Expert Review: Oakley Airbrake XL

This review is my own honest opinion of the goggles, which I bought with my own money in July 2019.

Robbie M. skiing down the slopes

Photo courtesy of Robbie M.

Published on

About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the goggles, which I bought with my own money in July 2019.

My take

The Oakley Airbrake XL is an awesome goggle pick for any level of skier looking for an oversized goggle with an easy-to-change lens and top-quality comfort and optics.

Photo of Robbie M.

Photo courtesy of Robbie M.

About this gear

  • Model: 2020 Oakley Airbrake XL
  • Size: Oversized
  • Does it feature lens replacement?: Yes
  • Fit: Runs true to size

About me:

  • Helmet: 2020 Pret Cynic X
  • Wear glasses with goggles: No
  • Experience: 9 years

Test conditions:

  • When I bought them: July 2019
  • Days used: 90
  • Lenses I own: Torch Iridium Prizm and Rose Prizm
  • Weather conditions used in: Bluebird days, whiteout blizzards, foggy and flat days, partly-cloudy and partly-sunny days
  • Where I’ve used them: Big Sky, Mont.; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Snowbird, UT; Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada; Banff Sunshine, Alberta, Canada; small resorts in Minn.
  • Terrain: Resort days, groomers, powder days

How it performs

Anti Fog
4/5
Comfort
5/5
Durability
4/5
Field of View
5/5
Quality
4/5
Ventilation
4/5

What I was looking for

Coming from the standard-sized Oakley Airbrake, which is more of a medium-fit goggle, I wanted a similar goggle with easy-to-change lenses but a large field of view (FOV), along with a more oversized look.

Why I chose this gear

I ended up picking this goggle due to an end-of-year sale that made it hard to pass up. The Airbrake XL comes with two lenses, and my model came with two Prizm technology lenses — one for medium-to-bright days and one for low-light days.

At the time, I hadn’t considered any other options, as I really enjoyed Oakley’s past offerings (the Airbrake and O2 XL). However, I’d be curious to see how the Smith I/O Mag XL would compare to the Airbrake XL.

The Airbrake XLs combined my two favorite features of my past Oakley goggles. I loved the ease of use of the Oakley Switchlock system to change lenses on the original Airbrakes, along with the spherical lens. However, I enjoyed the more oversized look of the O2 XLs.

Close-up shot of Oakley Airbrake XL goggles

Photo courtesy of Robbie M.

What I love about it

  • Fit: The goggles fit nicely on medium- to large-sized faces, giving me good coverage from the sun and warmth on cold days.
  • Comfort: These goggles have a triple-layer foam that is super comfy. They utilize the “wings” that the straps are attached to, widening the frame and reducing the pressure on my face.
  • Lens replacement: These goggles feature a replacement lens (in my case, another Prizm tech lens) that can be changed out in under ten seconds. With the flip of a lever, the lens can be exchanged with ease.
  • Visibility: The Oakley Airbrake XL goggles have one of the widest field of views (FOVs) of any goggle. The two areas I notice this the most are when looking side to side (in my peripheral) and straight down.
  • Face frame: These goggles do a great job fitting people with medium- to large-sized faces like me.
  • Strap: The strap is comfortable and features silicone beading on the inside to prevent slippage on my helmet.
  • Helmet compatibility: I’ve found these goggles to fit my helmet nicely, preventing any unwanted “gaper gaps.”

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Ventilation: For the most part, Oakley’s anti-fog coating is pretty good, but I’ve found over time that they have become more prone to fogging, especially with recent COVID mask-wearing requirements.
  • Durability: Another negative I’ve encountered with Oakley goggles in general is the robustness of the dual-layered lenses. Any small crack can lead to easy fogging, making a $60 replacement-lens purchase a requirement if I want to avoid future fogging. I’ve been able to get around this by keeping the goggles on my helmet during chairlift rides and putting them down over my eyes while I’m skiing, giving me enough airflow through the goggles to prevent fogging.

Favorite moment with this gear

One of my favorite moments with these goggles was this spring when I was skiing on a warm day in Duluth, Minnesota. It was almost 60 degrees at the peak of the day, and I was amazed at how well the Airbrake XLs vented, keeping my face cool and the goggles from fogging. The Torch Iridium Prizm lens was perfect for the bluebird sunny day, despite it being rated only as a medium-to-bright-day lens.

Photo of Robbie M. skiing.

Photo courtesy of Robbie M.

Value for the money vs. other options

For the full price of around $230 to $260, I’m not entirely sure the Oakley Airbrake XLs are worth the money. However, if it’s on sale, like it was for me, they’re totally worth it. With two lenses (typically both Prizm tech) and awesome color options to choose from, the sale-priced Airbrake XLs are a great value.

Final verdict

The Oakley Airbrake XLs have been my goggles of choice over the last two seasons and have stood the test of time pretty well (minus some minor fogging). The sweet oversized look, easy-to-change lens system, and Oakley Prizm tech have allowed me to see in all sorts of conditions while skiing all over North America.

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Written By
Engineering Supervisor by day; ski-addict by night/weekend. Skiing has taken me to Canada, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and Utah, and all are places I'd rather be skiing than my current location in Minnesota (which, to be honest, isn't that bad...see Marcus Caston's Minnesota Return of the Turn episo...

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