Expert Review: Smith I/O MAG XL Goggles · 2021

Published on 09/28/2022 · 9 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the goggles, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.
Brandon Westburg, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Brandon Westburg

Enjoying a fine bluebird day around 8,000ft on Mount Hood in April 2022. All photos courtesy of Brandon Westburg

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the goggles, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.

My take

The Smith I/O Mag XL Goggles are a reliable choice for clear vision no matter the weather or conditions on the mountain. The I/O Mags are designed for a wide array of skiers and boarders looking for a functional and stylish-looking goggle.

Enjoying my I/O's in Copper. Colorado in April. I was just fine in on a cloudy day with my blackout lens!

About this goggles I own

  • Model: 2021 Smith I/O Mag XL Goggle
  • Size: I/O Mag XL
  • Does it feature lens replacement?: Yes, goggle comes with a second lens and has a magnetic lens-changing system
  • Fit: I/O Mag runs true to size, the I/O Mag XL runs larger / slightly oversized fit on the face.

About me

  • Helmet: 2021 Smith Maze Helmet
  • Wear glasses with goggles: No
  • Experience: 22 years of skiing

Test conditions

  • When I bought them December 2021
  • Days used: 100+
  • Lenses I own: Chromapop Sun Black Mag Lens, and Chromapop Storm Blue Sensor Mirror (for low light conditions)
  • Weather conditions used in: Bluebird days, cloudy days, whiteout snow conditions, day after the storm, light rain, wet snow conditions
  • Where I’ve used them: Killington, VT, Jackson, WY, Mt. Hood, OR, Copper Mountain, CO, Mount Snow, VT, Mount Hood Meadows, OR, Arapahoe Basin, CO, Gore Mountain, NY.
  • Terrain: Sidecountry missions, backcountry bootpacks in Wyoming, the deepest powder days, tree skiing in Vermont, summer skiing in corn snow, cruising fast through mellow terrain on whiteout powder days.

How they perform

Field of View
Anti Fog

What I was looking for

I was on the hunt for a goggle with a magnetic lens changing system that came with multiple lenses. Upon doing some research on mag goggles, this Smith goggle really stuck out to me and seemed quite reliable, and the two lenses it came with made sense for where I ski the most (a lot of low-light conditions).

Dropping in on a feature in the park in Mount, Hood Oregon in April 2022

Why I chose this gear

I decided to buy the Smith I/O Mag goggles because of how many positive reviews I read, mixed with my needs, a magnetic goggle that came with multiple lenses. I liked the style and look of these goggles and knew that they would fit seamlessly with my current Smith helmet. I did consider buying some other goggles. Knowing I have a Smith Holt helmet, I was seeking a Smith goggle in particular to create a pretty seamless fit. I considered both the Skyline XL and the Squad XL, and liked their price points, but really wanted a magnetic goggle lens changing system and steered towards the I/O Mags instead. I wanted a slightly bigger fit on my face, so I knew that the XL would be a better choice for me. I ultimately picked this goggle because of the great reviews, the magnetic lens changing system, and the fact that they came with two lenses as well. I have used the Skyline XL and Squad XL and the I/O 7 models in the past and have been very impressed by the I/O Mag Goggles. Seamless lens replacement, and I have never run into any durability problems with the foam.

Close up on Hood with a sweet lens reflection in April 2022

What I love about them

  • Fit: I really enjoy the fit of these goggles around my head and how they fit my face. I choose to wear my goggles underneath my helmet, as most park skiers do. Either over or under the helmet, these goggles fit nicely and the DryWick foam feels comfortable when resting on my face. I wanted them to fit my face slightly oversized, and the XL definitely achieves that look while not sacrificing fit or comfort.
  • Comfort: These goggles sit comfortably on my face and offered me one of the most comfortable experiences I’ve felt from goggle face foam. I’ve enjoyed the padding of the foam and how comfortable the silicone backed goggles strap has felt, and has never slipped down or moved when I am skiing.
  • Lens replacement: The Smith MAG lens changing system is the easiest lens change I have ever dealt with. There are magnetic connection points around the edge of the goggle to make for an easy, snap-in feel when changing lenses, and I have never had any mis-alignment issues with the magnetic system. I really enjoy the ease of this magnetic system and find it quite trustworthy. Smith crushed it with this feature, and I love the change of lenses with the simple pull of a plastic lever to release the lens; then all is needed is the magnets.
  • Visibility: I own the I/O Mag XL goggles and have crystal clear visibility and can see both left and right in my peripheral vision (like a widescreen TV). The chromapop within the goggle lense enhances color and contrast in all light conditions. I have skied the darker lens in snowy conditions and have skied the clearer lens in sunny conditions—almost the mere opposite of what their purpose is—and have had no issues with vision. If I pop the wrong lens in for the weather, no need to worry: A+ visibility on these goggles.
  • Face frame: I found the face frame to fit exactly as I expected with the XL version, as I was looking for a slightly oversized fit on my face. The medium fit of the normal I/O Mag would as well fit my face quite nicely. It’s easy to adjust the goggle strap to a level of tightness on my face where the goggle isn't too loose letting air in, but will never feel too tight either. I have been close to maxing the goggle strap out since I need a tighter fit under my helmet, and have had no issues.
  • Experience with glasses underneath: I do not have any experience with glasses underneath, but would highly suggest the XL model for anyone looking to wear glasses underneath.
  • Helmet compatibility: The I/O Mag Goggles are designed for seamless integration with all Smith helmets. I have found that they fit the two different Smith helmets that I own nicely. No goggle gap or room for cold air to make its way in; I have always found them to create a tight fit that works for me, even when placing the goggles underneath the helmet as I do. I have tried these goggles on with a Giro helmet and found them to fit nicely, but can surely say that these goggles will work with any Smith helmet well. If one plans on rocking these goggles with a different brand helmet, I would recommend testing their fit first before buying. I always bring my helmet into the store when buying a new goggle. Call me crazy, but it's essential for me to know how a new goggle will fit with my helmet before buying.
  • Features: The Smith MAG lens changing system, along with Chromapop technology in the lens, and the 5x Anti-Fog inner lens are my favorite features on this goggle and make for premium performance and vision. I never have fogging issues, (of course making sure to dry the goggles out fully after a weather event) and really enjoy how Chromapop enhances my vision and helps me enhance color and contrast, even in low light conditions. These tech features in the Smith I/O Mag goggles make them truly enjoyable to ski with and make lens changing quick and pain free.
  • Durability: These have to be the most durable goggles I have ever owned. Solid strap and clips, along with the durability of the magnets, has really impressed me. I would expect the magnets to lose traction or not hold together as well through 100+ days on snow with plenty of weather events, but the magnets are just as strong as the day I bought them. I also make sure to properly store my goggles as that could cause a huge fluctuation in durability. Without being stored properly in the goggle bag they came with, the goggles are more prone to lens scratches, damage, etc. I always store my goggles in a bag when they are not in use, as well as my spare lens.

Smiling my way through a bluebird day on Mount Hood, one of the few nice days I was blessed with on my spring trip in April 2022

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Ventilation: The I/O Mag goggles are definitely fog proof and have treated me well in so many different weather conditions. One issue I have encountered is feeling the sensation of cold air when at higher speeds. I believe that there may be micro gaps between the magnets on the goggle where cold air can leak through when one is going fast. Not that this is an issue, but it certainly has bothered me on the coldest of cold days. This does not lead to fogging or anything strange happening with the goggle, just some cold air getting through those micro gaps between the magnets.
  • Strap: The strap comes silicone backed so that it will not move or slip either outside or inside the helmet. I have never experienced any slipping or moving when wearing this goggle, however the clips on the goggle strap sometimes are a bit annoying. Since I wear my goggles underneath my helmet, the clips sometimes irritate my ears when worn for a long period of time and can be tough to slide right underneath my helmet for a tight and seamless fit. Yes, they will fit under the helmet, but be prepared for the XL model to have bigger clips.

My lenses are in prime condition even after multiple seasons on the mountain. I always make sure to store my lenses and goggles properly when not in use!

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment while wearing my Smith I/O Mag Goggles would certainly be this winter when I was caught in an unplanned snowstorm. I was wearing my black lenses and thought I was screwed. I debated going down to my car to switch lenses, but then I’d miss powder laps and others would get to the good snow before me. I decided to just rock the black lens knowing that it wasn't the best decision, but I went for it. I ended up having a sick time ripping up the fresh snow, and had no visibility issues at all. I became a firm believer in Smith’s chromapop technology that day, as I was still able to pick out bumps and analyze terrain in front of me, even though it was snowing, and I was wearing a blackout lens! I ultimately started wearing the black lens a lot more in all conditions after that, since the weather changes quickly where I live!

Value for the money vs. other options

I did consider buying other options, including both the Anon M2 and the Smith Squad Mag. I already have a pair of Smith Squad’s and like how they perform, but was seeking something with a bit wider field of view. I ultimately decided on the I/O Mag because I found them for a great price and trusted them more than the Anon goggles (which are also quite pricey for a MAG goggle) after reading copious amounts of reviews.

Final verdict

The Smith I/O Mag Goggles and Chromapop technology unlock a new level of clarity on the mountain. With the easiest lens-swapping system in the business, these goggles are a no-brainer for clear and stormy days ahead.

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