Ski goggles and snowboard goggles 101
Goggles are one of the most important pieces of gear you can buy for skiing and snowboarding, so it's important that you do adequate research and figure out the best ski goggles or best snowboard goggles for you. Any seasoned skier or snowboarder will tell you that your ability to see through your skiing or snowboarding goggles in adverse conditions can make or break your day on the mountain. To get you heading in the right direction, we've created this guide to help you settle on the best snow goggles for you.
The lenses of your goggles are the most important part, and the aspect of the set that you should spend the most time thinking about. There are different lenses for different conditions, some that perform well in low light, others that perform better on bluebird days, and some that do a little bit of both.
Variable light transmission (VLT)
- The amount of light a goggle allows to pass through the lens is called Visible Light Transmission (VLT). VLT is expressed as percentage of light allowed through the lens falling somewhere between 0% and 100%. Low light lenses typically have a VLT above 45%, everyday lenses have a VLT between 15-30%, and polarized lenses are usually below 10% VLT.
Cylindrical vs. Spherical
- Cylindrical lenses curve horizontally while remaining flat vertically while spherical lenses curve both horizontally and vertically in a more "bubbled" style. While you won't notice a huge difference between the two, spherical lenses tend to have a slightly bigger peripheral field of view, while cylindrical lenses tend to distort light a bit less. Neither of these differences are significant, and you are likely better off just choosing whichever style you like best. Any commentary on significant benefits of either style is just marketing speak.
- When light is reflected off certain surfaces, it tends to be reflected at higher intensity through angles perpendicular to the surface. By acting as a filter of vertical light, polarized lenses are able to cut glare much more effectively than a standard mirrored lens while improving overall visual clarity and providing increased contrast and definition. Polarized lenses are great for snow sports and reduce eye fatigue and strain.
- These lenses automatically adjust to changing light conditions by darkening when exposed to stronger ultraviolet (UV) light and lightening when there is less UV light. The primary advantage of photochromatic goggles is that the lens will adjust to changing conditions, making it an extremely versatile option on days when the conditions are changing minute by minute.
- Double lenses
- Double lenses create a thermal barrier that reduces fogging significantly compared to its single lens counterpart – a single lens goggle just won’t cut it for skiing or snowboarding. All of our goggles come equipped with this double lens technology.
Anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings
- Anti-scratch treatments can help keep your lenses clean and free of blemishes, while a hydrophilic anti-fog chemical treatment to the inside of the lenses greatly reduces the goggle’s tendency to fog. All of our goggles come with both treatments. Check out our in depth write up on anti fog goggles for more info.
Ski Goggle Care
There are a few basic things you can do to greatly increase the lifespan of your goggles:
- Get a case to protect them when you are traveling to and from the mountain.
- Allow your goggles to dry completely before storing them. Never store wet goggles in a case or bag, and avoid storing them in a damp ski bag altogether.
- Avoid setting the goggles down on any kind of hard surface in the lodge or at home after your ski day is over.
- Use a microfiber cloth to dab at the lens - both inside and out - after each session. Be gentle, you can wipe off the coatings if you are too rough.
- Don't hang them from your rearview mirror, that's lame.
The question we get most often:
Q: How many different lenses do I need?
Some people can get away with only one lens option. For example if you only ski or ride in Colorado or Utah a few times a year on bright, sunny days, you will probably be fine with only an everyday lens. However, if you ski in a range of conditions, it is probably best to have multiple lenses to swap out.
The more time you spend in the mountains, the more weather conditions you’ll encounter. Having multiple lens colors on hand can help to maximize visibility and performance throughout the day, as the reality is that no one goggle lens can provide optimal visibility across the full spectrum of lighting and weather conditions.