​How To Choose Snowboard Goggles

Andy Bowen

by Andy Bowen

July 5, 2019

SnowBoard Goggles

Being able to see clearly without squinting while on a mountain is just as important as having the right helmet or perfectly fitting pants. Every set of snowboard goggles comes with some protection against cold and wind, but there are other things you need to consider before making an investment.

Cost

How much do you plan to pay for your snowboard goggles? If you are new to snowboarding, you will have to research a market a little. Some goggles can cost up to 10 times more than others. They come with all kinds of features and protective elements, not to mention the usual bells and whistles. Analyze the market and decide on your available budget upfront. It will help you make more informed decisions, but also trim your options a little.

Function

Different manufactures come with different quality standards according to what they think is more important – this is when the function of your snowboard goggles kicks in. All types of goggles come with some sort of basic protection. Some of them take it to another level. No matter what weather conditions you snowboard in, your eyes will always be protected.

Some other manufacturers go in a different direction – comfort. While they offer a basic level of protection, their main purpose is to keep you comfortable.

While both functions are great, it is up to you to determine what is more important for you. Some people want more comfort, while others want more visibility and protection. You can also find middle solutions between all these.

Style

The style is mostly about personal preferences. Whether you want the goggles to match the helmet or your outfit, it is entirely up to you. Sure, the style can go in other directions and will also affect the overall construction, size and fit, but these topics require more than just personal preferences. After all, the style can also affect your overall snowboarding experience.

Lenses

Goggle lenses are directly responsible for your experience – they can provide a good view or a limited vision, but they can also put a strain on your eyes or add to the comfort.

Lens Type

Many standards are common when it comes to lens types, but it is still worth getting familiar with the most important options before deciding.

Cylindrical

Cylindrical lenses are horizontally curved. Vertically, they are perfectly flat. These are some of the most cost efficient options on the market. The overall performance is good, while the price is relatively low. When compared to other types, this one has a wide area for the light to reflect off, so it will produce more glare.

As for the fit, these models will sit close to the face while still offering a peripheral view.

Spherical

Spherical lenses have a completely different design. They bring in a bubble appearance because they are curved both vertically and horizontally. Apart from the funny look, they do have their fair share of advantages.

The peripheral view is much better due to the extra surface. There are no flat areas on the lens, so the glare will be minimum. Furthermore, there is more volume inside the goggles, meaning you got more space, so you can mitigate fog.

Toric

Toric lenses represent a middle option between spherical and cylindrical lenses. It is a relatively new type of lens that aims to improve the snowboarder’s experience. It is still new, so it is not as popular as its alternatives, but it keeps growing.

It is more similar to a spherical lens, meaning it tries to imitate the eye shape for better optics. However, the main difference is in the radius. It is tighter horizontally than vertically, so it can come up with a much more efficient peripheral vision.

Lens Shape

The lens shape will affect its overall efficiency, as well as your comfort and vision. There are a few different types out there.

Flat

Cylindrical lenses are normally flat vertically, but they still curve horizontally. They provide an excellent value for money, as they are cheaper than other models, but they still provide a great performance.

There is a slight drawback when compared to other types though. Since there is a decently sized flat area, the sun will most likely hit it now and then, causing glare. No matter how hard manufacturers try, they will never be able to eliminate it on a relatively flat surface.

Spherical

Spherical lenses are curved in both directions. They might look like a bubble, but this design has some benefits. The surface area is bigger, so you have a better peripheral vision. You can see more below, above and to the sides without moving your head.

The glare is significantly reduced as well. All those horizontal and vertical curves are carefully planned and not random. Reducing glare to a minimum is one of the main reasons behind this construction. Think about the distortion as well – no more distortion due to flat edges at particular angles. In fact, some manufacturers have the plastic thinner across the edges and thicker around your eye, only for the light to feel natural while it hits you.

To make things even better, spherical lenses allow more space between your face and the glasses, resulting in better airflow and insulation. Fogging is dramatically reduced then.

Lens Color and Tint

Color and tint differ from one manufacturer to another. Each technology has its own benefits though. The primary role of the color is to enhance the colors in your own vision. As for the light hitting your eyes, it is referred to as VLT – visible light transmission.

A light tint comes with a high VLT, as obviously, there is more light going through. You can find them in a variety of colors, but mostly in yellow or gold, rose, green or amber. The VLT is high, so they make excellent choices for bad weather, such as cloudy weather.

Darker tints are the opposite – lower VLT. They come in darker colors as well, such as copper, gray or brown. Having a lower VLT, they are obviously recommended for light and sunny days. You do not want to squint your eyes to be able to see obstacles.

While browsing the market, you will also find clear lenses. They let everything in, so they are suitable for really dark conditions – at night.

Multiple Lenses

Most people can easily get along with one set of lenses. They do their homework, figure out which type is more suitable for them and spend their money. Just make sure that you get a quality pair if you do that. For instance, if you only go snowboard on sunny days and perfect weather, you will do fine with some dark lenses. If you truly love this sport and you ski anytime and anywhere, you might want at least two different types. You will have to choose the right one based on the weather, so give yourself some options.

Interchangeable Lenses

If you snowboard a lot, chances are you will spend lots of time in the mountains. At the same time, the weather can change to 180 degrees during a single day while up there. Therefore, having more options on hand can be quite helpful. After all, there is no such thing as a perfect set that will provide perfect visibility throughout all types of light and conditions.

Interchangeable lenses come in more types. Besides, their mechanisms are just as diversified. For example, you can use magnets or toggles. Changing them is a matter of seconds.

From another point of view, having interchangeable lenses is more efficient than having to carry a second set of snowboard goggles with you.

Lens Tech

There are plenty of technologies for snowboard goggles. Some of them are just random bells and whistles, but others are quite helpful. For example, UV protection is a must. Even the cheapest goggles come with some sort of protection. The UV intensity is directly proportional with the altitude, hence the necessity of proper protection.

Mirrored lenses come with a reflective coating on the exterior, so they reflect more light than other types. This type allows less glare and better visibility on sunny days.

Polarized lenses also make a good option. Light is reflected at different rates over the surface of the lens. In other words, polarized lenses are more efficient at reducing glare and increasing clarity. They also reduce eye strain.

Think about double lenses too. Their primary role is to reduce fogging. This style is quite popular among manufacturers and many new models come with double lenses.

How about reducing fog? Some lenses are taken through a chemical treatment. The treatment is applied on the interior and requires mild maintenance to prevent wiping it off. Double check the manufacturer’s recommendations in terms of cleaning.

Photochromic technologies are not to be overlooked either. They work just like photochromic glasses. When the UV light is more intense, they automatically darken and vice versa. They are versatile and reduce the necessity of having interchangeable lenses. However, the adjustment may take a few minutes.

Finally, the modern Prizm lenses also adapt by themselves. They block particular color waves for a more intense contrast.

Ventilation

Fogging is a common problem in snowboard goggles. After all, you snowboard in cold weather conditions. You tend to get hot, so when the hot air meets cold air, they cause condensation. At this point, your vision becomes terrible. Manufacturers use all kinds of technologies to prevent this problem and most of them relate to ventilation.

Double Layered Lenses

Double layered lenses have become a standard these days. While you can still find single layered lenses, top manufacturers rely on this system. They work like double glazed windows. If they are sealed by the book, they come up with a thermal barrier. In other words, fogging is less likely to occur while snowboarding.

Since they are standard these days, it does not mean that you have to pay a fortune for such a set.

Anti-Fog Coatings

Similar to the double layer construction, anti-fog coatings are just as common and have become a standard. You may not be able to find such coatings in low end goggles, but most top manufacturers have already implemented this technology. Each company has its own rules, so the coating may go off easier in particular models. This is why you need to check the specifications.

The best part is that you can buy anti-fog coating yourself. You can coat your own goggles – even old lenses that tend to fog.

Vents

Fogging and condensation become a problem when the air goes in around the bottom, top and sides. If it cannot go out just as easily, it will compromise your visibility. With this aspect in mind, having wider vents might solve the problem. They allow easy ventilation, so air will circulate without too many difficulties.

While this kind of design is proven to be efficient, nothing is perfect. Therefore, it has a small drawback as well. If the weather is extremely cold, that air will also cool your face down.

Fans

Fans do not represent such a common option in snowboard goggles. However, some high end models come with this feature. They are a bit bulkier, as they need space for the fans, as well as their small batteries. The best part is that they actually get the job done – moisture is dispersed right away.

However, this feature is not really continuous, as you should mostly do it when not going down the slope. For instance, you can turn them on while taking a gondola or waiting in line. Obviously, some fans are not that powerful and can be used while going down the slope too, as they will not make your eyes feel uncomfortable.

To some people, this is a must-have feature. To others, it is only one of the numerous bells and whistles you can find in snowboarding equipment.

Goggle Frames

Google frames are often overlooked, yet they represent one of the most important elements in the process. They come in hundreds of different shapes and sizes, but at the end of the day, you have to consider their primary roles. First, they need to keep the lens in place. Second, they must keep the snow out of the inside. Third, they have to feel comfortable.

Quality goggles can easily handle the first roles. Therefore, when trying different goggles, most people focus on the actual comfort, which is mostly dictated by the size.

Frame Size

Snowboard goggles are like sunglasses – most people can comfortably wear a plethora of different types and sizes. There are still a few general rules to follow. Think about the size of your head, as well as the helmet. If your helmet is small and compact, you can do with a small frame and vice versa.

To make sure you do not mess it up, go to a local store with your helmet and try out different sizes. Even if you want to order over the Internet, at least you find out what size to look for.

Other Fit Features

Everyone’s head is different, so what works for some people will not work for everyone else. The frame size and shape are quite important, not to mention extras like the strap or the padding. However, the list is much longer and many manufacturers have come up with numerous ideas to improve the fit.

Face foam is one of these ideas. When trying on a new helmet, you must make sure that the foam follows your personal shape. There should be no pressure points or gaps if you do not want wind or snow inside your goggles. Instead, you need a snug fit all around. If you feel a slight form of discomfort or the goggles pinch your face, you have to keep searching.

Straps are normally adjustable. Make sure it can fit perfectly. If the tightest setting is still a bit loose, the goggles are not for you. Even if you wear a hat, the buckle must not jab at the back. As a general rule of thumb, the wider the strap is, the better it will fit.

Consider the helmet compatibility too. In terms of sizing, they might be alright, but what about their efficiency? Your helmet has a different shape. In other words, goggles might be alright on your head, but they will deform when the strap is tight around a helmet. Some models come with extending arms to prevent deforming.

Finally, do not forget the so called goggle gap. It is usually on the forehead. It is not necessarily about the looks, but mostly about the cold.

Sizing

Sizing is essential in anything that relates to snowboarding and goggles make no exception either.

Small Fit

The small size is mostly indicated to small adults or those with small faces. It is also the most common option for children. Obviously, you would never know the real size without trying first, so pay a visit to a local store and try out a few sizes before deciding.

Medium Fit

This is probably the most common option out there. Most people will fit in this range. Again, trying will work wonders, but then, if all your hats, beanies and helmets have been a medium size, chances are your goggles are in the same category.

Large or Oversized Fit

The large or oversized fit can be a bit tricky. Lots of manufacturers design such goggles and not always for those with big faces. For example, you can get this fit in a tight model, so you can wear it even if you are in the medium range. Why would you do that? Manufacturers try to provide extra peripheral vision – excellent for snowboarding, great view above and below you, the possibility to track the ground while in the air and so on.

In other words, this fit comes in two sizes – one of them is for those with medium faces and the other one is for those with truly big faces.

Over the Glasses Fit

The OTG fit is recommended to those who need to use prescription glasses under their goggles. You can also find prescription goggles, but this option is more cost efficient. They are deep and have some lateral channels for the arms. There are two rules if you need this size. First, make sure the eyeglasses do not move at all. Second, there should be no discomfort at all.

Women’s Fit

Snowboard goggles are unisex, yet some designs are more feminine in terms of colors and styles. Some manufacturers also claim that their women’s fit goggles are tighter and narrower, as women normally have more delicate facial features than men.

Q&A

There will always be some issues regarding snowboard goggles. Here are some of the most popular questions.

What if your goggles don’t feel right?

Pinching your nose? Tighten the strap for extra security or invest in a different bridge design or a smaller size. Pinching the temple? Loosen the strap then or find a wider set of goggles.

If you feel pressure on the eye socket, your goggles are too small, so opt for a wider frame. Some people also complain about a gap on the nose bridge – loosen the strap first and try to secure it better. If it does not work, find a pair with a wider bridge.

How to care snowboard goggles?

Goggles must be stored on the foam side and can be cleaned with soft clothes only. Wiping tends to clear the anti-fog coating, so blot them dry instead. If you are outside, let them dry completely before storage. Also, store them accordingly in the soft sack they come with.

While some newbies make this mistake, do not dry your goggles hanging from a mirror in your car or on the dashboard.

How do I keep my snowboard goggles from fogging up?

Moving has the air circulate, so you can avoid fogging. Also, shake your goggles to clear snow and do the same for the vents. Keep in mind that putting them on your forehead will cause fogging – almost instant. To remove fogging, you can also move them up and down for the air to go through their vents.

How can I know about my helmet and goggle compatibility?

Most goggles are helmet compatible. You should also try them on. Unless they come from the same manufacturer, you can never be 100% sure. Pay attention to what goggles look like over a helmet, as some might deform. You will need to try another model or just invest in a model with extending arms.

Bottom line

In the end, snowboard goggles may seem basic, but it actually takes some homework and research to find the perfect pair. While looks are important, keep in mind that comfort and performance will always come first.​

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