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POC Lobes Review
Cons: Specific fit, moisture build up
Bottom line: A decent all-around option that has fallen behind when compared to the new high-quality options on the market.
This model won our Top Pick award in our last review because of its lens quality; while it does not win an award this go around, it did earn one of the highest scores for having a high-quality lens. Unfortunately, it scored towards the bottom of our fleet and earned below average scores for breathability and comfort. The Lobes are similar to the Smith I/OX in their clean, frameless appearance. Lobes are an all-around performer in and out of bounds with lens quality on par with all of our other high-end goggles. The assortment of available lenses and ease of changing them is definitely appealing as well.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The POC Lobes is an all mountain option with great fit and comfort for skiers and snowboarders with a smaller build. Our smaller testers, especially those with narrower cheekbones, enjoyed the fit whether used with a helmet or beanie. The optical quality is excellent with POC's Zeiss-made lenses in conjunction with the large field of view provided by the frameless style. The Lobes performed equally well at the resort and in the backcountry.
For general use, the Lobes give a comfortable, well-ventilated ride, allowing enough air in to keep the lens clear. The top and bottom of the POC Lobs have a thin layer of open cell foam, much like the Smith I/O7, Smith I/OX, and Smith Squad. Ventilation was adequate until we upped the exertion level on a wet and snowy day. While shoveling and blowing snow, the lenses didn't actually fog, but water collected and was visible in the lower portion of the frame where it meets the lens. We dumped out approximately 5mL of water from each side of the goggle, but no fogging occurred! Even with the water collecting in the goggle, they continued to feel well ventilated. We also tested the Editors' Choice Oakley Airbrake on that same soggy day and didn't experience the same issues.
Overall, the comfort of this model was good for some testers, with the triple-layer foam providing a nice cushioned interface between cheekbones and the goggle's frame. The strap is comfortable both with a helmet or without and has two silicone strips integrated the inner side of the strap. The shape of the strips is somewhere between the Oakley Airbrake and the Smith I/O7 and Smith I/OX, wider than the Oakley version, but narrower than the Smith style. The Lobe's frame is curved more than all of the other goggles which suited our testers with narrow faces, but put pressure on the cheekbones of larger testers. Our smallest testers also complained that the frame left gaps around their cheekbones which allowed air infiltration and dried their eyes. Overall, this model scored a 4 out of 10 and was the lowest scorer in the comfort metric.
POC wisely chose to use Zeiss as their lens manufacturer and the quality really shows. Zeiss has been known for high-quality lenses since the mid-1800's. The optical quality is excellent and the spherical shape provides a wide field of view in conjunction with the frameless style. After multiple uses, both uphill and downhill, we didn't notice any scratches or dings on this test model. The optical performance was superior in most conditions and the included Butylene Blue/Persimmon Red mirrored lens gave our testers a crisp, clear picture in all but the darkest situations.
Unlike some of our other test goggles, like the Oakley Airbrake, Smith I/OX, and the Smith I/O7, the Lobes aren't supplied with extra lenses. Extras are available and the lens swap is extremely easy, similar to the Dragon NFX's lens system, simply by pressing the goggle to the frame and sliding six pins into place on the edges of the lens. The Oakley Airbrake is somewhat quicker, but the Lobes switch is easily done, even on the chairlift. Moisture is shed easily with the flush fit lens, allowing snow and rain to drip cleanly from the lens, rather than catching on a frame.
Along with the great optical quality comes great durability and our test goggles didn't seem any for worse for wear after our testing process was complete. We couldn't find many signs of wear and tear to any component of the goggle, from the lens surfaces to the still stretchy strap. The Lobes goggles seem to be in it for the long haul, much like the Smith Squad and Smith Chromapop.
With a semi-flexible, soft-coated polyurethane frame as the foundation of the Lobes, the goggles feel substantial enough without feeling heavy. Like all of our test goggles, these have a three-layer foam padding that kept out winds for most of our testers; however, one of our smaller testers noted she had some airflow around the sides of the goggle. Due to the wider nature of this model, perhaps the Smith I/O7 or Oakley A-Frame 2.0 might be a better choice for smaller skiers and riders. With the top quality lenses provided by POC, there is no worry of UV light issues and our testers eyeballs were protected nicely.
The Lobes have a clean modern appearance, similar to the Dragon NFX and Oakley Flight Deck, but in a smaller package which will likely appeal to skiers who want to keep their look a little less flashy. A frameless design keeps the look sleek and modern and the Lobes are available in several color options, sure to please most riders.
The POC Lobes, like the Smith I/O7 and Oakley Airbrake, is a decent all-around goggle that can be used by snowboarders and skiers of all abilities and in any terrain.
— Jason Cronk
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