Goggles are essential gear providing eye protection from sun, wind, cold and debris. Goggles provide better all-round protection than sunglasses. Sun glasses are not designed for the active sports of skiing and snowboarding. Goggles will reduce glare, increase contrast by filtering the incoming light, provide warmth and stay on better than sun glasses.
Protection & Safety
At high altitude the air is thinner and filters less of the ultra violet (UV) rays coming from the sun. Also, the light is reflecting off the snow which increases the brightness and intensity. Even on cloudy days UV is being transmitted to your eyes which can have a damaging affect. The wind can have a drying affect and the sun’s glare causing eyes to squint which reduces your vision.
Mountain hazards can expose your eyes to debris such as needles, twigs and branches. In windy conditions snow and small particles of ice can irritate your eyes which can deter your sight.
In cold weather the low temperatures cause the blood vessels in and around the eyes to constrict, and this constriction can cause immediate vision changes, such as blurriness and double vision. Also, with a good fit between the goggle and helmet the forehead will have no skin exposed lessening that brain freeze affect.
Goggles provide great protection in all the above cases.
The main components are the lens, frame, padding and strap.
Lenses are the primary part of the goggle and typically are two separate lenses sealed together. There are two basic shapes that goggles lenses can have, cylindrical (flat) and spherical. Cylindrical lenses are curved sideways across the goggles. Cylindrical lenses are typically lower cost goggles. Spherical lenses are curved in all directions having a spherical shape. Spherical lens goggles are more expensive, but offer better peripheral vision, and have less optical distortion than cylindrical goggles.
The lens colour does two things; filters the sunlight and emphasizes the surrounding colour contrast for bumps and the slope. The amount of light that a goggle lens allows to pass through is called Visible Light Transmission (VLT). VLT is expressed as percentage of light allowed through the lens. On low light days when the sky is overcast or it is snowing a high VLT lens should be used; yellow, amber or rose tints. On the sunny bluebird days, a low VLT lens should be used; orange, gold, blue/green or grey tints. For night skiing a clear lens is recommended.
Frames are what define the look and style of the goggle along with housing the lens. Frames are also vital to providing ventilation to prevent fogging and condensation build-up. When cold outside air reaches the warm body heat air condensation can form and vision can be compromised. Ventilation will reduce this effect by allowing air flow from the top, bottom and sides. Frames are built to various sizes to fit the different face shapes; children, adults, Asian and over-sized. OTG (Over The Glasses) frames have a cut out (channel) that allows the user to wear prescription eyeglasses under the goggles. OTG goggles are deeper than regular goggles.
Padding is between the skin of your face and the frame and made of foam. It is essential the there are no gaps between your face and the padding that would allow wind or snow through. The thickness, width, softness and shape of the padding can vary between different makes and models of different goggles, it is best to try on various makes and models on to find out which is the most comfortable.
The strap is adjustable to fit the various types of helmets and some come with rubber like material to make the goggles to stay in place when fitted over the helmet.
Some Final Tips
Bring your helmet with you when buying goggles to ensure a good goggle helmet fit. Remember avoid the gap to prevent brain freeze. Most goggles come with two lenses, one for bright sunny days and low light days. If the goggles only come with one lens, consider buying a second lens for the opposite light conditions. Lower priced goggles may not allow lens interchangeability.
Taking care of your goggles is important to keep them in good condition which means keeping them clean, dry and scratch free. After a day’s skiing leave your goggles in a warm area for a few hours, so that all the moisture on the goggles and in the foams and padding evaporates. This will make the goggles more comfortable and more resistant to steaming up the next time you use them. Clean the goggles with a lint free cloth, and do NOT touch the lens with your hands. If you need to clean the inside of the goggles, try not to wipe the lens, instead dab the lens with the cloth, this will make the anti-fog coating on the inside of the lens last longer.