Two very popular, good quality goggles here. I'm writing this review/standoff because I couldn't decide which one to buy, after buying one, then being disappointed and buying the other, I realized Id made a huge mistake. Which was the mistake? Read and find out.
ESS NVG Profile Goggles
Retail Price : $120
Bolle T-800 Tactical Goggles
Retail Price : $80 @ ASC Armory
ESS Profile, Out of The Box
The first thing I noticed when I took the ESS goggles out of the box was how solid they looked and felt. Various layers of rubber, plastic and foam built around the lens to make what was a well designed and put together pair of goggles. Aside from just the goggles I also got a small booklet, carrying case (velcro with belt straps) and a second tinted lens with its own silk pouch as well. Suffice it to say any buyer will immediately feel like he got his moneys worth.
Bolle T-800, Out of The Box
At first glance, the goggles looked and felt unimpressive. The lens rests on a small plastic and rubber frame. This makes the goggles a bit more flexible then the ESS goggles but with the only thing to grab onto being the rubber guard or the lens itself, the goggles feel very unimpressive. The goggles came with a small carrying pouch, no fancy velcro straps, but what else do you need right?
Round 1, Out of the box winner : ESS Profile by a landslide.
ESS Profile, Durability
The lenses that came with these things were really, REALLY thick. I was told by someone at ESS that they can survive a shotgun blast from six feet away. Now I don't know about you but I don't plan on getting shot in the face with a real shotgun during my next game. And if I do, well I carry a wallet on me with ID, so when my eyes are the only thing left of my face, you still won't need to do a retinal scan to find out my identity. Still the claim that they are that durable is very reassuring. Bending and pulling on the goggles every which way, they are very sturdy, you wont need to worry about any of the plastic getting separated or cracked. I definitely can't imagine them getting broken by accident. If the elastic band on the goggle does rip, the entire side of the goggles clip off and can be replaced. However the band is built right into the plastic clips, so replacing the band might be expensive as it would have to be a custom order from ESS.
Bolle T-800, Durability
The lens that comes with these goggles, while not as thick as the ESS lens, is still plenty thick and nothing to underestimate. However as I said before, the goggles are essentially just the lenses with a small plastic frame and rubber. The lens does slide out to be replaced, however I have to confess I havenít tried to take them out as I'm afraid to break the plastic frame. The plastic isn't cheap, but because of how thin it is Iím afraid to apply too much force in the wrong direction. The rubber is also much thinner then the rubber on the ESS goggles, and I am worried it will tear on me one of these days. That being said, I can't imagine these things breaking while your out on the field, I wouldnít play too rough with them while they are off my head.
Round 2, Durability winner : ESS Profile
ESS Profile, Comfort and Protection
After putting the ESS goggles on for the first time I was really surprised to see how loose they were. Tightening them to a 'comfortable' amount, they were still really loose, after walking around for awhile the band loosed up and they started to slide off. Also sharp head turns had the same effect, they kept loosening up and sliding down. Tightening them further helped to keep them on but it hurt like a bitch, the plastic clips that attach the band to the goggles pressed very tightly into my temples, and even after a bit of action they kept having to be tightened. These goggles are specifically designed to be worn over a Kevlar helmet, not on a bare head. I don't wear a helmet so this was a huge downer for me. I was able to borrow a friends helmet at a match and the goggles fit like a charm, and held tight. With or without a helmet on, the goggles create a perfect seal around my face.
Bolle T-800, Comfort and Protection
Like the ESS goggles, the Bolle T-800s are also designed to be worn over a helmet, but unlike the ESS goggles, the Bolles are very comfortable either way. With or without a helmet the Bolles are very comfortable, the cheap squishy rubber keeps them from sliding around on my face and compresses so that I can tighten the band quite a bit before I feel any tension at all on my head. The band also stays where I want it to, and I have never had to loosen or tighten it during a game, ever. There are small openings on the top and bottom in-between where the lens meets the plastic. It's definitely too small for a BB to get into but it is possible for dust to find it's way in. In order for that to be a nuisance the dust would have to be blown in at a very obscure angle, but it could happen.
Round 3, Comfort and Protection winner : Bolle T-800s
ESS Profile, Practicality and Profile
Where the T-800s have small gaps to prevent sweat and water from collecting the ESS Profile goggles have a foam lining at the top and bottom of the lenses. It is absolutely impossible for drops of water to collect inside these goggles. However it doesn't seem to prevent the goggles from fogging up on me. Thatís right, the ESS Profile goggles actually fog up. Indoor and outdoor, every time I use them, they fog up, more so in indoor games when they become very difficult to see out of. I have actually shot at barrels and tires thinking they were hostile. In the goggles defense however the tires were giving me aggressive looks and insulting my family, but still they were still far from hostile. I also tried the complimentary tinted lenses included with the goggles. The tinted lenses were great at keeping the sun out of my eyes, they did reduce my visual range and made it harder to differentiate between who was who at longer ranges.
Bolle T-800, Practicality and Profile
The Bolle T-800s are significantly smaller then the ESS Profile goggles giving them a lighter profile. The FoV however remains identical for each pair of goggles. The biggest difference I noticed between the two was however, that the Bolle T-800s never once fogged up on me. Even in tight, hot indoor buildings, they remained clear. Also as I said before, I have never had to adjust them, they stay on tight.
Round 4, Practicality and Profile winner : Bolle T-800 by a landslide.
Both are very good goggles, the ESS Profile goggles are more professional and durable where as the Bolle T-800s don't fog up and have a lower profile. Both goggles are made to be worn with a helmet, but without a helmet the ESS Profiles are horribly uncomfortable and donít stay on properly.
At the start of the review I said Id bought one pair, then bought the other and realized Id made a mistake. The first one I bought was the ESS Profile goggles and for me, buying them instead of the Bolle T-800s was the mistake. Without a helmet on the ESS Profile goggles are completely impractical to the point where they were a burden, just wearing them hurt, let alone having to readjust them every 15 minutes or so.
If you plan on wearing a helmet to every single game, like extra durability and donít mind a bit of fog then the ESS goggles might be for you. However with the smaller price tag, greater amount of versatility and practicality, this reviewer is declaring the Bolle T-800s the winner.
Winner : Bolle T-800 Tactical Goggles
Thanks to Prowler for hosing the images