What You Need to Know About Snow Goggles

Packing up for the mountain? Our experts share their tips for finding the right pair of snowboarding goggles.

It’s simple—when you’re on the slopes, you’ve got to be able to see. Nothing can stand in the way of your run quite like the sun’s glare or cloudy vision. Which makes choosing the right pair of snowboarding goggles really important.

So should you go with rose-hued goggles or a futuristic mirrored lens? What frame is right for you? Use this guide to find out.

COLOR 

Each lens color is designed to filter light in a particular way, and you should choose a color based on the light and weather conditions you’ll likely encounter.

“The right lens color provides crisp vision,” said Katie Vernacinni, a snowboarding merchandiser at DICK’S Sporting Goods. “It provides better depth perception and a better view of the terrain ahead.”

  • Overcast Skies: If it’s cloudy, foggy or snowy outside, go for a light lens color. Think yellow, rose, amber, green or blue.

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  • Sunny Skies: In light conditions, opt for dark lens colors. Try gray, black, brown and dark coppers. Polarized lenses minimize the glare that reflects from snow or ice.

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  • Nighttime Skies: Use clear lenses.

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  • Mirrored lenses: Lenses with a mirror coating reflect a greater amount of light than non-mirrored lenses. They offer excellent clarity in bright conditions, but aren’t so great in low-light.

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VISIBLE LIGHT TRANSMISSION

Goggles always indicate a Visibility Light Transmission percentage, which is the amount of light that can filter through a lens.

  • If you’re riding in overcast, snowy conditions, go for a lens that has a higher percentage VLT to allow in adequate levels of light. Think 60% or more.
  • In bright conditions, when the sun is reflecting from the snow’s surface, you’ll need goggles with a lower VLT percentage to minimize glare

LENS SHAPE

  • Flat lenses, sometimes called cylindrical lenses, are a great choice for novice snowboarders. They curve horizontally to promote peripheral vision but remain flat vertically.
  • Spherical lenses curve both horizontally and vertically. These more advanced lenses minimize visual distortion, glare and fogging while promoting better peripheral vision.

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“Flat lenses are more basic and can provide some limits visually,” said Paige Menzel, an outdoor equipment coordinator at DICK’S Sporting Goods. “Spherical lenses give you overall better vision, and helmets tend to fit better with the spherical lenses.”

THE RIGHT FIT 

When trying on snowboarding goggles, you should bring along the helmet or beanie you typically wear on the slopes. Your goggles should be snug but comfortable (read: No heavy pressure points).  Face foam around the lens should feel consistent throughout, and there should be no gaps. To find the right fit, keep in mind these factors:

  • Helmet-compatible goggles fit securely without being stretched or bent to fit over your headgear.
  • OTG goggles, or over-the-glasses goggles, fit comfortably over prescription glasses. They’re a much cheaper alternative to custom prescription snow goggles.
  • Adjustable straps let you customize the fit of your snowboarding optics. Wider straps tend to be easier to adjust on the go.
  • Snow goggle frames should have a flexible fit.

VENTILATION 

More venting = less fog. It also provides natural airflow for better comfort on the slopes—but there’s a trade-off. That extra venting might make your face colder, particularly in extreme conditions. Always check to see if the venting on your goggles is compatible with the venting on your helmet.

ANTI-FOG

In addition to built-in vents, many snowboarding goggles come with an anti-fog coating that prevents moisture build-up on the lens. This feature comes on most mid- to high-end snowboarding goggles. Some goggles come with double-layered lenses that offer an extra barrier against fogging.