ProView – Zeal Optics Beacon
The Zeal Beacon is a high-quality, one-goggle-quiver for winter and spring mountain adventures. It has a huge field of vision that adjusts to natural light quickly, allowing you to use it in both low and high glare conditions. I put the Zeal Beacon to the test in the alpine on long ski mountaineering objectives, as well as on shorter ski tours through meadows and glades. Overall, I love the Zeal Beacon and only have a few areas I think it can be improved.
Zeal Optics Beacon
Product Description: The science and physics of winter inspire everything Zeal Optics does, forming our perspective. Meet the Beacon, the first goggle to feature our groundbreaking Observation Deck Technology. Created with a tilted cylindrical lens that allows you see every inch of the line below you while eliminating glare. Get ready to change your perspective on winter forever.
Offer price: MSRP: $129.00 - $249.00
All in all, the Zeal Beacon checks all the boxes for versatility, durability, and performance, and I will be keeping it in my pack for many adventures to come. I really enjoyed the automatic adjustment of the lens and the huge field of vision.
- Photochromic adjustment to different light
- Large field of vision
- Needs a vent feature for wearing on the uphill
- Could benefit from having a detachable elastic band for putting on a helmet
I put the Zeal Beacon to the test in winter and spring ski mountaineering and ski touring objectives. These trips often were greater than 7 hours with most of the time climbing on the skin track. Visibility ranged from total bluebird to low vis ping pong ball: the full spectrum.
My general preference is to climb uphill in sunglasses and transition to goggles for the downhill, but with the Zeal Beacon I wanted to test out the ventilation and fogging on the uptrack. I have been searching for a versatile goggle for a while, one that has photochromatic adjustment so that I don’t have to swap lenses based on the day. I have tried out Oakley, Smith, and SHRED goggles before over the years, with a variety of lenses.
The Zeal Beacon has a very comfortable fit to the face, with a huge field of vision, thanks to its Observation Deck Technology. The elastic band is easily adjustable; at times I changed the band between the circumference of my helmet and just my hat. One area for improvement would be to have a clip on the adjustment band, rather than making it out of one piece. This would make it easier to take the goggle on and off throughout the day.
I tested out the Zeal Beacon in the “Dark Night” frame with the GB (i.e. Grey Base) lens. The style was simple and clean, and the GB lens wasn’t particularly flashy like a reflective iridium lens.
The Zeal Beacon has an interchangeable lens technology that allows you to easily swap lenses in and out; it didn’t take me more than 2 minutes to take out the GB lens I was testing with and put it back in.
On the elastic band, Zeal has put a strip of “no-slip grip” that helps the elastic band stay in place when on your helmet, and it works beautifully.
The biggest distinguishing feature of the Zeal Beacon, though, is its huge field of vision thanks to the Observation Deck Technology. You can barely notice the edge of the lens when you have them on. The GB lens I tested out featured Zeal’s photochromatic technology, which adjusts to natural lighting conditions. Even in low visibility, the Grey Base lens gave me great clarity and depth of field.
The Zeal beacon weighs in at 5.11 ounces, and for a goggle has a slim profile. It doesn’t have a bulky frame or excess plastic that would weight it down, like some Oakley models do. The Beacon is almost all lens, with an elastic band, nice and lightweight.
I was very impressed with the lens quality on the Zeal Beacon. The lens I tested out was their Grey Base (GB), which features a VLT (Visible Light Transmission) from 18-38%, a huge range that makes for great versatility. The automatic light adjustment of the lens is impressive; even when clouds rolled in and turned complete bluebird sun to low visibility fog, the Zeal Beacon kept my vision sharp, helping me distinguish features in the snow. The lens has a red/orange hue to it, which I found really helps with the blue-ish tints of snow.
The anti-fogging performance of the Zeal Beacon is decent but could use some improvement, in particular when on the uphill or during high intensity movement. I didn’t notice any fogging on the downhill, but when I wore the Beacon on the skintrack uphill, in particular when I was breathing heavily, I did notice some fogging. I think that a ventilation slit at the bottom or side of the lens could help with this in the future. Other than that slight area for improvement, the performance of the Zeal Beacon was impressive, one of the best goggles I have used yet!
I am very rough on my gear, but the Zeal Beacon could stand up to my needs. The attachment points for the interchangeable lens are rugged rubber lugs that do not easily warp, break, or bend. The elastic band connects into the frame with a reinforced plastic attachment point, further reinforcing common fracture points on goggles. These design choices point clearly to the engineering expertise at Zeal and the craftsmanship of their products.
Friendliness to the Earth
As a company, Zeal engages in interesting community partnerships, such as partnering with Protect Our Winters (POW), the National Forest Foundation, as well as sponsoring outreach programs like Adaptive Adventures and SOS Outreach. Additionally, in select products Zeal uses plant-based materials for their lenses and frames, such as in their Ellume lens and Z-Resin frames.
The Final Word
All in all, the Zeal Beacon checks all the boxes for versatility, durability, and performance, and I will be keeping these in my pack for many adventures to come. I really enjoyed the automatic adjustment of the lens and the huge field of vision; my only complaints were the fogging during high intensity movement, as well as the one-piece elastic band that I had to stretch to put on. With some minor design adjustments, such as a slit in the lens to allow for ventilation and a two-piece elastic band with a clip to make putting them on easier, the goggle would be perfect! For the time being, though, the Zeal Beacon gets my nod!
About the Gear Tester
Sam Chaneles is an avid mountaineer and backpacker, climbing peaks in the Cascades, Mexico, Ecuador, and Africa, as well as hiking the John Muir Trail and off-trail routes in Colorado. He has climbed peaks such as Aconcagua, Mt. Rainier, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Kilimanjaro, and many more. Sam graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. During his time there he was a Trip and Expedition Leader for the school’s Outdoor Recreation program (ORGT). He has led expeditions to New Zealand, Alaska, Corsica, France, and throughout the United States. Sam is based in Issaquah, WA just outside of the Cascade Mountains. You can follow Sam and his adventures on Instagram at @engineeredforadventure, or on his website at www.engineeredforadventure.com.