ProView – Native Eyewear DropZone Goggles
Anyone who has ever lived or played in Whitefish, Montana during the winter knows that a good pair of snow goggles is an absolute must. Not just any snow goggles, but some killer low light lenses. While the summers in Whitefish are comprised of 100 consecutive days of pure sunshine from 6 AM to almost 11 PM, the winters are essentially the complete opposite. From November through April the town is pretty consistently socked in, with heavy grey clouds and fog for days. All that is to say that visibility on Big Mountain and in the backcountry surrounding Flathead County and Glacier National Park is generally quite poor.
I moved to Whitefish in May of 2018 from Boulder, Colorado in search of great skiing, lakes and rivers to play in and a new adventure. Both at the resort and in the backcountry in Colorado, the visibility was a totally different story. Rarely did I bust out my low light lenses unless we had a lucky day of storm skiing. Instead, I had multiple different pairs of lenses perfect for Colorado’s infamous bluebird skies.
Thus, when Native Eyewear needed a tester for their Dropzone goggles, I was very eager to put them to the test in my new stomping grounds. I had read about their SnowTuned™ lenses, whose spectrum-sorting, color-enhancing optics help reveal terrain in great detail. Perfect for the Flathead’s flat light!
Native Eyewear Dropzone Goggles
Product Description: When the weather is variable, swapping lens out mid-run or on the chairlift is a pain. The DropZone™ goggle features a single-button spherical lens interchange solution. Simply push the button up and popthe lens out. Reinsert your alternate lens into its binding and push the button down to lock the lens in place. Add in our SnowTuned™ lens technology with an incomparable anti-fog coating, snow-specific color filtration, and frames built for long-lasting comfort and you’ve got yourself a goggle that won’t hold you back on the best pow run of the day.
Price: $179 MSRP
I put these goggles through the ringer: sweaty, snowy tours, flat light storm skiing, a sunny backcountry mission and variable conditions at the resort. Through it all, the ease of the single button lense change system is definitely my favorite feature. I’ve had zero issues with fog on the inside or outside of the goggles. They fit me perfectly and are extremely comfortable for all day wear. They don’t have a ton of features, but sometimes simple is best!
- No fogging
- Low light + sunny lenses included
- Super easy lense change
- No buckle/closure on strap
I took the DropZones on many different missions, though I will focus on these three: backcountry skiing in the Mission Mountains, another backcountry day in the Swan Range and resort skiing at Big Mountain (or Whitefish Mountain Resort to non-locals). But before we drop in, let’s talk first impressions.
Fit & Style
I’m not ashamed to say it: I have a watermelon head. Other large-headed ladies will commiserate with me when I say it is not easy to find any sort of head or eyewear in this situation. Melon head aside, many of the newer style goggles I have tried still manage to make me look like I am wearing a giant VR headset. Not really the look I am going for.
Native advertises the Dropzone as a medium fit goggle and they definitely fit just right. They provide good coverage and a wide field of view without turning me into a bug-eyed Jerry. The siliconized strap is really easy to adjust, even with gloves on, so I can find the perfect fit in a jiffy. I do wish the strap had a buckle or closure to simplify putting them on my helmet, which I found to be a bit of a struggle. The lack of buckle is the only reason I docked half a point from an otherwise 5 star rating.
I generally go for brighter colors when it comes to ski gear, so the grey and black strap wouldn’t be my #1 choice, but it matched well enough with my helmet and shells. They do offer some other, more fun colors like a lovely green and a bright blue/purple… I might just have to get another pair.
I found the fluted triple face foam to be quite comfortable; none of that itchy-face business at the end of a long day of skiing. The nasal nest was snug enough to keep out the breeze and prevent fogging without compressing my nose.
Single-Button Spherical Lense Interchange
Folks, it is SO easy to change out the lenses in these suckers. The Single-button Spherical Lense Interchange Solution is hands-down the best part about the Dropzones. I have spent many sunny days in low light lenses squinting my way down the mountain simply because I was too scared to even attempt changing out my lenses. No more! These have a single button to pop out the lense, and putting in the new lense is just as simple. Be mindful, though; one time I didn’t quite pop the lense in all the way and they ended up falling out in my bag, so make sure they are solidly in there before skiing off.
Alright, let’s take these bad boys into the field, shall we?
An early Saturday morning after a 15” storm brought me and my backcountry partners to the Mission Mountains, south of Whitefish. We had quite a long tour ahead of us – about 3 miles in to the line we had chosen – and though it had just dumped the trailhead was barely covered in snow. After some boot packing, billy goating and an unexpected creek crossing (ever tried stepping on wet rocks in ski boots?) the snow started coming down again. We had a long and sweaty and climb to the top. Time to put the anti-fog features to the test! I put on my Dropzones and started skinning.
The goggles were very comfortable and well-vented during our ascent. With only about 30 minutes of skinning to go, the snow stopped and I decided to stash my goggles in my pack for the final climb. At the summit, after the requisite photos, snacks and bathroom breaks, I unzipped my pack and grabbed the Dropzones. It’s usually at this point that I find my formerly sweaty, snowy goggles to be completely foggy or iced over after being confined to my backpack. On the contrary, the Dropzones were squeaky clean and ready to rip. Yew!
The light was very flat, and with snow beginning to fall again I had little hopes to see anything on the ski down. I was pleasantly surprised at how much contrast my goggles provided and had no problem hootin’ and hollerin’ my way to the bottom.
A couple weeks later we decided to explore the area around Hash Mountain in the Swan Range near Hungry Horse Reservoir. We woke up to a clear blue sky and the stoke was high for a bluebird day in the backcountry. The clouds began to roll in as we were finishing our ascent, but the views of the Great Northern and Glacier National Park were pretty awe-inspiring. A perfect day to test out the sunny lenses.
When I first put them on, the reddish/pink hue caught me off guard, but it really made the terrain features around me pop while keeping the glare from the sun and snow out of my eyes. I couldn’t find the exact VLT rating for the sunny lenses on Native’s website or in the literature, but my guess is that they come in somewhere around the 35 range. They would fare well on more variable or even overcast days where the sun doesn’t every fully come out but the glare from the snow is still bright. The snow was pretty wind hammered with a good 3-inch crust, not the best skiing, but the the stunning views and good company were well worth the climb.
Big Mountain is known to be one of the best refuges from the cloudy grey of the Flathead Valley. If you are lucky, you can get above the inversion to ski in sunshine above the clouds. During Christmas break, we had one of those magical days.
We arrived at the parking lot, and as I was changing into my ski boots I considered which goggles to bring. The cloud cover was thick, but I thought there was a chance there was an inversion, so I threw on my Dropzones with my low light lenses and stuck the sunny lenses in my bibs’ chest pocket just in case.
As we loaded Chair 1, I could see the chairs in front of us eerily disappearing into the clouds. I took off my goggles and quickly swapped out my lenses in preparation for the sunshine we were about to enter. The change was fast and easy, and I had my goggles back on my helmet before we broke through to the sunny paradise at the top.
I was beyond stoked to have some sunny lines after a few days of flat light on the mountain, and the stellar contrast and sun protection from my DropZones made it all the better.
The Final Word
I am very happy with my new DropZone goggles. I put them through the ringer: sweaty, snowy tours, flat light storm skiing, a sunny backcountry mission and variable conditions at the resort. Through it all, I have to say that the ease of the single button lense change system is definitely my favorite feature. I am excited to try out the sunny lenses on a more overcast day and see how they fare. I have yet to experience any issues with fog on the inside or outside of the goggles. They fit me perfectly and are extremely comfortable for all day wear. I definitely recommend the DropZone goggles, however you plan to get after it this winter!
Kenzie Rodriguez is the Head of Marketing at Outdoor Prolink. She lives in Whitefish, Montana where she loves to ski, hike, bike and hit the water with her husband and her dog, Bea.