The problem with the interchangeable lens systems commonly used in ski goggles is that they're tedious to work with. You have to slowly tear the frame from the original lens, line the grooves of the replacement lens up just right and then snap it back together section by section. Not only is this the type of thing you might need to get a table in the cafeteria for, it's the type of thing that could haunt you all day if you inadvertently put the lens in cockeyed. The Anon M1 goggles make switchable lenses easier and more seamless than they've ever been. Magna-Tech is a simple design upgrade that lets you remove your original lenses and snap the new ones in place within seconds.
Over the past few seasons, rimless goggles have gained popularity in part because they make switching lenses easier. Lenses on rimless goggles like the Smith I/O models are held into place by a few contact points rather than the entire frame. You can simply open up the locks, pull the old lenses out, snap the new lenses in place and lock it back up. It's pretty easy to do in under a minute.
Even with rimless goggles, though, you still have to stop, take the goggles off and bumble around the hardware with either gloves or frozen fingers. To prevent dropping a lens or frame, it's something you typically want to do on the ground rather than on a chairlift. And if you have trouble getting the lenses to snap in place properly, you might end up smudging them up with fingerprints.
Rimless designs are a step up, but there's still room for improvement. Burton's optic arm Anon has stepped into that room. Its new M1 goggles use a system that the company calls Magna-Tech - basically just a fancy way of saying magnets. By using magnets rather than hardware to lock the lenses in place, changing lenses is as simple as pull and pop.
You can change lenses without even taking the goggles off your face and you shouldn't have any issues with fingerprints or cold hands. Magna-Tech should prove to be the most seamless lens-swapping system on the market.
One worry with this design is that the magnets may pop loose when you don't want them to. For instance, if you take a big spill, the lenses could pop off and get lost in powder. Until there are a few independent tests, we won't know exactly how strong the magnets are.
You can see just how easy these lenses are to use in the video below.
Update: Upon reading our reservations about the integrity of the magnetic interface, Burton's Red/Anon brand manager Randy Torcom emailed us a follow-up.
He explains: "The goggle design has 6 magnet connection points, and when all are fully bonded, the combined retention can hold up to 20 lbs. Our pro riders have been testing the product on snow for months. To date, we have yet to hear a complaint about the lens coming off of the goggle on impact. In addition, we've been putting the goggle through lab retention tests that are very similar to the way Burton tests the retention of their snowboard bindings. So far, we've yet to find the maximum retention level, but we're up to an impact of over 75Gs without failure."
We'd still like to see some impartial, independent testing, but it sounds like Anon/Burton is satisfied with the results thus far.