5 Best Ski Goggles for Flat Light (Fog, Cloudy & Whiteout)
It's a pretty common occurrence for every skier; the wind picks up, and clouds roll in, blocking out the glare of the sun, but bringing with it a new challenge.
In flat or low light conditions: the sun shines through clouds or fog and makes for a massive loss of depth perception and contrast across the mountain. In the extreme clouds, the white snow and the white sky begin to merge making it difficult to judge your speed or see bumps and dips in the terrain.
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In cloud and fog, skiers who want to see clearly need to wear flat light-specific goggles that let in more light (find goggles with a high VLT) and have a lens tint that increases contrast.
Our Ski Google Top Picks
- Best Overall: Oakley Flight Deck With Prizm Hi Pink
- Best Budget Pick: OutdoorMaster PRO Light (Blue Lens)
- Best in Clarity Lens Technology: POC Fovea Clarity Ski Goggles
- Best Premium Pick: Smith I/O MAG Ski Goggle
- Most Versatile Ski Goggle: Oakley Canopy Ski Goggles
Inspired by the helmet visors of fighter pilots, our snow goggles maximize your field of view, so you won't miss a single target of opportunity.
In our quest for the perfect ski goggles, we've put many models to the test, and Oakley's Flight Deck Ski Goggles have emerged as a clear favorite for flat light conditions. Combining style with functionality, these goggles have proven to be a valuable companion on the slopes. Drawing inspiration from the helmet visors of fighter pilots, the Flight Deck boasts an impressive field of view. This design choice enables skiers to easily spot potential hazards and obstacles, adding an element of safety and confidence during descents.
A standout feature of the Flight Deck is Oakley's Prizm Technology, which has truly set these goggles apart from the competition. By offering exceptional control of light transmission, the goggles adapt to varying light and snow conditions, ensuring optimal visibility. The colors are finely tuned to enhance contrast and improve overall clarity.
In terms of fit and comfort, the Flight Deck Goggles excel with their versatile design. Compatible with a wide array of helmets, these goggles feature a flexible frame, triple-layer foam, and even accommodate prescription eyewear. The secure strap and frame design allow skiers to focus on the slopes without being distracted by an ill-fitting goggle.
However, no product is without its flaws. We found that the Flight Deck Goggles can fog up in snowy or white-out conditions, and the lenses are prone to scratches if not handled carefully. Additionally, the goggles come with a relatively high price tag, which may deter some buyers. Yet, given their remarkable performance, we believe the investment is well worth it.
- Very wide field of vision (like a pilot in a fighter jet.)
- Uses Prizm lens technology to filter light and boost contrast.
- Interchangeable lenses.
- Excellent anti-fog with moisture-wicking foam.
- Interchangeable lenses for more options.
- Will fit over some glasses (like OTG goggles)
- Only 1x lens.
- Not for budget skiers.
Outdoor Master PRO Light is my favorite budget-friendly pick. While it's not got the same well-known technology behind it - they are packed with a surprising number of features for their impressively low price.
The Outdoor Master PRO Goggles feature a magnetic interchangeable lens system, making it incredibly easy to swap lenses for different weather conditions or time of day. With over 20 different lens colors available. We recommend buying 3 lenses across different VLT ranges, which should be enough for most conditions.
- Large spherical lens.
- Excellent price.
- Magnetic interchangeable lens
- Great for late evening or night skiing
- Great range of lenses 10-99% VLT
- Some reviewers complain of minor fogging issues.
Best in Clarity Lens Technology
The Clarity lenses have been equipped with special, advanced tints to optimize visibility by increasing contrast and light intensity.
Flat light days on the mountain can be challenging for skiers, as it becomes difficult to perceive terrain features and maintain good visibility. We found that the unique lens tints and mirror coatings of the POC Fovea goggles enhanced vision by increasing contrast and light, making it easier to pick-out the contours of the slope.
The unique Spectris mirror coatings complement each Clarity lens base tint and are tailored for three distinct weather conditions: sunny, partly sunny, and overcast. For overcast days you'll want their higher VLT lenses - Fovea Clarity in Skeptris Orange.
Comfort is essential for a long day on the mountain, and the Fovea Clarity goggles deliver (for most face shapes - but there are exceptions). The flexible polyurethane frame and triple-layer foam provide a snug fit, while the double silicone strips on the inside of the goggle strap ensure a secure grip, whether worn over or under a helmet. The goggles' spherical lens design and respectable field of view also contribute to a comfortable and immersive skiing experience, even in challenging light conditions.
- Excellent performance in flat light conditions
- Comfortable fit with a flexible frame
- Durable, scratch-resistant, and fog-resistant double lens
- Premium price point
Best Premium Pick
Featuring the gold-standard Smith MAG lens change system that utilizes magnets for fast n' easy swaps, two ChromaPop™ lens options to match the conditions.
What I love about these Smith Snow Goggles is that they have interchangeable lenses and out of the box they always come with two pairs of lenses. These lenses are not cheap, but they are beautifully made and have the latest optics for crystal-clear clarity on the mountain.
These goggles have 16x lens options at the time of writing each with a different tint and VLT rating - from light blue to dark black. Bear in mind, that these goggles will fit medium/large ski helmets (not small). For flight light skiing - pick a lens with a higher VLT. The more overcast and the more light you need your goggle lens to let in.
The wide spherical lens design provides excellent peripheral vision, ensuring you can see clearly in all directions. We particular liked how we could pick-out small details in the snow while moving at speed in low light.
- 2x Beautiful lenses (low light and bright light).
- Chromopop technology for high-definition contrast.
- Wide spherical lens for excellent vision in all directions.
- Triple-layer DriWix foam for comfort and reducing moisture (warmer).
- Interchangeable lenses for more options.
- Very strong anti-fog rating.
- Some reviewers note that changing the lenses is not always easy.
- Not cheap.
Another solid frame from Oakley. These lenses use the same Prizm technology but use a different more flexible shape than the Flight Deck and are not interchangeable (can't swap out lenses). It comes in 16 beautiful lens color tints. I'd recommend the Prizm Rose lens for low light or the Jade Iridium for an all-weather tint (bright sun and overcast days). They're compatible with 'most' eyewear under 145mm in width.
The Oakley Canopy Ski Goggles come equipped with the Oakleys renowned Prizm lens technology. which does a great job of enhancing contrast and visibility across a wide range of light conditions - especially flat light.
The goggles are designed with Oakley's O-Flow Arch technology, which relieves pressure on the nasal area and allows for better breathability. In addition, the triple-layer face foam ensures a comfortable and secure fit, even during extended periods of use. The main drawback with these lenses i that lack of interchangeable lenses.
- Prizm lens technology.
- Excellent anti-fog coating.
- Flexible frame for optimum face fit.
- Large oversize fit for wide angle view.
- No interchangeable lenses.
- One reviewer notes that if you get water on the inside of the lens doesn't run off easily.
Understanding Flat Flat Light Conditions
What Is Flat Light?
Flat light in skiing is the weather that produces very little contrast between the highlights and shadows of the mountain. When you combine this flat light with white snow you get an environment that is almost all white and grey except for shrubs, buildings, and other skiers.
Flat/low light conditions span a wide variety of weather conditions from overcast (cloud cover blocking the sun) all the way through to whiteout conditions where it becomes hard to identify anything beyond your outstretched hands.
Flat or low light conditions occur when:
- Fog rolls in
- It's snowing or raining
- The sky is overcast and cloudy
Why Do Goggles Help You See Better?
The right pair of goggles will help you see better in low-light conditions because they will increase contrast and stop you from squinting your eyes. Even in flat light, the cloud cover will let in plenty of UV rays that you need to stay protected from. Wind and snow will make your eyes water and skiing without goggles won't be very fun.
The optimum ski goggle for flat light will block less light and have a specific color tint that is designed to improve contrast.
Ski goggles measure the amount of light they let in using the VLT scale (Visible Light Transmission). The lower the VLT, the more light is blocked. The higher the VLT, the less light is blocked. So for flat light conditions, we want to look for ski goggle that does not block too much light. Ideally a 25% VLT or higher.
Low Light Lens Colors
There is a range of lens colors that work well in flat light. Permission, brown, yellow, and orange are great lens tints for overcast flat-light days. There are many other tints that ski goggle brands use for low light, the key point is for the goggle to deliver high contrast and one that doesn't block too much light (high VLT).
Low Light Lens Technology
It's worth mentioning Smith Optics (Chromapop) and Oakley (Prizm), which over the last decade or more have been developing lenses specifically to increase contrast. Both technologies are now built into their top-tier lenses and although they cost more than a regular lens, they do give skiers a much better depth perception in low-light weather conditions.
Here is a more in-depth R&D video of how Oakley has developed Prizm lenses to create better detail by exaggerating the effects of certain colors within the spectrum and blocking those that make it harder to see detail - based on how the human eye perceives light.
Top Tips for Low Light Skiing
Once you've got your flat light ski goggles in hand, there are a few things you can do to stay safe on the mountain.
1. Ski with Trees
Although it might sound dangerous, it is actually safer to ski near trees when there is less visibility. The color of the trees will pop out of the landscape and provide a backdrop to judge distances and improve your depth perception.
This will help you know how fast you moving and allow you to control your speed or stop before you end up in danger.
2. Change your Elevation
Sometimes the cloud is going to be concentrated at the top or the bottom of the slope. If you can change elevation you may be able to ski above the clouds or beneath them. If you get higher and above the clouds, you'll have more light and if you get below then you'll have greater visibility.
3. Use your Poles
If you're not in the habit of pole planting, flat light is a great time to get into it. Pole planting not only allows you to set a rhythm while you ski making your parallel turns smoother and more dynamic, but pole planting also has the added benefit of helping you to perceive the depth of snow and the steepness of the slope ahead - like a cat's whiskers.
If you don't know how to pole plant yet, read my free guide on using your poles while skiing.
Skiing While it's Raining
If you're skiing at the end of the season, it can occasionally rain instead of snow on the mountain. Not only will you need your low-light goggles at the ready, but you'll also want to wrap up in ski clothing with high breathability (over 10k) and waterproofing rating (over 15k).
Rainwater will get you wetter faster than during snowfall. Don't get soaked through or you are much more likely to get hyperthermia. During a rainfall, warm snow can get slushy and nighttime temperatures can cause re-freeze turning parts of the piste icy.
If you want to know how to ski in these conditions, I wrote an article called: How to Ski While it’s Raining
Skiing While it's Snowing
If it's snowing heavily, skiing can be really fun or miserable depending on how prepared you are. You'll get fresh powder, but visibility will be reduced and you'll get much colder if you're not wrapped up.
There are a few changes you can make to your technique to have even more fun skiing while it's snowing.
Skiing in a Whiteout
Skiing in a whiteout is difficult, and challenging and can be dangerous if you accidentally go off-piste. The best thing to do is ski slowly, be aware of any piste markers, and stick together with your buddies. If a storm is approaching, or you feel in danger - seek shelter.
I wrote a whole guide on skiing in a whiteout, how to stay safe, and warm, and what to look out for.
How to Stop Goggles Fogging Up?
The best way to avoid fogging is to invest in a decent pair of goggles with vents, anti-fog coating (the effectiveness of coatings varies), and a quality lens.
The next best way is to:
- Keep your lens clean (dirt attracts condensation).
- Don't touch your lens directly with your fingers.
- Shake or use a soft cloth to dab water droplets (no smearing).
- Keep the goggle in a dry internal pocket when not in use (the heat will reduce the build-up of condensation.)
Read my full guide to stopping google fog
How Should Ski Goggles Feel?
The perfect fit should be snug but not squeeze or put pressure on any part of your face. You should not have red marks at the end of the day (if you do, loosen up your strap more.) The perfect fit is goggles that you forget you wearing within a few minutes and it's a surprise when you realize you're still wearing them at the end of the day.
I discuss the most common goggle fit problems and the solutions to them in my main ski goggle guide.
Can I Wear my Glasses Under Goggles?
Most spectacles will find under the large spherical goggles (like the Pilot Deck) but may cause squeeze issues for those with more protruding lenses or bigger faces. If in doubt, #1 goes for ski goggles marked with OTG "Over The Glasses", #2 buys spectacle inserts that will fit most standard goggles, OR #3 you can wear single-use contact lenses.
I discuss all this, the pros and cons, how to stop glasses fogging, and everything you need to know in my full guide: Skiing with Glasses.
Skiing in low light can be a challenge if you're wearing ski goggles that block out too much light, or a storm is approaching. Skiing with reduced visibility requires more concentration and for you to react faster to changes in the terrain as you may hit hidden bumps or troughs, so ski on runs that you're comfortable with and match your skill level.
With less light, temperatures will start to dip. Wrap up, drink hot drinks, stay warm, and most of all enjoy your day in the mountains.