Ski and Snowboard Goggle Buying Guide
It's great to have fun on the slopes. It's even better to be able to see where you're going. Goggles come in a multitude of shapes, sizes, features, and price points. So how do you figure out what is right for you? Our guide below should help make everything clear.
The shape of your goggle lens has a significant impact on your range of vision, clarity, and glare reduction. For many years there were just two shapes of lenses- cylindrical and spherical. These are still the most widely used lenses on the market, but there is a third shape called toric, which is a hybrid of the two.
- Cylindrical – These lenses are flat vertically and curved horizontally. The more substantial amount of flat surface on this shape increases the chance of glare. This type of shape offers a decent amount of performance and usually at a lower price point.
- Spherical – These lenses are curved both vertically and horizontally. This bubble shape provides a wider peripheral view than a cylindrical shape. The spherical shape better matches the curvature of the eye, which allows for a sharper view.
- Toric– These lenses are a combination of cylindrical and spherical shapes. This hybrid of shapes better matches the curvature of the face and eyes, allowing for optimal clarity and field of vision.
The color and tint of a goggle will determine the amount of light that passes through. This transfer of light is called the Visible Light Transmission or VLT.
The lower the VLT percentage, the better it will perform in brighter, clearer conditions. The following are some of the colors that fall into this category.
- Black – Just like you'd expect, black lenses are best on extremely bright and sunny days. But they deepen shadows and can be tricky if the sun goes away or during lower light conditions.
- Green/Silver – These are best for brighter conditions because they help to enhance the contrast between light and dark areas.
The higher the VLT percentage, the better the lens will perform in low light conditions. The following are some of the colors that fall into this category.
- Yellow/Amber/Gold/Rose – These colors are great for filtering out blue light, which helps to illuminate shadows. Amber and rose are useful in almost any light condition except dusk or heavy cloud cover, while yellow and gold are very good for overcast days but might be too bright for full sun.
- Clear – Best in dark conditions such as late dusk, heavy clouds, or nighttime.
In addition to color and tint, most goggle brands have proprietary lens technology, and it can be a bit overwhelming. Some, such as Oakley's Prizm™ lenses, Smith's ChromaPop™ lenses, and Giro's Vivid Lenses™,filter out specific color waves from the spectrum. The filtration of these colors creates higher contrast allowing for a more detail-rich visual experience.
- Interchangeable Lenses –Now that we have discussed the various lens colors and tints, we can talk about changing them out for different conditions. Some lenses work well in most situations, but only photochromatic lenses can change with the light conditions. These lenses tend to be on the pricey side and can take time to change. If you prefer more control over when and how your lens color changes, then a goggle with multiple lenses is right for you. Every brand has its own unique features when it comes to the ease of changing out lenses. The most user friendly of these options is magnetic. Almost all goggle lenses can be replaced, and it is a good idea to have a spare, whether for changing light conditions or scratched/damaged lenses.
- Ventilation – I'll go ahead and say it. All goggles can fog up. Fogging can happen no matter how much you spend on a goggle. Do more expensive goggles have better anti-fogging capabilities? Yes. But even the best goggle can fog up if it can't breathe. Ventilation is the key to ensuring good airflow and preventing moisture from causing goggle fog. A goggles compatibility with the helmet should be considered when choosing a goggle for this reason. Higher-end goggles will have better padding to prevent saturation of sweat and snow.
- Fit – The bigger the goggle, the wider your field of vision will be. But you will want to make sure that the goggle's padding makes a nice seal between your face, especially around your nose. Smaller faces will need smaller goggles. Some goggles have extra foam lining around the nose to ensure the right fit for those who have smaller nose bridges. The manufacturers often label these goggles as Asian fit. Another specialized fit feature is over the glass goggles or OTG. OTG goggles are made to fit comfortably over most prescription eyewear. Prescription inserts are a good option if you cannot find an OTG goggle that is right for you.