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Ski goggles are one of the most important purchases you’ll make when assembling your collection of ski gear. They play a role in your ability to ski safely and have a comfortable and enjoyable experience. There are several reasons why ski goggles are important.
To begin with, ski goggles protect your eyes from the cold and wind. Not only is skiing down a hill unpleasant with exposed eyes, but it’s also dangerous.
Second, ski goggles protect your eyes from the sun. Again, this is an issue that involves both safety and comfort. Your eyes need protection from sun exposure, but it also doesn’t make for a pleasant skiing experience when the sun glaring off of the white snow is forcing you to squint and affecting your ability to see.
Other reasons you’ll want to invest in a quality pair of ski goggles include:
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There are several things to consider when shopping for the best ski goggles. For example:
Condensation is a problem for anyone wearing eye covering, especially when it’s cold. It occurs because your warm breath blows upward and condenses on the cold surface of goggles. One of the reasons people opt to wear goggles when skiing is because they have less risk than sunglasses when it comes to fogging.
NASA engineers at Johnson’s Space Center developed the most effective option for anti-fog coating. It was composed of liquid detergent, deionized water, and oxygen compatible oil. Eventually, NASA issued licenses to goggle companies that allowed them to reproduce the coating and use it for lenses.
To prevent fogging, make sure goggles fit tightly to your face and your helmet and hat do not block the vents at the top of the goggles.
OTG (over-the-glasses) goggles can reduce fogging more than sunglasses alone. Many people who wear prescription glasses use OTG goggles. If you opt for this, make sure you choose goggles that are specially designed to reduce fogging.
Your goggles should feature a scratch-resistant coating that prevents damage. This coating isn’t foolproof, but it will cut down on a lot of scratching from minor mishaps, such as dropping your goggles or debris impact. You’ll get more wear out of a pair of goggles that feature the coating.
Like sunglasses, ski goggles usually feature UV protection. Make sure any pair of goggles you purchase offers UV sun protection unless you’re wearing sunglasses under the goggles. Doubling up on UV protection doesn’t hurt, though.
Goggles with a minimum filter category of three offer the best protection. Kids are more susceptible to UV exposure than adults, so category 3 for kids is also recommended. For both adults and kids, category 2 would be acceptable in low light conditions.
It’s important to choose goggles that have the right frame size and shape for your face and your needs. Frames that are too small interfere with your visual ability when skiing.
The two main frame shapes for ski goggles include cylindrical and spherical.
Cylindrical lenses curve across from the left to the right side of the goggles and are flat between the forehead and nose. They tend to fog more and not reflect glare as well as spherical lenses. Some people also find their peripheral vision is lacking with these types of lenses.
Spherical lenses are rounded on the vertical and horizontal axis and have a bubbled appearance. With these goggles, you get better glare and UV protection and your goggles are less likely to fog. You also get an “optically correct” view without distortion and with maximum peripheral vision.
Quality ski goggles allow you to see 180 degrees from side to side. As mentioned above, spherical lenses offer the best peripheral vision.
Photochromic lenses adjust automatically based on light conditions. The level of UV exposure triggers the lens to get lighter or darker based on brightness. This means you get the benefit of having a single lens that can adapt to various situations and don’t need to have different goggles for different levels of brightness.
Oakley Prizm lenses use a type of technology that, according to the company, “dramatically enhances contrast and visibility over a wide range of light conditions.” These lenses make it easier to discern detail and contrast when faced with a snowy landscape. Skiers can see bumps and dips in the snow and avoid them easier with these types of lenses.
They work by blocking out specific wavelengths of light. Oakley offers a range of Prizm goggles with different shapes and lens tints. They are effective in all weather conditions.
ChromaPop Goggles made by Smith feature technology considered as powerful as Prizm. These goggles provide clarity and high contrast in all conditions. They come in 11 colors and you get two lenses that are switchable in different weather conditions.
Polarized lenses also help block reflections off of horizontal surfaces, such as sun reflecting off snow.
Interchangeable lenses are a common feature in modern ski goggles. Most goggles come with two sets of lenses, one for bright conditions and one for low-light. This means you’ll always have perfect eyewear regardless of the brightness level.
Some people prefer single-lenses goggles because they don’t need to worry about switching or keeping track of multiple lenses. In most cases, single lenses are “good enough” but you’ll never have exactly perfect goggles for the weather condition.
It’s important to choose a pair of ski goggles with a reliable warranty if you are investing in higher-end goggles. Any time you are spending a decent amount of money on a product you want protection. Most of the well-known ski goggle brands offer a warranty.
The tint of your goggle lenses affects your ability to see and to be comfortable when skiing.
Tint has a major impact on visibility, so it’s best to sample a few different options and consider the weather conditions where you most often ski. Lens tints include:
Oakley is one of the world’s best-loved ski goggle brands. They offer:
Smith is another well-known brand of ski goggles that offer:
Bolle ski goggles offer:
Amazon offers a variety of different ski goggles. Sometimes you can get well-known brands for lower prices than you’d find directly from the manufacturer. It’s also possible to find gently used ski goggles on Amazon.
Prescription ski goggles allow you to ski without having to wear goggles over your prescription glasses. Your eye doctor can provide you with the information you need to get the right prescription lenses for your goggles.
“NASA Technology in Real World (Fogless Ski Goggles) | Chris Crowley E-Design.” Sites.Psu.Edu, sites.psu.edu/cpc5154/2012/12/06/nasa-technology-in-real-world-fogless-ski-goggles/. Accessed 17 Aug. 2020.
“Ski Goggles - Essential Ski Equipment.” Snow.Guide, 21 June 2009, snow.guide/ski-goggles/#:~:text=There%20are%20two%20main%20reasons%20why%20we%20wear. Accessed 17 Aug. 2020.