Quite possibly one of the most underrated pieces of equipment in skiing and snowboarding is goggles. We find this to be quite ironic because a bad pair of goggles can ruin that powder day faster than any other piece of equipment you have. If your goggles hurt your face, do not fit properly, fog constantly, allow the sun to blind you, or worse yet, do not let you see any thing at all then there really isn’t a purpose for wearing them and you owe it to yourself to review the information outlined below.
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.
If you wear a hat a properly fitted goggle should:
If you wear a helmet a properly fitted goggle should:
* 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.
If you’re asking yourself, “what does all of this mean?” Allow us to provide a brief synopsis. All of the preceding information means that before you go and buy those goggles simply because they match your ski or snowboard apparel, take them out of the box and try them on. They may match, but if they don’t fit, you are just throwing money away. If you typically wear a helmet when skiing or snowboarding, try the ski or snowboard goggles on with the helmet you will be wearing. This will allow you to get the most accurate assessment in respect to the fit of the goggles. Remember that the best goggle for you will always be the one that fits the best, guaranteed.
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.
The first step is finding a goggle that fits properly (see above). Once you have accomplished this, you will want to select a lens that is most appropriate for the ski conditions. Lenses come in a number of different shapes, styles, colors, and technologies. To help guide you in the right direction, we will “shed some light” on what all of it means. If you own goggles but don’t like your current lens, shop replacement lenses.
Flat Lens Goggles
As you may expect, flat lenses are shaped flat. They do not possess any spherical shape, and are typically found on less expensive, basic model goggles. While low in price, flat lenses have a more limited viewing window than spherical lenses, putting the concentration on what is visibly in front of you. The amount of peripheral vision is limited with flat lenses and the viewing window also tends to be slightly distorted. The distorted viewing angle occurs because the flat shape allows light to come through the lens at a different angle on the top and bottom than in the middle. The end result is that your viewing window can appear magnified or misshapen.
Additionally, flat lenses can often catch sunlight at odd angles, resulting in intense glare on occasion. This is important to keep in mind when purchasing or using flat lens goggles. If you are using them and this occurs, your goggles are not broken or malfunctioning on you, it’s simply the shape of the lens. If you’re on a budget or simply want something basic, a flat lens goggle is likely to be the best option for you.
Here is an image of a pair of goggles with a flat lens:
Spherical Lens Goggles
Just like its name implies, a spherical lens will have a curved shape and “wrap” around your face. Unlike a flat lens which provides very little peripheral vision, a spherical lens is designed to provide a great deal of it. The added peripheral vision is very important on the slopes because it allows you to see other skiers or trees that may be present on your far left or right. 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.
Here is an image of a pair of goggles with a spherical lens:
We will begin this discussion by blanketing this topic with a quick fact: double lens goggles are better than single lens goggles, period.
We will justify this fact in a moment, but before we go any further, allow us to explain each in some detail for you.
A single lens goggle is just that, a goggle with a single lens. A single lens goggle is constructed with a single sheet of polycarbonate or plastic that provides a simple barrier between your eyes and the environment. A single lens goggle is most commonly found with kid’s goggles and inexpensive adult goggles.
A double lens goggle is different than a single lens goggle because it actually uses two lenses in one. An outer lens protects against the environment, while an inner lens is designed to prevent fogging. Both lenses are typically made from polycarbonate, separated by a thin spacer of air, and sealed together with foam.
The air barrier that exists in a double lens goggle is what makes them far superior to a single lens goggle. The primary reasons for this supremacy are because first, the air spacer creates a thermal barrier between you and the cold air. This creates a goggle that is much warmer and more comfortable to wear. Second, the air barrier helps to further prevent fogging by equalizing temperature between the heat of your face and the cold air of the climate.
Here is an image that diagrams the construction of a double lens goggle:
Before we end our discussion on double lens goggles, let us knock out one other common misconception. It is often perceived that double lens goggles have to be expensive. This is not true. Great deals on goggles are common place in the market, so we recommend that you do a little shopping around and find a goggle with a double lens. You will be warmer, fog-free, and happier when you are out on the slopes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Photochromic lens is one of the best types of lenses you can buy. The reason for this is that a Photochromic lens will automatically lighten or darken depending on the light conditions. They offer superior visibility in all light conditions because the lenses are continually adjusting to provide optimal clarity and depth perception. Photochromic lenses work via exposure to UV radiation, which is emitted by the sun. The higher the UV exposures (the sunnier it is), the darker the lens becomes.
Just as skis and snowboards change with new technology every year, so do ski and snowboard goggles. Here are a few of the latest technologies to help keep you up-to-date on the new products entering the market.
One of the most annoying and frustrating things that happens with goggles is when lenses fog up completely. Over the years, goggle manufacturers have tried many different techniques to help battle this issue. Smith Optics believes they have devised the ultimate solution to this problem with the Turbo Fan. The Turbo Fan is a micro-sized fan that Smith has developed which is placed in the top of certain goggle frames. When activated, the fan begins to spin quietly, blowing all the hot moisture out of the goggle, clearing up any fog almost instantaneously. The fan is powered by 2 AAA batteries that are placed in a small battery pack and clipped to the goggle strap. The fan is powered on with a simple flick of a switch. This new system is especially useful for people who ski or snowboard in damp or snowy conditions, and have problems with routine fogging. Finally, if you wear glasses under your goggles, this is the ideal solution for the fog that always forms on the lenses of your glasses.
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:
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.