So let’s talk about how to choose ski goggles!
Hi there, I am Aspen, an NZSIA level 2 ski instructor, APSI snowboard instructor, ski school manager of SSWBoardHouse’s Japan and China division. Together with Hans, a ski goggles designer, we will share some valuable tips and information about choosing ski goggles.
When we go skiing or snowboarding, wearing ski Goggles can protect us against UV lights, wind, snow, rain, trees, rocks, and many dangers that are harmful to our vision. In somehow, it is even more important than your ski boots!
This article will also provide answers to the most commonly asked questions relating to ski goggles.
Let’s choose some great goggles together!
Do I Need Ski Goggles?
When choosing ski goggles, the first thing you need to consider is “do I need ski goggles?”
My quick answer is, it depends.
On a regular snowy day, you should always wear ski goggles, no matter your level. And it would be best if you got a pair of ski goggles with polarized lenses. They can protect your vision against harmful UV lights, reduce glare, and improve contrast.
Ski goggles can also protect you against snow and wind. Expert skiers can easily reach over 80 km/hour without goggles, our eyes hurt.
Sometimes, I prefer wearing sunglasses over goggles on a warm and sunny day. So probably you will see me wearing sunglasses on the beginner slope during springtime.
We have to wear either sunglasses or ski goggles with polarized lenses whenever we are on the big white mountain during the daytime because they can protect our vision against UV lights and snow blindness.
So the question then becomes, “Do I need ski goggles or sunglasses?”
Do I Need Ski Goggles or Sunglasses?
For beginners, if you are going to ski on a sunny, warm, and mild day, like the Easter holiday, usually you can wear a pair of sunglasses.
I always advise my beginner students who can’t even walk properly to get as minimum snowsports gear as possible if they are unsure whether they will like it.
So if you are sure that you like skiing, we can move on to the next step.
For sure, there is a risk that it may be pretty expensive if you want to get a pair of goggles when you are in the ski resort, especially in shops next to the slopes.
If you are heading to the slope on a snowy, windy day? Get a pair of goggles first because you need them to protect you against the cold, ice, snow, and wind. No matter what your standard is.
Besides, wearing sunglasses instead of goggles may be riskier, though. What if your sunglasses broke? Or maybe you will lose it when you fall?
If you are going to do cross country skiing, probably you don’t need to get a goggle yet, too.
How to Choose Ski Goggles – What to Consider?
Take into account the following factors before choosing your goggles.
First of all, you should get a pair of goggles that fit your face snuggly (not tight), are comfortable, and leave no gap between your face and the frame.
Different models are available for smaller faces, larger faces, women, kids, Asians.
Any gaps in between your faces and the frame will cause your goggles to fog up easily. In such a case, no matter how great your lens is, you won’t be able to see in most conditions.
Most of the frames are made of polyurethane, so it’s flexible, and we need this flexibility when we ski in cold weather.
Here are some features you should consider when you are getting your helmet.
Always purchase a pair of goggles that is helmet-compatible, as a ski instructor, I always advise everyone to ski with their helmet. My helmets have saved my lives twice in 5 years. Therefore, please get helmet-compatible goggles.
Most helmets have straps to hold your goggles. Once, I had a student purchase beautiful ski goggles, the clip on the goggles straps just doesn’t fit in the google holding straps on her helmet.
The strap on the helmet became useless, and at the end of the day, she had to wear the goggles under her helmet, which made her feel uncomfortable.
If you are going to shop at a gear shop, always bring along your helmet, or else, check with the online shop seller if they match.
Most adult goggles are adjustable. They usually come in the form of a sliding clip or an open/close buckle. Depending on your preference, you can choose the type you like.
Some kid goggles are not adjustable, but for sure, they are cheaper too.
Padding is a pretty important detail. If the padding breaks, your goggles can no longer fit securely on your face, and it would be easy to fog up. Paddings of most high-end goggles are made by a few thin layers of sponge to enhance venting and prevent fogging.
Over the Glass (OTG) Goggles
Some people cannot wear contact lenses, and therefore they need to wear glasses under the goggles. Most of the time, it’s really easy to get fog up, and your nose bridge and cheek will be pretty uncomfortable.
For Over the Glass ski goggles, there would be additional space to accommodate your prescription glasses. With anti-fog treatment on your glasses, you will be able to have clear vision.
So now we have a pair of snuggly fit goggles. Next, we can talk about the lens. There are three types of most common lens shapes:
Cylindrical lenses: A vertically flat lens that only horizontally across your faces. A cylindrical lens may cause more glare and offer a less peripheral vision to the skier. However, they are also cheaper, and I think they look much better too.
Spherical lenses: Curve lenses (both vertically and horizontally). A spherical lens often comes with a larger lens and hence will bring you a better peripheral vision. It also helps to reduce distortion and glare. However, spherical lenses are also more expensive.
Toric lenses: Toric lenses are also curved both vertically and horizontally. It’s not that round like a spherical lens and yet it can minimize the edge’s distortion.
Lens Colors and Visible Light Transmission (VLT)
VLT measures the amount of light that is allowed to pass through a lens (from 1% to 100%).
Usually, you need a lower VLT% for skiing on a sunny day, probably like 10% VLT, usually, black, blue, and gray color lenses are with lower VLT.
For night skiing, you need a goggle with high VLT, such as a clear lens (around 90% VLT). Yellow lenses are usually at the higher end of the VLT spectrum too.
Most major brands’ goggle lenses usually lay within 15-40% VLT for bright to normal conditions.
On harsh conditions such as snowy, cloudy, or indoor ski resorts, you will need a pair of 40-70% VLT goggles. Usually, green, red, and purple lenses are suitable for these conditions.
So when you purchase your goggles, always make sure you get lenses covering all conditions.
An excellent goggle lens that will cover your from different VLTs is photochromic. It will adjust automatically according to the lighting conditions. This means you don’t have to swap lenses when your environment changes.
Do note that you want to get a pair of photochromic goggles that can change rapidly so you will always have a clear vision when you ski.
The most common three types of ski goggle lens are:
The mirrored lens has a reflective coating on the outermost layer of the lens, which will reduce the amount of light to pass through and reduce glare. Usually, mirrored lenses are great for bright conditions.
Are mirrored or non mirrored ski goggles better?
Mirrored ski goggles are always better than a non mirrored ski goggles on a bright and sunny day because it can protect your eyes from glares and harmful lights (such as UV lights).
Do mind that there is a distinction between expensive and cheap mirrored lenses, though, so check their reviews first.
A polarized lens, by blocking strong horizontal light passing through, can effectively protect your eyeballs against UV lights and snow blindness. However, the downside is it will darken your vision, and it’s also more expensive. And here leads to a viral question!
Are polarized ski goggles worth it?
Yes! I would consider getting a polarized ski goggle as the minimum requirement if you ski over two weeks per season. Simply because of the better protection, they can offer to your eyes is all worth about it.
If you will ski for over 30 days a season, consider getting high-contrast lens goggles. Which, we will discuss the details in the next section.
The development of ski goggles lens technology is pretty exciting. They allow you to see a more saturated color, clearer details, and block harmful lights and glares.
The biggest advantages of these lenses made with the latest technologies are that you will see more details under all conditions, including lowlights conditions.
The most famous goggle brands with impressive lens technology are: Smith’s ChromaPop, Oakley’s Prizm lens, Giro’s Axis googles are using Zeiss (from the renowned camera lens Zeiss).
Anon’s Sonar goggles also applied Zeiss technology because they have partnered with them too.
Recently, we have tried Vight’s high contrast lens goggles – the defender ridge, it also worked really well.