How To Buy Snow Goggles

Bright sun, bit­ing wind, fly­ing chunks of snow, and tree branch­es are just a few of the rea­sons skiers and rid­ers wear gog­gles instead of sun­glass­es. Myr­i­ad ele­ments includ­ing lens col­or and con­struc­tion, vent­ing, size, fit and mate­ri­als all affect the per­for­mance and price of gog­gles. This guide will help you learn how to choose the best snow gog­gles for your needs.

The most impor­tant deci­sion regard­ing gog­gles is lens col­or, shape, and design.

Lens shape: These are the two main types of lens­es used in gog­gle con­struc­tion.          

    • Flat Lens: Flat lens­es curve in a sin­gle arc across your face but are flat from bot­tom to top. Flat lens­es are less expen­sive than spher­i­cal lens­es and usu­al­ly have a nar­row­er field of vision. Flat lens­es are more like­ly to cause dis­tor­tion or strange lens flares than spher­i­cal lens­es. Well-designed flat lens gog­gles have been used for decades and are a good choice for the bud­get-con­scious skier.
    • Spher­i­cal lens­es: Spher­i­cal lens­es are man­u­fac­tured with a curved shape from side to side and top to bot­tom. They pro­vide the best periph­er­al vision since light can enter at the same angle from the top, mid­dle and bot­tom of the lens. In terms of style, spher­i­cal lens­es often car­ry more reflec­tive coat­ings and offer edge-to-edge lens with less visu­al frame.

Lens Col­or: Dif­fer­ent lens col­ors work well in dif­fer­ent light con­di­tions. One way to tell how well a spe­cif­ic lens will work with the sur­round­ing light is by look­ing at its Vis­i­ble Light Trans­mis­sion rat­ing (VLT). The high­er the VLT, the more light will be allowed through the lens. While col­or does affect the rat­ing, the col­or sat­u­ra­tion and dark­ness varies lens-to-lens, so check the spe­cif­ic mod­el to see how much light the lens­es will block.

    • Cloudy days: Col­ors like yel­low and rose will enhance con­trast on the hard-to-see snow sur­face, bring­ing up sub­tle vari­a­tions in light and shad­ow so you can see the bumps and dips in the snow sur­face. These are both good col­ors when the snow is fly­ing. For these types of days a VLT of 25–70 is effective
    • Mul­ti-use: Amber and gold lens­es are among the most pop­u­lar col­ors because the work well in both sun­ny and cloudy con­di­tions. These lens­es pro­vide mod­er­ate pro­tec­tion from mid­day sun. They also enhance details in shade by block­ing blue light. They lose some their appeal on blue­bird days when they may not be dark enough. These usu­al­ly have a VLT between 20 and 70.
    • Sun­shine: Grey and black lens­es rule in bright sun­shine, when the main pur­pose of the lens is to pro­tect the eyes from glare and reflec­tion off the snow. On the down­side, dark grey and black lens­es reduce vis­i­bil­i­ty on over­cast days when vis­i­bil­i­ty is already lim­it­ed. They tend to make flat light even flat­ter and dim­mer. Look for a VLT between 10 and 20.
    • Low light: For night ski­ing, choose pink or clear lens­es for opti­mum vis­i­bil­i­ty. These lens­es also work well on extreme­ly cloudy, snowy days. Yel­low and even clear lens­es are good when the sky is dump­ing pow. Here, a high­er VLT, above 70, will be helpful.
    • Polar­ized lens­es: These will cut down on glare and reflec­tions, reduce haze and make the sky real­ly pop against clouds. For more infor­ma­tion, read up on polar­ized sunglasses.

Fit: Almost all gog­gles can be worn with or with­out a hel­met because of a wide range of strap adjust­ment. To test the fit of gog­gles, sim­ply press the frame against your face. The foam should lie smooth­ly just above your eye­brows, around your eye sock­ets, against the cheek bones and over the bridge of the nose. The gog­gle should sit smooth­ly against the skin with­out wrin­kles, pres­sure points or gaps.

When worn with a hel­met, be sure the gog­gles and hel­met form a close bond. You shouldn’t have any gap along your fore­head – not only will this allow bare skin to get cold it also looks real­ly uncool.

Dou­ble and sin­gle lens­es: Much like dou­ble win­dows, dou­ble lens­es trap a lay­er of air between the lens­es to act like an insu­la­tor which pre­vents fog­ging by keep­ing the lens on the inside close to the tem­per­a­ture of the air on the inside and the lens on the out­side close to the tem­per­a­ture out­side.  As an added bonus, the insu­lat­ing air lay­er also helps keep your face warm.

Anti-fog coat­ings: Almost all gog­gles have some sort of anti-fog coating.

UV Pro­tec­tion: Almost all mod­ern gog­gles are rat­ed for 100 per­cent UV pro­tec­tion, mean­ing the lens­es block UVA, UVB and UVC rays.

Vents: All ski gog­gles come with some sort of vent­ing sys­tem. Vents are found on the top, bot­tom and sides of gog­gle frames. Enhanced vent­ing can raise the price.

Eye­wear com­pat­i­ble: Check with man­u­fac­tur­ers spec­i­fi­ca­tions to find out if a spe­cif­ic gog­gle is com­pat­i­ble with pre­scrip­tion eye­glass­es. High­er vol­ume gog­gles often fit over small eyeglasses.

Oth­er fea­tures: Some high-end gog­gles have advanced features

Inter­change­able lens sys­tems: Allows a sin­gle frame to hold dif­fer­ent lens­es for var­i­ous light con­di­tions. Inter­change sys­tems use mag­nets or mechan­i­cal attach­ments to hold lens­es in place.

Video cam­eras: A few com­pa­nies make gog­gles with mount­ed video cam­eras for point-of-view filming.

Heads-up dis­play: Some super high-end optics also con­tain cut­ting edge tech­nol­o­gy that dis­plays data like speed, dis­tances, GPS coor­di­nates, air­time, jump dis­tance and drop with an inter­nal accelerom­e­ter and gyro. Cool no doubt, but get ready to break the bank.