I’m in the process of updating much of my snow equipment now that I have dived fully into skiing as a major consumer of my time in the winter. High at the top of the list of equipment requiring an update were goggles. Struggling between the need for quality, the lack of ability to drop multiple hundreds of dollars on goggles, and the desire for the frameless style akin to some fighter pilot headwear, the process was obviously going to take some careful research. After much deliberation, I settled on the newly released Native Backbowl Goggles ($130). Perhaps I would not have made this decision had I not been a loyal Native Eyewear customer since my first pair of their shades in 2011, but I am here to tell you—they are awesome.
Anyone familiar with changing light conditions in the snow can attest—flat light and sunshine both provide unique and mutually exclusive challenges for visibility. Choosing between normal and low-light lenses early in the day is a necessary gamble that doesn’t always turn out well. Enter: Native Backbowl. I have now had these goggles for about a month and I am very impressed. In this month, I have skied many days (I work and play at CBMR this winter) in many varying light conditions—from apocalyptic snow to cloudless bluebird. I have yet to have a considerable frustration with the Backbowl’s performance.
A few basics on the Backbowls:
- Lens not interchangeable (more on this in a bit)
- Massive frame
- Mirrored or Pink/Blue lens
- SnowTuned lens technology (more on this in a bit)
Just like many others, I’m sure, I was a bit anxious and skeptical about the one-lens-fits-all concept Native employs with their goggles. No ability to swap out lenses for changing conditions means the fixed lens has to be pretty, prettttty, pretttttty versatile. Again, just like many others, I cannot express how awesome these lenses are. Ok, I am not going to sit here and say that these are the best lenses for bluebird days or the best lenses for flat light, but they are very good at handling both. With an amber hue, akin to popular yellow low-light lenses, details and subtle features in the snow show a bit of pop when otherwise invisible due to flat light. This became the most obvious ‘pro’ right off the bat because I got the Backbowls after day one of two consecutive days of skiing on the headwall at CBMR in full-blown blizzard conditions. The first day (name of old goggles will be withheld): I couldn’t see @!$%. The second day (rockin’ the Backbowls): I could see enough to anticipate moves more than one foot out. The difference was so stark that I commented to a buddy of mine on the massively improved visibility from the prior day (we skied together both days), to which he laughed and said visibility was actually worse the second day. So—there’s that.
Now for the sasquatch in the goggles room—fogging. Part of Native’s SnowTuned lens technology suite, all of their goggles claim an astounding 8 minutes of anti-fog. This means your lenses have 8 minutes to adjust to changing temperatures and establish equilibrium. I will not even try to claim I understand the anti-fog coating technologies of today enough to explain this massive leap, but I can confirm it is impressive. In my experience, thus far, the only fogging I have experienced are from directly breathing on my lenses (we’ve all been there—the struggle of the neck gaiter) or transitioning from very cold outside to very warm inside temps rapidly (i.e. walking inside).
After testing the Backbowls in a variety of conditions and being highly impressed, it is now up to me to not blow it by scratching the big, beautiful mirrored lens. That being said, Native even addressed this by providing a hard case for storage and transportation to and from the perfect line. I will end by highly recommending the Native Backbowl goggles—or any other goggles by Native, given the similar technologies found in every style.