Ski goggles are used to protect the wearer’s eyes from wind, ice particles, UV radiation, glare and, possibly, tree branches. Additionally, goggles’ tinting can enhance a skier’s view of the snow surface by bringing the terrain into sharper relief. If you are thinking of investing in a new pair you need to know what you’re paying for and what are the features to consider.
What to look for in a pair of ski goggles
Lenses are obviously a crucial part of a set of ski goggles. They should incorporate complete UV protection and tinting, and may be coated or double-layered. Higher altitudes mean a thinner atmosphere that offers less insulation from radiation and snow reflects UV rays even on cloudy days. Goggles should include complete protection from all three types of ultraviolet rays: UVA; UVB; and UVC.
Tinting reduces the amount of visible light passing through the goggles. This prevents glare and can enhance the contrast of colours in a skier’s vision, improving your view of the surface. Manufacturers use a VLT (visible light transmission) number to describe the density of tinting, and the light conditions appropriate to each number:
- VLT 0-10% – Sunny days
- VLT 10-25% – Partially clouded to sunny days
- VLT 25-60% – Cloudy days and dusk
- VLT 60-90% – Low light surroundings
Skiers buying only one pair will probably choose goggles in the 10% to 25% range, suitable for the most common conditions, although goggles with interchangeable lenses are also available. ‘Mirroring’ on the outside of the lenses and polarized lenses can also reduce the amount of glare reaching a skier’s eyes.
Most goggles now have double-layered lenses. Like double-glazed windows, they restrict the passage of cold and make the lenses more resistant to fogging. Additionally, better quality goggles will have the inner surface of their lenses treated with an anti-fog coating.
Ski goggles’ lenses come in two basic shapes: Cylindrical and Spherical. Cylindrical lenses are often the cheaper choice and are curved across the face but flat in the vertical plane. Spherical lenses curve both horizontally and vertically. We have good experience with both styles and think that performance is more related to the actual size of the lens rather than its curvature: the bigger the lens, the better the field of vision.
Goggles are held in place by an elasticated strap that passes over the back of the head or helmet. The strap will usually have a sliding clip to loosen or tighten the fit; we prefer a wider strap that seems to adjust and hold the goggles in place most effectively.
A foam layer around the frame’s edge is used to keep the goggles comfortable on the skier’s face but also to allow the inclusion of vents that can mitigate fogging. Various designs are used to promote ventilation without creating a draught and more expensive goggles will use multi-layer padding.
Some goggles are marketed as ‘OTG’ or ‘Over-the-Glass’. This simply means that they can fit over a skier’s prescription glasses (although this will depend on the size of the prescription frames). Obviously this spares the expense of bespoke goggles with prescription lenses.
Flexible frames are desirable because they can bend to fit comfortably on the face and will resist breaking. Most goggles are constructed with polyurethane frames that meet these specifications.
Best Ski Goggles
Outdoor Master Ski Goggles
The Outdoor Master googles are offered with a choice of 25 different lenses with VLTs ranging from 7.5% to 99%. The lenses offer 100% UV protection; they are double-layered and have an anti-fog coating on the inside. The construction features three-layer foam padding and a very flexible thermoplastic polyurethane frame. A long, wide strap has two adjusting buckles and will fit over all helmets. They are described as ‘OTG’ although, as noted above, this may also depend on the size of the skier’s prescription glasses. Reviewers report that these goggles are comfortable to wear. They are relatively inexpensive and good goggles for the price.
Supertrip Ski Goggles
These goggles have spherical lenses with a ‘wrap-around’ look that gives a wide angle of view and great visibility on the trail. The lens’ dimensions are 188mm x 104mm (width x height). The polycarbonate lens is scratchproof and double-layered, plus is coated for UV400 protection and anti-fogging. Supertrip offers these goggles with four, different coloured lens options and VLTs: Blue (VLT 11.8 %); Mirror-blue (VLT 12.75%) ; Mirror-gold-blue (VLT 12.86% ) and Mirror Silver (VLT 9.75%). Vents are located top and bottom in the polyurethane frame, which is edged with a single strip of foam for cushioning. The goggles are delivered with a soft case, a cleaning cloth and a useful hard plastic case. The filtering is biased towards clear, sunny days but these are well-reviewed goggles that will suit many recreational skiers.
Gioro Ski Goggles
These Gioro goggles feature super-wide, detachable, mirrored spherical lenses that allow a panoramic view of the ski terrain. The lenses are double-layered with an anti-fog coating and 100% UV protection. The goggles are offered a with a choice of six lenses in different colours, with VLTs ranging from 10.96% to 24.87%, and a yellow replacement lens is available separately with a VLT of 54 % for low-light conditions. Vents are located in the flexible frame which has triple layer foam cushioning for a comfortable fit. The elasticated silicone-rubber strap has double-buckle adjustment and is slip-resistant when used over a helmet. The strap is also detachable for easy adjustment and drying when wet. The goggles are shipped with a carrying pouch, cleaning cloth and hard case. With excellent reviews, they combine high style and practicality at a reasonable price.
Bollé Carve Ski Goggles
Bollé is a venerable French brand that has been manufacturing ski goggles since 1960. The Carve model features a cylindrical, double-layer lens manufactured from their polycarbonate, scratch-resistant ‘Carbo-glass’; the lens’ inner surface has Bollé’s P80+ anti-fog coating. The lens blocks all UVA and UVB rays up to 400 nanometres. The frame is cushioned against the face by double-layer foam and the adjustable strap will fit over all helmets. Intended as all-weather goggles one reviewer notes that the view is clear and that the green-emerald lens provides good contrast even on gloomier days. These are durable, good quality goggles that should provide good service over many ski seasons.
COPOZZ G1 Ski Goggles
These modern-looking goggles feature interchangeable, mirrored spherical lenses with a wide field-of-view. The frames are sold with a choice of one of seven lenses in varying tints and VLTs from Silver (10.1%) up to Amber (40.9%). A yellow lens with a VLT of 60.9% is available separately. Most skiers will opt for either the black, gold or green lens with a VLT of 15.8%, 18.4% or 20.5% respectively. All the lens options are double layered, 100% UV resistant and anti-fog coated. The frame is flexible and has a triple-foam edging for a comfortable fit. The strap has double-buckle adjustment and features a slip-resistant, silicone-backing to hold it in place when used over the top of a helmet. The goggles are marketed as ‘OTG’ and will accommodate prescription glasses with a maximum width of 140mm and a height of 43mm. These goggles enjoy excellent reviews, offering style and high quality at an everyday price.
Salomon X-View Goggles
Salomon is internationally recognized as a leading supplier of ski equipment. The X-View is one of their lower-priced models. They are a unisex style and designed for medium to large faces featuring a cylindrical, red-tinted lens in a black frame. The lens has Salomon’s multi-layered ‘Tri-Tech’ mirror application, which adds style and restricts glare. The lens is VLT rated at 39% (Category S2) It is 100% UV resistant and suitable for a range of light conditions. The frame is manufactured from a flexible ‘mono-material’ and edged with a comfortable polyurethane foam. The goggles are held in place by a two-buckle adjustable strap with a non-slip surface. The design allows a wide field of view and the X-Views are a safe, well-made choice from a reliable brand.