Product: Anon M1 Goggle
Days Tested: 25+
[Editor's Note: Having spent more time in the M1, Will Brown has updated his review. Pay particular attention to the Optics section.]
As I said in my review of the Smith I/O goggle, “if you’re serious about shredding in all conditions, from whiteout to bluebird, having multiple lenses at your disposal is crucial.”
For any serious rider, this is still true. However, as soon as I heard about the Anon M1, I knew my claim that the system on the I/O makes changing lenses “about as easy as it has ever been” was up for revision. Sure enough, Smith’s lens swapping system is simple and works very well but, for the record, it’s no longer the easiest or the quickest to use. I’ve also found that Anon has given Smith and Oakley a real run for their money in terms of optics and lens quality.
Anon has been working on a new approach to interchangeable lens technology that’s free of a mechanical locking system like those found on the I/O and the newer Airbrake.
Anon’s strategy for simpler, quicker lens changes? Magnets.
New for the 2012-2013 season, the M1 goggle features an interchangeable system in which the lens is held in place by six neodymium magnets seated around the perimeter of the frame.
The system is slick. You just pull the lens off and drop in a different one to make the change—there are no tabs and latches to deal with.
We were eager to see how the M1 would stack up against the popular I/O and Airbrake. But like many people, we had some questions about the practicality and on-snow function of Anon’s new design.
In order to frame those questions, I’ll start with the strict functionality of the M1’s lens mechanism.
After the first day of testing, one thing was very clear: the M1’s “Magna-Tech” system is incredibly easy to use. No real surprise there. It’s hard for me to imagine how an interchangeable design could be made more efficient. Prying at either of the lens’ bottom, outer magnets will partially detach it from the frame. With one of the corner magnets lifted, you can pull the lens free in a second (literally).
To drop in a lens, generally align the magnets on the top of the frame with those on the lens and let go; everything snaps in nicely. It’s not impossible for the lens to seat slightly off so that not all the magnets are engaged fully, but I’ve never experienced this when following the steps just described. Yes, you can pull the lens on and off while the goggles are still on your face (and, yes, the look people give on the chairlift will be one of confusion).
The M1’s entire lens swap procedure is far less involved than the Smith’s I/O’s or the Switchlock system on the Oakley Airbrake, but it still requires a little finesse. There is a basic method to changing the M1’s lens—it’s not easy to yank off any which way. (Try peeling a sticker without first lifting one of the corners.) The video below makes swapping the lens out while wearing the goggle look incredibly easy, and I can vouch—once you get a feel for the frame and where the lower magnets are, it is that easy.
Like the Smith I/O, I noticed that the M1’s frame is pretty flexible on its own; it bends and twists to a certain degree. Torquing either end of the frame doesn’t cause the lens to dislodge whatsoever but I found that if I pinched the goggles under the nose piece and the top of the frame while pulling hard on the strap (as you might do in pulling the goggles on over a helmet), some of the magnets would disengage momentarily as the frame gave slightly. The lens was secure once the goggles were in place.
The M1 we received is a pre-production sample. We are told that the frame on the production model will be noticeably more rigid, and this slight issue with the magnets disconnecting will be fixed.
This brings me to what is probably the most important point about the M1, and something that most people are likely to be skeptical about: lens retention.
The M1’s lens may be wonderfully simple to swap out, but if there’s a good chance it won’t stay put when you need it to (i.e. during a nice tomahawk) then what’s the point?
The most difficult conditions to ski in are not due to poor snow conditions, but poor light conditions. The Oakley Airbrake is highly recommended for anyone looking for easy lens-changing ability and outstanding optics.
Smith Optics does interchangeable lenses right.
The Völkl Katana is just as happy to float and slarve through fresh as it is to destroy crud at mach speeds.