APHEX Virgo Goggles tested in la Clusaz SIGB ski tests 2024

REVIEW by Henry John, information and advice manager, Ski Club of Great Britain:

Last week I got a chance to ski in a pair of Aphex goggles. They may not be a brand you’ve heard of before, but they’re slowly beginning to grow in the UK, thanks to their unique selling point of being fully customisable.

Ski + Board magazine Feb 2024

Founded in 2010 by Maarten van der Laan in the depths of the French Alps, Aphex has set out to achieve a revolution in the ski and mountain bike goggle market by creating a product with fully interchangeable parts, including the lens, strap and frame – with over 1,000 different combinations available.

How does this interchangeable system work? The lenses are attached via magnets; it’s simply a case of pulling them off using the little catch and clicking the new lens into place. The ease of use of this system means that you can change lenses without removing your goggles.

Similarly, the strap is held in place via a slide-lock system: push the lever, slide the strap out of the socket, and slide the new strap into place until you hear a ‘click’, and away you go. The two systems are supremely easy to use, even if you’re wearing gloves, and an absolute lifesaver on cold days. The frames can be replaced, primarily between black and white options, but with a handful of other colours available.

The quality of lenses on goggles has always been important for me. I’ve been spoiled by wearing Oakleys in recent years, which, while expensive, have been industry leaders in technology over the past 10 years. It’s been interesting to see how other goggle brands are keeping up and innovating to compete with the brand.

Alongside the interchangeability of the goggle’s features, the Aphex lens quality is really high. You get crystal clear vision, especially with the higher end lenses. What I really enjoyed, however, was the ‘dual focus’ tint. The top of the lens is tinted darker, designed for brighter conditions and sunlight. However, as you ski into shade, you simply shift your vision to the lower part of the lens. With less tint, this offers better vision for shadier conditions. This is a really neat trick and a cool, innovative way to overcome a challenge faced by many brands of how to create a tint that works in all conditions.

Alongside this nifty trick, you also get two lenses for each goggle you purchase: one for low light conditions and one for brighter conditions. This spare lens comes with a protective sleeve to withstand scratches when stored in your pocket/pack, a lifesaver if you’re anything like me and scratch goggle lenses like it’s going out of fashion!

The other driving force behind universally updateable features is the environmental benefits that come with it – no longer is it necessary to buy a whole new set of goggles to match your new jacket. To drive home this commitment, the lenses and frames are not made from traditional hydrocarbon plastics but instead from castor and bean oil.

So, are there any sacrifices that come with these eco materials and the interchangeability options? A couple, most notable of which is the quality of the fastenings between both the frame and the lens, and the frame and the strap. On several occasions I went to lift the goggles off my face onto the top of my helmet, and in doing so accidentally removed the lens and sent the frame pinging back into my face.

The slide lock mechanisms are also not permanently attached to the frame; should you take a hard fall, as I did on a particularly icy section of the car park, the slide lock, as well as the lens, can come away from the frame and be lost. It was with shock that I turned up to ski the next day after this tumble and suddenly found myself without a pair of usable goggles to ski in! ❚

❚ VERDICT: The Aphex Virgo is a high-quality goggle system available at a very reasonable price. The interchangeability of the features is cool, but there are some improvements to be made to the interchange systems – it will be interesting to see what upgrades Aphex rolls out in the coming years. // aphexgear.co.uk

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