As any skier or snowboarder will say, your goggles are just as important as any other piece of equipment you need on the mountain. Goggles act as a shield for your eyes against the harsh light from the sun and the extreme weather conditions you may encounter while on the mountain. Goggles come in various frame shapes and sizes and lens color and tint. With so many options out there it can be overwhelming when it comes time to find the right goggle, so take a minute and review this goggle buying guide. We’re sure that you’ll find the right pair!
A. Proper Fitting
Problems with ski and snowboard goggles typically boil down to two primary issues: poor fit and/or bad lenses. Before we delve into the problem of lens choice, let’s discuss how to properly fit your goggles. If you are the type of person who goes into a shop and simply points to a goggle behind the glass because it matches your apparel, that’s OK. We have all done this once in our life, in one form or another. However, if that’s what you intend to do, let’s adjust this situation so they not only match your apparel, but they also fit your face.
For starters, goggles only come in two sizes: adult and junior. For the most part, this is pretty straight forward. But in case you are on the fence about whether you will need an adult or junior goggle, here is the general rule. Between the ages of 11 and 13 is when most kids will make the switch from junior to adult goggles. With that clarified, we can now outline how to properly fit goggles.
I. When Wearing a Hat
If you wear a hat a properly fitted goggle should:
* Fit comfortably on your face with no pressure points.
* Form a soft, but snug seal on your face. If any holes exist in the seal between your face and your goggles this will allow air to fill your goggles, causing your eyes to water. If this occurs, you may as well not wear your goggles because it basically defeats the purpose of wearing then in the first place.
* Have a band/strap which closes tightly around the back of your head keeping the goggle snug against your face.
II. When Wearing a Helmet
If you wear a helmet a properly fitted goggle should:
* Fit comfortably on your face with no pressure points.
* Have a band/strap that is large enough to fit comfortably around the back of your helmet without causing the band/strap or the frame to stretch out and become distorted in shape. If this occurs the goggle will not be snug on your face. Keep in mind that goggle straps always go around the outside of your helmet, not around your head inside your helmet.
* Form a tight seal between the top of your goggles and the brim of your helmet. This may be the most important item to remember because it can prevent two critical things:
** Brain Freeze: If your goggles allow for even a small part of your forehead to show while you are cruising down the slopes, you will quickly begin to feel like you ate an ice cream cone too fast
** Gaper Gap: Gaper Gap is the technical term for a gap that exists between the top of your goggles and the brim of your helmet. For those concentrated on their ski or snowboard look, this is a big fashion no-no. Trust us when we say that people will routinely snicker in the lift lines if you go with this goofy choice of style.
B. Over the Glasses (OTG) Goggles
For many, finding a pair of ski or snowboard goggles that work with glasses can be a daunting task. Traditional goggle frames just do not offer ample room to wear glasses underneath while still remaining comfortable. So what is the solution? The solution is Over the Glasses goggles, or OTG goggles. OTG goggles are specifically designed to provide the proper amount of room for glasses to fit comfortably underneath them when being worn. OTG goggles look like regular goggles, but they will typically be wider, taller, and deeper than normal goggles (meaning they stick out a bit further from your face). The extra depth is what allows for the extra room. Unfortunately, OTG goggles will usually only come in one or two styles from each goggle manufacturer. However, the limited selection is a worthwhile sacrifice for the added comfort that OTG goggles provide.
C. Lens Geometry
Typically, there are two types of lens shapes; cylindrical and spherical.
* Cylindrical Lenses only curve left and right (horizontally). Cylindrical lenses are generally less of a burden on your wallet but don’t offer too much defense against glare.
* Spherical Lenses curve left, right, up and down. Not only do they give you a rad look, they also have some key advantages to keep you seeing everything. Spherical lenses give you a much better field of view increasing your peripheral view astronomically. Added peripheral vision makes it easier to see trees or other skiers on either side of you which prevents crashes. Additionally, spherical lenses have less distortion than traditional flat lenses, creating a clearer, sharper vision.
What is it about a spherical lens that allows for clearer, sharper, less distorted vision? When a lens is not spherical, the light hits the top and bottom of the lens at different angles than in the middle. If this occurs, the visual is distorted. A spherical lens helps to eliminate these differences by allowing light to pass in a straighter line to your eye. An additional benefit of spherical lens goggles is that glare is reduced. If you have ever been temporarily blinded by the sun as it peaks over a ridge and hits your goggles at just the right angle, a spherical lens will help remedy this issue. The curved shape of the spherical lens does not allow light to catch the lens as easily. The end result is significantly less glare.
D. Lens Tints
When it comes to lens color, you are most definitely going to see a vast array of different tints. Each lens tint is designed for a specific snow and lighting condition. To help you determine what you will need we will go over the most commonly used tints, and the conditions they are designed for. Hopefully this will allow you to pick the tint or tints best for you. Keep in mind you may have more than one or two. Most goggles have removable lenses so that you can change them out as conditions change. If you ride in day and night conditions this will be especially important for you.
Amber and Brown lenses are among the most popular tint selections. They are best for medium light skiing as they help to filter out blue light. This will allow shadows in the snow to appear brighter, provide better contrast, and allow you to see upcoming moguls before you fly over them unexpectedly. If you do most of your skiing in slightly overcast or grey weather, an Amber lens is best suited for you.
II. Gold and Persimmon
Gold and Persimmon lenses act very similar to Amber lenses. Like an Amber lens, Gold and Persimmon lenses are suited for low to medium light conditions. However, Gold and Persimmon lenses perform slightly better in low-to-medium lighting because they provide better low light contrast. If you tend to ski in heavy overcast or snowy conditions, this lens is a logical selection.
Rose or Pink tint lenses work extremely well in flat light conditions. The Pink tint helps to enhance depth perception and sharpen features. Additionally, Rose or Pink tint lenses also work well for night skiing because the artificial lighting that exists on the slopes tends to be very flat. Unfortunately, this lens is not a good choice for an all-purpose lens because the Pink tint offers little to no protection in bright light conditions.
IV. Light Yellow
Yellow or Light Yellow lenses also work well in flat light conditions. The Yellow tint helps to enhance depth perception and sharpen features. This is especially helpful when conditions are overcast or stormy. Unlike Rose tints however, Yellow tints are not well suited for night skiing because they tend to be slightly dark.
V. Black or Grey
Black or Grey tint lenses are popular because they offer the best protection on bright sunny days. The darker tint will filter out most of the sunlight, which is perfect for the glare you get when the sun is reflecting off of the snow. If you live in the western U.S., you will see more skiers and snowboarders wearing this tint because of the high number of sunny days. The only downside to a Black or Grey tinted lens is that it can be difficult to determine depth and terrain variances on overcast or dark days. This occurs because of the little light penetration that occurs with the dark lens.
Orange lenses are an ideal selection for an all around lens. Orange tinted lenses are perfect for medium to bright conditions, where they will perform the best. Orange lenses do not sacrifice as much visibility as Black or Grey lenses in lower light, and they tend to do a very good job of increasing contrast when it is sunny out. If you need one lens that can do it all, an Orange tint lens is never a bad choice.
Clear lenses, if you haven’t guessed yet, are best suited for extremely low lighting conditions. Clear lenses are designed strictly to allow maximum light penetration, giving contrast to dark areas on the snow and increasing overall visibility. If you do a large amount of your skiing at night, a clear lens is best for you. Many skiers and snowboarders will own a set of clear lenses as a secondary lens they can put in for very snowy conditions or night riding.
IIX. Goggles with Mirrored Lenses
Many goggles will have a Mirrored or Chrome lens on them. This means that the lens is slightly, or fully, reflective on the outside. Many skiers or snowboarders will purchase Mirrored or Chrome lenses simply because they look cool. The important thing to note is that this type of lens provides additional benefits, aside from looking like Robocop.
The Mirrored lens coating can be helpful at blocking additional sunlight if you ski or snowboard in very bright conditions. Additionally, the coating helps to reduce glare because it reflects more light than a traditional lens. However, in lower light conditions, Mirrored lenses allow in less light. This means that you will have less visibility on those overcast days. It is important to remember that any lens color can be Mirrored, so be sure to check what color the lens is before picking a goggle with a Mirrored lens.
IX. Goggles with Polarized Lenses
Goggles that feature Polarized lenses offer much better glare reduction and UV protection than Non-Polarized lenses. In the same fashion that water can reflect light, so can snow, in fact even more so. Polarized lenses are designed specifically to reduce reflective glare from snow, while at the same time not sacrificing visibility in lower light conditions. If you have the option, try to get a goggle with Polarized lenses. They will help to reduce the headaches you get from squinting on sunny days.
E. Basic Goggle Care
Like glasses, ski and snowboard goggles are susceptible to wear-and-tear such as scuffs, scratches, and even cracked lenses. In order to keep your vision clear and your goggles in good shape, you should try to follow these few basic rules:
I. Always store your goggles in their protective pouch or a goggle case. The most common place for goggles to get scuffed and scratched is in your ski/snowboard bag or in your vehicle. By keeping your goggles in their protective case, your lenses will continue to look shiny and new, and be out of harms way.
II. Never leave your goggles on your helmet for long periods of time (more than a few hours). If you leave your goggles strapped around your helmet for too long, the strap will stretch out and become looser and looser. Eventually, you may not be able to tighten your goggles enough for them to remain on your face.
III. When cleaning your lenses, wipe the outside with a special goggle or glasses cloth only. Many ski/snowboard jackets will have one of these built into the jacket, so it is convenient on the slopes. However you also use the pouch your goggles come in too. This will prevent the lenses from becoming scratched, as they would with a paper towel or other material. If you have goggles with mirrored lenses, rub very gently. If you rub too hard, you may rub the mirrored finish right off the lenses.
IV. Only use water to clean your goggle lenses. Other substances can harm the plastic and take off the anti-fog coating.
V. Do not wipe the inside of your goggles out. The inside lens is covered in an anti-fog coating. If you wipe the coating off, your goggles are almost certain to fog up. If snow or water gets into your goggles, shake it out or dab with a goggle cloth…do not wipe! If you can, just take a break and let the moisture air dry.
F. Fog Prevention
Fogged up goggles plague even the best skiers and snowboarders. However, there are a few simple tips that you can use to help you stay fog free.
I. Do not wipe the inside of your goggles out if moisture gets on the inside of the lens. The inside lens has an anti-fog coating that can be wiped off if you make the mistake of wiping the inner lens. If you wipe it off, your goggles are almost certain to fog up. If snow or water gets into your goggles, shake out the snow, or dab up the water with a goggle cloth…do not wipe! If you can, just take a break and allow the moisture to air dry.
II. Check your vents! Goggles have vents which can often become clogged with snow. When clogged, fresh air is unable to ventilate through your goggles, which results in foggy vision. Check your vents and wipe out any snow that may be clogging the area.
III. Never use glass cleaner on your goggles. Glass cleaner is guaranteed to take off your anti-fog coating.
IV. Keep your goggles off of your forehead. When you put your goggles on your hot and sweaty forehead they can fill up with hot, moist air. This is the perfect recipe for fog to occur on your lenses. Your best bet is to leave them on your face or put them up on your hat/helmet.