Skiing and snowboarding are incredibly physically demanding activities, regardless of your levels of competency and confidence. It requires high quantities of both physical and mental prowess to ensure that you can enjoy your experience whilst also remaining safe and unharmed. A key factor in your capability to enjoy your overall snow experience is maintaining an effective field of vision at all times. Whilst essential to remain warm, safe and dry, the ability to see what is all around you is crucial. Without the knowledge of what obstacles lay before you on the snow, the possibility of injury increases. By purchasing a high-quality snow goggle that is tailored to your features and needs, you are ensuring that you can extract every last ounce of enjoyment and value from your holiday. The following guide will explain to you the many different features that snow goggles include to ensure your safety, and what you should be looking for when purchasing your next set of goggles.
The snow goggle in today’s market may seem simplistic to an untrained eye, but it is the result of many years of research and development by some of the world’s market leaders in outdoor eyewear. This guide will help you to understand what exactly has gone into the design and construction of a pair of snow goggles to allow you to fully understand what they are able to do for you on the slopes.
Goggle lenses come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and each is designed with a specific purpose. Whilst you may be inclined to purchase snow goggles that best suit your snow apparel, you should first ensure that it has the capability to function in the best way possible for you.
The first key consideration is the lens shape itself. In the snow goggle market, there are two distinct shapes of goggle lenses; spherical and cylindrical. Simply put, a spherical lens will provide you with a more optically-correct viewing experience in comparison to a cylindrical lens, due to its curvature along both the horizontal axis and vertical axis. This results in a wider field of view, greater glare diminishment and less eye strain. This does not mean that a cylindrical lens is without merits. Cylindrical lenses are cheaper to produce, and will result in a more cost-effective goggle. This allows the cost-conscious consumer to still purchase a highly effective goggle. However, our recommendation would be to consider the benefits of a spherical lens goggle and determine whether the superior performance validates the higher price-point.
Another key consideration is going to be the lens colour. While each brand will design the colouring and shading of their lenses slightly differently, there are consistencies that are useful to know. A widely-used scale that explains the capabilities of a lens is its VLT rating. VLT, which stands for Visual Light Transmission, represents how much light is able to enter the eye of a wearer through the lens. The VLT scale runs from 0% to 100% and represents the percentage of all light that is able to pass through the lens. A mid-range VLT, ranging from anywhere between 15% and 35% VLT, will be an effective all-weather lens and be effective in sunny conditions as well as cloudy conditions. A high-range VLT (>35%) will be most effective in overcast or whiteout conditions, or skiing under artificial lights. In contrast, a low-range VLT (<15%) is recommended for bright sunny conditions exclusively, as depth perception and contour identification will be compromised if such a lens were to be used in low-light conditions. A common feature of many effective ski goggles is a mirrored, or reflective, coating on the external face of the lens. Whilst being cosmetically desirable, it also serves a practical purpose. This mirrored finish reduces the glare from the snow considerably more than a lens without a mirrored finish, despite having the same VLT rating. One negative of a mirrored lens is that it can be highly susceptible to noticeable scratching, so it is essential when buying a mirrored lens to understand the correct ways to clean and store your lens (This will be covered later in this article).
Oakleyhave established themselves as one of the largest suppliers of snow goggles to the Winter Sports market. This has been achieved by combining bold designs with high-quality materials into all their designs, in addition to exposing them to rigorous testing regimes prior to public release. An example of their forward-thinking mantra is theircolour-and-contrast enhancing lens technology,Prizm. Oakley Prizmlenses allow the wearer to gain greater clarity regardless of the conditions. The Prizm lens comes in a variety of shades, each designed to perform in a different way. The Prizm ‘Torch’, ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Jade’ varieties are considered ‘all-weather’ lenses, which allows them to function incredibly well from sunny, blue-bird days to overcast and cloudy days on the slopes. These lenses are recommended for skiers and snowboarders of any skill level who are looking for a lens that will not need to be changed multiple times a day when the conditions on the mountain shift. The Prizm ‘Black’ variety is catered towards skiers who exclusively ski on bright sunny days. This lens will reduce the glare that the snow causes in your eyes and ensure that all the contours of the slopes will not become washed-out in front of you. The Prizm ‘Rose’, ‘Persimmon’ and ‘Hi-Pink’ lens varieties are designed for the skier who wants to be out on the slopes regardless of the conditions. They are designed to let in as much light as possible which will aid in identifying the contours of the snow in front of you when you may be exposed to inclement weather conditions. Investing in two lenses can be a highly favourable decision for skiers who intend to ski in various parts of the world. By purchasing an all-weather lens in addition to a low-light lens, you will be able to stay out on the slopes for much longer and never worry that you will be faced with compromised vision. Oakley Prizm lenses are included in a high proportion of Oakley goggle products that SnowScene stock, and will greatly enhance any snow experience.
Giro is another excellent snow goggle option whom have developed some of the most user-friendly goggles in the market. This is shown by their flagship goggle model, the Giro Contact. Through the use of magnetic clasps, the wearer is able to change their goggle lens without the need to take the goggle frame off their face. This focus on design and utility makes Giro products incredibly easy to wear. Giro entered into a strategic partnership with Zeiss, a world-leader in optical technology and photography, to create their range of colour-contrasting lenses to rival Oakley’s Prizm;Giro VIVID.VIVID lenses increase the contrast that is visible on the snow slopes by allowing blue light to easily enter through the lens and thus ensures that uneven terrain is shown clearly against the surrounding flat snow. Giro produces VIVID lenses in a multitude of different colours, each lens catering for a different light condition. S2 VIVID lenses have a VLT range of between 19%-42%, thus making them ideal all-weather lenses. S1 VIVID lenses have a VLT range of 43%-79%, and as such are ideal for any skier who wants to increase their confidence on the slopes in the worst visibility conditions. Finally, S3 lenses have a VLT range of 8%-18%, and as such are ideal for those who wish to ski only on the most beautiful bluebird days, and need to ensure that the glare from the snow will not hamper their visibility on the mountain. A high percentage of Giro Goggles come with an additional VIVID lens included in the purchase price, which is highly desirable for anyone already looking to purchase additional lenses for their goggles.
Smithis another snow goggle brand that we at SnowScene have put our faith in. Similar to both Oakley and Giro, Smith have worked hard to develop the technology within their goggles to ensure that the wearer is given the best field of vision possible. Smith have achieved this through their proprietary technology,Smith ChromaPop.ChromaPop lenses function by assisting your eyes to differentiate and see true colours. By allowing your eyes to differentiate between colours more effortlessly, you gain superior contrast and definition of the terrain surrounding you. Smith have broken down their lens varieties into 3 simple categories to simplify the process of purchasing the right lens for your needs. ChromaPop ‘Everyday’ lenses have a VLT range of 23%-36% and are ideal for the skier whom does not desire to change their lens out on the slopes. This lens will perform well in sunny and overcast conditions, and comes in numerous colours to allow for personal customization. The ChromaPop ‘Storm’ range of lens are best suited for those skiing in whiteout conditions or under artificial light such as night skiing. With a VLT range of 50%-65%, high quantities are allowed through the lens to ensure any and all contrast can be perceived by the wearer, increasing confidence despite the possibly unfavourable conditions. Finally, the ChromaPop ‘Sun’ range of lenses, with a VLT range of 9%-13%, are well suited for a fair-weather skier looking to pick up the contrasts in colour not only of the snow in front of them but also the scenery surrounding them. Many of Smith’s I/O Mag series of goggles include a secondary lens in the purchase price, and thus remove the necessity to purchase additional lenses to allow you to ski in all conditions.
Ensuring that the goggles you purchase are the correct choice for you can be a difficult thing to ascertain if you do not know what to look for. Below will be some key characteristics to look for in the fit of your goggle to ensure that they will function in the way that they were designed, and that you will be comfortable wearing them for numerous hours at a time.
The size of the goggle overall will be key in determining whether a goggle can function how it was intended. Most ski brands will create goggles in a small fit, regular fit and large fit (generally). Whilst all sizing will differ between brands, a large fit goggle will usually be best suited to an adult male with strong facial features. This large size goggle will give a great range of vision for those whose facial features are large enough to wear it comfortably. A regular fit goggle is generally preferred by adult men who prefer a less intrusive ski goggle and for adult women whom prefer a goggle with the largest field of vision possible. Finally, small fit goggles are generally best catered to adult women with petite facial features, as well as teenage boys and girls. These are all approximations and consideration of your own preference for eyewear and your facial features are always relevant factors. Purchasing a goggle that is either too small or too large can both be equally problematic. A goggle that is too small for your face will result in a greater portion of your face being exposed to the cold, as well as providing a smaller field of vision that could be achieved with a larger goggle. Likewise, a goggle that is too large for your face will not seal adequately along the cheeks and nose of the wearer and allows cold air to easily enter into your goggle, increasing the likelihood of your goggle fogging.
Another key factor in determining whether a goggle suits your face is the ease with which you can breathe. Whilst it is key to have a firm seal between the foam of the goggle and your face, it is possible for the foam to be pressing too much against your face. If the pressure exerted by the goggle impairs your ability to breathe naturally, it is possible that the particular goggle does not suit your face and you may need to consider either a different size of the same model of a different model altogether. It may be possible to slightly loosen the head strap of the goggle and see if this alleviates any of the pressure on your nose. However, if there is still restriction to your breathing, I would strongly recommend trying another goggle.
A final key factor that you should consider is if you will need to wear eye glasses under your snow goggles. Goggles that claim to be ‘OTG’ compatible (Over The Glasses) allow a wearer to place them over the top of prescription glasses without discomfort. The main features of an OTG goggle that set it apart are increased quantities of face foam between the lens and the wearer’s face, which creates room for the glasses to be worn without the risk of scratching the lenses. They also include custom-designed ‘trenches’ in the foam to accommodate the arms of your glasses, as well as increased ventilation throughout the entire goggle to reduce the likelihood of either your prescription glasses or the goggle from fogging.
Whilst a helmet is often solely purchased for its safety value, this does not mean that you should be forced to wear an uncomfortable helmet that does not integrate effectively with your goggles. Cooperation is a key trait that must exist between your helmet and goggles to ensure that they both perform to the best of their capacities. Whether you have your own helmet or are intending to rent one, the same principles apply when deciding what helmet works for you.
Firstly, the helmet and goggles must be able to cover as much of your head and face as possible to prevent exposure to the cold weather. Ill-fitting helmets will often leave large portions of your face, especially around your ears, cheeks and forehead, exposed to the elements. An ideal goggle and helmet combination should leave minimal gaps between the top of the goggle and the peak of the helmet, and will ideally touch together when worn correctly. Many helmets have a slight lip at the front that allows them to rest on top of the goggles without exerting pressure downwards onto your nose and cheeks. An ill-fitting helmet will put pressure onto the goggle which will ensure that they do not perform optimally, and may leave marks on your face which become painful.
Additionally, the helmet should have features that allow for the goggle strap to be secured to the helmet itself. Many modern helmets will possess a strap at the rear for securing the strap of the goggles to the helmet, and this is a feature we highly recommend using. It is ill-advised to have the strap of the goggles on the inside of the helmet for two reasons. Firstly, the increased pressure from the buckle of the goggle strap against your head can be incredibly uncomfortable after wearing it for hours at a time. Secondly, the strap is far more likely to slip down around your neck as the grip pads on the inside of the goggle strap do not have a sufficient surface to grip against. Having a helmet with a goggle strap clasp and that is able to keep your goggle strap in place is ideal.
Finally, the helmet must be well-fitted to your head. Whilst this will be discussed in detail in ourHelmet Buying Guide, a helmet that is too large for your head will contort the goggles in a way that may not allow them to seal well against your face. A large helmet will pull the goggles wider than is necessary and cold air will be able to enter into your goggles far more easily, potentially leading to unwanted fogging.
Snow Goggles have been developed to be as low maintenance on the slopes as possible This is evident in the developments in venting that are included in modern goggles. Ensuring that a wearer’s field of vision is kept clear is a continuous endeavour, with brands constantly innovating to be able to bring the first ‘fog-free’ snow goggle. I will begin by stating outright that regardless of what a brand may claim, no-one can claim that their goggle will not fog. Due to the heat radiated by your face and the cold temperatures outside, it is a scientific fact that fogging will occur if this temperature imbalance becomes too great. To reduce the likelihood of fogging occurring to their products, a number of features can be included. The most effective feature to achieve this is venting. Snow goggles will often include venting both above and below the lens itself, and it is often built into the frame of the goggle. What this venting allow is for cold air to circulate through the goggle whilst allowing hot air to escape from it. This reduces the temperature imbalance between the air within the goggle cavity and the outside air temperature and reduces a goggles likelihood of fogging. Another effective tool used by goggle manufacturers to reduce fogging is an anti-fog treatment. This material is applied to the internal surface of the goggle by the manufacturer and it serves to reduce the likelihood of a goggle fogging while being worn. A drawback with a factory-applied anti-fog is that it does deteriorate over time and can not be easily reapplied. To preserve the longevity of this anti-fog coating, it is recommended that the wearer never touches the internal surface of the goggle lens, as any contact will likely result in the anti-fog coating being rubbed away. When purchasing a set of ski goggles, ensuring that the manufacturer has included both of these features will allow you to relax knowing that you have the best likelihood of maintaining your field of vision throughout your skiing or snowboarding day.
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