Eye protection generally comes in two distinct forms: sunglasses or goggles. Sunglasses offer a light and well-ventilated solution to eye protection, but the best mountain bike goggles will ensure unprecedented coverage and protection for your peepers, not to mention a more secure fit.
Securely fitted around your helmet, the best mountain bike goggles fit snuggly against the face using foam padding with no chance of shaking loose, no matter how rough the rock garden. The trade-off for the added protection is goggles are quite a bit warmer than the best mountain bike sunglasses and aren't something you'll want to wear if you have a massive day of climbing ahead.
For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.
However, more and more of the best mountain bike helmets feature space below the visor that allows for easy goggle storage. With that said, here is Bike Perfect's list of the best mountain bike goggles, whether you're at the downhill park or pedaling enduro laps.
Meet the testers
Dean is a freelance cycling journalist and a self-confessed pedal addict based in Dorset, who's fortunate to have the New Forest National Park and the Isle of Purbeck on his doorstep.
Jim Bland is a review and buyer's guide writer based in North Yorkshire, England. Jim’s chosen riding genre is hard to pinpoint and regularly varies from e-bike-assisted shuttle runs one day to cutting downcountry laps the next.
Best mountain bike goggles
POC's Ora Goggles are designed to interface with its own helmets with no gaps or pinching around the edge, and the frame offers plenty of flex to conform to your face. The padding is a microfiber-backed three-layer foam that is soft against the skin and hugs your face to offer a wide range of view and comfort for all-day riding.
The Oras actually come in two specs, a DH version complete with pins for tear-offs, and a trail and enduro version with no pins or foam over the vents for max airflow — POC sells replacement lenses with the pins though should you change your mind. The Ora is also available with POC’s Clarity contrast increasing lens.
In our review, we thought the mountain bike-specific design of the POC Ora Clarity deserved a full five stars.
Scott has been making goggles, whether it's for snow sports, motorsports, or bike sports, for nearly half a century. This experience shows with its latest Prospect goggles. First and foremost, they are huge, measuring 50mm taller than their predecessor, the Hustle.
The strap comes lined with silicon, and the articulating outriggers should make them compatible with just about any helmet out there, both full- and open-face. Scott has also opted for a wide nose bridge with generous padding which makes for a comfortable fit for noses big and small.
In addition to increasing the thickness of the lens, Scott has also updated its Lens Lock system, which uses four locking pins that go through the lens to prevent it from popping out in a crash. Unfortunately, this system works a little too well, and lens swaps aren't easy.
Read our review of the Scott Prospect goggles for more information.
Leatt claims when you look through the Velocity 6.5's double-pane anti-fog lens, you have an unobstructed 170-degree field of view. The brand also says the injection-molded lenses are literally bulletproof, meeting the US Military Ballistic Impact Standard, while the double lens and anti-fog coating keeps condensation at bay.
The lenses themselves are tear-off and roll-off ready, and the pop-in-pop-out lens swaps are painless, but make sure you have a clean goggle bag ready because there will be fingerprints. Leatt also includes a removable nose guard for added protection.
When we reviewed the Leatt Velocity 6.5 goggles, our testers found that the super-wide profile on these goggles offers great protection for long days at the downhill park.
It's hard to fault the fit and feel of this premium offering from Smith. They are one of the lightest goggles (108g) we have tested and are very comfortable to wear thanks to the frame’s kind of suspension and the thin face foam. Comfort is great, too - the foam around the nose is scalloped out to ensure a quality, secure fit, regardless of the terrain on offer.
The ChromaPop lens technology works exceptionally well. It allows you to pick out details in the trail in a pseudo-high-definition manner. While the ChromaPop Sun Black (Cat 3, 12-percent) is incredible at cutting glare and sun rays on clear sky days, they're not typically suited to the British climate.
The frame features a semi-frameless design and material has been kept to a minimum. The ' Fit construction' cleverly allows the goggle to distort and follow the contours and shape of any face.
Read our full review of the Smith Squad MTB goggles for more details.
Koo might be a relatively unknown brand in MTB circles but it is the eyewear branch of protection giants Kask. The lenses were designed in partnership with the optical experts Zeiss to give maximum performance and clarity across a broad range of light conditions that mountain bikers experience. There are multiple tint/color options and all of them are 100 percent UV protective.
We found that the Koo Edge goggles offered some seriously impressive quality of vision and it genuinely feels like the HD effect boosts precision and line-choice accuracy on the trail. They are susceptible to fogging, so if you ride in humid conditions, then the channeled venting won't be sufficient to keep the lenses clear.
As can be seen, the Edge features a removable nose piece that adds additional coverage to protect your face from flying trail debris, something which we found beneficial in muddy conditions.
Read our full review of the Koo Edge mountain bike goggles.
The first thing you notice when you slide the strap over the back of your helmet is just how well-fitting and comfortable the Giro Blok MTB goggles feel on your face. The triple-layer face foam is as soft as silk and cleverly Giro has tapered the foam thickness in areas where it is not required, thus ensuring they fit perfectly and form a comfortable seal.
Even without the upgrade “Vivid” lens the Blok still offers crisp clarity. The S3 tint can be a bit dark for the midwinter weather, however, the blue tint does help accentuate the contrast. The flexibility of the frame material means the lens can be easily swapped out for the clear option.
With the goggle boasting a large number of vents all around, there can be some fogging and condensation, particularly across the top of the lens, but its superb all-round performance means this is a negligible issue.
For more, read our full review of the Giro Blok MTB goggles.
The 100% Armega features a unique proprietary 'Climate Control' system. It is made up of a perforated triple-layer foam that draws sweat and moisture away from your face and then channels it along a drain integrated into the frame and out of the goggle. The inner part of the frame and foam is constructed with flex to aid the airflow and also the fit against your face. The front intakes drive cooler air into the goggle to keep humidity to a minimum.
They fit perfectly with the best full-face MTB helmets such as the Giro Switchblade and are super comfortable. There is little to no twist or flex in the construction. We highly rate the simple-to-use lens release system, but would have liked to have used it to swap out the 'standard spec' Ultra HD clear lens to compare the tinted Ultra HD HiPER lens. The HiPER technology is designed to accentuate contrasts and highlight colors.
The clear Ultra HD lens offered great visual clarity and no fogging with the Armega goggles, 100% is really onto something with this Climate Control coupled with the sweat management system.
For all the details and more, read our review of the 100% Armega goggles.
The O’Neal B50 goggles are shared with our two-wheeled cousins in the motocross world. They sit at the top of the O’Neal five model MTB/Moto range which impressively offers something at every price level, with the entry-level Vault goggles costing a quarter of the price of this pair.
This frameless design combined with the curve of this goggle gives an impressively huge field of view with no frame clearly visible when looking in any direction. The frame has small foam-covered air vents spanning the top, bottom and either side and a thick triple layer of face foam. Securing the frame to your face is a 4cm wide adjustable strap adorned with three beads of silicone. The B50 is offered in three colorways (all black, black/white or black/neon yellow).
All the lens colors in the Pro Pack boast tear-off posts and O’Neal states they are coated with an anti-scratch and also anti-fog coatings.
Our full review of O’Neal B50 Pro Pack Force goggles will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision in this highly competitive segment.
What you need to know about the best mountain bike goggles
Do you need goggles for mountain biking?
Not necessarily, however, if you are riding downhill and enduro it is recommended, as the best mountain bike goggles will provide significantly more eye protection than sunglasses. It's particularly beneficial to wear goggles in wet and muddy conditions as they will stop wheel-spray from going in your eyes and potentially causing a crash.
While goggles are great for gravity sports, they aren't as good for cross-country. The extra face-covering means they can get warm if you are doing a long climb and don't have time to whip them off to stash in a bag or pocket at the bottom.
How much do goggles cost?
You get what you pay for, and goggles are no exception. There is a chasm in quality between a cheap set of goggles from a no-name brand and something from a well-known optical company. More expensive goggles will feature interchangeable lenses and straps, higher quality foam, and venting, and the lenses themselves may also have hydrophobic coatings and contrast-improving tints.
With that said, goggles take lots of abuse and lenses are going to get scratched, so it's important to weigh the above against the price.
How do you wear goggles on a mountain bike?
Goggles that don't interact well with your helmet or plug your nostrils because the nose bridge is too narrow are going to cause more problems than they solve. We recommend trying goggles on before you buy, and bringing your helmet with you to make sure everything works together. To assure a good fit, you want the strap to securely grip the rear of the helmet whilst not being overly tight on your face, as this will lead to discomfort and lens fogging.
Tunnel vision is the last thing you want bombing down narrow singletrack. When you try on a pair of goggles, take note if you can see the frame in your peripheral vision as this may affect your vision out on the trail.
What color lenses are best for mountain biking?
If you ride in sunny Southern California, a darker lens will leave you more comfortable, but if your trails snake through the trees with a dense overhead canopy, light or even a clear lens will be the go-to.
Lots of companies have their own versions of contrast-boosting technology, and they all work to varying degrees.
Depending on the lens, some brands will add hydrophobic and anti-fog coatings to their lenses, and these can be a godsend in wet weather or riding behind your roots-riding mate.
Can you replace goggle lenses?
Most brands offer interchangeable optics. The reality is your lenses are going to get scratched, and there is not a whole lot you can do about it. When you're shopping for goggles, have a look at how much spare lenses cost and factor that into potential costs.