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If you’re spending the last few weeks of summer in the water, investing in a pair of swim goggles might be on your to-do list. And while goggles are top of mind during the warmer months, they’re also helpful to have on hand year round for when you go on vacation or hit up an indoor pool. Salt or chemicals present in water can irritate your eyes any time you swim and make the experience less enjoyable, according to James Collins, vice president of curriculum development for Goldfish Swim School Franchising.
“Wearing goggles to swim is a good practice, no matter if you’re swimming in a chlorinated pool, saltwater pool, lake or ocean,” Collins said. “Not only do goggles protect your eyes, but they can also allow you to see better underwater, making you feel more comfortable while swimming.”
Swimmers of all levels can wear goggles, but Collins said they’re especially important for beginners. When new swimmers open their eyes underwater without goggles, their vision becomes blurry, which can limit what they see and cause confusion, he explained. This only adds to the intimidation some beginners feel when they dip their head underwater for the first time. Goggles allow swimmers to see clearly underwater, remove distractions and discomfort and focus on being in the water.
Goggles come in many different styles, from those resembling snorkel masks to sport frames, and they’re available in sizes for adults and kids. To help you choose which swim goggles to buy, we talked to experts about features to look for when shopping and how sizing works. We also rounded up some expert-recommended and some highly rated goggles from popular brands like Speedo and A3.
Expert-recommended and top-rated goggles
Compared to adult goggles, kids or juniors goggles have smaller eye cups and narrower nose pieces, Collins said. These features help goggles fit young swimmers’ smaller faces. He noted that while kids may be drawn to character-themed goggles, like superhero and princess options, they’re often less functional in design.
To help kids get used to wearing goggles, Collins suggested involving them in the selection process, as well as having them practice wearing the goggles in the shower or during bath time. “This allows parents to adjust the strap before a swim lesson. It also helps children get used to the goggles and lets them see the advantages of wearing them,” he said.
Our selections for kids goggles came from expert recommendations or were top-rated by a large number of shoppers.
Collins said the A3 Performance Turbo goggles for kids are popular at Goldfish Swim School. The lenses are constructed from clear polycarbonate — which he noted is a shatterproof material — and offer UV protection and an anti-fog coating. The goggles’ silicone strap is adjustable, too. Although some options are currently sold out across retailers, the A3 Performance Turbo goggles are available in multiple colors, like Blue/Black, Kiwi/Turquoise, Purple/Pink and Red/Blue.
Designed for kids ages 3 to 10, these goggles boast a secure release button that helps you adjust the straps. The eye cups have polycarbonate lenses with an anti-fog coating, which prevents them from fogging up on the inside, according to Gilda Dobrica, swim instructor and founder of ProSwim NYC. They also offer UVA/UVB protection and silicone gaskets (also referred to as seals). The goggles are available in colors like Blue/Green, Pink/White, Purple, Green/Orange and Pink/Blue.
These fish-shaped goggles come in a pack of two: One pair boasts tinted lenses to protect kids’ eyes from UV rays while swimming outdoors, and the other pair has clear lenses for indoor swimming. The goggles feature 3D soft silicone gaskets around the eye cups to help create a comfortable and secure fit, and they come with a carrying bag. The goggles’ polycarbonate wide view lenses are made with an anti-fog coating, and the straps are adjustable. The goggles come in colors like blue and green, red and pink and more. They have a 4.6-star average rating from 2,715 reviews on Amazon.
The curved lenses on these kids' goggles create a wide 180-degree field of view, allowing little ones to see their surroundings clearly both on land and underwater, according to Dobrica. They also have a mask-like shape, which, combined with the curved lenses, brings kids’ faces closer to the water as they lower their heads into it. “This helps kids overcome their fear of lowering their face into the water,” Dobrica said. “Therefore, kids become more motivated to look under the water longer, which helps improve their underwater breathing skills.”
The lenses are scratch-resistant with an anti-fog coating and provide UVA/UVB protection. The goggles feature an adjustable head strap and they’re designed for kids ages 3 and older.
Dobrica said these goggles, designed for kids ages 6 to 14, are “great for children who are already comfortable submerging their head” in the water. “The shape of these goggles fits most face shapes, so they don’t leak,” she added. “They provide good suction without being too tight.” The goggles have an adjustable head strap, and the lenses offer UV protection as well as an anti-fog coating. They’re available in a range of colors, including Rainbow Brights, Bright Pink and Silver Ice.
Speedo’s Skoogle kids goggles are designed for children ages 3 to 8. The lenses offer UV protection and an anti-fog coating, and the eye cups have a soft silicone frame. You can adjust the goggles’ head strap and move the slide release clips to lock a specific fit in place. The goggles are available in colors like Bright Pink, Blue Ocean and more. They have a 4.7-star average rating from more than 8,100 reviews on Amazon.
When shopping for adult goggles, you may come across some that have small eye cups. According to Dobrica, these are designed for more experienced swimmers. “The smaller the goggles, the more experienced the swimmer wearing them usually is,” she explained. But that doesn’t mean adults who are new to swimming need to buy scuba mask-style goggles. It just means that you “should also consider what kind of swimming you’ll use goggles for” when you’re choosing a pair — for example, goggles worn for leisurely dips in the pool are a different style than those used for competitive swimming.
Dobrica also advised adults to wash off any cosmetic products, lotions or creams — other than sunscreen — before putting on goggles to get the best suction possible. She also noted that it often takes trial and error to find the right goggles for you.
Our selections for adult goggles came from expert recommendations or were top-rated by a large number of shoppers.
Collins’ favorite adult goggles are the Speedo Vanquisher goggles. They’re available for men and women and come in multiple different colors. You can purchase them with clear or mirrored lenses, the latter of which Collins refers to as “goggle sunglasses” and recommends wearing outside in sunny weather since they reduce glare. The goggles feature an anti-fog coating and provide protection from UVA and UVB rays, and they come with four interchangeable nosepiece options as well as silicone seals around the eye cups.
These goggles are the No.1 bestselling swim goggles on Amazon. They have a flexible silicone frame and are designed to fit within the eye socket, thus creating a tighter seal. The interior of the polycarbonate lenses feature an anti-fog coating, while the outside are mirrored to block UV rays. The goggles are also built with silicone seals around the eye cups to keep water out, and the adjustable head strap has a buckle that makes it easier to take the goggles on and off. You can purchase these goggles in colors like Black, Rose Red, Sky Blue and more, and they have a 4.5-star average rating from nearly 42,000 reviews on Amazon.
The wraparound lenses of these goggles offer a 180-degree field of view, and they boast a watertight seal around the eyes to prevent water from leaking in. The lenses have an anti-fog and scratch-resistant coating, and the head strap is adjustable. You can purchase the goggles in three colors: Black/Bright Green, Clear Lens/Blue and Smoke Lens/Green. They have a 4.4-star average rating from more than 2,000 reviews on Amazon.
Available in a pack of two, one pair of these goggles features mirrored lenses for outdoor swim sessions while the other pair has clear lenses for swimming indoors — both have an anti-fog coating and help protect eyes from UV rays. The goggles are designed with a flexible silicone seal to prevent water from leaking into the eye cups. You can adjust the goggles’ fit using the adjustable head strap, too. They are available in multiple different color combinations and have a 4.4-star average rating from more than 5,700 reviews on Amazon.
You can customize the fit of these goggles with their interchangeable nose bridge and adjustable head strap. They are built with a leak-proof seal around the eye cups and curved lenses. The goggles are available with four different types of lenses: Titanium Mirror, Mirror and Smoke, which are ideal for sunny outdoor conditions, and Clear, which are designed to be used indoors or in low light. The goggles also come in colors like Blue, Yellow and White, and they have a 4.5-star average rating from more than 1,300 reviews on Amazon.
If you wear glasses for nearsightedness, Dobrica recommended these goggles, which will help you see clearly underwater. They’re designed with your choice of prescription lenses, and they’re also anti-fog and protect eyes from UV rays. The goggles come with three nosepiece options and the head strap is adjustable.
Features to look for when buying goggles
Dobrica said the most important qualities you should look for in your goggles are comfort and a leak-proof seal around the eyes. And like with face masks, choosing the best goggles for your face comes down to how they fit, which is mostly determined by three key parts: the eye cups, the nosepiece and the head strap.
Adjustability is a key feature you should consider while buying goggles, according to Dobrica, the creator of Teach Your Child to Swim, an online swimming course. She said head straps and nose pieces are usually easily adjustable, allowing you to customize their placement on your face.
Adjusting your goggles should not be an enigma. If you are puzzled by how to make your goggles looser or tighter, move on to another pair.
Gilda Dobrica, swim instructor and founder of ProSwim NYC
Whether you’re selecting a pair of goggles for kids or adults, the top of the eye cup should rest under the eyebrow and seal on the bottom under the eye socket, according to Collins. Dobrica said the goggles’ gaskets — also referred to as seals — should not leave deep marks under your eyes when you take them off, and she recommended looking for soft silicone seals around the eye cup. If you’re allergic to silicone, seals constructed from thermoplastic rubber work, too.
Additionally, Collins recommended checking to make sure the goggles’ nose piece is not too wide for your face. And be sure to consider how easily the head strap adjusts — according to Collins, some of them “are too easy to loosen, which will lead to the goggles slipping off or filling up during practice.” He added that a goggles’ level of suction is adjustable based on the strap tightness, too.
Goggles styles to consider
Beyond whether they’re designed for kids or adults, goggles’ features vary depending on the type of swimming they're meant for. Entry-level goggles — made for beginner swimmers of all ages — are meant to be affordable and comfortable, boasting features like soft silicone pieces around the eye cups, Collins said. He noted they should be easily adjustable but should also lock in place once they’re adjusted.
Goggles for elite swimmers are designed to reduce drag by conforming to the eye socket area while swimming. “This also limits the risk of the goggles falling off or filling up on their dive,” Collins said.
Additionally, goggles that resemble snorkel masks are also available for kids and adults. Collins said they’re often “clunky for younger swimmers,” but they provide a larger peripheral view, which he noted can be comforting for some.
When to replace your goggles
How often goggles need to be replaced depends on how often you use them. Collins said over time, you may notice scratches on the lenses, which makes it difficult to see clearly, and the head strap can snap or stretch out, too. Generally, you should replace your goggles if they become uncomfortable, difficult to use or start filling with water when you’re swimming.
To extend the life of your goggles, Dobrica recommended rinsing them with cold water after you swim and letting them air dry. She advised not to leave them in bags with wet bathing suits or towels, and to never leave them out in the sun.