Smith I/O7 Goggle
Frame Color: Cypress Block
- Red Sol-X (bright light)
- Blue Sensor (low light)
- AirEvac Integration Technology
- Dual Axis Outrigger System
- Single Pivot Quick Release Lens System
- Spherical Lens
- 3-Layer, DriWix Face Foam
- Silicone Backed Strap
- Includes Microfiber Goggle Bag & Replacement Lens Sleeve
Days Tested: 13
Multiple companies now make goggles with interchangeable lens systems (Electric, Smith, Spy, Anon, Scott, Oakley, Atomic, Salomon), and some are now producing “modular” or photochromic lenses that adapt to changing light conditions on their own.
Smith Optics is responsible for starting this trend by releasing the I/O in 2007, the first goggles designed with swapping lenses in mind. Since then, Smith has added the I/OS to their line – a slightly smaller variation of the I/O, made to fit smaller faces – and the larger I/OX.
This season, Smith introduces a fourth goggle to their I/O line: the I/O7.
When I first heard about the I/O7, I assumed that it was an updated, renamed version of the original I/O, released seven years after the I/O came out. That’s not the case, however, as the original I/O remains in Smith’s line, and is coming back again this year, unchanged.
So I’m going to lay out how the I/O7 performs, and draw some more comparisons between it and the I/O, the I/OX, and one of our favorite goggles, the Anon M2.
Field of Vision & Fit
Smith classifies the fit of the I/O7 as “Medium,” the same as the I/O, while the I/OX is listed as “Medium/Large.” That seems about right.
I/OX is a little too large for my face (the frame seems too tall, as the face foam rests too low on my nose), but the fit of the I/O7 is comfortable, and definitely smaller in general. So if the I/OX is a little too big for you, I don’t think you’ll feel that way about the I/O7—its fit is very similar to that of the I/O.
It’s interesting that Smith lists “Facial Geometry frame design” as a feature of the I/O7, but not the I/O. They make no mention of what “Facial Geometry frame design” actually is, if it really is something notable on the I/O7 that the I/O doesn’t have. But in any case, as far as I can tell, the differences in fit between the new I/O7 and the I/O are very slight, and have to do with frame size.
I may be splitting hairs here a little, but the only difference I can see between the fit of the I/O and the I/O7 is that the frame of the I/O7 seems just a little taller – it reaches a bit further up my forehead – providing a slightly taller field of view. In terms of fit on the sides of my face and the horizontal, peripheral vision they allow, the I/O and I/O7’s frames seem about the same to me. If you like the fit of the I/OX and you’ve found that the fit of the I/O is too small for you, you may feel the same way about the I/O7.
In terms of fit and overall frame size, the Anon M2 frame sits somewhere in between the I/O7 and the I/OX. Compared to the I/O7, the M2 is definitely a little taller and a little wider, offering a slightly larger field of view in general. If you know you don’t like the fit of a larger goggle like the I/OX, then you’ll probably like the I/O or I/O7, and you might still be ok with the fit of the M2.
The best way to know if a goggle’s fit works for you (given the shape of your face and the helmet you happen to be using) is to try them on in a store. I’ve offered these comparisons mainly as a reference for fit; if you don’t have the chance to try on the I/O7, trying on one of these other goggles should give you a sense of how they compare.
While the field of vision through the I/OX and M2 is a little larger than the I/07, this isn’t to say the I/O7’s isn’t totally satisfactory. I never felt like I couldn’t see what was at my feet while wearing the goggles.
Lens Change Functionality
The Anon M2 (and the smaller M1) uses six rare-earth magnets to join its lens and frame. There are no tabs, notches, or latches to manipulate with this design, and we’ve found it to be the quickest and simplest lens change system currently available.
Swapping lenses in the I/O7 is not as easy as the M2, and it is a fraction quicker than the I/O, I/OX, or I/OS. The only simplifying factor with the I/O7 is that only one latch needs to be engaged at the top of the lens/frame (vs. two on the I/O, I/OS, & I/OX). So the I/O7’s new lens-retention system is different from the old I/O, but only slightly, and I didn’t find that it made changing lenses considerably easier or quicker.
To be clear, the process of changing lenses with the I/O7 takes me maybe 30 seconds, so making the switch on the lift or in the lift line isn’t much of a hassle at all. However, you still need to seat two tabs on the I/O7’s lens into notches in the frame’s nosepiece (just like the other I/O goggles), which is probably the most finicky step in the whole process.
Smith states that the “I/O7 is the ultimate in minimalist performance,” and that the goggle “forges a new path forward in rimless interchangeability.” From my experience with the old I/O, Anon M2, and this new I/O7, that claim seems pretty overstated; if the most efficient, “minimalist” lens change system is what you want, I can’t argue that the I/O7 wins over the Anon M2. But the I/O7’s system is the easiest that Smith has designed.
Apart from the new, single-pivot latch at the top of the lens/frame, the other difference between the new I/O7 and the other goggles in the I/O series are its “outriggers” – the arms that join the goggles’ strap to the frame. The I/O7’s outriggers allow the strap to pivot both horizontally and vertically relative to the frame, where the I/O’s strap/outriggers only swings horizontally, away from the frame. Smith says this is supposed to yield an improved fit, better sealing out cold weather and snow.
Personally I haven’t had any issues with the way the frame of the I/O fits my face, so I didn’t notice that the design of the I/O7 was superior in this respect. The only reason I can imagine you might find the I/O7’s outrigger design preferable over the I/O (or any other google, for that matter), would be if you run your goggle strap really low under your helmet, close to the base of your neck. If that were the case, then I suppose I could see how the frame of the I/O7 might fit a little more comfortably, given that its outriggers would would be able to pivot down with the strap.