How to Choose Ski and Snowboard Goggles
Most ski and snowboard goggles will offer protection from wind, cold, and snow, but beyond that there are some key features to consider when purchasing goggles: lens type and quality, lens colour or tint, lens shape, interchangeable lenses, frame size and fit. Wearing goggles that fit you properly and allow you to see clearly on the slopes, can be the difference between an excellent day and a frustrating one.
To decide on the right goggles for you, let’s take a look at the features goggles have to offer to help you make your choice:
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.
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). 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.
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.
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.
Goggle Shapes and Sizes
Junior goggles 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.Shop Junior Goggles
OTG (Over The Glasses)
OTG goggles are designed for people who wear glasses and will be a bit deeper allowing more space in front of the eyes to prevent glasses being pushed onto the face. 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.Shop OTG (Over The Glasses)
Oversized goggles appear to be frameless in some cases, oversized goggles have grown in popularity. They give exceptional peripheral vision for greater awareness on the slopes.
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.Shop Women's Specific Goggles
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.Shop Asian Fit Goggles
How to choose the right goggle size for you:
It's important you get the correct frame size for your face.
- 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!
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!