Let’s be honest, buying a pair of goggles for skiing or snowboarding is a fun but difficult decision to make. Their first job is to be protective, whether it’s from strong UV sunlight, weather elements, or physical impact. Secondly, they can improve your performance, with good lens technology allowing greater vision. They should also be comfortable and fit well with your helmet. And lastly, there’s a style element that cannot be underestimated in the world of mountain sports. I’ve tested the new Stairways goggles from Vallon. For me, it was a new brand, but it is one of the fastest-growing sports eyewear brands in the world. Let’s see if their goggles hold up to the hype.
I used the Vallon Stairways goggles, a mid-to-high priced goggle that the company calls the ultimate combination of style and performance. It is an all-around goggle that comes in three different colorways. I reviewed the ‘Stone Blue’ and ‘Sand Copper’ versions.
I had the great fortune of visiting the Alps where we conducted the test during a multi-day visit. The conditions were varied and included both sunny and overcast days. So, how did we find the Stairways goggles?
The first thing that strikes you about the Stairways is the earth-inspired frames of each of the three goggles, with their matching single-color lenses. Vallon has developed these lenses together with Carl Zeiss, arguably the foremost optics company in the world, and the “Lens by ZEISS” logo can be seen in the bottom right corner of each lens. Why is this significant? Because it means the optical clarity is second to none.
The brown tint provides more vibrant colors compared to a standard grey tint and helps create some contrast on the white snow. This is most noticeable in cloudy conditions where the lens tint, combined with the medium-high visible light transmission (around 24%) increases contrasts and snow visibility.
Yet in sunny conditions, the goggles were equally comfortable for the eyes despite the ‘all-around’ moniker given to them. This is because the mirror coating (available in copper, green or blue) is anti-reflective which prevents squinting from eyestrain. The lenses are 100% UV rated which is also important, as all goggles should be. We never got to try the Stairways in foggy conditions, though Vallon states the low-light lens should ideally be used during such circumstances.
How durable a pair of goggles are, only time can tell, and luckily we had no physical impact during our trip. What you should look for in goggles is to make sure they are made of impact-resistant materials. This means both the frame and lens need to be protective and able to withstand high impact. The Stairways come with a shatterproof polycarbonate lens and are deemed safe to use all over the mountain. The lens is anti-scratch coated and has water and dust-repellent attributes, though as with any goggles, storing them properly and avoiding contact with skis and other gear is important for their longevity. The frame feels durable and comes with triple-layer foam for added comfort. A nice touch is the silicone attached to the back of the strap for a more secure fit around the helmet.
I love the unique Vallon aesthetic and the reflection from the single-colored lenses in earthy colorways looks great on the slopes. But without performance materials to back them up, they would not count for much. Luckily, the highly technical lenses developed with Carl Zeiss, and the overall premium feel and helmet fit make these goggles an excellent choice for both on and off-piste skiers.
They are now available by clicking here.