What Colour Swim Goggles Are Best For Outdoor Swimming?


a swimmer outdoors with mirror swim goggles

Swimming outdoors is great fun. From outdoor pool swimming to open water swimming, it is a unique experience that differs from indoor swimming, even if you swim in an outdoor heated pool.

Outdoor swimming has the biggest impact on our eyes, and sun glare is one of the biggest problems outdoor swimmers need to solve.

As a general rule, dark colour lenses are best for outdoor swimming to reduce the amount of glare from the sun. A polarised tinted lens is the best performing for sun glare reduction, however, a darker mirror lens can be very effective in bright sunny conditions.

For me, a tinted polarised lens has the advantage over mirrored goggles for swimming outdoors as they have good visibility, even on a grey and overcast day, unlike dark mirror goggles, which can make everything look too dark when the sun is not out.

In this article, I will explain which are generally considered the best colour swim goggles for outdoor swimming, including:

  • What colour swim goggles are best for outdoor swimming?
  • Are mirror swim goggles better?
  • What are polarised swim goggles?

What Colour Swim Goggles Are Best For Outdoor Swimming?

Darker colour swim goggles are best for outdoor swimming. A dark colour lens, such as smoke, tinted or a dark blue lens, is great for outdoor swimming to reduce the amount of sunlight entering the eye.

Polarised Swim Goggles

If you suffer from sun glare, particularly sun glare as it reflects off the surface of the water, then you should consider polarised swim goggles, in addition to a darker lens colour.

Polarised swim goggles have a film applied to the surface of the goggle lens that will filter light as it enters your eye.

As sunlight hits the water, it reflects off many surfaces and creates a very intense glare on sunny days. Polarised swim goggles will reduce the amount of light that enters your eyes, thus reducing sunlight glare and increasing visibility.

Most polarised swim goggles seem to be tinted or have a smoke colour, however, polarised swim goggles can have any colour lens. Since the polarised part of the goggle is just a thin filter film on the lens, the actual lens colour could be anything.

If you are searching for polarised swim goggles, ensure that “polarised” is specified in the product description, otherwise, your goggle lens will not be polarised.

Here is an example of swimming goggles with a polarised finish on the lens: Zoggs Predator Flex Goggles. These are available in a variety of lens colours which are polarised and even have a regular and small profile size for those who have a smaller face.

Mirror Swim Goggles

Mirror swim goggles are another great option for swimming outdoors. Unlike polarised swim goggles, which filter light as it enters your eye, mirror swim goggles reflect light away from the eyes.

Mirror swim goggles are very effective on bright sunny days, particularly when the sun is very high in the sky.

The mirror effect is a film placed over the goggle lens, therefore, the actual colour of a mirror goggle lens could change and be any colour.

My preference for a lens colour with a mirror effect is blue. A blue goggle lens colour has good visibility for both indoor and outdoor swimming, with a darker blue being preferable for outdoor swimming.

If you opt for a mirror lens with a darker lens colour, then on darker overcast days, everything will look much darker.

This is the big disadvantage of using a darker swim goggle lens for outdoor swimming, as on cloudy or dark days, everything looks a little dark.

Below is a list of all the most common swim goggle lens colours and what they are designed for. But remember, for outdoor swimming, ensuring that the swim goggles are also either mirror or polarised will greatly reduce sunlight glare.

Goggle ColourSwimming Activity
Mirror
(Mirror coating can be placed over any lens colour)
Designed for outdoor use by reducing the amount of sunlight that enters the eye. Helps with reducing glare. The lens can be any colour. Used indoors by competitors to “hide their eyes” and give a competitive advantage.
Note: To significantly reduce glare, opt for polarised swimming goggles.
SmokeGood for outdoor swimming or brightly illuminated swimming environments.
ClearPerfect for indoor swimming and low-light swimming environments.
BlueGood visibility for both indoor and outdoor use. Darker blue lenses are more suitable for the outdoors as this will help reduce glare from sunlight.
Yellow / AmberSuitable for indoor and outdoor use, but better for indoors. Due to the amber light filtering properties, it can greatly increase visibility.
RedSuitable for indoor use where there is low light. The red lens helps to filter the light to increase contrast.
GreenBest for indoor swimming.
This Table Shows Lens Colours For Swimming

Are Mirror Swim Goggles Better?

As so many Olympians wear mirror swim goggles, it’s easy to believe that they are better.

At the end of the day, it is about your swimming environment and using a mirror goggle in bright outdoor swim spaces or brightly illuminated indoor pools will reduce the amount of light entering your eye and as a result, reduce glare.

Are Mirror Goggles Only For Outdoor Swimming?

You can wear mirror goggles both indoors and outdoors, however, they are most effective outdoors on sunny days when the sun is directly overhead.

Many Olympians wear mirror swim goggles for indoor competitions. One of the main reasons for this is that many swimmers believe mirror goggles give them a psychological competitive edge.

Since you cannot see a swimmer’s eyes when they wear mirror goggles, competitors feel that hiding their eyes from the other swimmers hides their game strategy and thoughts.

This is purely psychological, but elite swimmers need to take every advantage they can get.

To learn more about mirror swim goggles, I have covered this in greater detail in this article, “Why Use Mirrored Swim Goggles? (Here’s what to know)”

What Are Polarised Swim Goggles?

As mentioned, polarised swim goggles have a thin film applied to the lens which filters light as it enters your eye, similar to how polarised sunglasses work.

This light filtration is the best option for dealing with glare, particularly bright glare as it reflects off the water.

Are Polarised Swim Goggles Worth It?

If you swim outdoors in bright and sunny conditions, then polarised options are a great investment and worth the extra cost.

To learn more about polarised goggles and how they actually work, I have covered this in greater detail in this article, “What Are Polarised Swim Goggles?”

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that a darker lens is better for outdoor swimming to reduce glare from the sun.

However, be aware that a darker goggle lens will make everything look a bit duller on overcast or less sunny days.

The best option to deal with sun glare while outdoor swimming is to use polarised or mirror goggles. As polarised goggles filter the light entering the eye and mirror goggles reflect light away from the eye, they are great options, particularly if combined with a darker lens.

Happy swimming!

Louise Byrne

Hi, I am Louise and I am obsessed with swimming. I spend my free time in the water or getting ready for my next water adventure.

Recent Posts