Individual Review Zeal Portal XL goggle

Andy Mink

I am a half fast skier.
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Pugski Ski Tester
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Nov 12, 2015
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Reno
As a returning skier after several years off, my last pair of goggles before returning probably came off the "no one else will wear these because they're really bad" rack. Last year I had the opportunity to use the Atomic Revent L FDL HD OTG goggles and was introduced to high quality lenses and construction. Read about that goggle here.

This season I was afforded the opportunity to check out yet another high-end goggle, this time manufactured by Zeal. The new for 2019-2020 Portal XL utilizes a spherical lens and is one of Zeal's over-the-glasses ready offerings. With a dozen lens color options in three difference lens constructions including polarized and polarized photochromatic, Zeal has you covered for all conditions. Seven strap colors are available. There is no mix-and-match option (at least that I found) between the lens color and strap color; they come with a predetermined pairing. If you want a different color lens for your chosen strap color you can order lenses separately. Each Portal XL is shipped with the chosen lens color plus a Persimmon Sky Blue Mirror lens for low light conditions such as are found during heavy snow or night skiing.

First impression upon opening the box is that Zeal has a quality product. The box itself is sturdy and appealing with a foam liner to prevent damage to the goggle and lenses. A very nice two-section bag is included and the spare lens is shipped in a separate foam envelope. Both lenses have a plastic film on the inside of the lens to further protect the optical quality. All that is great but how does the goggle perform?

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The box. Nice, right?

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The bag has two compartments, one for the goggles and one for a spare lens.

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Automatic+ RB lens on top, Persimmon Sky Blue Mirror on the bottom

Zeal uses what they call the Rail Lock System to facilitate lens change. It is very simple and, with a bit of practice, lenses can be changed with the goggles on. Light upward pressure at the bottom of the lens moves it up and away from the frame. There are two "fingers" on the frame that fit into grooves on the lens. To replace the lens, all that needs to be done is line up the fingers and grooves and slide the lens down. A magnet takes over and pops the lens into place and holds it securely. Easy to change lens? Check.

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The curved "finger" on the lens slides into the groove on the frame and locks into place via magnets.

Zeal terms the Portal XL "helmet compatible". The helmet strap is a dual adjustment meaning the adjustment pieces stay centered on the back of the helmet. As with the Atomic Revent mentioned above, I feel the strap could be a bit longer. It fits over my large Pret Cirque X helmet but may be a bit snug, especially over glasses, with a larger helmet. The strap has non-slip silicone to keep it slip-free on the helmet. The goggles do fit with my Cirque X, though with a bit of protrusion from small lip of the helmet. They are not flush as with the Atomic goggles. While Portal XLs are not as streamlined with the helmet as some other goggles may be, this protrusion does allow for better ventilation from the top foam-covered vents (more on that in a bit). At first I was a bit concerned about how the goggles fit over the frame of my glasses. The foam pushed on the arms and pressed them into the side of my face. After a few minutes, the foam relaxed and this was not an issue. One thing I noted after trying some other goggles was my last pair of glasses were 15.5 centimeters wide. When I got my latest pair of glasses, I specifically got a narrower pair at 14cm. They fit significantly better in both the Atomic and Zeal goggles. All my glasses have very thin arms so the foam or elastic found on OTG goggles more easily form around the arms. There is a triple layer of different foams that fit very nicely between goggle and face. The thinnest layer is against skin and is soft and quite comfortable. Goggle/helmet/face/glasses interface? Check.

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The strap is at its max length on the size large Pret Cirque X.

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The goggle doesn't fit flush with the helmet lip but it does provide good ventilation by protruding a bit.

Enough of this boring minutia! How do the Portal XL goggles WORK? Short answer, quite well. Over the last few trips up to Mt. Rose I've had the opportunity to ski in flat light, very flat light, and bright sun. The goggles I chose have the Automatic+RB lenses which are polarized and photochromatic from light to dark rose. Visible light transmission (VLT) ranges from 38% to 20% depending on light conditions. The additional Persimmon Sky Blue Mirror lens has a VLT of 65%. While not as dark as bright sun specific lenses, the dark rose provided plenty of shading and I didn't notice any strain on my eyes from the bright sun. Moving to the shaded side of the mountain, visibility remained excellent. The transition from dark to lighter was seamless; the only way I knew it happened was I could still see quite well in the shade. Just like any other lens, going quickly from shadow to sun and back (think tree shadows along the edge of a trail) does not change the degree of lens darkness.

Over the MLK holiday weekend Mt. Rose spins one lift at 8 a.m. I skied both Saturday and Monday. The sun is still relatively low on the horizon this time of year in the morning. In addition, just to make things challenging, there was a pretty good overcast, especially on Saturday. The two factors combined to make for some very flat light. I put the Persimmon Sky Blue Mirror lens in and ventured forth. The blue lens does let in a good deal of light but it was still difficult to see much definition in the snow so I swapped the blue out for the rose lens. While the light was still flat, the rose lens did provide quite an improvement, at least to my eyes. As a side note, I am a bit red deficient so I don't always know what other folks might be seeing. As the clouds started to break up and the sun appeared, visibility continued to be very good. Neither the rose or blue lenses produced flare or glare. I did not notice any distortion from either lens, even around the edges. Optically, the lenses are outstanding. Visibility/clarity/optically correct? Check.

One of the biggest problem I've encountered as a goggles-over-glasses skier is fogging. True to Zeal's claim, the Portal XLs did not fog. However, my glasses did fog on one warmer day when I was a bit over dressed and skiing hard. Fogging only occurred when I was in the lift line. By the time I was on the lift and started moving the glasses started to clear. By the top they were clear again. This is not new to me, though the glasses seemed to clear more quickly than with the Atomic goggles. Once moving I could feel the air circulating through the goggle. There are foam covered vents on top and bottom of the frame. I plan on coating my glasses with an anti-fog to see that remedies the problem. No fog on the goggles/quick ventilation? Check.

Overall, the Zeal Portal XL goggles should compete quite well in a highly competitive level of high end optics. As I noted above, I don't have a ton of experience with this level of goggles. However, I do know through photography and hunting optics what good lenses should offer for a premium price. Ranging in price from $159 for frames with the Optimum lens to $229 for Optimum Polarized lenses to $279 for Optimum Polarized Automatic Plus lenses, Zeal offers a broad range of high quality options in the Portal XL family. For further information on the Portal XL and other offerings by Zeal, visit Zeal online.
 
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Tom K.

HRPufnStf
Skier
Joined
Dec 20, 2015
Posts
2,847
I got two pair of fixed-lens Zeals (model name escapes me) late last spring at blowout pricing.

Love the big field of view and optics. But optics on new lenses always seem awesome when coming from old scratched up ones, right?!

And I saved the boxes for some undetermined future use, they are so darn nice!
 

Byungjun Lee

At the base lodge
Skier
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Posts
11
Andy, Thank you for the review.

It is kind of hard to find a good review on goggles, especially when they are non-major brands.

This was really helpful.
 
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