How to find the right ski goggle: Lenses, sizes & fit guide

Ski and snowboard goggles are one of the essentials of your winter equipment, and should be picked with a lot of care. There is probably nothing worse, after badly fitted boots, than not being able to see anything while skiing or snowboarding.

Ski or snowboard goggles are there to make sure, that you have the perfect vision of the terrain, and to protect you from UV rays, wind and cold. With the right lens and the perfect fit with your helmet, you are set off for another amazing winter adventure. Let us show you, the key factors you should pay attention to when choosing the right pair of goggles.

To find out more we divided our guide into separate parts:

 

 

clear vision with the right lens


Every goggle lens is a bit, or a lot different.  Here you can find some useful information about the forms, tint and functions of ski and snowboard goggles.

 

Cylindrical or spherical lens – where is the difference

There are different types of lenses. We can divide these into two general forms which you can choose from: spherical and cylindrical.

 

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Spherical goggles (orange) on the justify and cylindrical goggles (purple) on the right 

 

Cylindrical lenses are bent on the vertical axis and flat on the horizontal axis. This kind of lens won’t offer you much of a peripheral view and they don’t absorb as much shine from the sun as the spherical ones. But the upside is the lower price range of these goggles.

 

With spherical lenses, you get the perfect view because they are curved on horizontal as well as on vertical axis. The one con is the higher price of those lenses but it’s justified by many pros, which you can really appreciate once you are on the mountain. Such as, getting a more peripheral view, and seeing more of what is below, above and next to you. The curve of the lens is similar to your eyes and will cause less distortion and also allows more space between your face and the lens, therefore more airflow and less fogging. Another advantage of spherical lenses is the ability to distribute and diminish the amount of glare.

 

Which color of your lens is the right one?

There is no easy answer to this question. Nowadays lenses come in almost all colors of the rainbow. But you shouldn’t be choosing according to your personal preferences, you should decide upon the weather conditions. There is more to it than just the color of the tint of your lens, you should also pay attention to the Visible Light Transmission (VLT). The VLT, a very specific feature, shows you the percentage of light allowed through the lens falling somewhere around 0% and 100%, also how much contrast there is in your surroundings. Therefore this number can decide whether you can see anything on the mountain, whether you have a perfect day out or a disaster day!

If you expect a bluebird day, call for the lower number of the VLT. You will be perfectly protected from the sun glare and the UV rays.

If the day is about to turn out rather suboptimal, with a lot of clouds and fog, or it’s just this annoying flat light out there you should grab one of those lenses with rather higher VLT.

The higher the S-Factor is, the lower is the translucency.

If you are looking for a lens that has it all, we have bad news for you, unfortunately, there is no perfect all-rounder which would guarantee you perfect vision under any conditions. If you really have no other choice, than having to go for one lens, choose one with the VLT around 30%. It would be a compromise which won’t offer you a full support in extreme conditions but will keep you happy and safe.

In addition, there are some technologies available on the market that guarantee better vision under different conditions. These include, for example, the vario technology, which can adjust the tint of the lenses to changing weather conditions – typically the VLT value can change by two categories (e.g. S1 – S3). Another revolutionary lens technology is Prizm from Oakley. Goggles with Prizm technology can not only perform over a wider range of lighting conditions but also significantly enhance contrast and visibility. 

 

 

In the table below you find an overview of which VLT value equals which S value and when to best use which glasses. 

 

  VLT S   CONDITIONS   WEATHER  
3-8% S4 Very strong light (Glacier) Blue Bird ☀☀
9-18% S3 Strong light Sunny, a little bit cloudy ☀⛅
19-43% S2 Moderate light Cloudy, changing conditions ⛅☁
44-80% S1 Low light Flat light, snowfall ☁❄
81-100% S0 Very low light Snowfall, artificial light ❄☾

 

Please be aware that there are small but fine differences amongst various brands.

 

Various changing systems and how they work

Who doesn’t know the typical situation: you arrive on the parking lot, look up on the sky and see no clouds what so ever, the sun is shining, a textbook example of a bluebird day – time to bring out the dark lens for your goggles. But weather does what it wants, drops the temperatures and brings the clouds just after a couple of laps. When the temperature hits the minus points, it is more than unpleasant to change your lens with your bare hands, and sometimes it just won’t work, even after some yanking and swearing words.

Some brands took this example to their hearts and came up with smart lens changing systems. So easy, that you can get it done within couple of seconds and easy moves. Wherever and whenever you need to change your lenses, depending on the weather. You can find following systems, they usually vary according to each producer:

  • magnetic
  • clip system
  • click system

 

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Clip system from Scott

 

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Clip systems from Smith

 

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Left: Clip system from Oakley / Right: Click system from K2

 

Goggle ventilation – keeping your lens clear

You can count on all goggles having a ventilation system. Some are working really good and some, well… are less effective. Such ventilation is key to keeping your lenses fog free. If the space between your face and the lens has enough airflow, it keeps your lense from steaming up and therefore it keeps your vision clear. It only makes sense that you keep attention to the ventilation while buying a new pair of ski or snowboard goggles, and that it complements the ventilation system in your helmet, so you can keep your air-flow going.

The airflow of the ventilation system

 

HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT FIT: SKI AND SNOWBOARD GOGGLES


Apart from lenses, ski and snowboard goggle consist out of frame and strap. The goggle frame has three main functions, to hold your precious lens in place, to keep your eyes away from snow, tree branches, wind or freezing cold air, and finally to offer you as much comfort as possible, so you and your goggles can become best friends. A part of your comfort comes with the right fit of your frame.

 

Here are various fits of goggles you should know about:

 

Small Fit

The small fit of ski and snowboard goggles is usually made for children, youth or generally for people who know that they have a rather small head and face. It might get a bit tricky with a helmet fitting, because the small goggle might cause unwanted gaps between helmet and the frame.

 

Medium Fit

Medium fit goggles should fit most of the people, with medium sized heads and faces. They would also be the ones that you will have the least problem to find a well matching helmet.

 

Large/Oversized Fit

One of the main characteristics of the large and oversized goggle frames is that you have more lens space and larger field of vision. That means you will see more horizontally as well as vertically. This can be an important feature for freestyle and freeride riders. Or just for anybody who likes to have a more peripheral view. This kind of frames can be also used by people who need to wear prescription glasses while skiing and snowboarding and at the same time want the comfort of goggles. You should keep in mind that these types of frames might be harder to find a well fitting helmet for.

 

Over the glasses Fit

This type of frames is made especially for someone who makes no compromises between their prescription glasses and goggles, and simply wants to have it all, while enjoying all the comfort. It means that the frame is thick enough to hold its lens far enough from the face, to provide enough space for glasses, and much needed air flow. It might be still very hard to find a fit that will not disturb, scratch and rub your face, therefore we advise you to visit one of our stores to get professional consulting.

Of course you need to bring your prescription glasses and helmet with you!

 

Women’s Fit

Women’s fit frames are not very different from the ones in medium size. They mostly vary in more feminine colours and patterns, and fit narrower faces.

 

Asian Fit

Asian fit is the response when it comes to the specific anatomy of one’s face. These frames are specifically made for people with higher cheekbones and a low nose bridge.

 

Check out our online shop and find the right goggle for you:


The goggle strap & padding

All goggles are accompanied by the strap. It is an adjustable stretchy strap with a clip or a buckle for adjusting the length. It is important that the buckle or clip also feels comfortable while wearing a beanie or a headband. The strap varies in widths and generally wider straps tend to hold better. Some straps have a thin line of silicone on the inner side to prevent the strap from moving around on your helmet.

The material which is physically touching your face is the goggles padding. It is an important feature since it sits directly on your face. It can come in 1 to 3 layer foam – which usually goes with the rule: “what you pay is what you get”.

The padding can increase the wearing comfort by adding a soft porous layer which can softly contour the shape of your face and a thin layer of fleece which feels smooth on your skin. With more layers, the air circulation in the goggles improves and therefore helps against fogging and sweating.

 

Helmet and Goggle Compatibility: how to find a perfect fit


To make sure that both your goggle and helmet work as they are designed to do – to protect you and feel comfortable – you need to have a good fit. By good fit we mean that there should be no space (or very minimal space) between your goggles and your helmet in two dimensions. It can happen that you have a gap on your forehead or on the sides of your face. These gaps can result in frost bites or sunburns on the exposed skin.

Most manufacturers design their helmets and goggles to be compatible or even to have a compatible ventilation. So the airflow system works through the frame of the goggles into the ventilation system of the helmet. The only way to ensure that your goggles and helmet fit seamlessly is to try it on your own head. Also once you put your goggles and helmet on make sure that the helmet isn’t pushing down on the frame. You should avoid any pinching alongside of the goggle frame. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you can get the same good fit as your buddy, with the same combo – it has a lot to do with the shape of your head and your face.

 


On the justify: wearing it wrong! / On the right: wearing it right, no goggle gap please.

 

TIPs & TRICKS: GOGGLE CARE


A good ski or snowboard goggle isn’t a cheap thing, therefore you should take very good care of them to ensure that you can use them as long as possible. How should you take care of your goggles to make their functionality last?

1. Always store your goggles in a pouch or a case if you are not using them – some heavy ski/snowboard equipment can easily break off parts, bend frame, tear off padding or scratch/crack the lens.

2. You should not clean your lens with a paper tissue, toilet paper and similar materials – the fibers will scratch it.

3. Always clean your lens with a special microfiber cloth on the OUTSIDE, and never press to hard against the surface.

4. Never touch/whipe the INDSIDE of your lens. The inside surface of the lens is coated with a special anti-fogging layer – you can easy scratch this layer off by whipping the lens and your goggles will fog very easily.

5. If you need to remove some excessive water from your inner lens, firstly shake it off and than very lightly dabb the rest of the drops away with a microfibre cloth.

6. After a day of riding let your goggles hang in a warm well aired room, away from direct sun and never put them on a heater – the moist caught in the padding needs its time to evaporate.

 

The SOGGLE – Very useful and stylish

For protection and perfect care of your glasses, we recommend the SOGGLE. A simple accessory, but always worth to have. The SOGGLE is super effective. Similar to a “mini fitted sheet” you pull it over your glasses. It protects your glass from scratches.

SOGGLES are made of elastic microfiber and are therefore not only a protection for your glasses but also a eyeglass cleaning cloth. That the SOGGLES look is super stylish, is a nice side effect.

 

 

ALL ABOUT GOGGLES: Q&A’S


How do I prevent my goggles from fogging up?

  • Make sure the vents in your lens aren’t cologged up with snow or dust.
  • You should not whipe the inside of your goggle, make the water go away with shaking and very gentle dabbing.
  • Your usual glass cleaner can damage your goggles, it can remove the anti-fogging layer in your lens.

 

What do I do when my goggles keep fogging?

  • It might be that you sit your goggles on your warm, maybe sweaty, forehead – it means that your goggles get a heat and moist boost from the inside while resisting the cold weather from the outside – and here you go fog appears!
  • Keep your goggles away from your forehead, if you would like to keep your goggles fog free, you can place them on the brim of your helmet.
  • If you don’t sit your goggles on your forehead but they keep fogging up anyways it might be that something or someone disrupted the anti-fogging coating on the lense. Then you might reconsider buying a new lens.

 

Do I need a nose guard on my goggles?

Some manufacturers offer goggles with a small guard which is there to protect your nose from UV rays (sun) or derbis that can fly around. This topic is a bit controversial since there are people who love it and would not go skiing without it. And of course some who have a rather negative attitude towards this accessory. It makes sense for people who go snowmobiling or skis/snowboard through forests with low and dense branches, or plan on going for glacial tours in high altitudes.

 

What do I do when my lens gets scratched?

Once your get a scratch on your goggles there is no way back. You don’t necessarily need a new pair of goggles, just a new lense. The best way to prevent your goggles from scratching is by taking good care of them.