Test Swim: Nike’s New Performance Vapor Goggles

As a former competitive swimmer and current swim coach, I know firsthand how quickly—and severely—a bad pair of goggles can derail an otherwise good swim. Not enough suction? You’ll be stopping at every wall to empty chlorine from your eye sockets. Straps too tight? Instant headache. Flimsy design? They could fall off your face altogether.

A solid pair of goggles, on the other hand, can transform an otherwise good swim into a great swim by providing the right balance of security and comfort that makes you forget they’re even there. We tested Nike’s new Vapor performance goggles to see if they check all the boxes.

The Vapor goggle from Nike
The Vapor goggle from NikeCourtesy of Nike

What It Is:

The Vapors are the newest goggles in Nike Swim’s collection, a product roughly two years—and multiple prototypes—in the making. They’re also the fastest pair of Nike goggles ever created, says Erika Gentry, director of Nike Swim Gear, thanks to the oversized, curved lens, which is designed to reduce drag in the water and give swimmers a wider field of vision. On top of speed, the Vapors also promise comfort with newly designed features like soft, flexible gaskets, a curved back clip, and a sliding adjustable nose bridge.

Why We Like It:

Above all, the Vapors are actually comfortable. If it’s possible to give your eyes a hug, these goggles essentially do just that. We recently tested them at Nike’s on-campus pool in Beaverton, OR. The cushioned gaskets felt soft and still snug against my face and stayed leak-free for my entire workout. Even better, after 30-plus minutes of swimming, I exited the water without those awful-yet-all-too-common marks ringing my eyes. The straps are another big perk: With their thick, velvety texture and curved back clip (versus a traditional flat clip), they stayed firmly in place for the duration of my swim without squeezing my skull. I also dug the lens shape—though I have no idea if the drag-resistant design actually made me faster, being able to see more of the pool without turning my head was a sweet sensation.

Team USA Diver Kassidy Cook wearing the Nike Vapor Mirror goggle
Team USA Diver Kassidy Cook wearing the Nike Vapor Mirror goggleCourtesy of Nike

Nitpick:

During certain portions of my test swim, I noticed that the curved lens somewhat distorted my vision. The distortion wasn’t very significant or bothersome, though, and seemed to disappear after a few seconds (or perhaps I just got used to it). In fact, I’m not sure I would have picked up on this in the first place if one of the other testers hadn’t mentioned it.

Bottom Line:

These goggles are designed for performance, but in my experience, their biggest plus is comfort—and that’s something swimmers of all levels can enjoy. “My goal for anyone using a goggle is that they really can forget that it’s there,” Gentry says. With the Vapor, that goal is damn well achieved.

[Available November 15, $30 (non-mirrored) to $35 (mirrored);nikeswim.com]

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