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509 Photochromatic Lens Review

509 Photochromatic Lens Review

Like many snowmobilers, I have struggled for years to find a solution for good visibility while riding.

This was made more difficult in my case by wearing glasses. However, in the past year I have begun wearing contact lenses to ride and that has opened the door to some new options. Since then, I have put on a lot of miles wearing a pair of 509 Sinister X5 goggles with Photochromatic lens.

What’s special about the Photochromatic lens is that it can automatically change the level of lens tint to rapidly adapt to changing light conditions. I was intrigued by the possibility of seeing well in different lighting conditions without having to swap lenses or trying to fit sunglasses underneath my goggles.


509 Photochromatic Lens Review

The lens function is the real story on these goggles. We often go out when the day is bright and then come down the trails in the late, low light of dusk. It is often fully dark when we return to the truck. This is especially true early in the season when it is dark by 4 p.m. here in Northern BC.

Usually this light change means bringing more than one pair of goggles, or a goggle and sunglasses swap, or any other combination of eyewear that might be required to match the changing conditions. This is where the 509 Photochromatic lens works amazing!

The only criticism I would give is that I feel they could be a tad darker on bright, full bluebird days. But even then they cut the glare plenty and do well. From bright sun they progress to near clear as it gets darker out, performing flawlessly.

I used to have transitions glasses that always seemed to be a step behind on the change, but these 509 Photochromatic lenses work fantastic—you don’t really notice them changing, they are just always right. So much so that I’ve found myself back at the truck loading in full dark and I still had them on.

Dark to Light

As the intensity of the UV rays change, so does the level of tint in the Photochromatic lens.

I know some people who keep three or four different lenses handy for different conditions and maybe that customization works to see slightly better in some conditions, but with this lens you can see very good in all lighting situations. If you are only going to wear one lens all day or all season, this is the way to do it.

Other Lens Functions

The 509 Photochromatic lens worked great and remained clear in cold weather. I even had a short run through the powder at -31˚ Celcius and they didn’t ice up, nor did I get any raccoon ring of frostbite either, so clearly the coverage on the X5 Sinister is great. I have a small face and some goggles like to squish my nose but the foam and fit on these did not.


Glasses underneath


Like with any goggle, the Photochromatic lens wanted to fog if you left them on while getting unstuck (working hard and not moving), but who leaves their goggles on while they are stuck? Ok, sometimes I do…haha.

The only other thing I noticed about the Sinister X5 goggle is that the strap is on the short side. With my ladies helmet, the straps are extended out to nearly the end of adjustment. Riders with a very large helmet might have to stretch the strap to fit it over.


Style is subjective but I will throw my opinion in—I love the basic black with blue accents of this particular goggle. It helps that my helmet is black and my gear and sled are both blue, haha. One thing that some riders may prefer is a mirrored lens. This is featured on the Photochromatic Light Smoke to Dark Smoke lens, but not the Photochromatic Clear to Dark Blue lens that I tested.


Goggle prices vary widely and we have all seen $20 pairs in the clearance bin, but I am comparing these to goggles that could actually be considered in competition. I have worn other 509 gear, like outerwear and helmets, and 509 seems to set their prices consistently in the middle of the pack. You can always find lower priced gear, but 509 is never the top of the price scale either. Once you get into these “premium” brands, I find 509 pricing to be very competitive and more than fair for the quality that you get. The 509 Sinister X5 goggles with Photochromatic lens is no exception to this.

509 Photochromatic Lens Review_-4

509 Photochromatic Lens Review Summary

Not only do I like these goggles, I am completely in love with the Photochromatic lens. So much so that after testing these goggles last winter, I will be wearing this pair again this year even though I have almost all new gear for this season. They have survived this far without scratches, and while I take care of them in terms of storage, I can willow bash with the best of them! 😀

– Carla Anderson @ Mountain Sledder

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