GEAR REVIEW: OAKLEY FLIGHT DECK XM GOGGLES & PRIZM LENSES
I am in my third season with the Oakley Flight Deck XM goggles. It’s time for a long term review. I have, by now, encountered just about all possible conditions as far as visibility and weather go. Moreover, I ski indoors in the off-season. So, plenty of experiences to share.
The frame – fit aside, which is very personal of course – facilitates ventilation and lens changes. The ventilation works perfectly. Sometimes my hot face causes some fogging on the inside of the lens when there is no air flow. Within a few turns, though, the goggle rapidly clears. Never an issue there. The ventilation in the frame definitely works for this kind of ‘hot face’ fogging.
The lens change is not the quickest on the market, but certainly under 30 seconds with some practice. The lens is properly set inside the harder rim of the frame, securing it properly. No snow will ever find its way inside the lens itself (I have had this problem a few times with other goggles).
I have three lenses with this goggle. A clear lens for indoor use – no special technology in them. They just keep my eyes from tearing up. For use in the mountains, I have the Prizm Iridium Torch (cat. 3) for sunny and partly cloudy conditions; I also have the Prizm Hi Pink (cat. 2) for very cloudy and white-out conditions. With these two lenses, I have skied in all kind of light conditions. And for me, they cover the entire range. That said, I have figured out that I like lenses that are quite light. Some people have more sensitive eyes and prefer darker lenses.
The million dollar question: is Prizm technology – Oakley’s take on filtering out unwanted tones of light in the spectrum – the holy grail in terms of contrast enhancement? Although I think they work very well, I would say it isn’t. Like I said: they work very well. But so do many other lens types by other manufacturers. I have skied with goggles by Bollé, Uvex, Adidas and Sinner. And only Sinner performed worse that the Oakley lenses. Especially in low light conditions (overcast), many premium brands offer great options. So no, Oakley Prizm is not the holy grail. They are great contrast enhancing lenses though, but not the only brand that has good options.
When I get off the mountain, I keep my goggle (with one lens in it) in the soft bag that comes with it. The spare lens I keep in a hard cover that I bought seperately. If either the spare lens case or the soft cover is even slightly damp, moisture collects between the two layers of the lens. When I put that lens in the frame, the moisture stays there for a long time. Since the frame seals the edges of the lens, moisture has a hard time getting out, even with enough air flow.
To manage this, I take the lenses out of their covers and cases at night and of wet days put them over the radiator. Just to make sure that there is no moisture in between the two layers of the lens. I have never needed to do this with other goggles or lenses. So I would say the risk of moisture remaining between the layers of these lenses is real. And definitely something to be aware of.
The Oakley Flight Deck XM is a strong and quite easy to use frame. The lens change is not the quickest, but it works well once you master it. The Prizm lenses are great. They do what they have to do. They are, however, not the holy grail of contrast enhancement that Oakley claim them to be. There are many great lenses by quite a few manufacturers that offer same qualities. In fact, the risk of moisture collecting between the layers of the lenses might just outweigh the added vallue of the Prizm technology. They are great goggles, but they need to be taken care of and managed a bit.