How to choose your ski goggles
In the past ski goggles were only used in bad weather, however nowadays they have become an essential item to protect your eyes in all weather conditions... and they are stylish! The price range is wide and depends on the models and technologies used so it is easy to get confused. In this article you will find all the key advice to help you choose a pair of ski goggles adapted to the shape of your face and the conditions in which you will be using them.
Why wear ski goggles rather than sunglasses?
Ski goggles give your eyes and face complete protection while skiing:
Protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays
The ski goggles’ lens prevents damage to your eyes by protecting them from the sun's rays and filtering 100% of the UV rays. The intensity of the sun's rays increases with altitude and so does the snow glare. Protecting your eyes is therefore essential.
In nice weather, the intensity of the sun in the mountains is very high. To avoid being dazzled and straining your eyes you will need a lens that filters bright light.
On the other hand, when the weather is bad, your ski goggles’ lens should let light in (while still filtering 100% of the UV rays) to help you identify terrain variations.
Protection from the wind, snow, foreign objects and sun
When sealed properly, ski goggles protect your eyes from the wind while skiing. In bad weather, they protect you from snow and rain. They also protect you from the sun and glare.
If you happen to ski into a tree branch or hit some debris, your ski goggles will help avoid eye damage.
Different treatments can increase the efficiency of the lens and, for example, improve visibility and add some contrast.
Ski goggles are more watertight than sunglasses and therefore give you better protection. If you fall, their flexibility helps to protect your face, whereas sunglasses are likely to smash and could potentially hurt you.
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What type of lens should I choose for my ski goggles?
Ski goggle lenses have improved a lot and can combine several technologies and treatments that increase comfort and optical quality for the user. Of course, the more technologies used on the lens the higher the final price of the ski goggles.
All ski goggles must adhere to the EN174 standard and filter 100% of UV rays which are harmful for your eyes. The category of the lens tells you how much light is filtered (Visible Light Transmission (VLT)) and should be chosen according to the weather conditions:
- Category 0: over 80% of light passes through the lens. Suitable for night skiing.
- Category 1: between 43% and 80% of light passes through the lens. Ideal for bad weather and foggy conditions. The lens is clear.
- Category 2: 43% to 18% of light passes through the lens. These lenses are suitable for cloudy conditions or if you ski in the shade.
- Category 3: 8% to 18% of light passes through the lens, making it suitable for use in sunny conditions.
- Category 4: less than 8% of visible light passes through the lens. This category is used for extreme luminosity at high altitudes or on a glacier. The lens is very dark in color.
Other than appearance, lens tint allows your goggles to adapt to different light conditions.
- Pink or yellow tint: terrain is more visible in bad weather as the lens generates better contrast.
- Brown or gray tint: less color distortion when skiing in good weather.
These lenses are made from pigments that react differently to different light intensities. Photochromic lenses adapt to the weather conditions (bad weather or sunny conditions) and can change from category 1 to 3.
Lenses using this technology are more expensive than normal lenses and have become increasingly popular with skiers and snowboarders. They are very practical on the mountain as having a photochromic lens means that you don't have to buy a second pair of goggles or an extra pair of lenses.
With photochromic lenses you keep the same goggles and the same lens whatever the weather.
These lenses reduce the amount of glare from light reflecting off the snow but might make icy patches harder to see.
Nowadays, the majority of ski goggles come with a double-layered lens which reduces fogging.
Anti-fog coating is effective on the inside of the goggles. Try not to touch the inside of the goggles if they are wet as you might rub the coating off. A waterproof coating on the outside prevents snow and water from settling on the lens.
This increases the life span of your lens.
The coating gives a color to the lens and provides the skier with more visual comfort. However, these lenses are more fragile.
Cylindrical or spherical lenses?
There are two lens shapes: cylindrical and spherical.
- Cylindrical lenses are flat, 2D and give you a wide horizontal field of vision. Skiers like their vintage style.
- Spherical lenses are made using a sphere, they are 3D and give you wide horizontal and vertical fields of vision.
Ski goggle structure
Lens quality is an important factor to consider when purchasing your goggles, along with how they are structured as this affects their comfort and shape. The structure includes different elements such as the frame clip, foam padding, the strap and defines whether there is the possibility to change the lenses.
There are 3 distinct types of rim:
- Full-frame: the goggle structure is visible and surrounds the lens.
- Frameless: the lens covers the goggle structure. The field of vision is maximized and changing the lens is facilitated due to an integrated system.
- Semi-frameless: some parts of the frame are visible on the sides of the lens.
Over the glasses (OTG)
Some ski goggles can be worn on top of your prescription glasses. They are thicker and there is a space in the foam to accommodate the arms of the glasses on the side of the goggles.
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There are 2 types of foam found on ski goggles:
- Ventilation foam: found on the goggle's rim, it helps air circulate within the goggles to prevent them from fogging and the foam also stops snow and rain from getting in.
- Foam padding: this padding sits against your face and makes the goggles comfortable to wear. There are different densities that are made from soft materials and reduce perspiration.
It is important to try your ski goggles on before buying them to make sure that they are the right size and shape. There are specific models for women and children which suit thinner faces. For your comfort, make sure your goggles are compatible with your ski helmet.
Ski goggles are an integral part of your ski wear, they help you look the part and feel comfortable.
Prices vary depending on the technologies used and it can be tempting to go for the least expensive model. Budget goggles provide you with baseline protection when on a skiing holiday, for example, in a resort or if you only ski occasionally. If you spend a lot of time on your skis, investing in a good pair of goggles with two lenses or a photochromic one will protect your eyes and give you additional comfort that you won't regret!