 lens colors.
Smith Optics was founded in 1965 and they pioneered the creation of the first-ever goggle with a sealed thermal lens and breathable vent (source). While Smiths are not as well known as Oakley across the world, their lenses are up to pair and ChromaPop is as powerful a lens technology as Oakley's Prizm.
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Smiths has 11 different lens tints in its ChromaPop range. My favorite thing about the Smiths I/O range is that you get two lenses when you buy a pair of goggles, so you can choose two lenses that suit your typical weather conditions.
Most people, they'll want to get sun or everyday lenses and a flat light lens. That way - whatever the weather you're covered. If it's a bluebird day or a whiteout session - you'll be able to clearly see the line ahead of you.
For bright days a lens with a lower VLT means it blocks more light and reduces the glare from the sun. On cloudy or overcast days where the light is flat, you'll want to let in more light and so a higher VLT makes sense.
One of my favorite lenses on this list is the Photochromic Rose Flash which automatically changes the amount of light it lets in depending on the weather. That means you can ski from the shade to the sun or through worsening weather conditions and see clearly.
The photochromic lens technology works in conjunction with the ChromaPop so you have the best of both worlds, automatic light adjustment, and high contrast vision. (P.S I wrote a guide to the best photochromic lenses here.)[wptb id=6030]
The guys from SportRx took a hands-on look at all of these ChromaPop lenses in the video below.
Smith Chromapop Optics I/O Review
Frame size: Medium
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Spherical
What we like: Incredible detail. Love the Photochromic option.
What we don’t: The lens-changing system is not the best.
Awesome Features Worth Mentioning:
- Chromopop technology for high-definition contrast.
- Wide spherical lens for wide-angle vision.
- Triple-layer face foam for comfort and reducing moisture (warmer).
- Interchangeable lenses for more options.
- Excellent anti-fog lens coating and ventilation.
- Not for budget skiers
- Some reviewers said changing the lenses was not always easy.
Where to Buy:
2. Prizm by Oakley
Prizm™ is propriety lens technology developed by lens manufacturer Oakley. Oakley has been making ski goggles since 1983 and over the years has refined and developed its technology. Prizm is the latest advance in its lens technology and Oakley has been working on the technology for 15 years. Oakley describes Prizm as "revolutionary lens technology that dramatically enhances contrast and visibility over a wide range of light conditions." So the question is, does it deliver?
Yes, it does. Prizm lenses are pretty incredible and they do improve your ability to pick out detail and contrast in the white snowy landscape. This makes it easier to spot bumps and dips in the snow ahead and react to them ahead of time.
The image below shows the difference Prizm makes to how you perceive snow. Rather than a white mass with a few light shadows, with Prizm, you can see all the tracks and contours of the snow.
Prizm works by blocking out specific wavelengths of light (rather than blocking a percentage of all light). By analyzing the patterns of light in different landscapes and environments, the researchers and scientists behind Prizm were able to determine the best way of blocking specific wavelengths to improve contrast.
Once the team had a computer model of the perfect lens, the next step was to create a physical lens that was able to block out specific wavelengths and let other light wavelengths through. The key to Prizm was finding a dye that had narrow absorption peaks rather than large bell curves.
They found that there are two specific colors (specific tones of red and blue) where the eye is very sensitive to detail. In Prizm Snow™, they managed to combine these colors and enhanced them while blocking out other light tints. A far cry from the misty orange glows of old-school ski goggles.
Not all Prizm lenses are the same and there is a range of different goggle shapes and lens tints that work well in all weather from heavy cloud whiteout conditions to bright bluebird days.
In this video below, the guys from the SportRx test run some of Oakley's flat light lenses and provide commentary on how each lens performs.
Oakley Flight Deck Goggles
Awesome Features Worth Mentioning:
- Large wide field of vision
- A high-tech lens with Prizm technology
- Interchangeable lenses
- Glasses compatibles
- Moisture-wicking face foam and excellent ventilation.
- Not budget-friendly
- Only comes with 1 lens unlike the smith
Where to Buy:
Best Overall Ski Goggles
If you're looking at my overall pick for the best ski goggles - read my in-depth review for this season.
If You Wear Glasses
The Oakley Flight deck is bigger lenses with more space for spectacles and so will work better as OTG goggles. The Smith is also big enough to be worn with some glasses but would work better with a prescription insert.
Prescription inserts are special frames that can sit inside your goggle and use plastic tabs to stay logged into the front. You can pick up a pair on Amazon that are inexpensive, but it requires you to go see your local optician to get the correct lenses for your eyesight fitter.