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Gear Review - Aphex Virgo: Quantity Over Quality

Updated: Feb 21




Last week I got a chance to ski in Aphex goggles. They may not be a brand you've ever heard of before, but they're slowly beginning to grow in the UK thanks to their unique selling point of being fully customisable.

 
Looking candid at the top of La Clusaz with Aphex Virgo goggles. Photo Credit: Torin Woodhall

 

Founded in 2010 by Maarten van der Laan in the depths of the French Alps, Aphex have set out to achieve a revolution in the ski and mountain bike goggle market. By creating a product with fully interchangeable parts, including strap and frame, Maarten figured he could save skiers' style as well as the environment.


With over 1000 different combinations of lens, strap and frame, you never have to worry about going out of style again. When it comes to upgrading your ski jacket, swapping gear with a friend, or skiing spring sunshine in your favourite hoodie, the Aphex Virgo will keep up, making sure you look your best for the gram.


How does this interchangeable system work? The lenses are attached via magnets; it's simply a case of pulling them off using the little notch, and clicking the new lens into place. The ease of use of this system means that you can change lenses without removing your gloves or your goggles.


Similarly, the strap is held in place via a slide lock system; push the lever, slide the strap out of the socket, and slide the new strap into place until you hear a 'click', and away you go. The two systems are supremely easy to use, including if you are wearing gloves, an absolute lifesaver on cold days. Between these two, the frames can also be replaced, primarily between black and white but with a handful of other colours available.


The quality of lenses on goggles has always been important for me. I've been spoiled by wearing Oakley goggles for the last few years, which, whilst expensive, have been industry leaders in technology over the last 10 years. It's been really fun and interesting to see how other brands are keeping up and innovating below this level. 


Alongside the interchangeability of the goggle's features, the lenses quality is really high. Crystal clear vision is available, especially with the higher end lenses. What I really enjoyed, however, was the "dual focus" tint. The top of the lens is tinted darker, designed for brighter conditions and sunlight. However, as you skied into shade, you could shift vision to the lower part of the lens; with less tint, it offered better vision for shadier conditions. This was a really neat trick and a cool, innovative way to overcome a challenge faced by many brands of how to create a tint that works in all conditions.


Alongside this neat trick, you also get two lenses for each goggle you purchase, one for low light conditions and one for brighter conditions. This spare lens comes with a protective sleeve to withstand scratches, something that is a lifesaver if you're anything like me and scratch goggle lenses like it's going out of fashion!


The other driving force behind universally updateable features is the environmental benefits that come with it - no longer is it necessary to buy a whole new set of goggles to match your new jacket. To drive home this commitment, the lenses and frames are not made from traditional hydrocarbon plastics but instead from castor and bean oil.





 

But do these features make Aphex Gear a "must-have" goggle system? Maybe not so fast.


This universal interchangeability comes at the cost of quality of a lot of the features, especially and critically the fastenings between both the frame and the lens, and the frame and the strap. On several occasions I went to pull the goggles off my face onto the top of my helmet, only in doing so to accidently remove the lens and send the frame pinging back into my face, often to great shock and discomfort.


The slide lock mechanisms are also not permanently attached to the frame; should you take a hard fall, as I did on a particularly icy section of the car park, the slide lock, as well as the lens, can come away from the frame and be lost forever. It was with shock that I turned up to ski the next day after this tumble and suddenly found myself without a pair of usable goggles to ski in!


Overall, the Aphex Virgo is a high quality goggle system available at a very reasonable price, proving competitive in a densely packed market; £105 is really good value for a high quality, multi-lens goggle. The full interchangeability of the features is cool but ultimately somewhat of a novelty, especially considering the weaknesses of the interchange systems.


 

Want a pair of Aphex? Head to their website at www.aphexgear.com or check them out on socials using the handle @aphexgear.

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