Ski Goggles – Buyer’s Guide for New Skiers 2019

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Ski goggles are an essential part of a skiers kit. They protect you eyes from the elements, keep your face warm and drastically improve your visibility.

Choosing the right ski goggle for you can be a minefield of options and price points. In this guide I’ve broken down the most important things to know –  you know exactly what to look for in your next ski goggle purchase.

Why are ski goggles so important?

Ski goggles protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, sun glare and the cold. They provide a full face covering to insulate your face and make it much easier for you to see where your going, wether your skiing in bright sun or low-light.

  • ✅UV Protection
  • ✅Lens Glare
  • ✅More Contrast & Clarity
  • ✅Stay Warm
  • ✅Protect your eyes

P.S If you’re still on the fence, read this first: 6 Major Reasons You SHOULD Really Wear Ski Goggles.

Key Things to Know:

Understand VLT 💡

The first thing to know is that different ski goggles let in different amounts of light. This is know as their VLT rating and it stands for Visible light transmission.

The lower the number, the less visible light you can see and the darker the goggles. Low numbers are better for bright sunny days.☀️

The higher the number, the more visible light you can see and the lighter the goggles. High numbers are better for overcast, flat light days. 🌨

ski goggle VLT graph

Ski Goggles Lens Tints

If you’re new to the world of ski goggles then you might not realize that goggles come in a range of lens colors – for two main reasons:

To work better in different light conditions and to provide a unique color filter for the skier.

The lens color is determined by the base tint that the goggles use; with a strong tint designed for brighter conditions (more sun) and a lighter tint for darker conditions (less sun) and a mix for all round wear.

Tint colors affect what the skier sees through their eyes and an outer finish changes the color of how the lens looks from the perspective of another skier.

Popular Tint Colours

Bronzeamber ski goggle tint

All round weather ☀️⛅🌨

Bronze (or Amber) is The most popular base tint, these colors help to increase shadow contrast and are designed to work with a maximum range of conditions.

Yellowyellow ski goggle tint

All round weather☀️⛅🌨

Traditionally used in skiing as one of the first colors, this tint increases contrast and depth perception by reducing blue light. They are still popular lenses but the yellow hue is not everyones cup of tea.

Orangeorange tint lens

All round weather ☀️⛅🌨

Similar to the yellow tint, orange tints reduce blue light and increase contrast and depth in all weather.

Permissionpermission ski goggle tint

Overcast & low-light weather ⛅🌨

This base tint filters blue light and increases contrast in low-light conditions. This allows for a greater perception of depth and is suited for snowy, overcast skiing. This tint still works in brighter conditions but won’t be as effective.

Smith produce a version called Ignitor, This is the same as the persimmon lens, but has a mirror coating to improve bright light performance. Better for all day and all season use.

Greygrey ski goggle tint lens

Sunny & some cloud.☀️⛅

Grey lenses are becoming more popular. The tint is the most natural as the lens doesn’t distort colors to a different hue like other tints. Dark grey is better for bright conditions whether lighter grey works well in a cloudy & sunny environment. They have a cool blacked out reflection, to make for a ninja look on the slopes!

Brownbrown ski goggle tint lens

Cloud & low-light 🌨⛅

The brown tint filters soft blue light and are great for strong sun conditions. The brown cuts out bright light and are not great for overcast conditions. You can still wear them in these conditions, but visibility won’t be optimum.

Roserose ski goggle tint lens

Cloud & low-light 🌨⛅

This tint enhances colors with a rose pop and is great for low-light overcast conditions. The rose tint has a soft glow but is not ideal for bright sun. A great second pair to have as a backup lens.

Blueblue ski goggle lens tint

All-rounder (depending on finish)☀️🌨⛅

Blue on its own will filter out white light and would be suited for a lowlight. However blue tints work well in all conditions depending on the color combo it is combined with – different lenses in different ways.

A mirrored coating makes blue great for bright light, whilst a blue tint that’s left alone or mixed with a yellow or orange works well in low light.

Clearclear ski goggle tint

Night-skiing 🌙

Image shown is an example of sun glare wearing clear or no ski goggles during day-time.

Perfect for indoor or night skiing. The lenses maintain the natural true colors of the outside world. Whilst clear lenses come with some UV protection they are not advisable to be worn in the day, in all but the worst of all low-light conditions.

Combined Tints
ski goggle tint options

Many goggles on the market combine the tints I’ve mentioned above to create a custom look. These mix of colors are great for creating a distinctive look, a specialized weather goggle or an improved all-rounder.

Everyone has their own preference as to what style of hues they like to see the world through.

Just like an Instagram filter, ski goggles change the colors you see and so it’s important that you choose a color tint that you love.

Most skiers opt for an all-rounder, whilst seasoned skiers prefer a different lense for each condition. Either by buying multiple goggles or a goggle brand that allow interchangeable lenses (some brands allow you to slot in and slot out lenses on the fly).

Another option is to opt for a photochromic lens which changes color depending on the amount of light that hits it! read on to find out more.

Ski Goggles Lens Features

UV protection (essential)

Unless you’re buying knock-off ski goggles, EVERY new ski goggle sold from a reputable brand will offer 100% UV protection from UVA, UVB, UVC. This covers all 3 types of ultraviolet rays – and is extremely important for protecting your eyes.

Even in cloudy conditions, plenty of UV rays are present, bouncing off clouds in the sky and straight into your retina.

Always wear sunglasses or ski goggles to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

Polarised Lenses (not essential)

A polarised lens is a special type of light filter applied to the lens coating that reduces glare. Looking through a polarised lens gives you a clearer view of the snow in areas where a strong reflection from the suns rays is present.

Snow is very reflective on bright sunny days and a extra polarised lens filter will allow you to see the contours in the mountain with much greater detail.

Polarized lenses can also increase visual clarity, contrast, and acuity, making your environment more enjoyable. And when you’re able to see better, you may be able to mentally determine what you’re seeing quicker, which can help improve reaction time

Good Eyes

Skiing becomes safer as you are able to react to the gradient of the slope ahead of time.

A polarised lens is not essential, but it is a feature that would put one goggle ahead of another for me (with all other features equal).

Note: Polarisation does block some visible light so would not be advisable for night skiing.

Photochromic lenses (not essential)

A photochromic lens changes the in tint depending on how bright the outside world is.

The more sun and the greater the presence of UV rays the darker the tint becomes.

The less sun and the less UV, the lighter the tint becomes.

That way the amount of light that passes through to your eyes changes, depending on bright it is.

So you can ski effortlessly from the sun to the shade without a significant change in what you can see.

The clever thing about this – is that it all happens automatically without swapping out lenses or manually pressing a button.

Mirrored lenses (not essential)

Mirrored lenses have a coating on the outside that reflects light back.

That creates a cool mirrored effect and means that you can only see a reflection if you’re looking at someone wearing a mirrored lens.

mirrored ski lens
Your author wearing mirrored lenses.

Mirrored lenses do block more light, between 10-50% depending on the strength of the coating as compared with equal lenses without a mirrored lens. This is not really a problem, but a benefit – unless you ski in very low-light conditions.

Mirrored lenses don’t create any glare or mirrored effect for the person wearing the goggles. When you look out through a mirrored lens, you see perfectly clear.

Ski Goggles lens shapes

Ski goggles come in two main shapes forms. Each type of lens come in a variety of sizes for different preferences, price points, and head sizes.

Cylindrical lenses (not recommended)

These lenses are curved across the contour of your eyes. The lenses have a flatter profile as the curve is only from left to right (horizontal curve0, rather than top to bottom (vertical curve). These lenses are flatter and they are more prone to glare and reduced peripheral vision. They are typically smaller in size and cost less.

Spherical lenses (recommended)

These lenses are also curved horizontally across your eyes and face but they also have a vertical curve. The 3D cure provides improves peripheral vision and reduces lens glare and distortion. These goggles are typically more expensive because of the extra manufacturing and lens surface required.

ski goggle shapes

 

Spherical lens on the left, Cylindrical lens on the right.

Main difference: Spherical lenses have a more curved or 3D profile than Cylindrical lenses.

Ski Goggles sizes.

Ski goggles typically come in three major size categories, that are small, medium and large.

Small

Designed for young skiers, or adults with smaller faces or head size – small ski goggles have a smaller profile, frame, size, and strap.

Smaller ski goggles should only warn by people who have a smaller face or who prefer the profile. Small ski goggles will not fit most skiers.

Medium.

Medium goggles should fit most people, except children or those with larger heads. Great balance between price, visibility and aesthetic design.  Recommend for most.

Large or Oversized

Designed for maximum visibility, larger frames provide a greater field of view and are suitable for most adult skiers.

Not everyone fits oversized goggles and some helmets will not be compatible with the shape.

The larger goggles make you look more like a bug, people either love or hate this aesthetic.

The wider and longer shape means that your horizontal and vertical fields of view is larger – extending your peripheral view further.

This greater field of view can make skiing more fun and safe as hazards are not obscured as easily by the frame – as on some smaller versions.

Over the Glasses (Prescription eyewear)

You can buy OTG (over the glasses) which are specially designed ski goggles that allow you to wear your usual prescriptive eyewear.

OTG goggles are deeper than regular ones, and have room for your spectacles to sit beneath.

They have special channels either side that allow the spectacle arms to slide into the goggle and stay firmly set.  They are designed so that your spectacles do not wiggle about while your skiing.

If you’d like to know more, I wrote a whole article on the challenges and solutions to skiing with glasses. 

Avoid the ‘Goggle gap’

I have a bit of this in my bio picture, you can see that my goggles are not 100% fitted to the lip of my helmet. Now a bit of gap is completely fine and not a problem.

If you have a larger gap and you’re skiing in very cold temperatures – then it can cause your forehead to get cold – so it’s one thing to look out for.

This can be avoided by buying ski goggles and a helmet from the same manufacturer (check with them first to see if they are compatible.)

Anti-Fog Ski Goggles

There are a number of methods that ski goggles use to reduce or eliminate fogging.

Condensation happens when cold air from the outside mountain air meets the warmth of your body heat. This can cause your goggles to fog and block your vision – which can be both annoying and dangerous.

Here are the key essential features you should look for in anti-fog goggles:

Ventilation is a key factor in reducing fogging. Small holes in the foam at the top of the goggles and slits along the side are the most common places for vents

Double-layered lens: are now industry standard for almost all goggles. The double lens layer creates a thermal barrier and is a powerful anti-fog mechanism.

Anti-fog coatings: This is found on all mid to high-end goggles. Manufacturers use a special film that eliminates condensation at a much faster rate. Cheaper goggles often have poor quality or no anti-fog coatings and can quickly become a useless purchase.

Main takeaway: invest in goggles with high-end anti-fog, there’s nothing more annoying than having to wipe your goggles to see properly on the mountain.

How to avoid fogging

  • Invest in a decent pair of anti-fog goggles!
  • Remove any snow built up that may be blocking the vents.
  • Don’t wipe the lens with your glove as this can scratch your lens and smudge water droplets.
  • Place fogged goggles in a dry pocket in your jacket. The heat will reduce the build-up of condensation.
  • Don’t put your fingers directly on the lenses, always move your goggles on and off by holding the frame.
  • Store your goggles in your jacket or soft cloth pouch rather than on your forehead during breaks. (putting them on your helmet is fine).

P.S Read my full guide to stop your goggles fogging.

The perfect ski goggle fit.

Your ski goggle should be firmly on your eyes, and not move when you wiggle or move your head.

You shouldn’t feel any pressure or squeeze against your face.

Ideally you after a few minutes of skiing, you should forget that you’re even wearing them.

They should be so comfortable on your face and provide the perfect amount of vision, that its a shock when you take them off in your break and realize how white and bright the outside world is!

Goggle fit problems

Here are the main reasons goggles can become uncomfortable and exactly how to fix the problem:

Outer eye socket pressure

This is most common when the goggles are too narrow for the size of your head and the edges do not overlap enough. If you feel the edges of your goggles digging into or touching to close to your eye sockets, then you need a new pair that has a wider frame.

Pinching of your nose bridge

If you feel your goggle weight resting too much on your nose, then you are wearing your goggles too far down your face. Try tightening the strap for a tight fit and push them higher up your face. If this doesn’t solve it, you’ll need either a smaller pair of goggle or one with a different v shape contour

Pinching your forehead

If the goggle is too tight on your forehead try loosening off the strap to relieve the tension. Otherwise, you’ll need a larger or wider pair of goggles that fit your face shape better.

The gap on the bridge of your nose

If there is a noticeable gap to the outside near your nose area, then try losing the strap so the goggle moves down your face. If this doesn’t solve it you’ll need a goggle with a different shape.

Face foam

The goggles should sit comfortably on your skin and the fast foam should be gently cupped to your face. Too much pressure and it will leave red marks and hurt your face over longer periods on the slope.

Too loose and your goggles will move while skiing and you’ll feel the cold on your face.

Tighten the strap till its snug but not too firm. Replace your goggles if your foam does not fit properly or has disintegrated because of age.

Head strap

A quality head-strap is important for a comfortable, movement-free fit. Look for a goggle with elasticated straps that have a silicone line for a firmer grip. The silicone prevents the headband from sliding. Wearing goggle with a helmet and strapping it into place, makes for an even more secure fit.

How to care for your goggles

Ski goggles are an expensive investment and it’s worth keeping them in good nick, so there with you for many seasons to go.

Top tips for keeping your goggles in good nick

  • Store your goggle in a soft cloth bag that you received when you purchased them.
  • Use a soft cloth or anti-fog cloth to blot the lens dry. Don’t wipe the lens as it can cause damage – especially if there is any dirt particles on the cloth or lens.
  • Take your goggles out of their protective sheaf to dry and air out at home or in your hotel room.
  • Don’t leave your goggles out in the sun or your car’s dashboard to dry. I know they’re designed for the sun but excessive exposure to UV will reduce the lifespan.
  • Keep them at the top of your bag and don’t rest any weight on them. They can handle some flex, but too much and: the shape will be distorted, the lens may be scratched and the frame can be weakened.
  • Strap the goggles into your helmet using the back strap clasp, so they don’t fly off during a fall or a fast head movement.
  • Don’t touch the lenses with your fingers.
  • Don’t spray your goggles with any cleaning solution or anti-fog spray without first consulting the manufactures website. Harsh chemicals or anti-fog sprays can degrade the UV, mirrored or photochromic filters and ruin your expensive lens.

Prescription lenses

For those who usually wear prescriptive eyeglasses, there are two options for you.

Option #1: You can either buy goggles that have an added prescription lens inserted. Prices for this range from at least $50+ / €50+ on top of the cost of normal goggles.

Option #2: You can buy OTG (over the glasses) that allow you to wear your usual prescriptive eyewear beneath the goggles. OTGs are on the whole comfortable but there can be issues with fogging and movement if the size and shape of your spectacles don’t match up with the goggles.

Option #3: Wear single use contact lenses beneath normal ski goggles.

Quick summary: Prescription inserts are a great option. OTG goggles area a more affordable option but tend to fog a bit more. Many skiers prefer contact lenses.

I run through all of these options in great depth on my free guide: Skiing With Glasses: The Ultimate Guide.

Best Ski Goggles in 2019

My recommendations list Coming soon…

Best Ski Goggles for Kids

Read my full list: Best Ski Goggles For Kids 2019

Advanced features

Built-in-display: some expensive & advanced models of goggles have built-in displays that project on to the visor to show you; your location, altitude, speed, and ski distance. They are usually built into the helmet and come as helmet/goggle combo.

Is there a difference between ski and snowboard goggles?

Nope!

Final thoughts.

Now that your armed with a hit list of all the features to look out for and you know what style of tint and frame you’re after, narrowing down your choice of eyewear is going to be that bit easier.

Pay what you can afford and invest in a better pair to save on replacement costs and benefit from greater vision, longevity, and comfort.

Good luck and happy skiing.

Author: Simon Naylor

Hi – I’m Simon, I started NewToSki.com to write about everything I wish someone had told me when I started learning to ski.