I’ve worn the M1 in a wide variety of conditions, including sunny spring slush days; windy, whiteout storm days with seriously flat light; and on long bootpacks. Across the board, it has performed superbly.
Like the M2, the M1 comes with both a low-light and a bright-light lens as well as a compression molded case. The specific model of the M1 reviewed here —the “White” frame— comes with a Red Solex, bright-light lens and a Red Ice low light lens. We’ve also tested a few other lens tints from Anon that you might get (depending on the frame color you’re considering), so I’ll share some thoughts on those as well.
Anon describes the Red Solex lens as having a “dark bronze base tint with a multi-layer Red mirror” that “maximizes color definition and increases depth perception in varying levels of medium light to bright conditions.” I would describe the Red Solex lens as having (or looking like it has) a yellow/amber color to it, which has performed flawlessly in sunny conditions. Even if you’re a dedicated fan of a true rose, grey, or blueish bright-light lens, I’d still recommend taking a look at this Red Solex lens—the glare reduction and contrast are top-notch. It sufficiently reduces the intensity of bright, sunny conditions, but doesn’t seem to have a grey, “cold” hue that markedly darkens one’s view. Anon’s Red Solex is definitely one of my favorite bright-light lenses.
The Red Ice, low light lens is somewhat unusual. Anon describes it as a “clear base lens with a Red Mirror to flush out depth perception under night pipe lights”. Usually low light lenses have some tint to them to help with contrast in flat light, like Anon’s Blue Lagoon, which I’ll talk about below. But the Red Ice still does very well as a storm day lens, when visibility is at its worst, even though I would have thought its clear base would only really be useful while night skiing, as Anon mentions. While I think I still prefer a rose or yellow tinted lens, the Red Ice is a really nice alternative low light option especially if you do happen to do a fair amount of night skiing.
As another bluebird lens option next to the Red Solex, I’ve been really happy with Anon’s Dark Smoke lens, which is pretty much identical to Smith’s Blackout lens. (You can read more about the array of lens options from Smith in our Smith Lens Guide.) Both are a dark grey tinted lens that do superbly in super bright conditions.
As a dedicated, sunny-day lens, I do think Anon’s Red Solex lens is a bit more versatile than the Dark Smoke, and might be preferable on a mountain that is heavily shadowed in the afternoon.
We’ve tested another low light option from Anon: the Blue Lagoon. Anon describes it as a “high-contrast Yellow base lens tint with a multi-layer Blue Mirror,” which “enhances color definition and increases depth perception in varying levels of low light conditions.”
At first, the lens looks very similar to Oakley’s H.I. Yellow lens, which Jason Hutchins speaks of highly in his review of the Airbrake. I agree with Jason, it is a great low-light lens. I used the H.I. Yellow lens in a pair of Oakley Crowbars as my low-light lens for a few seasons in the past. Similar to it, the Blue Lagoon has a nice, warm tint for those storm days when flat light can be a problem. However, as the ultimate low-light lens option, I think the Anon’s Blue Lagoon wins out over the H.I. Yellow.
In a back-to-back comparison, I found the Blue Lagoon to provide better, more faithful color transmission and even better contrast and detail in low and flat light. I say this not to devalue Oakley’s optics—again, it is a very good lens for storm riding—but primarily to illustrate just how good a job I think Anon has done.
All and all, I think the Blue Lagoon is my favorite low light lens to date—better than the Smith Sensor Mirror (which uses a light rose base tint instead of yellow), and better than Oakley’s H.I. Yellow.
I was initially pretty skeptical about this lens. Gradient tints aren’t something you typically find on any kind of performance eyewear, especially goggles. But Anon gave it a try, and I think they’ve done a great job making this design work as essentially a bright light lens. This lens has a “dark gray tint applied to the top of the lens [which] reduces glare from direct sunlight, while the yellow lower lens tint provides a brighter view of the terrain.” And it really does work well, just as Anon says. The gradient is fairly dramatic, and definitely noticeable when the sun is directly in your face. They darkest, grey portion at the top of the lens does a nice job of reducing glare from above, yet terrain in front of you is kept sharp through the contrast-boosting yellow tint. I don’t think I would prefer use this lens for seriously bright conditions (on a glacier, for example), due to the gradient tint, but I’ve really come to like it on partly cloudy days. So if you’re looking at a specific frame color of the M1 that comes with this tint, don’t be turned away because it’s a little unconventional.
All and all, Anon’s optics are on par with, and in some respects better than, any high-end product I have used from Smith or Oakley.
There are two “versions” of the M1. Really the only difference between them is $20, some paint, and a piece of metal or fabric flare.
The MSRP for the M1 frame featured here is $199.95 and is one of the “Paint” models. You’ll notice that other “Premium” models of the M1 come in at $219.95. With a Premium model, all you’re paying $20 more for is an embossed emblem on the goggle strap or some kind of a patterned/printed, “specialized frame.”
Even with those slightly frustrating (basically pointless) price variations, Anon is right in the same price range with the M1 as its competitors in the interchangeable lens game. The lower priced “Paint” model M1s sit in between Smith’s 13/14 pricing for the I/O at $175 and Oakley’s asking price of $220 for the Airbrake (where the “Premium” M1 is tied).
Plus, it’s worth noting that while the M1 comes with a hardcase, a comparable case from Oakley or Smith will run you about $25.
Additional M1 lenses ring in at $89.95 for a mirrored spare lens and $79.95 for a non-mirrored lens. These prices are a little harder to swallow, since the majority of Smith’s spare lenses are $55 or less, with Oakley’s top-end mirrored lenses at $75 a piece.
Then again, with Anon’s Magna-Tech interface on each lens, this bump up in cost is a little more understandable (rare-earth magnets aren’t cheap). Given the quality of the optics in our pair, however, I doubt many people will really be looking for a third lens—I don’t think I would be.
If you do plan to buy a third lens for your M1s somewhere down the line, it’s important to know that that all extra lenses available to purchase for the M1 have black magnet tabs on them, not the color matched red and white ones that come with the pair we’ve tested here, or any other colored/printed frame. This means that unless your M1s have a black frame, you won’t be able to buy an additional third lens that will blend as well as the original two that came with the goggle (see the picture of the Yellow/Grey gradient lens above). This isn’t the case with the M2, as the lenses have no coloring to match the frame.
In my book, the M1 is totally comparable to, and in some ways better than, the Smith I/O in terms of performance, and absolutely superior in terms of simplicity and ease when swapping lenses. If you’re looking for a quality, interchangeable lens goggle to give you the best options for optics in any conditions, you need to give the M1 a look. And if you like the look and fit of a larger frame, then absolutely check out the M2.