Virtue is famous for their incredible gun boards and the awesome Spire Hopper. With each product they bring to market you can tell how much time and thought went in to the design of the product. Not just the look and feel, but how that look and feel interfaces with performance at the very top levels of play. They've done it again with the Virtue Vio. At first glance you might think this is a fancy goggle with lots of bells and whistles. And well, it is. But its fancy done right. The bells and whistles are there. From replaceable foam to an innovativee hinge lock lens release, the Vio has the features you look for in a top end goggle. But what Virtue has done is take high end performance and put it in a goggle that is simple. It's simple to customize, simple to clean, simple to change the foam and lens etc. It does it all. But unlike so many other goggles, the Virtue Vio does it right.
Virtue Vio Paintball Goggle Staff Review and Specifications
The Vio goggles have the traditional coverage for a paintball mask covering the eyes, nose, mouth, ears and cheeks. There is no visor included with these goggles so your forehead will be left exposed unless you wear a beanie. The jawline / cheek protection on these is a little high. I don't have a particularly long face but my jaw, near the back, and very bottom of my ear lobe (and the neck below) are definitely exposed. If your primary concern is lots of coverage then look somewhere else. But, if you're looking for style and performance then read on.
Lens Type and Coatings
The Vio's come with a dual pane thermal lens and anti-fog and scratch resistant coatings. This is standard for high end goggles and provides virtually fog free performance. These lenses are also coated to protect your eyes from 100% of UV rays. The chromatic colored lenses are not just a coating but the color and reflectiveness is actually fuzed in to the lens making them scratch resistant and able to hold their beautiful color instead of flaking or peeling.
The Vio's have a spherical lens shape typical of most mid and high end goggles. This provides for an almost distortion free view regardless of what angle you're looking at or where your head is turned. The lenses wrap very far around to the side of your head. If your peripheral vision is limited, it won't be by these lenses. The lens doesn't seem to extend exceptionally far up or down. It's definitely not too small. I've seen other lenses in the past that are unusually and perhaps unnecessarily large. This isn't one of those either. It's really just a well sized lens providing all the vision you need and none of the bulk that you don't.
I'm starting to detect a pattern in these goggles. The foam is not overly plush and fancy. But it is very comfortable. It may not feel like a baby's butt sitting on your face but it certainly doesn't fee uncomfortable at all. It's a two layer foam for good support and the edges have contoured corners so the material doesn't start to fray. Again, Virtue has put a lot of thought in to making a feature that is extremely high end and high performing without being 'fancy'. The terms I keep coming up with are 'precise' and 'professional'. I almost forgot to mention the coolest part of this foam. IT'S EASILY CHANGEABLE! The foam is attached to a hard plastic backing that snaps on to the goggle frame. You can get replacement foam and then you can replace your foam with fresh dry foam half way through the day or even between games. It just takes a minute to change and no messy toxic glue fumes.
The goggle frame is is the part that the lens sets in to. The Vio's have a modular design so all of the parts can be taken out and replaced or interchanged. The lens, facemask and straps can be purchased separately to make different color combinations. The goggle frame comes with the original goggles you buy and is the core part of the goggle that you keep regardless of what other colors you add to it so make sure to choose the base goggle / goggle frame color that you want. The back of the goggle frame is where the foam sits so how its shaped greatly affects how the goggles feel on your face. I wear glasses, they aren't large, but the frame fits over them nicely without pressing on them anywhere once I've got the mask all the way on. Again Virtue's made the frame comfortably and functionally large without overdoing it. Some goggle frames are shaped in odd ways making the goggle sit low on the nose. The frame supports the weight of the goggle and having it set comfortably on the bridge of the nose and cheek bones is important in the overall comfort of the mask. The Vio's definitely fit that bill. Several of us with varying sized and shaped heads have found these goggle frames very comfortable.
Color and Customization
The Vio's were designed from the beginning to be 100% customizable goggles and they nailed it. There is set of standard color ways to start with but after that you can change the goggle frame, lens, and facemask for seemingly unlimited color combinations. The facemask alone comes in around 30 different colors. If you want to make a custom mask in your favorite team colors then there is no better mask. You can order the goggle and then the pieces separately to change them out yourself or you can order the goggle in the color scheme you want using our custom builder right away and we'll build it up for you.
Virtue calls their lens retention an integrated Hinge Lock™. The straps connect to the ear pieces with a buckle connection similar to something I've seen on a life jacket. When you pull this buckle out the the ear pieces are then able to hinge inwards which releases the lense. Once you've gotten to this point the lens easily slides out towards the front and can be replaced. The new lens easily slides in place with little effort. It mostly aligns it self as it goes in. After snapping the ear pieces back out on their hinges the lens is locked in place. You just have to put that buckle connection back in that locks it all down for safety. On the first run of goggles that we've received this buckle connection has been quite difficult to remove. It's a bit easier to put back together because you're able to push snap it in but the plastic is quite stiff when you're taking it apart. I ended using some needle nose pliers to get the job done and hopefully the plastic will soften a bit after several lens changes so I can change between games or clean the lens between games as needed.
The Vio Facemask is semi rigid. It's soft enough to absorb the energy of the paintballs making them less painful than a direct hit at the same time as maybe bouncing a few off. A harder mask without give will shift the whole goggle every time its touched. A more flexible mask like this has some give and feels more natural on your face. Vio facemasks come in a whole lot of color varations so enjoy making your favorite color scheme.
The ear pieces on the Vio are a bit more complicated than your average goggle ear piece. They consist of 2 distinct parts. These are the soft foam padding that creates the basic outline and structure of the ear piece, and then the hard plast piece that creates the hinge and lens lock functionality. The hard plastic piece is color matched to the face mask that you get. The facemask has a base color of black or white. Then there is an accent color on the cheeks and an accent color for the mouth and lens liner. The mouth and lens liner color is same color as the hard part of the ear piece. When you get a new face mask it will include a mathing set of the hard ear pieces. The soft part of the ear pieces also has a little colored accent patch that matches this color. However at this time there are no options to change out just the soft portion of the ear pieces. The ears are nice and soft and very comfortable. Theres a small piece of foam over the only part that might rub. Because of how the strap exits the side of the earpiece, it uses the large soft earpiece to cradle the side of your head rather than just the strap. Overall the fit of the ears and strap seems very integrated together and secure.
The Vio does not come with a visor. Virtue does offer a separate visor as an accessory. It is also possible that you could rig some other goggle visors on here rather easily as they have a smilar slot style venting at the top. Other goggle systems mount their visors in to these slots some something might fit there rather easily. Without a visor your forehead is left exposed but many players are used to wearing beanies or other protection here anyways.
The Vio's include a microfiber lens bag AND a microfiber goggle bag to keep your goggles clean and scratch free.
Breathability is probably one of the hardest features to talk about because of how much it varies from person to person. So I'll give you my take on how these goggles fit me personally. For me there's 3 things that contribute to breathability on a mask: venting, goggle frame foam to face seal, and spacing. Venting is just the holes in the face mask that let air pass through. On the Vio, the vents directly in front of the mouth are basically vertical slits. They're fairly narrow too so with heavy breathing not all of your exhale can go straight out. That leaves air going up, down, and around. For air to go down and exit the goggle there needs to be sufficient space between the chin and the face mask. For me and this goggle, there is less than a flat finger width between my chin and the face mask. This is great for creating a good looking, tight profiled mask, but poor for letting the air out. It almost seems as if the air is kept in more by this tight design. So if it doesn't go down then it goes up. The goggle frame itself is vented top and bottom to let warm, moist air flow freely out the top. The portion of the frame directly above your mouth doesn't have vents so your breath won't go directly to the lens. Once air moves out from in front of your mouth there are large vents in the nose piece and to either side of the mouth. I'll definitely have to try these out on the field and see how they feel after a few hours in the hot Kansas sun.
The strap is connected directly to the buckle connection that locks the lens in place. Other than this specialized attachement the strap is fairly standard. It has silicone beading to help stick in place and is easily adjustable with some robust retaining clips. The straps are also available in lots of color variations and there's also a way to do a double strap installtion if you like that set up to keep the goggle more secure on your head.
Color customization of accessories really sets the Vio apart from other paintball goggles. There are just a ton of choices for your facemask, lens and straps. I'd personaly recommend getting an extra face foam. Nothing feels better than fresh clean foam on your goggles rather than sweaty nasty painty cold slimy dirty old foam. Sorry for the short rant.
Goggle Weight Comparison Chart
While looking at weights, remember that 1 oz is about the same as 28 paperclips.