Arena Cobra Ultra Goggles – Review

These goggles are very popular, it feels like every second child in both Ireland and Sweden are wearing them. So as soon as I had my LASIK done I ordered a pair and while they aren’t for me I can see the appeal.

These goggles are composed of: 70% polycarbonate, 20% silicone, 10% thermoplastic elastomer. They come in a number of different colours, while some versions have a mirror effect the ones I have are not as dark as other mirrored goggles I’ve worn and from mine and on photo’s online you can easily see someone’s eyes through the mirrored lenses. I have seen it mentioned online that there are light and dark mirrored versions so perhaps I just have the light version.

I would put these into the same super low profile category as the mad wave goggles I reviewed and in terms of efficiency and drag they are quite incredible. I’m not quite sure how to explain how it feels when sprinting with them on, they just feel faster. Sometimes when pushing off the wall I could feel little eddy currents from the teardrop shape at the bottom of the goggles. Needless to say, I had no problems diving with them on.  

Arena really put a lot of thought into these goggles. In order to increase stability, the goggle frames extend along the side of the face so that the straps attach farther back under your hat. I’m guessing it might also have some effect on drag as the part where the frame connects with the straps will be under your hat when wearing these, as opposed to other goggles which usually have some space between the straps and your face where they join with the frame.

My goggles came with several nose pieces and in two different colours which is really cool as I can decide how they will look. The nose piece is not only strong, but also doesn’t rest on the bridge of my nose which is very comfortable.

The lenses are curved which is a style arena have applied to a number of goggles in their range. While these goggles can give the illusion of having a similar field of vision as the pythons, it is not quite the same as the lenses are smaller and have a sharper curve that causes a little distortion. This distortion doesn’t really have a big impact though, its really just a spot that looks a little fuzzy. The reason for this curve becomes clear when you try to look at the lane next to you. A lot of goggles, such as the Swedish goggles, will not give you a true representation of where other swimmers are in a race. Its hard to tell if the person you are seeing out of the corner of your eye is in front or behind as it depends on the shape of the side of the lenses. The curve of the cobra ultra goggles means that you can get a more accurate idea of where the person in the lane next to you is.

There is of course a downside to these goggles and that’s the gasket around the lenses. It is so thin it is practically non-existent. While uncomfortable this isn’t a huge problem on its own, especially if you’ve worn Swedish style goggles. Unfortunately, one of my eye sockets has a small bone spur which just happens to be in the way of these goggles. This makes wearing them quite painful for me on that eye, though admittedly they aren’t exactly comfortable on my “normal” eye either. While I can make them bearable if I spend the first few minutes of my swim constantly readjusting them to find the one positioning that feels slightly better, I will still end up with some swelling around the bone spur afterwards.

So, while these are undoubtedly good racing goggles, they don’t suit my eyes and I’m not going to be able to wear them when racing. However, if you get a chance to try on a pair and you don’t have my issues, then I would definitely recommend you consider getting a pair for racing.

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