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Bolle Carve Review
Cons: Breathability, difficult lens swap
Bottom line: A great option as a "just in case" goggle, or for backcountry skiers that might not use as often as sunglasses.
The Bolle Carve is a general use, all-purpose snow goggle, at home skiing or snowboarding, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing and can be used either with or without a helmet. The Carve is a solidly-performing basic model with no frills, bells, or whistles, but it performs well for its price range. Like the POC Lobes and Smith I/O7, their smaller frame tends to fit smaller faces well. One of our testers summed things up nicely: "It's pretty darn good for a cheap goggle."
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Bolle Carve provides enough ventilation through the Flow Tech Venting at the top of the lens for all but the most demanding conditions. We put all of our goggles through test conditions beyond typical real-world situation and the Carve received a very respectable 8 out of 10 rating. Although the lens has an anti-fog feature, we were able to fog the lens slightly while hiking uphill at an aggressive pace on a warm and sunny day. For more demanding users, a goggle like the Oakley Airbrake or Smith Squad may be a better choice. Unless you're likely to use the goggle in high output aerobic activities like hard uphill backcountry skinning or snowshoeing, the Bolle Carve breathes well, keeping the lens clear for lift-served skiing and snowmobiling.
Triple density foam is used to cushion the goggle, providing a soft connection, though not quite as plush as other test goggles like the Oakley Flight Deck or Smith I/OX. The Carve is a smaller goggle and suits small to medium faces, while creating mild pressure points to the cheekbones and noses of wearers with larger faces and more pronounced facial structure. With those factors in mind, the Bolle Carve scored a 4 out of 10 in the "Comfort" metric. The POC Lobes shares this characteristic as well and may be another good choice for smaller faces. Whether worn with or without a helmet, the Bolle Carve provided a good comfortable feel, although when used with a helmet, the strap did tend to migrate a bit since it lacks the no-slip silicone bands that our other test goggles possess.
Though not in the same league as the higher-level performers in our test like the Oakley Airbrake XL, we were surprised at how well the Carve's vermillion gun lens did, especially in low light conditions. On partly-cloudy to overcast days, the Carve creates a pleasant rosy, non-polarized view of the world. Clarity was quite good, though with a degree of distortion from the flat lens. The frame is more visible than other goggles in our test, as it protrudes out from the actual lens a bit, contributing to the "Lens Quality" rating of 3 out of 10. This characteristic also made the goggles more likely to experience snow and moisture buildup that was difficult to clear completely. On bright sunny days, the blue fade sunrise lens would be more effective at blocking bright light. Bolle constructs the Carve lens with double lens technology. Lens fogging is decreased with Bolle's embedded P80 Plus anti-fog layer on the inner lens and the outer layer receives a protective Carbo-Glas coating. If the Carve's lenses are damaged, they are replaceable, although with some difficulty.
Somewhat surprising, the Carve's durability seems on par with other pricier goggles and even after several days of hiking and skiing, we didn't note any damage to the goggles. It seems all too often that lower-priced equipment tends to suffer in the durability department, but even the lenses retained like-new condition after testing. The lenses actually outperformed the Oakley Flight Deck when it came to durability.
The Carve isn't fancy but is a basic, classically-styled goggle which may not appeal to everyone, especially snow riders who are looking for a more contemporary design. For a more modern design, the Dragon NFX or POC Lobe may be more appealing.
Though not as protective as several of the other models we tested, like the Oakley Airbrake or the Smith I/OX, SmithI/O7, or even the Dragon NFX, the Carve provides adequate protection for all-around use. Especially when price is a consideration, this pair protects the eyes from sun and UV light, wind, and driving snow. The Carve has a fairly flexible frame which allows for a close fit on some users faces, thereby sealing out air flow; for medium to larger faces, something like the Oakley Flight Deck may be a more protective option.
Like the Oakley A-Frame 2.0, this contender's smaller size and light weight may be a good choice for backcountry skiers, especially those who tend to wear their sunglasses more often than not. The Bolle Carve would be great to throw in the ski pack on those "just in case" days.
— Jason Cronk
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