The goggle’s lens is the biggest point of difference for goggles. In general, the higher the price, the better quality the lens will be. A better lens will typically mean better colour pigmentation and clarity when skiing or snowboarding.
There are two choices of lens type when choosing your new goggles: Spherical and Cylindrical (Flat).
Spherical lenses curve both vertically and horizontally to create a ‘bubbled’ look. The spherical lens offers less distortion and less glare than with a flat lens, while also allowing you to see more with the greater lens surface area. The greater lens surface area allows you better peripheral vision to see more above and below you, as well as to the sides. There is more volume between your face and the cold outside with a spherical lens, which means better insulation and air flow - this translates into a reduced chance of fogging.
Cylindrical (Flat) Lenses
Cylindrical lenses are flatter and have a lower profile than spherical lenses. Otherwise known as ‘flat’ lenses, they curve around the vertical axis, meaning that you can experience more glare and a slightly more distorted view than with the pricer spherical designs. These lenses are often found in lower price point models.
S&B Pro Tip: Many brands have come out with very high quality cylindrical lens goggles as this shape has become popular among snowboarders and freestyle skiers.
Single vs. Double Lens
Single lenses are the classic most cost effective option. The product is a single sheet of polycarbonate with a single colour tint, they have a slightly shorter lifespan than the double lens, and are only available in cylindrical form. Double lenses are more durable, have more colour variations, and have stronger anti-fog properties. They are 2 different sheets of polycarbonate connected together by a foam spacer. The outside lens takes on the elements while the middle space serves as a thermal shield to ward off fogging.
Lens Colour and Tint
Having cloudy vision on a powder day or being blinded when it’s sunny and clear can be frustrating and dangerous. Each brand will offer a variety of different lens colours that will filter light differently and offer unique advantages in certain weather and light conditions.
Lens tint refers to how dark the lenses of your ski goggles are, or how much light they let through, which is referred to as visible light transmission (VLT). Ski goggles are given a category between 0 and 4 according to lens tint.
- Category S0 = 80 to 100% VLT: Lenses transparent or slightly tinted; suitable for nighttime wear.
- Category S1 = 46 to 79% VLT: Lenses slightly tinted; suitable for flat light or dull overcast days.
- Category S2 = 18 to 45% VLT: Lenses moderately tinted; suitable for sunny or bright overcast days.
- Category S3 = 8 to 17% VLT: Lenses darkly tinted; suitable for use in bright light.
- Category S4 = 3 to 7% VLT: Lenses very darkly tinted; suitable for very bright conditions, for instance at higher altitudes, or where light reflects strongly.
S&B Pro Tip: Remember that some goggles come with a bonus lens which usually has a tint for low light conditions. In general, if your goggles come with a low light bonus lens, most people choose a goggle with a main lens for medium/bright conditions (Eastern or Western Canada) or bright conditions (Western Canada, Alps, high altitude).
S&B Pro Tip: People who are sensitive to bright light (like people with an astigmatism) should be aiming for lower VLT counts because on a blue bird day even a 60% to 80% VLT may not be enough.
Use the following guides to choose the goggles with the lens that meets your needs most often:
Smith Tint Guide:
Giro Tint Guide:
Oakley Tint Guide:
POC Tint Guide:
Marker Tint Guide:
These are some of the key lens technologies that add that add optical clarity to the goggle lens and enhance your skiing and snowboarding experience.
Smith Optics’ ChromaPop
Through Smith’s proprietary ChromaPop lens technology, they help you see detail and colour beyond normal capabilities. ChromaPop filters two specific wavelengths of light that cause colour confusion. By doing this the lens delivers greater definition, more natural colour, and unmatched clarity to allow you to see more detail. The optical clarity and true colours are noticeable as soon as you put them on your face. You’ll be able to pick up small details in the snow conditions and have reduced eye fatigue.
Vivid is a patented lens technology - developed by Giro in partnership with Zeiss Optics - that improves the visual experience on snow by enhancing contract and definition. Vivid reduces eye strain, improves reaction time, and delivers precise vision without colour over-saturation.Conventional goggles are designed to eliminate blue light because of the long held believe that blue light = bad. Giro’s research has shown that snow is actually blue and seeing blue light is fundamental in processing terrain on snow. Vivid lenses effectively manipulates blue light by letting in contrast enhancing blue light, while blocking harmful UV light. Vivid essentially filters out the haze and frees your eyes to spot your line and focus on enjoying your experience.
By fine-tuning individual wavelengths of colour, Prizm sharpens visual acuity to reveal nuances that would be missed by the naked eye. Prizm is a revolutionary lens technology that dramatically enhances contrast and visibility over a wide range of light conditions. Prizm lenses have been engineered to help you perform over a wider range of lighting conditions, reducing the need to switch lenses as lighting conditions change.
POC’s Spektris Clarity
POC and ZEISS have brought together their extensive scientific and technical knowledge in developing lenses to produce Spektris mirror coatings which features exactly the right blend of colour, minerals and metals to support Clarity base tints. By combining POC Clarity lenses with Spektris mirror coatings we have been able to create lenses that are infused with technology and experience, uniquely balanced to provide users with the best possible vision and protection on brighter days.
Exclusively developed for snow sports, SONAR lenses by Zeiss increase depth perception and enhance contrast for the best possible definition and terrain recognition.
Goggle Shapes and Sizes
There are many different goggle shapes and designs to fit a range of faces. A good fitting goggle will allow for a greater field of vision, including sideways, and will create a neat seal around the face. With a high proportion of skiers and snowboarders using helmets, you also need to take this into consideration when buying goggles. If you already own a helmet then make sure your goggles fit with them, or if buying both, then try them on together. The seal should be good around the face and nose, and you want a good fit around the top of the goggle where it meets the helmet. If there is too much gap it can cause air to get through making it very cold and uncomfortable you you may get brain freeze!
There are dozens of different shapes and sizes of goggles to choose from and one may fit your face and sense of style better than the others. The frames of your ski and snowboard goggles have the biggest influence on the fit and field of view that they provide. While goggle frames come in all sizes and shapes, they basically have three jobs: hold your lens in place, keep snow out, and make your face as comfortable as possible. Any frame should be able to handle the first two parts, so the crucial part is fit. Here are some things to keep in mind:
are less bulky and fit closer to the face. They are usually simplified to reduce the cost and keep them robust. Junior goggles will come in a range of sizes to fit kids of all ages and helmet sizes.
OTG (Over The Glasses)
or over-the-glasses, ski & snowboard goggles are designed to allow you to wear your prescription eyeglasses under your ski or snowboard goggles. This is a much less expensive option than a goggle with a custom prescription lens. OTG goggles are deeper than regular goggles and have channels built-in for the arms of your glasses. With OTG goggles, your glasses shouldn’t move inside the goggles and there should be no discomfort or pressure from your glasses on your nose or temples. Try them on together and make sure everything lines up securely, especially if you wear larger framed prescription glasses.
They will sometimes have a cut away at the side of the frame so the arms can fit under the foam, and plenty of venting to reduce glasses steaming up. If you want to have guaranteed anti-fogging, you can also get OTG goggles with built-in fans that offer incredible anti-fog performance for eyeglass wearers.
appear to be frameless in some cases, oversized goggles have grown in popularity. They give exceptional peripheral vision for greater awareness on the slope.Wearing a larger goggle will provide you with more lens for the amount of frame, helping you get the widescreen, full director’s cut of your winter adventures. Not everyone’s face fits a large, oversized goggle, nor are all helmets compatible with them, however.
These styles give you a bigger field of vision both horizontally and vertically, which translates into better peripheral vision (great for snowboarding) and a better view of what is above and below you (good for steeps). If you’re spinning tricks in the park, a thinner frame is also advantageous because it allows you to track the ground better when in the air. But even if you are just sticking to the bunny slopes, increased peripheral vision allows you to see hazards before they become an issue.
Women's Specific Goggles
Women's specific goggles
often have less volume over the bridge of the nose to reduce excess space for snow and wind to enter. The frame will also be a little smaller than a standard sized adult goggle.
Asian Fit Goggles
Asian Fit or Alternative Fit goggles
were designed for faces with shallower nose bridges and higher cheeks. People with these facial features note that traditional frames tend to slide down the nose and rest against the cheeks, making for an uncomfortable fit. To solve this problem, Asian Fit goggles have extra foam lining at the nose bridge to form a complete seal around the face to give a perfect fit.
are uniquely designed to support users with prescription eyewear, an integrated micro-electronic exhaust fan provides superior fog-fighting ventilation for the most demanding conditions. The increased ventilation improves fog performance of prescription eyewear and inserts.
How to choose the right goggle size for you:
Many adults can comfortably fit into multiple sizes of goggles, but here are some general guidelines. A simple way to think about frame size is that it often times correlates with the size of your head so if you wear a small helmet consider a small frame and if you wear a large or extra-large helmet consider a larger frame, medium to large helmet consider a medium frame size. Here are some other ways to think about frame size:
- Extra-small frames are generally suited to young children.
- Small frames are generally suited to children and women with smaller-than-average faces.
- Small/medium frames are generally suited to teenagers, most women, and men with smaller-than-average faces.
- Medium frames are generally suited to most men, as well as women who prefer a larger frame size.
- Medium/large frames are generally suited to men with larger faces.
- Large goggle frames are generally suited to people who simply like the oversized goggle look.
If you wear an XL helmet, some goggles may not feel comfortable and you may experience pressure on your face around your temples, nose, and forehead. In this case, a goggle strap extender can help solve this problem.
How to know if your goggles fit properly:
It's important that your ski goggles fit correctly. They should fit comfortably, without pinching or pressure. Look out for the following common signs that your ski goggles are a bad fit:
- If you experience pinching on the bridge of your nose, this can mean you simply need to adjust the strap so the goggles fit higher on your face, but if that doesn't work you may need a smaller fit or a different bridge contour.
- If you have a gap at the bridge of your nose, you may need to secure your goggles lower, or you may need a wider fit.
- If your goggles pinch at the temple and loosening the strap doesn't help, you'll need a larger size.
- If you experience pressure on the outer eye socket, your ski goggles are too small.
S&B Pro Tip: Try your goggles on with the helmet you will be skiing and/or snowboarding in. This will help you to see if the goggles and helmet integrate properly and help you to avoid the goggle gap and brain freeze!
S&B Pro Tip: If you are wearing a large size goggle and they fit snugly to the brim of a helmet, make sure the helmet has a good set of exhaust ports so that the goggles don't fog up.
Other Goggle Features:
Interchangeable and Bonus Lenses
Certain goggles come with two lenses as part of a package, which allows the user to tune their goggles depending on conditions. One lens is normally best suited for when it's bright and the other for flat light and darker conditions. Changing them is quite easy after a little practise.
Some goggles use a magnetic lens change system and some use a mechanical lens change system. Others use a combination of the two.
Some brands have integrated facemasks that cover your nose and cheeks for full face coverage to keep out the cold. At Skiis & Biikes, we carry Anon goggles with MFI (magnetic facemask integration). When the goggles come with a facemask, the product title with have the letters "MFI". You can also buy MFI facemasks separately in a variety of colours to match your on-hill look or express you personality.
Some goggles have protective additives that will absorb impacts made to the face and goggles caused by falling or crashing. From Briko, the Bumper system protects from frontal impacts and the Flexa system makes the frame soft and able to optimize the goggle fit. From Marker, MAP technology foam is strategically placed to absorb impact forces during a crash.
Maintenance and Care
When in use, only clean the lenses with the bag the goggles are sold with. This is a special fabric designed to do this job. Tissues, cotton, sleeves etc are highly abrasive and will scratch the lens with use.
- Only clean the lens when it is dry. If you take a fall and the goggle fills with snow, let the goggle dry out, then clean it even if it means skiing with a bit of snow inside.
- Never let your lens touch the table or hard surface when you set them down. Place them on the foam side with the lens facing up.
- When off the slopes allow goggles to air dry thoroughly before stowing in their bag.
- Store your goggles in a soft sack or case when they are not in use. Most come with one when purchased.
S&B Pro Tip: Don’t wear your goggles on your head. Your head is like a funnel and pumps out a huge amount of heat and your will quickly fog up. While goggles should remain fog free through the venting and double lenses, this will aggravate it enormously. You should be wearing a helmet anyways, so this shouldn't be a problem!