If you can’t see where you are going, skiing or snowboarding can be a little difficult, that's why ski goggles are an important part of your equipment list.
Ski and snowboard goggles offer improved definition and provide vital protection for your eyes and face in harsh or sunny weather conditions. They're also great if you are wearing a helmet because they fit snug over the helmet (but do try them on to ensure they fit your helmet before you buy a pair). You can choose from a whole host of different sized and shaped goggles, so make sure you get a pair that are comfortable without any obvious gaps. You may even consider taking both a pair of goggles and a pair of glasses with you on the mountain – and you can wear whichever better suits the weather conditions, or keep the sunglasses for lunch breaks and hiking uphill.
A light brown tint is considered a good all conditions lens, providing some protection from the suns glare whilst still allowing good definition in variable light. A lighter tinted lens such as rose, orange, yellow or blue can work well for flat light (cloudy conditions and low visibility) while a mirrored finish can help to reflect bright light and sunshine. Bear in mind that lens tint can come down to personal choice and taste, so do try the goggles on first to see which you prefer. Make sure any lenses used for sunny conditions have UVA, UVB and UVC protection, most major brands do. New technologies such as Oakley 'Prizm' and Smith 'Chromapop' further enhance definition in flat light and work well in a variety of conditions. You can always carry a spare lens of a different tint if you are expecting changeable conditions. Some sort of venting on the goggle or lens can help to minimise the temperature difference between the inner and outer lenses (most snow goggles are dual lens), helping to prevent fogging, there are also heated or fan assisted goggles that help with this issue but a well designed dual layer lens should be enough.
Wearing goggles over prescription glasses
If you normally wear prescription glasses then there are various solutions, including specific models of goggles that fit over most glasses frames. Treating your regular glasses with an anti-fog treatment can help to prevent them misting up inside the goggles. You can normally get a good anti-fog treatment from your optician or snowsports shop. If you do wear glasses you may want to consider choosing a spherical lens. Spherical lenses can offer improved vision, especially at the periphery of your vision with much reduced image distortion about the edges of the lens.
Some goggles will be able to take optical inserts. The way this works is that the inserts can be taken to your optician to be glazed with your prescription (this is an additional cost and will vary depending on the strength of your prescription, please check the cost with your optician first). The insert then sits securely inside the frame of your goggles. Not all goggles accept inserts so check with the shop which goggles will best suit your needs.
Ski goggle lenses in more detail
Flat light and variable (poor visibility) conditions:
- Clear: Better for night skiing as there are no additional tints to help with contrast or glare and no UV protection.
- HI Pink/Yellow/Blue - Storm Flash: A superb low-light lens. The yellow tint increases contrast and gives maximum definition in poor light. The reflective blue coating deflects bright light to reduce glare, good for mixed light conditions.
- Persimmon/Amber - A good low to mid light lens, amber lenses filter out blue light to improve contrast, and increase depth perception in varying light conditions for better definition.
- Rose - Iridium, Everyday: Excellent in poor to mid light conditions, rose-coloured lenses increase depth perception and enhance shadow, helping to define contours in the snow.
Bright and sunny conditions:
- Jade/Sapphire/Blue/Green/Violet - Iridium, Ion, Mirror: A great lens for bright sunlight. The blue or green mirror coatings reflects all glare and the persimmon tint of the inner lens continues to increase depth perception and improves contrast, good for sunnier mixed light conditions.
- Torch/Fire/Red - Iridium, Ion, Mirror: A great lens for bright sunlight. The red coating reflects all glare and the persimmon tint of the inner lens continues to increase depth perception and improves contrast.
- Black/Silver/Gold/Platinum - Iridium, Ion, Mirror: The darkest lens with the most protection from bright sunlight glare, the base lens is persimmon to add contrast and depth perception in lower light conditions and they have a fully mirrored effect for strong sun.
Some of the lens names referred to here are manufacturer specific (Oakley/Dragon/Smith) so check with your ski shop which lenses they have to best match your needs. Photochromic lenses are also available, these react to UV levels and change the tint of the lens accordingly, they are good if you don't want to change lenses but they are often not as good at low light or bright light as dedicated lens tints. The latest goggle lens technology is Oakley's Prizm React which uses and electrical signal to change the tint of the lens from 35% to 10% VLT.