In February, on our way to Loveland Ski Area in the high country of Colorado, my girlfriend brought up a comment I’d made a month or so ago about the difference between an expensive pair of snow goggles found in the locked glass cases in specialty outdoor gear stores and the cheaper ones found stacked 4-feet high at the general ski and sports shops. My response was something like this: “A good pair of goggles uses well-researched chemical processes to treat the lenses in order to make the quality of vision better, to make them more fog resistant, to better reduce ultraviolet rays, and to make them more scratch proof. They often have interchangeable lenses so you can use the same frames for bright sunny days as well as overcast cloudy days. The frames tend to have better designed systems for allowing moisture to escape while not allowing air to flow in and make the eyes tear. They also tend to come with a storage system of some kind.” Only moments later, some of my points of comparison would tangibly come to light.
Standing in the parking lot at the back of my Subaru Outback prepping for the day of lift-access skiing, Catherine pulled out her fairly new middle-range goggles and pointed out a few scratches from our last ski day. Bummer. Yet my also fairly new Dragon Alliance PXV2 goggles remained scratch-free. Sweet. A few hours later, the sky turned, clouds rolled in, and snow began to fall. Using the Swiftlock Lens Changing System on my PXV2s, I quickly and easily switched to the low-light lens and continued to ski complaint free while Catherine slowed way down and groaned about how difficult it was to see. She was beginning to pick up on what I had laid down.
Earlier this year, I reviewed a pair of Dragon sunglasses and found them to be of very high quality in all aspects. The PXV2 goggles are no different. These are the first two Dragon items I have owned and used, and I continue to be impressed. They cover all of the necessary bases I mentioned in my response to my girlfriend’s question.
Since this was the year of COVID-19 and I had to wear a Buff to cover my mouth and nose through the lift line, I had ample opportunity to assess the PXV2’s ability to shed fog. Goggles are going to fog up, but the two important questions are how much do they fog, and how quickly do they dissipate said fog? A+ on both accounts. Backcountry-specific goggles made for athletic uphill skinning, such as the Julbo Aerospace, have a lens system that enables the entire lens to hinge out a millimeter or so, a capacity that allows more airflow and makes a considerably noticeable difference in sweaty fog buildup. The PXV2s are not backcountry uphill specific in this way, but in comparison to other goggles made primarily for downhill skiing, the PXV2s performed top of class in resisting and shedding fog.
The feature most important to me was the Swiftlock Technology that made changing lenses easy. There are two lenses, one designed for direct sunlight and the other for overcast weather and the latter daylight hours when the sun has set and the slopes are shaded. In the past I have simply had two different pairs of goggles ready to go for the high- and low light-conditions because the goggles either didn’t offer a second interchangeable lens or I found it too difficult to change the lens and not worth the effort. With the flick of two easily maneuverable levers on either end of the goggles, the lens quickly pops out and makes room for the second lens to pop back in just as easily. I kid you not–I was like an overjoyed child on Christmas morning when I realized that I just might be able to change the lens without taking my helmet off; and that I could do it while seated on the lift made the process that much more exciting. But wait, there’s more: I didn’t even have to take my gloves off, exposing my fragile skin to the freezing cold temps.
Now that the Swiftlock Technology makes the problem of changing lenses a thing of the past, I am only left with my over-reactive anxiety about scratching a lens while changing them back and forth; when I spend a wallet full of ducats on a pair of goggles, that first little scratch hits me deep in my soul, especially if it’s in a spot that is directly in the field of vision. Luckily the PXV2s have an added lens treatment to resist scratches. After a couple of tries changing out the lenses, I figured out how to do it without touching the face of the lens.
On their website, Dragon Alliance claims their Lumalens technology “delivers superior color vividness, enhances contrast, improves depth perception, and reduces eye fatigue for better performance.” The quality of vision in both lenses seemed about as good as it gets, and my eyes didn’t feel burned or tired at the end of the day. Slopes with dappled light offered a bit of a challenge when going from light to dark and back to light, but this problem would be true for any pair of goggles; and likely, I should have had the low-light lens in place for these light conditions.
Like most ski-specific goggles, the PXV2 goggles extend far from the surface of the face, perfectly coming flush with the brim of a ski helmet; they can accommodate a pair of low profile corrective lenses underneath. Replacement lenses can be purchased online and come in a wide variety of colors.
My suggested ideal uses for the Dragon PXV2 goggles include downhill resort skiing, heli and cat skiing, backcountry skiing, high altitude mountaineering and polar exploration. On big mountain and glaciated climbs such as Aconcagua, Denali, the Himalayan monsters, and even Mt. Rainier, summit attempts often begin in the dark of night when the wind and air temperatures can be cold enough to freeze exposed eyeballs. Sunglasses are useless in these situations, as are goggles with a dark lens. Low-light lenses are ideal, yet as soon as the sun rises, and if the atmosphere is still cold and windy, the darker lens will be needed. For this reason, the PXV2s would be a good choice. Some goggles have a lower profile than the PXV2s and require less room in a loaded expedition pack; with that said, any set of goggles fit nicely into the bottom side of a helmet.
Goggles are obviously necessary fare for downhill skiing, and as a climber makes their way into the realm of big mountain climbing, they’ll find them to be an equally non-optional item on equipment packing lists. The Dragon Alliance PXV2 snow goggles can be a single-performance tool that plays well in both courts–as long as there’s enough space left on your credit card to manage the expense.
Mike Lewis is an IFMGA/AMGA guide living in Berthoud, Colorado. Mike has been guiding and instructing rock, ice, alpine and skiing since 1993 throughout the US and internationally.
Easy to switch lenses
Comes with low-light lens
Stylish and comes in a variety of designs and colors
Not ideal for aerobic uphill travel (too warm, not ventilated well enough)