The ARK Sports Goggles Ltd Black purport to be an ‘optimal all-around swim goggle that makes your vision clear’ designed for the open water and the pool. Our tester, Alex Sheen put the goggles through their paces at ÖTILLÖ, The Swimrun World Championship and in the pool.
It’s also worth noting that goggles are a highly individual choice. Between face shapes, and personal preferences such as nose piece types, gasket flexibility, and where the cups sits in relation to your eye sockets.
Ark’s first goggle offering is a sleek addition to your swimming bag, in keeping with the company’s smart no-nonsense black colour schemes and blazoned with “Archipelago Proven” across the straps, they are a great way to remind fellow swimmers that you’re a swimrunner and have potentially proven yourself against the Archipelago!
Packaged in a conformal plastic box that can double as a storage case, they look every bit the premium product that they are. The single size nose bridge won’t be right for everyone but will fit most faces. The goggles make use of a slightly unconventional strap arrangement whereby a single continuous piece of silicon is used to create a double strap across the back of the head, tightened by a single buckle. This provides a comfortable a secure fit, avoiding the Y piece just above your ears found on many goggles.
The downside to this arrangement however is that once tightened, any excess strap has a tendency to flap around although this could be trimmed. Tightening the straps is a more involved process than on some goggles with a traditional buckle arrangement but it means they don’t require re-tightening. The eye cups are soft and buttery proving to be extremely comfortable. I find they sit just inside the eye socket (where I like them) and provide very little pressure, almost staying in place without the straps meaning you need not over tighten them.
In the pool
I swim around 10km a week in structured Masters sessions so have put these goggles through their paces across all strokes and paces. Visibility is crisp and clear (although anti-fog never lasts for ever!), and the goggles felt fast and secure no matter what I was swimming. I’ve often found goggles that are great for open water struggle when diving into pools as the increased visibility comes at the expense of a larger frame which has a tendency to come off with any significant lateral force, but these goggles stayed well put. Keen to give our readers a thorough review I did also try these under less well fitted conditions by deliberately pushing them off during a tumble turn and though they were sitting more loosely against my face, they remained watertight.
My only knock would be the goggles did leave me with some marks around my eyes for an hour or two after swimming. I wear these with eye marks with pride, but some might find these a little more problematic.
Open water and swimrun
Most of my open water swimming is in a estuary river so I’m sighting off terrain features rather than brightly coloured boys. The smoked lenses provide good visibility in a mixture of conditions, although some might prefer a mirrored lens. I found the Ark goggles to be a good complement to a pair of mirrored goggles with the smoked Ark lens suitable for slightly lower light conditions than a mirrored lens. The lenses provided good in water visibility with the wide lenses giving a broad field of view and good opportunities to sight while breathing and without having to necessarily take a look forwards.
The manufacturer applied coating does well to keep the lenses fog free while swimrunning although once this had worn off they performed similarly to other goggles. Critically, the strap tightening arrangement holds up well to repeated removal and rewearing of the goggles without the straps working loose which I have found a problem with some buckle tightnening designs. The main drawback for swimrun is the colour. While I love the sleek black kit Ark does, finding a pair of black goggles inside your black Kangaroo top isn’t always easy!
While these were an emergency purchase they’ve become firm favourites for pool swimming and as the days get darker, will probably move to my Open Water bag ahead of my Colting OW goggles as their lens is more suited to lower light levels. They are comfortable and a good choice for all levels of swimrunner.