Oakley Fall Line XM
Frame size: Medium
Number of lenses: 1
What we like: Premium optics and comfort with a bold look.
What we don’t: Not a class leader in field of view; many competitors include two lenses.
See the Oakley Fall Line XM
The original Fall Line failed to resonate with a bulky shape and relatively high price tag, but Oakley revamped the line last year with the new XM (and larger XL). We brought the latest model to Crested Butte, Colorado, for some late-season testing and found it to be a notable improvement in field of view and all-around comfort with its trimmed-down build. It's still expensive for only including single lens, but it's nevertheless a stylish and high-quality option. Below we break down our full experience with the Fall Line XM. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best ski goggles.
Table of Contents
- Field of Vision
- Clarity and Optical Quality
- Lens-Change System
- Ventilation and Fog Resistance
- Fit and Comfort
- Build Quality and Durability
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
Given Oakley's strong track record of producing quality goggles, the original Fall Line was a surprising disappointment in terms of field of vision. With the latest XM model, however, they've made substantial improvements by trimming down the thickness of the frame and padding. Peripheral vision in particular has jumped considerably, eliminating the tunnel-like effect that plagued the original.
That said, the Fall Line still doesn’t sit as close to your face as competitors like Smith’s I/O Mag and Skyline, and it can’t match either of those in overall visibility. Unlike the Smith designs—and especially the I/O Mag—the sides of the frame are visible, and more of your vision is blocked in the bottom corners. In swapping between the various models, the difference is noticeable, and those that put a premium on field of view will be happier with the Smith options (or Oakley’s own Flight Deck XM). But the moderately thick build and cylindrical lens shape certainly play a role in the Fall Line’s bold styling, and we think many riders will find it to be a fair compromise.
Slipping in just under $200, the Oakley Fall Line XM includes one of the brand’s premium Prizm lenses. This is a tradeoff in opting for a mid-range model, as stepping up to the pricier Airbrake ($240) gets you a second lens for more versatility in a range of weather. We wound up with their Prizm Torch Iridium lens, which proved to be a nice match for the moderately bright conditions in Crested Butte. The lens blocks a fair amount of glare and sun with 17-20 percent VLT (visible light transmission), and as such, does run pretty dark on heavily clouded days or when dipping into the trees. For my local hill in Washington State and areas that have a good number of socked-in or darker days, I’d opt for a lens with a higher VLT like the Rose or Hi Pink Iridium options.
Purely from an optical perspective, the Torch Iridium lens impressed. The coloring isn’t as natural as some of Smith’s ChromaPop designs—it’s a bit too artificially pink for our tastes—but the optics are clean and very crisp with no noticeable distortion. And on the bright side, the pink color seemed to do a nice job enhancing contrast and pulling out small bumps in the snow (we had a similar experience with the lens on Oakley’s Airbrake XL goggle).
Since the Fall Line only includes a single lens, it seems Oakley prioritized lens security over a quick change. For those that purchase a second lens (Oakley does sell them individually for an additional $50-$100), using the Ridgelock system is slow and pretty tedious: you need to pull the lens away from the frame at the top, which requires a fair amount of effort and is difficult to manage without leaving smudges (a compromise of the frameless look). And lining everything up for reinstallation is not something you want to be doing on the mountain or chairlift.
The upside to the Fall Line’s design is that the lens is truly locked into place with zero gaps between the lens and frame (something we’ve experienced with some quick-change systems like Dragon’s Swiftlock). But for those that like to swap between tints frequently as conditions shift, you’ll likely be happier with a quick-change design from Smith (their Mag), Anon, or even the Switchlock found on Oakley's own Airbrake XL. Again, the Fall Line’s system is perfectly workable and offers a good dose of security, but it’s far from a class leader in speed or efficiency.
With only one trip under my belt in Crested Butte for testing thus far, I haven’t given the Fall Line a thorough shakeout in terms of ventilation, but all signs thus far are positive. The temperatures in Colorado were consistently warm (in the 20s and 30s Fahrenheit), but I didn’t deal with any fogging issues. All in all, the venting that surrounds the top, sides, and even a good portion of the bottom of the lens does a good job moving air, and you get the expected high-end touches on the Prizm lens with a long-lasting anti-fog coating. Of course, the coating is still quite fresh, and I haven’t had a chance to take the Fall Line on an extended sidecountry hike yet, so I will follow up here with more information as I continue to test the goggles.
Put simply, comfort is one of the Fall Line’s best features. The three-layer foam build is nice and soft, and the strap is easily adjustable and stays securely in place with siliconized strips on the inside. And for those that like to run their strap underneath their ski helmet, the Fall Line is nicely set up with a low-profile and fairly thin design—there’s no buckle around back and only small sections of plastic. The goggle does feel a little heavy and bulky compared to a trimmed-down and lighter model like Smith’s Skyline (wearing them back to back, the difference was noticeable), but this doesn’t have a negative impact on comfort.
As far as fit goes, the Fall Line XM is a little on the large side for a medium-sized goggle. I find a standard medium fit like the Smith I/O Mag and Skyline or Giro’s Axis works best for me, but I didn’t have any issues with the Oakley being pressed down into my nose. All in all, it seems to be a pretty well-rounded shape and paired fairly well with my Smith Altus helmet. And for those with larger facial features, you can step up the Fall Line XL (more on this model below).
We’ve been consistently impressed with the build quality of Oakley gear, and the Fall Line XM is no exception with a noticeably solid and confidence-inspiring feel. The rimless cylindrical lens look certainly will require some extra care to avoid scratches and dings over time (it’s best to store it in its soft-sided case after drying), but that’s common among frameless builds, and the lens appears to be reasonably hardwearing. In addition, the strap isn’t as tall as the previous model, but it seems to be well-made and is holding up perfectly thus far. Overall, other than the clunky lens-change system that I touched on above, I have no concerns from a material and construction perspective.
We brought Oakley’s Fall Line XM to Crested Butte for testing, and the collection also includes the larger Fall Line XL. The XL costs the same at $160-$200 depending on lens choice and sports an identical feature set and construction including triple-layer foam, cylindrical shape, Ridgelock lens-change system, and single Prizm lens (again, you can purchase a secondary lens separately). The only major difference is fit: while the XM we tested is a medium size, the XL sports a large frame that boosts field of view and is a good match for those with larger features.
- The Fall Line's frameless Prizm lens has clean and crisp optics with no noticeable distortion.
- Top-notch comfort from a three-layer foam build, easily adjustable strap, and well-rounded shape.
- Typical Oakley build quality: the XM is well-made and has a confidence-inspiring feel.
- Wide array of lens options to choose from.
What We Don’t
- Doesn’t sit as close to your face as some Smith competitors, which results in less peripheral vision (particularly in the bottom corners).
- Only comes with one lens, while most of the competition includes two.
- Lens-change system prioritizes security over speed, and swapping between lenses is fairly tedious and slow.
|Oakley Fall Line XM||$190||Medium||1||Cylindrical||Frameless||Yes|
|Oakley Flight Deck XM||$200||Medium||1||Spherical||Frameless||Yes|
|Oakley Line Miner XM||$150||Medium||1||Cylindrical||Framed||Yes|
Oakley’s Fall Line XM packs in quality optics and comfort into a well-rounded and stylish design that stacks up well in the extensive snow goggle market. Another Oakley model to consider is their Flight Deck XM, which is a medium-fit variation of their longstanding spherical design. Despite the trimmed-down size from the standard model, the Flight Deck XM still puts a premium on field of vision with a minimalist build and expansive, curved lens that easily beats the Fall Line in peripheral visibility. Both have a sleek, frameless look, although the more angular Fall Line with its cylindrical lens certainly makes more of a statement. In the end, a final decision between the two Oakley offerings will come down to preferences on styling and field of view.
Another in-house option to consider is Oakley’s Line Miner XM, which shares a lot in common with the Fall Line: both feature cylindrical shapes, come with one Prizm lens, and are made in Oakley’s versatile XM size (and larger models are available for each). Other similarities include anti-fog coatings, good all-around ventilation, triple-layer foam, and decent but not spectacular field of vision. The primary difference between the two is looks: the Line Miner has more subdued and classic frame, while the Fall Line’s larger lens is angular and frameless. Swapping lenses is even slower with the Line Miner, but it does come in around $40 cheaper (depending on the lens).
Smith is another major player in the snow goggle market, and their closest competitor in price and features is the Skyline goggle. Both include a single quality lens, but they differ in a couple significant ways: the Skyline has a lower-profile shape that sits closer to your face, plus it features a spherical lens rather than the flatter cylindrical lens on the Fall Line. All in all, the Skyline gets the clear edge in field of view, and this is especially apparent along the sides and bottom corners of the lens (for more, see our Smith Skyline review). But the Oakley doesn’t have a plastic buckle at the back of the strap, so it sits more comfortably underneath a helmet (outside the helmet, they’re both fine).
Anon is a leader in the quick-change lens world, and the Sync model utilizes their M-Fusion design. Rather than relying solely on magnets like their M Series, the Sync uses both magnets as well as hinges along the sides of the frame, which close over the lens and secure it in place. As a result, it’s significantly easier to swap lenses with the Sync compared to the Fall Line, and you get two included lenses for the same price as the Oakley. That said, Oakley’s Prizm glass is higher-quality with crisper optics, and we’ve found Oakley goggles in general do a little better in terms of fog prevention. In the end, a choice between the two will come down to how you prioritize clarity versus having a second lens.
Another two-lens option at the $190 price point is Giro’s popular Axis. Stacked up against the Fall Line XM, the Axis has a slightly faster lens-change system but falls short in optical quality and fog prevention. More specifically, it seems the vents along the top and bottom don’t allow air to flow as freely as you get with an open design. Otherwise, features are similar between the two models, including triple-layer foam, cylindrical shapes, medium fits, and a wide array of lens options to choose from. Again, the second lens is enticing, but we prefer the Fall Line for its superior ventilation and higher-quality optics.
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