Day 83 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: A review of my new Zoggs Predator Flex Titanium Reactor

(Update March 2015: After a few swims, the Flex Titaniums are absolutely water-tight, snug and comfy. They need “wearing in”, just like their predecessors did. These beauties are now my daily go-to pair of goggles).

Phew, what a week this has been again. Topped off by a Friday when I left the house at 5am and returned at 11pm. Despite missing one swim, I got 18600 metres in, of which I swam just over 9 kilometres with the new Predator Flex Titanium Reactor goggles in the last few days.

Yep. That is quite a mouthful. Predator Flex Titanium Reactor. No less coming from a company called Zoggs. Sounds like a dexterous metal rogue nuclear power plant in a trippy Dr. Seuss satire. Or something.

Then again, this is not just a normal set of swimming goggles. The photochromatic lenses it sports really work. This key feature makes them great for swimming in any light condition, inside or in open water. Here is a snapshot of them in lower light and bright sunshine, taken on our wintery porch:

The lenses are completely clear indoors, showing a slight tint in the shade.
The lenses are completely clear indoors, showing a slight tint in the shade.
Within seconds, the photochromatic lenses darken in bright sunlight.
Within seconds, the photochromatic lenses are dark.

The package includes a hard, well-made case to keep those expensive lenses nice and safe:

IMG_2286
Grippy and tough: The Flex Titanium comes in a nice shell, which is a big improvement over the older version

As regular readers know, I have been using the previous model, the trusty Predator Flex Reactor (no Titanium!). Sadly, its bridge snapped a few days ago, after many, many swims in pools and oceans.

In my gear bag, you will also find the red Polarized version and the copper tint (“gold and black”) ones. Oh, and one of the kids has borrowed the one everyone else seems to like, but I actually hardly ever use: the silvery Predator Mirror. It is not in the picture but gets a lot of use in the family.

Predator trifecta: Predator Flex Polarized in red, the Predator Polarized with a copper tin, and the Flex Titanium Reactor.
Predator trifecta: Predator Flex Polarized in red, the Predator Polarized with a copper tint, and the Flex Titanium Reactor.

And that is the major point: Those Zoggs Predator goggles may have daft names. But they have

  • a fantastic comfy fit, even for noggins like yours truly’s. And apparently just about everyone else. My wife, the kids and friends – they all love them.
  • excellent visibility, thanks to curved lenses
  • a snug and very water-proof fit around the eyes
  • easily adjustable straps, that quickly adapt (blimey I remember the pesky straps on those pool goggles of my youth.)
  • four-way flexible nose bridges that help ensure a snug fit over your eyes

Now if they just could make those bridges snap proof :-)

The new Titaniums are very much like the other ones, though the new pair seems a bit less comfortable and caused a tiny bit of leakage, despite several attempts to better adjust them. They just did not perfectly encase my eye sockets (I have fairly large head, but nothing out of the ordinary, really). My theory is that this is due to the pair being brand new; they need wearing in, like a pair of jeans. However, I also think the rubber that goes around the eyes is slightly different in this model. Not sure. Will obviously keep an eye on this issue, if you pardon the pun. It is a very minor nuisance really, since the pool water I train in is very clean and has no chlorine (not sure what the filtration system is, but it is brilliant).

But come a day in the ocean, or in a chlorinated old-skool-pool, and this needs to work. Especially for a pair of goggles that cost me a whopping 50 euro.

Røde smartLav+ microphone: first impressions

So today I finally received the package with the brand new Røde smartLav+ microphone. Comes in a nice box, which in turn holds a leather pouch with the whole kit in it.

As you can see, the smartLav+ comes with everything you need: a nice bag, tiny wind proof sock (so tiny it is hard to see), clip, and the mic of course, which is rolled up into a nice little strap.

I decided on this particular piece a couple of weeks ago, after asking my old buddy and tech expert Trevor Long which mic I should get for recording and producing professional audio with my iPad Air. He actually recommended a different Røde for podcasting. Since I regularly record interviews for radio too using this device, and since I would like to record a video blog using the iPad as well, I decided on a lavalier solution.

Mind you: the main requirement is that it just plugs into my iPad and records broadcast quality audio. That way, I’m theoretically able to report from anywhere at anytime for any medium: web, social media, TV, radio, podcast, blog, and of course print. Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined as a rookie journalist in the 1990s that this would be technical reality in twenty years’ time. Can’t wait for 2034, if I am still alive then.

I will update with a review once I have tried the mic out – in the meantime note that I used it to write most of this post using voice dictation on the iPad.

 

 

 

Review: Zoggs “Predator Flex Reactor Goggles”

(Update March 2015: for the new Zoggs Predator Flex Reactor Titanium Goggles, click here)

An early beta-tester
An early beta-tester

Just the other day I was ready for my swim but for some reason I found myself in the middle of Munich without goggles. So I grabbed the other stuff (i.e. bathers and a towel), and dropped in at triathlon.de‘s retail outlet. Say what you like about the whole triathlon hype —what’s good about it is the fact you get more quality swimming gear in countries like Germany, finally. After some minor issues with their purchasing equipment I happily left the store almost €70 lighter – but the proud owner of the photochromatic Zoggs “Predator Flex Reactor Goggles”. Photochromatic: that means these bad boys have self-adjusting lenses that are clear indoors but turn into sunnies once outside. They have the typical predator flex look, but currently only come in frames coloured in black and green – hardly my choice but who cares, right?

I normally swim with predator flexes. I use the amber ones for indoors and polarised ones for outdoors. As my post about the seven reasons why l love swimming will tell you, one if the things I like about this sport is the fact that gear doesn’t matter much. That said, you better get a good pair of goggles. Good doesn’t mean expensive. Many veteran swimmers swear by the classic Swedes. I have a bunch of different Malmsten goggles, and I will use them in a pinch. You know, goggles are different for every one, and my head shape is better suited to the Zoggs Predator Flex.

(C) Image: Zoggs
(C) Image: Zoggs

So off I went to the local indoor pool. Since this was late autumn, the glass wall encasing one side of the pool building was not sufficient to get the lenses to react. So I basically swam with clear goggles. What I did notice however was that these goggles are seemed smaller than the normal predator flex models. So much so that they were a not water tight for me. Meh. (Update: After a few swims, they fit snugly and are perfectly water-proof!)

This experience was repeated a few days later, when my wife and I took our weekly date night to the pool. Once again the reactor goggles were seemed too small, so I gave my pair to my wife and used my normal goggles. You know, I really wanted to like these guys. Sure, Zoggs is quite right to announce “the world’s first swimming goggles that automatically adjust to changing sunlight”. But now I am happy my wife has a pair that works brilliantly for her…and I am taking my other two with me wherever I am going.