Snowboarding/ski goggles are a more important part of your snowboarding gear than most give it credit for.
The best snowboarding goggles aren’t necessarily the most expensive – nor are they necessarily a particular brand.
The best goggles for you are the ones that
- Are most suitable for the conditions you normally ride in
- Aren’t going to fog up as soon as you start riding
- Fit with your helmet (assuming you wear one)
- Fit your face shape properly;
- Make you look awesome!
Most Suitable for Your Conditions
Most people ride in variable conditions so one of the best types of snowboarding goggles you can get are those that have interchangeable lenses.
Some lenses are more suitable for bright sunny days – i.e. they take away the glare from the sun and from the sun reflecting off the snow – it can get pretty bright in all that white on a super sunny day. These lenses have darker tinting.
However, on gloomy days or days of low visibility those darker tinted lenses can make it extremely hard to see anything, particularly when it’s white-out type conditions. For those days a clearer lens is much more preferable.
The color of the lens as well as the lens shape can also make a difference, as well as the tint.
VLT (Visible Light Transmission)
VLT is a measure of a lens and how much light they let in.
You want a lens that will give you enough contrast, light and depth perception but that will also not have you squinting all day on a sunny day. Again this is another reason why having interchangeable lenses or more than one pair of goggles is optimal.
The lower the VLT number the less light that will be let in. The higher the number, the more light that will be let in. This is theoretically from 0% to 100% but you aren’t likely to find 0% or 100% VLT goggles!
So naturally a lower VLT is better for bright sunny days, whereas a higher VLT is better for gloomy and low visibility days.
For low light days, lenses usually have somewhere between 60% to 90% VLT.
For bright days, lenses usually have somewhere between 5% and 20%. 5% is a pretty dark tint though!
Then there are those lenses that are made to be a happy middle ground – being ok on bright days and ok in low light. The problem with these is that they aren’t optimal in either conditions.
The Color of the lens also affects how well you will see in different conditions. Different lens colors filter light in differently.
For low light/low visibility conditions the likes of yellow, gold and amber lenses do a better job.
In brighter light conditions colors like dark copper, dark brown, dark grey, dark green, black etc work well.
You can check out the lens chart at the link below to get an idea of the many options of lenses you can get.
Each company has their own set of lenses and it pays to check out the specific brand you are looking at.
This probably looks like a lot of options but you obviously don’t need all these lenses!
But it is good to have two or three different lenses for different conditions.
If you only ever ride on sunny days – or if you don’t go out in low light, low visibility or when it’s snowing or raining, then you’ll get away with just one lens. In this case go for something that will suit your typical conditions.
But if you’re like me and like to ride in any conditions, so long as they have the lifts going, then you’ll want some different lens options.
Lenses come in a couple of different shapes – Cylindrical and Spherical.
Cylindrical lenses curve horizontally around your face but remain flat vertically.
Spherical lenses curve both horizontally and vertically. These are preferable but usually more expensive too.
The advantage of spherical lenses is that they:
- Provide better peripheral vision
- Reduce glare better for those sunny days or if you’re under lights
- Aren’t as likely to distort as cylindrical lenses
- Help with anti-fogging
If you ride at night under lights, then it’s a good idea to get clear lenses (80%+ VLT at least) and to make sure that they are glare free under lights (spherical lens a good idea). If you can, see if you can try on clear lens goggles in a dark room with one light on.
This may not be possible but you should get some idea just from being in a store if they have bright artificial lighting – just remember to check for glare to know if they will be good under lights.
Aren’t Going to Fog Up as Soon as You Start Riding
The first snowboarding goggles I ever tried fogged up straight away and no matter how many times I wiped them, they’d just fog up again when I put them back on and got moving.
They ended up just being an accessory on my head that day – and for the next season and a half I just rode with sunglasses because I (strangely) assumed that all goggles were like that – did I think that everyone was riding down the hill blind?!
Anyway, when I finally bought goggles I made sure that they wouldn’t fog up. You can tell this to an extent in the store but partly you have to take the word of the manufacturer that they aren’t easily susceptible to fogging up. One thing you can do is ask if you can go outside (if it’s a cold day) to test them.
My goggles have vents that I can open up or leave closed. My goggles still fog up from time to time but usually opening those vents solves the problem.
Also make sure that any vents aren’t going to be blocked by your helmet.
And try to get goggles with spherical lenses – as mentioned above under the lens shape section.
Fit with Your Helmet
Most goggles these days are designed to fit with helmets but it’s still a good idea to make sure that your particular goggles and helmet are a match.
They’re almost guaranteed to fit in terms of the length of the strap, assuming you get the right size goggles, but they also need to sit comfortably between your nose and the top of the helmet. Try not to have a gap between the helmet and top of the goggles but you also don’t want it to be pushing down so that it is uncomfortable or distorts the shape of the goggles.
Also make sure that the goggles still conform to your face properly with your helmet on.
The best way to tell if goggles are going to fit is to try them on in person.
Don’t feel embarrassed about taking your helmet into a store with you – it’s worth it to get that fit right. If you don’t want to take your helmet in, then you could see if they have your make/model of helmet in store or a similar one.
Fits Your Face Shape Properly
Some goggles just fit your face better and feel comfortable to a point that you don’t really even notice them on.
Others can be quite uncomfortable if they don’t suit your face shape.
Sometimes a certain brand might fit better, or a certain model fits better.
Like with trying with your helmet the best way to be sure of this is to try them on in person. Do make sure you try them on with the helmet after you’ve tried them on without. They might feel ok when you first try them on but they might not fit well once you have the helmet on.
Certain helmets and goggles aren’t a good fit together. Experiment and try more goggles until you find the ones that fit best.
Make You Look Awesome!
This is kind of a joke section – but it has some truth in it too.
If you feel like your goggles make you look good it can add to your confidence.
Some other things to consider include:
- UV protection – protection from the sun
- Polarized Lenses – protection from the sun
- Double lens – better fog protection
- Mirrored lenses – better in bright light
Thanks for Reading
I hope this guide to choosing snowboarding goggles has helped you to find the best snowboarding goggles for you.
This is a lot of information to take in and is probably a bit overwhelming at first.
But doing your research and knowing what you want before you buy is worth it so that you get goggles that will do the best job possible in terms of:
- Protecting your eyes from the sun, snow and wind
- Enabling you to see as well as possible in any conditions
- Not fogging up
- Fitting properly and being comfortable
- Being compatible with your helmet
If you have any questions or other tips for finding the best snowboard goggles just leave a comment in the comments section below. Any other comments/questions welcome too, as always.