Smell the Glove: Smith I/O Goggles

Getting free goggles is one of the first rites of passage into the ski industry.

(Ed’s note: Smell the Glove is a series chronicling stuff we actually use. The first STG appears here: Smell the Glove: Sock Guys socks.)

By Derek Taylor
Published: January 7, 2011

Getting free goggles is one of the first rites of passage into the ski industry. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that, with nine years at Powder, and more than a decade-and-a-half as a ski industry whore under my belt, I haven't had to buy goggles in a while.

Then I found myself in the line-up waiting for Little Cottonwood Canyon to open on an 18-inch day when I'd realized I'd forgotten a key element.

I started going through my options:

• Pull out of line, run home, fetch goggles… and completely blow it. OK, clearly not an option.

• Start calling friends, admit that I'm a dumbass and see who has an extra pair and will be up there. Feasible, but sketchy. If I happen to find a friend with an extra pair, I'll need to: A.) Hope he/she is there before me; B.) Coordinate a pick-up; and C.) Hope this doesn't take a half hour or more.

• Lost and found. Not a bad plan, but here are the issues: It will likely be a low-quality product, and it's promising to be DEEP! Also, there is no guarantee that there will even be any goggles in any lost and found. And even if there are, we again are looking at major lost time. Plus there's no guarantee I'm not stealing something someone will come in looking for.

So I started doing some math, and figured this out: Even if I pay full slopeside retail, my cost-per-goggle over my last decade of skiing is still going to be ridiculously low (OK, that's not really math, but work with me here). And I remembered that, unlike the last time I had to buy goggles, I actually have a job now.

In the end I decided to Support The Industry and walk into the Mother Lode ski shop and buy the goggles that I use most often.

A few minutes and 175 bucks later I was in the lift line with a brand new pair of Smith I/O goggles on my head (albeit upside-down, as I realized once I got on the chair and put them on my face. I may be gainfully employed, but I'm still a beater).

Why do I use the I/Os? It's the easily interchangeable lenses. I've always had issues swapping lenses out in traditional goggles, and I know I'm not alone in that. With the I/Os, I can switch lenses on the lift with gloves on. On days when the light is constantly coming and going, I'll carry an extra lens (included in the purchase) in my pocket.

Where the I/O truly shines is when traveling. I used to pack two pairs of goggles: one for bright days, and one for storm days. Now, I only pack one pair of I/Os, and a grip of extra lenses. In other words, though they are more expensive, for me they replace two pairs of goggles.

Everything else about the goggle is of the same quality that you'd expect from one of the world's premiere snow optics companies. The I/O has been my go-to goggle for several seasons now.