Caught in a whiteout when carving off-piste? No problem – get the right ski goggles and you’ll be ready for any run, whatever the weather. With the latest models sporting cutting-edge anti-fog and photochromic lens technology, the best goggles will guarantee crystal clear vision whether you’re carving turns or nervously snow ploughing down the beginner slopes.
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How to buy the best ski and snowboard goggles for you
Why do I need ski and snowboard goggles?
In short, for better visibility and your own safety. All UV light is amplified with altitude which limits your visibility and makes the glare reflected from the snow even stronger. The harmful UV light can seriously damage your eyes, too, so goggles are essential for filtering the UV light to protect your eyesight.
Another factor is the weather – you could wake up to blue skies and be hit with a blizzard by midday. This makes it a lot harder to stay on track and safely make your way down the piste. To combat changing conditions you’ll need goggles with specialised lenses and tints. These will create stronger contrasts which will make it easier to see lumps and bumps in the snow. Goggles also come in lots of different colours to suit light conditions. But don’t worry, we’ll go into more detail about that later.
Plus, you’re going to fall victim to an epic wipeout at some point, it happens to the best of us. And there’s the risk of getting hit by falling debris, too. Ski goggles are important because they’ll protect your eyes and face from injury. Just make sure they’re securely in place and you’re good to go.
What features should I look for?
A basic pair of goggles will shield you from the elements, filter out harmful UV light and have an anti-fog ventilation system. While basic goggles are ideal for first-timers or kids, they just won’t cut it if you’re venturing past the beginner slopes. We’d recommend getting snow goggles with a few extra features to really get the most out of your snow day.
What do the lens category and VLT figures actually mean?
All goggles have a lens category, from 1 to 4, which tells us how much light is blocked by the lens. There’s also a Visible Light Transmission (VLT) percentage which shows how much light is allowed to pass through the lens. Put simply: dark lenses (category 4 and 10-30% VLT) are ideal for bright blue bird days because they block the most light. While paler lenses (category 1 and 50-70% VLT) are perfect for low-light conditions as they allow more light to pass through the lens.
What types of lenses are there?
- Cylindrical lenses are shaped like a quartered cylinder – they curve horizontally across your face but are flat vertically. They’re the cheapest type of lens and also the most flexible which makes them perfect for no-fuss lens changes.
- Spherical lenses have a bubbled effect. They curve vertically and horizontally to mimic the shape of your eye. This gives you better peripheral vision with no blinds-spots or distortion. They’re also less prone to fog up because of their large surface volume.
- Polarised/mirrored lenses have a chemical coating to block the blinding glare that’s reflected from the snow. This helps to improve visibility and reduce eye fatigue. But, while ideal for sunny, or slightly overcast days, mirrored and polarised lenses are dark, so they’ll impair your vision in low-light conditions.
- Goggles with interchangeable lenses will equip you for all weather conditions. You simply pop the lenses out of the goggle frame and then firmly press them back into place. There are loads of lenses available and with the latest quick-change systems, swapping lenses is a doddle.
- Photochromic lenses have a special chemical coating that transitions colours in seconds to suit changing light conditions. They’re expensive but are great for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts that encounter loads of weather conditions and don’t want to juggle between a stash of interchangeable lenses.
What size should I get?
Whether you’re looking for goggles large enough to cover your tired eyes from apres-ski or want to kit out your kids, there’ll be a size and shape to suit you. Really, choosing the perfect pair comes down to the size of your head and personal preference. But our biggest tip: try them on with your helmet to make sure they’re fully compatible and that you’ve got the right fit.
But there’s still a couple of things you should be aware of when you’re choosing your size. Firstly, oversized goggles are great for edge-to-edge peripheral vision but they can overwhelm small faces and may be incompatible with your helmet. Secondly, you need to be wary of choosing a pair that’s too small. It’s the ultimate skiing faux pas to have a gap between your goggle and helmet – called a gaper. Naturally, you don’t want your awesome skills to be let down by your poor fashion choices.
How do I look after my ski and snowboard goggles?
Wiping your goggles clean with your sleeve just won’t do if you’re looking to keep them in prime condition. After all, they’re a pricey purchase and deserve to be treated with a little care. Simply wait for the goggles to dry and wipe clean with a soft cloth – even the soft-case that comes with your goggles will do. We’d also recommend keeping your ski goggles in their protective case (not on your head) when you’re not using them. This will stop the lenses from getting scratched and the chemical coating getting damaged. Most goggles come with a case, but if not, the Oakley Universal soft goggle case is a great investment to keep your eyewear safe.
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The best ski and snowboard goggles to buy
1. Oakley Flight Deck: Best rimless ski goggles
Price: £177 | Buy now from Oakley
It’s easy to see how Oakley was inspired by the edge-to-edge style of fighter pilot’s visors when designing the Flight Deck. For a wide-open view of the mountain, the supersize goggles deliver unrivalled peripheral vision with no distortion. And surprisingly, despite the Flight Deck’s size, the goggles are fully helmet-compatible, too.
The Flight Deck is available with plenty of lenses, but which should you choose? We like the Torch Iridium lens – it’s got the latest Prizm technology polarisation which fine-tunes colour to give a stronger contrast and stunning visual clarity. And with an 11-20% VLT, it’ll have you covered in bright and cloudy conditions. Plus, with Oakley’s highest level of permanent F3 anti-fog coating, your vision should stay picture-perfect from dawn till dusk.
You’re getting a lot of tech for your money but at this price point, we think a spare lens wouldn’t go amiss. We’d advise that you invest in another lens for skiing in overcast conditions should you choose the Oakley Flight Deck.
Key details – Lens: Prizm Torch Iridium; Lens shape: Spherical; Spare lens: No; Helmet compatible: Yes
£148.74 Buy now
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