Ski and Snowboard Goggle Buying Guide
Did you know that at high altitudes not only is the air thinner, but it filters less ultraviolet (UV) rays? The sun’s reflection on snow is brighter and more intense. Additionally, wind can make your eyes tear and blur your vision. Any snowboarder or skier will tell you that a day full of perfect powder can be ruined by snow goggles you can’t see through, just as much as a bad chili dog or poor fitting boots. All goggles for snowboarding and skiing will basically protect you from cold and wind, but they all have their advantages and disadvantages. To make sure you choose the right snow goggles, take some time to learn the basics as well as the new snow goggle technology.
Goggle Lens Type
Selecting the right type of lens means finding all the right features you want in your goggles. These days, more and more manufacturers have developed new goggle technology that has altered the face of snow goggle lenses, literally. For this reason, knowing what type of lens you prefer and which features you don’t need will enable you to enjoy the right goggles for years to come. Finding the right lens type for your goggles is something you really should not rush or jump into very quickly.
Rather, try on a few types of lenses and see how those feel. See if there are ones that are interchangeable and whether or not these come with extra lenses or if you have to buy extra ones separately. Remember, being able to change your lens as the light of the day changes will mean being able to ski or snowboard longer than everyone else since you will still be able to see when most others have given up. It is particularly important to find clear lenses that you can see through with long duration. At the same time, features like uv-light protection and even GPS are quite beneficial. Find the perfect snowboard goggles through making a clear list of which features you want your goggles to have.
When it comes to the lens shape of snowboard goggles, the kind of shape you select is crucial. Basically, you’ll have two choices: flat (also called cylindrical lenses) or spherical lenses. Some lens shapes have areas that produce or reduce glare. At the same time, other shapes of lenses keep glare out completely. You can try on a few styles to see which ones you like. Check to see how far your vision goes above, below and on both sides. It is definitely better to find lenses that enable you to see as much as you can while you tackle the slopes.
- Flat (Cylindrical) Lenses – The lens curves left-to-right across your eyes and face, but the lens surface is vertically flat (between the nose and forehead). While priced lower, flat-lenses work fine – especially for a few weekends a year on the mountain. On the flip side, the flatness can cause more glare and slightly reduces peripheral vision. Since these lenses have flat edges, certain angles may seem distorted. Of course, more and more goggle manufacturers have modified lens distortion on these types of lenses. Still, newbies may appreciate the lower price.
- Spherical Lenses – Lenses that curve both vertically and horizontally around your facial features are called spherical lenses. These give the goggles a look like it is “bubbled.” There are more than a few advantages for wearing lenses that are spherical. For one thing, these allow you to see better on the sides, below and above you. The reason is that with all the curves that these goggles have, there is greater surface area that the lens has. Many goggles such as these feature modifications that protect you from glare. Glare is reduced with these types of lenses.
Goggle Lens Color / Tint
While skiing the slopes, there is nothing more dangerous than having foggy vision or not being able to see at all. Finding the right lens tint or color will vary from one name brand to another. Of course, you may be tempted to purchase goggles that match your entire outfit. However, depending on the light and weather conditions, there are unique advantages over one filtered light to another. VLT stands for Visible Light Transmission and this is how much light percentage goes through the lens, generally between one to one-hundred percent. It’s a good idea to learn how to choose the right lens color for your goggles. Sort of like picking the right club for golfing. For low light, typical lenses are blue, rose and yellow with a sixty to ninety percent VLT. On sunnier days with great visibility, you want darker colors such as gold, grey and black with a lower percentage VLT. Every manufacturer produces a range you can choose from.
Goggle Lens Color Guide
- Amber – If you do most of your skiing or riding in slightly overcast, grey or stormy weather, an amber or brown lens is best suited for you. It filters out blue light and brings out shadows so you can see bumps better. It’s the most versatile and most popular lens color.
- Gold and Permission – Similar to amber, gold and permission lenses are best for low to medium light and are very versatile. The main difference is that gold and permission lenses are slightly better in low-to-medium lighting because they provide better low light contrast. For very stormy weather, this would be a better choice than amber.
- Rose – Rose is also a popular color because it increased depth perception and sharpens features. It is great for flat light conditions often created by artificial lighting at night. The downside is that rose does not offer great protection, or any at all, in bright light conditions. It should be a secondary goggle or lens if you plan to ski or ride at night and during the daytime.
- Yellow – Like rose, yellow also drastically helps in flat light situations by enhancing depth perception and sharpening features. Yellow lenses are best for flat light during the day when conditions are overcast or stormy, while rose lenses are best for flat light created whilenight skiing. Yellow lenses are often too dark for night skiing.
- Black or Gray – To maintain true colors in bright conditions, black or gray lenses are ideal. For bright sunny days, dark lenses filter out most of the light perfect for reflecting glare on the snow. If it’s overcast or cloudy, black or gray lenses will make it more difficult to see terrain variances or drops in the snow.
- Orange – For an all-round lens, orange is great for medium to bright light. They even do a great job of increasing visibility in low light conditions, while increasing contrast when it’s sunny out. If you’re looking for one lens only, orange is the way to go.
- Clear – Clear lenses are suited for extremely low light conditions, like night skiing or riding or extremely stormy days. They give contrast to dark areas on the snow and increase overall visibility by allowing maximum light penetration.
Generally, when you’re out on the slopes a full day, you’ll experience different weather and lighting. When you have interchangeable lenses, you can maximize performance and visibility as the daylight changes. The fact is that there is no one single goggle lens that provides maximum visibility across a broad spectrum of weather and light conditions. Typically, extra lenses are separately sold and many goggle brands do allow the lenses to be changed. There are ingenious methods that manufacturers have come up with such as using magnets and toggles to enable you to change the lenses of the goggles. You then have the option of changing lenses quickly without having to carry another pair of goggles.
Manufacturers of goggles apply extra lens and new goggle technology features beyond just the color and type of the lenses. This is for the purpose of making lenses work better of you. Some lens technology to be on the look-out for includes:
- UV protection – These lenses will not only save you from the harmful rays of the sun, they will also save you from having to care for overly-sunburnt skin in the long run. The fact is that skiing and snowboarding is an outdoor sport. No matter how much snow athletes tend to forget they are outdoors, what with being so covered up in clothing and gear, sunshine is still able to shine through the goggles. For this reason, save yourself from having to shop for tons of sunscreen week after week by cutting to the chase. And how do you do that? By getting UV protection lenses, which offer you strong protection against UVA and UVB rays of the sun, so even if you forget the sunscreen, your skin remains safe.
- Mirrored Lens – Goggles for skiing with mirrored lenses reflect light back to the source. This means that even with the glare of the slopes or super bright sunshine, your eyes are spared the strain of having to see through bright light. With mirrored lenses, your eyes are kept cool as well as the skin surrounding your eyes. Ideally, you will find mirrored lenses that offer UV protection at the same time. This will enable you to ski knowing that your eyesight and your skin remain protected no matter how long you would like to stay in the sun.
- Polarized Lens – Most people see snow goggles that claim to have polarized lenses, without really understanding what these are. The fact is that polarized lenses reduce the glare of the reflected sunlight produced by the ski slopes. Glare tends to be harsh when the sun is shining brightly. Remember that the color white reflects, and so whether you realize it or not, you are getting a lot of reflected sunshine aimed straight at you, and your sensitive eyes. By getting polarized goggles, you save your eyesight and protect your eyes for years to come. Polarized lenses on ski glasses are particularly important to people who ski frequently or plan to ski professionally.
- Double Lens – Double lenses significantly reduce fogging and create a heat barrier compared to its counterpart of single lenses. For snowboarding or skiing, you just won’t get the same safe experience as you would with double lenses. On all the newer snowboarding or skiing goggles, you will tend to find double lenses.
- Ant-fog lens – Anti-fog lenses are important for hardcore skiers. As a matter of fact, these are important for novice skiers as well. The reason for this is that lenses that don’t fog will be safer to use and easier to see through than any other type. From the onset, it is probably a good idea to get these types of high-end products rather than waiting until you feel “good enough” to invest in “real equipment. Rather, investing in anti-fog lenses will help you learn to ski faster, since you will be able to see better and for longer periods of time, without having to stop now and then to wipe the fog off your goggles.
- Photochromic Lens – These snowboard and ski goggles adjust to the change in light. In other words, when the light gets dimmer, the photochromic lenses will enable you to see better, even with less light. At the same time, when there is bright light, the lenses will get dimmer, helping your eyes see well without the glare. These are a great feature since you will be able to ski or snowboard for a longer period of time compared to other skiers not wearing light-adjusting goggles. At the same time, photochromic lenses tend to be safer to use since these will enable snow athletes to see better no matter how much light there is in the day.
Snow Goggle Ventilation
When condensation forms your vision can get compromised. This happens when the cold air from outside needs your warm body heat. In order to avoid fogging up, goggles use many approaches. Virtual all goggles use lenses with a double layer. These don’t fog up as rapidly as single-layer lenses do. When properly sealed, create a barrier of heat just like windows for a storm and tend to be fog resistant.
High-end goggles and mid-level goggles have an integrated coating that helps with its anti-fogging capabilities. This keeps your lenses clear as it deters fogging. An older goggles as well as lower-end goggles, you can use anti-fog products.
Goggles on the higher end of the scale include battery operated small fans what helps in moisture dispersal. For going down the slope, riding the gondola or standing in a lift-line, you can adjust fans with different settings.
To help control fogging, the bottom and top, as well as the sides, are the keys. Generally, vents which are wider tend to create better airflow ventilation than smaller holes things. In extreme climates, the tradeoff is that your face gets colder with bigger ventilation.
Even if there were very few features that skiing goggles had in the past, these days, more and more features have been added to maximize your skiing experience. Here are a few special features that make everything much more convenient:
- GPS – GPS on your skiing goggles is a great feature to have. This is particularly true when you are going on unknown paths with inclement weather. Whether you are snowboarding or skiing, GPS is always beneficial and your friends and loved ones will never have to worry about where on earth you are.
- Camera – In the past, you had to strap on cameras to ski gear you wanted to take a video of your path down the powdery slopes. These days, skiing goggles that have built-in cameras are now available. This saves you the hassle and the inconvenience of having to strap on a camera. At the same time, you get to see not just the path you ski on but also get to learn where you can be better, and which treks to avoid. A camera is very useful for social media as well, both for learning, teaching or just to let your friends catch up with what your view of the world is.
Most goggle frames are made of polyurethane because it allows for some flexibility. A more flexible frame is best for harsh use and cold temperatures. To prevent fogging, vents in the frame are found in most goggles. Wider vents obviously provide more ventilation, but you’ll run the risk of your face getting cold. If you tend to run warm or do a lot of hiking, however, goggles with wider vents will be ideal. A few high-end goggles even have tiny battery operated fans in the frame. These are to be used in the lift line or gondola to defog your goggles.
Of course, it’s okay to choose your goggles to perfectly match your outfit, but fit should truly be considered a priority. As a general rule of thumb, youth goggles will work up to 13 years of age. Women’s goggles have slightly less face coverage which makes for a better fit for the ladies. A woman can certainly wear a men’s frame, but sometimes they slide down the face, cover too much of the nose/cheeks or just look too big.
As with any goggle, there should be no pressure points on your face. Goggles should truly fit like a glove without any spaces between the padding and your face. They should form a snug seal on your face. Even the slightest gap will allow air into the goggle causing your eye to tear, thereby defeating the purpose of wearing goggles. The adjustable strap will enhance a perfect fit whether you’re wearing a hat or a helmet.
Don’t assume that every goggle fits with every helmet. Most fit well together, but some can create gaps in unwanted places, like between your forehead and the top of your goggles. This creates “brain freeze” and is also referred to as a “gaper gap.” Brain freeze just hurts when cold air touches your forehead and the gaper gap isn’t the most stylish look. Sticking to manufacturers who make both goggles and helmets like Smith, Gyro or Red and Anon ensure a perfect fit. That doesn’t mean you can’t cross brands. It just implies that you should try the goggles on with the helmet before wearing or call the helmet manufactures to see which goggle brands fit well with their brand. Lastly, be sure the adjustable goggle strap fits over your helmet.
Over the glasses or OTG goggles are created in order to allow the wearer to wear their prescribed eyeglasses underneath the snow goggles. Compared to having to buy goggles with prescription lenses this is a much less expensive option. Compared to regular goggles, OTG goggles have more depth. These are also made in order to conveniently accommodate your eyeglasses’ arms. Inside the goggles, your prescription eyewear should not be able to move. Also, your eyewear should not put any pressure or discomfort while you’re wearing both your prescription eyewear and your goggles on either your temples and your nose. The way you can make sure everything lines up together is to wear them together with your glasses and move your head from side to side to check.
Tips for Best Goggle Fit
No one has the same face. The fit of snow goggles will be different for everyone. Now that you’re in the market for a pair of new goggles one important consideration is to find the perfect fit. How your goggles fit will have everything to do with the strap attachment, padding, and frame-shape.
- If you can feel the goggles pinching your temple try loosening the strap a bit. See if loosening the strap relieves the tension. If you still feel a pinching on your temple you will need to find snow goggles that are wider.
- When you feel the goggles having a gap on your nose bridge, try loosening the strap a bit. See if doing this helps in securing the goggles down your face a little more. If you still feel that there is a gap try and find goggles with a bridge that is larger.
- If you feel a pinch on the bridge of your nose try adjusting the strap a little tighter so that the goggles are secured higher on your face. Try ski goggles with a different bridge contour or a smaller fit if this doesn’t work.
- If you feel pressure on the outer socket of your eye, the goggles you have may just be too narrow for you. You will need to find a wider-framed version.
Tips for Snow Goggle Care
The moment you buy a pair of goggles, think of it as making an investment. You want to ensure that they last for as many winter seasons as possible. This can only happen with the proper care. Here are a few tips 4 basic goggle care
- Don’t use high heat or the direct sun to dry your goggles. Some people hang them from the rearview mirror or rest them on the dashboard.
- When not in use store goggles in a soft sack. When you purchase one it usually comes with a sack made of soft cloth.
- Before storing them in your bag, allow goggles to thoroughly air dry the moment you are off the slopes.
- Do not wipe the lenses of the goggles. Instead, blot them with anti-fog cloth. Don’t use your base layer shirt. When it comes to your goggle lenses always just use a soft cloth.
- When setting down your goggles, never let the lenses touched a hard surface or the table. Instead, put them down with the lens facing up and resting on the foam side.
The Final Word
As you can see, selecting the perfect ski goggles can make or break your skiing experience. Spare yourself regret later on by finding the right pair for you from the start. You can do this through careful research and checking out recommendations from experienced skiers. Keep in mind that the right choice means years and years of use from just one pair of goggles. This means that no matter what cost they may have at the start, this may become leveraged by their usefulness down the line and how long they outlast all the other pairs of goggles. You might want to think twice about saving money by compromising the pair you select, if you are going to have to spend money again midway through to amend something that does not work. When it comes to how to buy ski goggles, the answer is that you might want to invest in a great product right from the start so you can enjoy years and years of great skiing and snowboarding.
Shop The House for Ski Goggles