Choosing Ski and Snowboard Goggles: All You Need to Know - Fetop

Skiing and snowboarding are fun adventurous sports that provide a way to shake off winter weather blues. As opposed to staying indoors yearning for the sun, why not suit up in snow sports gear and enjoy the snow-capped slopes instead? You might even enjoy it more than hiking on a hot dehydrating day.

Speaking of snow sports gear, in addition to thermal wear and skis or snowboards, you will need goggles. Ski or snowboard goggles to be precise. They will keep your eyes protected from snow, debris, and light conditions that could obstruct or diminish your vision.

Which brings us to the question, how do you choose the right snow sports goggles? Read on for a complete guide on how to make a perfect choice.

Table of Contents

Are Ski and Snowboard Goggles the Same?

A snowboarder and a skier midair

The brief answer to this question is, yes.

Skiing and snowboarding both take place on snow trails but they are differentiated by their footwear. Skiing requires two separate skis attached to each ski boot while in snowboarding, both boots are attached to a single board.

That said, given as the conditions for both sports are identical, skiing and snowboarding goggles are the same. The names may be used interchangeably but they serve the same purpose: shielding your eyes and enhancing your vision while you are out in the snow.

Lens Shape

Lens shape is a fundamental design factor in ski goggles as it determines your overall visual experience. The main types of lens shapes you may encounter as you shop include:

Spherical Lens

A spherical lens curves horizontally from your left to your right temple and vertically between your forehead and nose. It presents no flat surfaces for light rays to directly reflect on. As a result, this lens shape gives you the comfort of skiing or snowboarding with no light glare.

Further, the wide surface area of spherical ski goggles facilitates much better peripheral vision compared to a narrow lens. This will ensure that you have a proper orientation of the snow trail and that your vision is not distorted. The wide design also provides sufficient room for ventilation and reduces the fogging caused by body heat.

Ski goggles with a spherical lens
Cylindrical Lens

Cylindrical Lens

A cylindrical lens curves horizontally across your temples but is flat on the vertical slope along your face. Due to the flat points on the lens, you may experience light glare when using snowboarding goggles with this type of lens. Given as it is a narrow lens, your peripheral vision will equally be limited and our field of vision also be distorted at certain angles.

Due to their multiple advantages, ski goggles with spherical lenses tend to cost slightly more than ski goggles with cylindrical lenses. They are, nonetheless, worth the price of admission. That said, if you are shopping on a budget, good quality cylindrical lens ski goggles will still offer you comfort and protection. You can always upgrade later.

Ski and Snowboard Goggles & VLT (Visible Light Transmission)

Visible Light Transmission (VLT) refers to the amount of light that can pass through the lens of your snowboard goggles. It is measured in percentages.

An illustration of light transmission through a lens
Source: Pexels

Why is VLT Important?

Unlike sea-level altitudes, the sun glare at higher altitudes can be overwhelming. If your ski goggles allow in too much or too little light transmission, you would practically be skiing blind. This is why understanding VLT and choosing the right goggles accordingly is so important.

How Does Weather Affect Light Exposure?

How Does Weather Affect Light Exposure

The amount of light you are exposed to on the snowy slopes is influenced by the weather. When the sky is clear and the sun is peeking through, there is high light exposure. To avoid glares and be able to see clearly on such days, you would require a dark-colored lens with low VLT.

In contrast, on cloudier days, light rays are obstructed; the denser the cloud cover, the lesser the light. You would thus need a lens with a high visual transmission rating so as to make the most of the little light that is available.

Lens Color

Pantone color palette guide

Different lens colors lend a cool fashionable look to ski goggles but there is more to colored lenses than meets the eye. The color of the lens that you choose will determine whether you get high or low visual light transmission.

Here is an analysis of different lens color options and their corresponding levels of VLT.

Dark Colors

When light exposure is high, you will need to reduce VLT. Dark colors form darker tints which filter out more light and are thus best suited for achieving low VLT in lenses. Such colors include gray, dark brown, or dark blue/navy.

These dark colors can be supported in reducing light transmission by using a highly reflective mirror lens. The mirror would reflect most of the light away from your eyes while the rest would be filtered out by the dark tint.

A person wearing dark-colored ski goggles
Source: Unsplash
A skier wearing ski goggles with a blue lens
Source: Unsplash

Medium Shades

Mid-level tints are recommended for occasions when light exposure is average; not too high and not too low either. It can be achieved using colors that are equally average in how they transmit light. The color blue is particularly efficient in providing just the right balance of light transmission in this category.

Bright Colors

High visual transmission is desirable when light is in low supply and you need to let as much of it in as possible. Brighter colors do not obstruct light and this makes them ideal for high requirements. Examples include red, yellow, amber, and orange.

Further, bright colors such as rose and gold are popular choices when contrast is required. In some instances, when color tints are applied to manage VLT, visual contrast can be diminished. These colors, however, reflect light well enough to help your visual perception remain well defined.

A person wearing ski goggles with orange-colored lenses
Source: Pexels
A skier in gear wearing mirror lens ski goggles
Source: Pexels

Mirror Lenses

Mirror lenses are highly reflective and appear just as a mirror does. When wearing them, you can see your surroundings but people around would only see their reflection on the exterior lens. This is because the mirrored lens reflects light away as opposed to transmitting it through the lens. This type of lens is ideal for preventing glare but the reflection may be uncomfortable for fellow skiers.


Clear snowboarding goggle lenses have no tint whatsoever. They are primarily designed for night time skiing because there is no light exposure or glare challenges after dusk. However, they can also be used for low visibility days.

Clear ski goggle lens
Source: Pexels
REVO coated ski goggles

REVO Coating

REVO coating is a light management technology that originated from NASA but is increasingly being adapted for snow sport goggles. It entails coating the lenses with multiple layers of chemical powder. The result is a highly reflective mirror-like lens that protects your eyes against UV rays.

Over the years, REVO lenses have become synonymous with high-performance goggles. Due to this, there has been a rise in substandard REVO coatings in the market which would only offer you a dismal level of protection. Authentic REVO ski goggles should deliver clear crisp vision and can also be identified by their smooth classy lens appearance.

Single-lens Vs Changeable-lens Ski Goggles

Weather conditions are fickle. You could start your ski session with dense cloud cover and then end up battling bright rays of sunlight midway through. It is such occurrences that may have you torn between getting single-lens or changeable-lens ski goggles. Below is a look at what each of them has to offer.

Single-lens Ski Goggles

Ski goggles are termed as single-lens when there is no provision for you to swap the current lens for another. If, for example, you began your snowboarding session with a yellow lens due to low light levels in the morning, you would not be able to switch them for gray ones if light increases. Therein lies the downside of single-lens ski goggles; you would not be able to optimize them as conditions change.

Shopping tip: if you choose to buy single-lens ski goggles, aim for medium shades of lens colors like blue or green. They are more adaptable to light conditions on either end of the spectrum.

Ski goggles with lenses embedded into the frame
Source: Amazon
A person changing a ski goggle lens

Changeable-lens Ski Goggles

A changeable-lens set of ski goggles has design provisions that allow you to stop and swap lenses to suit the current conditions. This will ensure that you get to experience optimal visibility at all times. However, this is only convenient if the mechanism used to secure the lenses is easy to use and it holds the lens well in place between changes.

Aim for reputable brands that offer innovative designs such as button lens changeable ski goggles or magnetic changeable lens ski goggles. Both methods are straightforward, time-saving, and great for competitive skiing or snowboarding.

Shopping Tip: you will need a safe way to store and carry your lenses. Look out for a brand that offers you a quality lens storage pouch.

Lens Techniques

Lens technologies in snow sports goggles are used to enhance your visual experience. Each of them delivers a different enhancement. Depending on your needs and preferences, you could choose to get ski goggles with one or several of these features. They include:

Polarized Lenses

When sunlight rays hit a flat surface like a snow plain or a water body, they are reflected as a concentrated uniform ray of light. It is this reflected ray that is known as polarized light. It causes glares which result in poor vision that can easily disorient you.

To prevent this, polarized lenses have a special tint to shield your eyes from the strong glare of such light rays. That said, while it is helpful against the glare, the filter can also limit your perception of depth and slopes. In light of these challenges, you may want to opt for other tints if you are not very well experienced or are skiing on a new piste.

An illustration of polarized versus non-polarized lens vision
An illustration photochromic tint in different light conditions

Photochromic Lenses

Photochromic lenses are specially tinted lenses that change color in response to light intensity. In high light intensity, they become darker to minimize your exposure but when light intensity levels are low, they remain relatively clear. They are a convenient way to address the challenge of ever-changing light conditions without having to change lenses frequently.

If you opt for this lens technique, aim for a brand that offers a gradual transition between photochromic shades. If the tint comes on gradually, it allows your eyes to adjust comfortably to the light change. Poor or abrupt transition could result in visual discomfort.

Prescription Lenses

Prescription lenses are used to correct vision problems such as near or far-sightedness. If you ordinarily wear such lenses, it would be very dangerous to try and ski or snowboard without them.

Prescription inserts are small frames that are designed to hold your prescription lenses and fit on the ski goggles. They provide a safe way to wear your prescription lenses while skiing without the discomfort of wearing spectacles underneath ski goggles. For best results, consult your optician on issues such as vertex distance and how your lens will pair with goggle lenses.

Shopping Tip: ensure that the ski goggles you choose are compatible with prescription inserts. Alternatively, find a snow sports goggles manufacturer that offers customization services.

A lady taking an eye test
Source: Pexels
Tinted lenses

UV Protection

This type of tint is essential for the protection of your sight against UV rays that can distort vision and later cause sight problems. It is especially necessary at high altitudes where you are closer to the sun. A good pair of snowboarding goggles should deliver 100% protection against UVA, UVB, and UVC ultraviolet rays at all times. Contrary to common belief, even when it is not sunny, UV rays are still transmitted from the sun.

Magnetic Snow Goggles

Magnetic snow goggles are fitted with high energy magnets on their frames. The lens edges also have similar magnets. Both sets of magnets attract and form a strong magnetic bond that holds the lens to the frame of the snowboarding goggles.

This type of goggles is a good choice if you would prefer to swap lenses from time to time. Additionally, if you would like to make a fashion statement with your ski goggles, they deliver functionality and style in equal measure. When the magnets are well placed, your goggle lens appears seamless.

A skier holding a detachable goggle lens
A technician fixing a double-layer lens

Double-layered Lenses

Snow trails are characterized by low temperatures whereas your body keeps producing body heat. So, on the exterior-facing side, your snow goggles are exposed to cold while on the eye-facing side, there is your body heat. These two conflicting conditions would ordinarily cause the lenses to fog up thereby limiting yoiur vision.

Double-layered lenses provide a solution to this problem. As opposed to one lens facing both conflicting temperatures, double lenses create a thermal barrier that mitigates fogging. This can further be aided by small vents along the lens which dissipate any excess warm air.

Anti-fog Coating

An anti-fog coating is a chemical treatment applied on snow sport goggle lenses to prevent condensation which causes fogging. It is simply a must-have for a decent snow sports experience.

However, anti-fog coatings are not all the same. Depending on the quality, some will last longer than others. It is, therefore, advisable that you inquire what longevity a brand has to offer before making your purchase. Look into the manufacturer’s care instructions as well to prevent unknowingly peeling off the coating while wiping down your ski goggles.

Ski goggle lenses in a production line

Frames and Fits

A person inspecting a ski goggle frame

Ill-fitting ski goggles are just as bad as attempting a snow sport with no snow sports goggles. They will offer you little to no visual protection and enhancement. In worse-case scenarios, they may even leave you exposed to elements like wind and snow. So, how do you choose the right frame and fit?

As you weigh your options, pay attention to:

Ski goggles with detachable strap

Strap Adjustment

The strap holds the ski goggles in place throughout your sporting exploits. It should be fit properly but also remain comfortable. One of the ways to ensure you enjoy both features is by choosing a pair of goggles that has an adjustable strap. For children, this ensures that they do not outgrow their ski goggles too fast. For adults, it means that you can change hairstyles or headgear without worrying about whether your ski goggles will fit.

Strap adjustment systems are often either buckles or clips. Ensure to test them and see how smooth or difficult they are to use before you commit to a purchase.

Shopping tip: besides the adjustment feature, the fabric quality of the strap is equally important. Cheap fabric will fall apart fast and render your goggles useless or require a replacement. Aim for a fashionable strap made of durable silicone.

Over the Glasses (OTG)

OTG snowboarding goggles are designed to accommodate the needs of skiers that wear prescription glasses. They have a large frame that provides enough space for you to wear your glasses underneath them. For a more accurate fit, you could always go for a custom ski goggles frame.

OTG ski goggles
Source: Amazon
Skiers wearing helmet-compatible ski goggles
Source: Unsplash

Helmet Compatibility

A pair of snowboarding goggles is compatible with a helmet if it fits right when wearing the helmet. The strap should easily go around the back of the helmet and properly cover your eye area. Ideally, there should be no gap between the goggles and the helmet as this would leave you exposed to the elements.

Goggles Foam

Goggles foam is a soft layer of padding that is attached to the frame of ski goggles during production. It sits between your face and the frame and is essential for:

Comfort- while the material used to make ski goggle frames is usually smooth, it is not absorbent and would be uncomfortable if it remained in contact with your face for long durations. Foam padding creates a comfortable breathable barrier.

Preventing friction: the softness of the padding reduces friction between your face and the frame.

Protection – well-fitting ski goggles should leave no gaps between your face and the frame of the goggles. Goggle foam is pliable and provides protection from the elements when placed along the frame.

Shopping tip: if you tend to experience discomfort along the bridge of your nose from wearing ski goggles aim for a brand that has or can customize the frame with some padding foam on the bridge of the nose.

A person lining a ski goggle frame with foam
Source: Amazon

Choosing the Right Brand

Arrows indicating choice options
Source: Pixabay

You will come across an extensive variety of ski goggles as you try to find a good pair that will work for you. While they may all look alike, the truth is, they are not. Granted, the general concept of ski goggles manufacturing is the same but brands are differentiated by the production techniques and inputs that they use.

When you have made a shortlist of skiing goggles to pick from, look more keenly at their product details. This may help you discern true quality from fakes. Additional services such as options to customize your ski goggles or present quality complaints are equally indicators of a reliable brand.


As much fun as there is to be had on ski slopes, there is an almost proportionate sum of risks. It is, therefore, imperative that you have a clear vision of your surroundings at all times. This protects both you and other skiers from collisions and other mishaps on the pistes. If you factor all the tips you have learned into your buying decision, ordering your new ski goggles will be a walk in the park.