Are Expensive Ski Goggles Worth It? (It Depends)

by Simon Knott | Updated: February 9th, 2023 |  Skiing Articles

As the old saying goes you get what you pay for, and of course, this applies to ski goggles too. If you are just starting out skiing and not sure if it’s going to become a regular sport, it’s best to buy a cheaper pair of ski goggles. However, after skiing for a few years you might want to treat yourself to some of the technology better ski goggles now come equipped with.

Ski goggles range in price from approximately $40 to over and above $300. For that cheaper price, you will still have a pair of goggles that will work well and have plenty of good features. However, at the top of the price range, you will have the best features, such as a better scope of vision, much less likelihood of fogging, changeable or reactive lenses, and the possibility of augmented reality.

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Benefits Of Paying More

Paying more will get you access to goggles that have more advanced features such as:

  • Interchangeable lenses
  • Improved anti-fog systems
  • Clearer vision (high-quality lenses)
  • More tint options for different levels of sun
  • Photochromic adaptive goggle lenses (get darker with more light exposure).

When Should You Pay More?

  • You plan to ski more regularly (which helps justify the cost).
  • You want more advanced features - such as adaptive lenses that work in multiple weather conditions.
  • You've got more money to budget towards a higher quality product.

UV Rays and Reflected Glare

Two of the most important features of ski goggles are to do with protecting your eyesight. At altitude, the ultraviolet rays from the sun seem stronger because they have passed through less atmosphere. Similarly, the conventional rays seem stronger because they reflect off the snow surface. Consequently, it is vital to wear ski goggles, which will protect you from harmful UVA (long wave ultraviolet) and UVB (short wave ultraviolet) as well as UVC rays.

A very thin coating on the ski goggle lens easily stops all UV rays and a tinted lens will reduce the glare from the reflected light of the snow.

More expensive goggles have the option of interchangeable lenses, which can be quickly swapped if conditions change. When the sky is overcast a yellow lens helps to make the definition of the snow clearer. In brilliant sunshine, a blue, gold, or grey lens helps with definition, while at night-time a completely clear lens is best. Some of the best goggles have photochromic lenses which respond automatically to the light levels, creating just the right level of tint to see clearly.

Foggy goggles have always been a problem. The moist warm air we breathe out through our nose meets the cold google lens causing tiny droplets of water to condense and create a foggy view. Manufacturers have tried all sorts of solutions, mostly using air vents to direct cold air onto the inside lens to stop fogging.

Male Skier

Some manufacturers installed mini fans inside the goggles to keep the air circulating but these had limited success. Technology has now come to the aid of this perennial problem if you are prepared to pay. The manufacturer, Abom, has designed two lenses, which have an invisible, heat-conductive film sandwiched between them. When the lens becomes fogged the wearer can switch on a rechargeable battery, which will clear the lens much in the same way as a rear heated window in a car.

All ski goggles give you protection from the wind, the snow, and a degree of protection if you fall on your face. These might initially seem small benefits but try skiing in the cold, the snow, and the wind for the shortest distance and you will soon be grateful for the protection they offer.

More expensive goggles will be manufactured from better materials, such as different styles and densities of foam that will mold much better to the contours of your face. The best goggles have been designed to offer the best visibility. This improvement in peripheral vision can sometimes be a game-changer. If someone is heading towards you out of control you want to be the first to know about it and with better peripheral vision, you probably will be the first.

The Future Of Expensive Ski Goggles

Heads Up Display

Heads-up displays on ski goggles are becoming more common with each season. The manufacturer, Oakley launched the Airwave Ski, which can show ski performance including speed, altitude, and vertical descent. The unit links wirelessly with an iPhone or Android smartphone, which additionally enables streaming music or mobile calls. The unit includes a built-in GPS, Bluetooth, an accelerometer, and a gyroscope amongst other technology.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality can be used to overlay useful graphics inside the skier’s goggles. This way the skier sees the conventional view of the run ahead, but additional information is overlaid to give extra information. Such information could include run routes, maps, chair lifts, as well as restaurants, or any friends in the area also using the goggles. Navigation information can also be included in much the same way as a GPS in a car.

It is possible to buy a pair of ski goggles for about $50, which will provide you with adequate protection from UV and sunlight. After a few years, when you are sure skiing is the sport for you, you can invest in better goggles, which will reflect the technology of the day.