Gear Guide: Snow Sport Goggles

*Another post by The STP Gear Doctor, Kevin.

Over the last thirty plus years that I have been skiing, I've tried out quite a few goggles. Snow goggles are more than just an accessory. They protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, blinding winds, ice particles, twigs, and branches, improve your vision by preventing glare. At high altitudes, the atmosphere is thinner and unable to filter as many UV rays—making goggles even more necessary. So what should you look for when buying ski goggles? With so many brands and models to choose from, picking a pair is not an easy decision. Sierra Trading Post at the time I wrote this had 69 styles of goggles to choose from. Here are some basic guidelines that should help.

Lens Types
There are two lens shapes, flat and spherical. A flat lens means the lens surface is vertically flat.

This lens is cheaper but can cause more glare.

A spherical lens curves and gives you better peripheral vision and less glare, but for a higher price tag.
Ski Goggle

Ultraviolet (UV) Protection
Skiers and riders are especially at risk to UV rays. The wide expanse of snow that blankets the slopes provides the perfect reflecting board for UV rays to do damage to your eyes. It's important to choose a pair of goggles that block out 100% of UV rays and to wear your pair in all types of lighting conditions.

Lens Tint
Next, have the right color lens for the light conditions. These are some basic tints and their benefits.
Yellow/Amber - Yellow and gold will bring out shadows and allow you to see bumps—making it good for foggy or overcast days.
Brown - It will increase contrast and is good for bright, sunny days.
Green - Green will also increase contrast but is better for overcast days.
Gray - Will allow you to see normally and is good for bright days.
Rose - Rose will increase depth perception and works best in flat conditions.
Clear - Will allow the most light and should be worn for snowy conditions or near sunset and night skiing.
Mirrored — Even though it is not a tint, reduces glare in bright light.
Most brands will also list the Visible Light Transmission (VLT) of their lens tints. Low VLT number will mean less eye fatigue on sunny days. High VLT number means better color and depth perception on low-lighting conditions.

Look for fog prevention features. Nothing can ruin a ski day more than when you are skiing blind. Look for an anti-fog coating and double lenses. Vents are another option to increase better airflow. Some goggles will have small, built-in fans to circulate air through the goggles and prevent fogging.

Proper Fit
Goggles are generally available in two sizes, adult and children. Focus on which type of straps and buckles can be adjusted to easily fit your face. They should fit snuggly around your face without any gaps or pressure points. Your goggles should be secure enough to create a good seal that will keep out moisture and cold. Other fit considerations include:

Helmet Compatible
If you wear a helmet, make sure the goggles are helmet compatible. These goggles usually have a longer band, a back clasp, and fit the shape of the helmet. These days most goggles are compatible with helmets

Foam pads keep the goggles from pinching against your face. Manufacturers also offer models that
are specifically sized for women.

Prescription Glasses
Individuals who wear glasses face special challenges. Look for specially made OTG, or "over the glasses" goggles that are specifically designed to fit over your prescription glasses. Make sure that the OTG goggles you select offer adequate venting.

Other Features to Consider
Goggles that have interchangeable lenses so you can properly adjust to the right colored lens. Polarizing lenses will reduce the glare off the snow. Photochromatic lenses change their tint depending on the UV level. It's a great feature to have and will save you from buying different colored lenses.

Some Quality Brands to Consider
Some brands to look for are Smith Optics, Zeal, Anon, Bolle, Spy, Dragon, Scott, Uvex and Giro.

I hope this will make it a bit easier to choose the right snow sport goggle for you. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the snow!

-STP Gear Doctor, Kevin.
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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