Zeal Optics Hatchet Goggles Review

My main goal of this post is to of course, review the Zeal Optics Hatchet goggles that I had the pleasure of trying out this season.  I feel obliged to first address these unusual times however, as this is an unusual ski season. It almost feels more appropriate to review these goggles as a form of Personal Protective Equipment rather than for their intended use.

Zeal Hatchet Goggles on Woman
Photo: Michelle Wingfield

Covid-19

I’m writing this review from my couch on a day when I would normally be at work. It’s 2 pm and I’m still in my pajamas. It’s April of 2020. COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. The impacts of this virus have been catastrophic, and life as we know it has come to an abrupt halt.  There are millions of confirmed cases worldwide. Over 20 million people are already laid off in the United States, myself included.

Ski Season

Needless to say, ski season took a large hit. The resorts shut down last month. We’ve been asked to stay home rather than travel to neighboring counties for backcountry access.  It’s a disappointment for anyone who had big trips planned. However, my definition of “disappointment” has been altered this year. While my husband and I will no longer be celebrating our fifth anniversary/my 30th birthday by skiing the Haute Route. I am more thankful now than ever to have things like health insurance and a roof over our heads.

The Window

My window to test out the Zeal Optics Hatchet goggles was cut short. But, I did enjoy trying them out while I could.  All things considered, now is a great time to stock up on gear if you have the means to do so.  We can stimulate the economy and help small businesses.  Spring is always a good time to find deals on ski gear.  I’ve spent a lot of my time planning for future outings and purchases as a way to distract myself from the chaos.  This gear review can help you do the same. Without further ado, here’s my take on the Zeal Hatchet goggles!

Rail Lock System

What’s unique about these goggles is Zeal Optics’ patent pending magnetic Rail Lock System. The biggest drawbacks tend to be either pricing or the fear that the magnet won’t hold lenses securely.  The Hatchet is a solution to both of those problems. Retailing at $159, these goggles are priced reasonably in comparison to other brands. With the Rail Lock System, you can feel confident that your lenses will stay put. All the while still finding it simple to switch lenses on-the-go. It would be difficult to swap lenses without taking the goggles off because lining the lenses up with the rail system takes precision. That is hard to achieve without looking – especially while wearing gloves. Although others may offer more intuitive magnetic systems, you can rely on the Rail Lock System to keep your lenses safe.

Another benefit of the Rail Lock System is the ability to air out any fog by sliding your lenses up. Keep in mind that this can be a little cumbersome if your helmet is on. However, if you did end up getting snow in your goggles. It would be easy to take the lens out, wipe it down, and just slide it back in. I was happy to not actually have any issues with these goggles fogging at any point.

Zeal Hatchet Goggles
Photo: Zeal
Zeal Hatchet Goggles
Photo: Zeal
Zeal Hatchet Goggles
Photo: Zeal

Fit

The Zeal Hatchet goggles had a very secure fit to my face and helmet.  The straps adjust easily and offer an extra sticky grip.  I wore these goggles on a low visibility backcountry day with gnarly wind and graupel flying at me from all directions (>2 cm/hour,) and my eyes were cozy as a caterpillar. The wide frames wrap around the face which creates a snug fit and provides good peripherals from left to right. I am surprised, however, that the field of view isn’t better considering how large these frames are. The thickness of the frame inhibits the ability to look down which is inconvenient when adjusting my coat zipper, etc. 

Compatibility

These frames are easily compatible to a variety of helmets, and are designed to work with snowmobiling or mountain bike helmets in addition to ski helmets.  I did, however, try them on with my Petzl Meteor ski mountaineering helmet, and found them to be an awkward fit because the goggles are so large. While these frames happened to fit my face well, I would recommend trying them on with your helmet before purchasing, as the frame is rather stiff and might not fit everyone’s face as well.

All in all, I’d give the Zeal Hatchet goggles a solid B+.  I would prefer a smaller frame that would fit better with a ski mountaineering helmet and with better field of view, but they were super comfortable to wear and great for managing fog. I’m sure they would serve well as PPE, should that be more your speed right now.

Stay safe out there friends, and happy gear shopping.

About Michelle

Michelle is originally from Tri Cities, WA and has lived in Colorado for the past 6 years. She is an avid trail runner, splitboarder and mom to an awesome pitbull named Tundra.

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