Ski & snowboard goggles come in many shapes, sizes and with many different types of lenses. What do you need and what’s best for what conditions?
Here’s a simple explanation of what to look for and what will work best for you.
1) Face Shape & Size
How big is your face? If goggles don’t fit your face shape and size, you’ll end up with them sliding down your face or fogging up on the inside. No one likes riding with fogged up goggles.
How can I figure out what works for my face shape?
The best way is the simplest way, go and try out each goggle at the store. Check for any gaps in where the foam meets your face. The most common gap is around nose area of the goggle.
If you have a smaller nose, you may be interested in companies like Smith Optics and Oakley. These companies offer an ‘Asian Fit’ which is designed especially for people with smaller noses.
2) Lens color/tint and coating
Lenses come in a variety of colors and coatings. Companies sell each lens tint based on how much light can come through the lens.
In plain english, this means you should select a darker tinted lens if you ride in sunny conditions and a clearer, less tinted lens if you ride in snowy/overcast conditions.
This is a special layer that is put over the goggle’s lens. You may notice them on goggles that reflect images similar to a ‘mirror’. This is useful because it helps to get rid of glare from the sun.
This can help to cut down on glare and reflections in the snow.
Note: Most people will avoid buying polarized lenses due to the huge price increase. It’s nice to have, but not really necessary and it can also make it harder to see icy spots in the snow.
3) Which lens is best for what conditions?
I believe in teaching from experience so these are the exact lenses that I use for each condition:
Sunny Days / Spring Riding – Medium Dark Orange Mirrored Lens
You want the darkest lens you have for bright sunny days. In particular, I like dark mirrored lenses because it helps to cut glare down as well. Just be aware that if the sun goes down or you ride into some shaded areas, really dark lenses will make it harder to see the snow.
Partial sunny days / Overcast & Low light days – Light to Medium Dark Yellow Mirrored Lens
This is my favourite lens because I can use it for pretty much everything. In fact, I actually use this lens for most sunny days as well.
The mirror and medium tint lets me use it when the sun is shining, but it’s also light enough that I can use it on overcast days and when it’s snowing. Plus, the yellow tint helps to improve contrast in low light conditions.
Night Riding – Clear Lens
Obviously there’s no sun at night, so you don’t really need any tint for night riding. Do note that clear lenses are really hard to find, so if you can’t find one, a very light yellow lens works really well for night riding too.
Extra tips and advice
Remember that everyone’s eyes are slightly different. You may be more sensitive to light, so you may find that you need a slightly darker tint than others.
Also, don’t forget that the mountain/resort that you ride at will affect your choice of lens. For example, at Whistler Blackcomb, you’ll find that many riders prefer a lighter lens because we get a lot of cloudy/snowy days.
I hope you found this guide useful!
Got more goggle questions? Ask me in the comments below!