A good pair of ski goggles is essential for good and safe skiing and snowboarding. Good view of the piste and especially off-piste is a prerequisite for safe descents and mountains of fun.
In a variety of ways, good goggles help you on the mountain: better high contrast view of the descent, in bright sunlight, they protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation and when it’s snowing or you’re charging through your own spray in deep powder, it keeps the snow out of your eyes.
Obviously, good visibility is of utmost importance. But that is “easier said then done”. The light conditions on the mountain can vary widely, from day to day, but also from hour to hour or minute to minute. Are you going from the sun to shadow, or when you leave the piste to do a tree run, then the light conditions are suddenly completely different. And good goggles have to be able to handle that.
In particular, it’s about high-contrast sight. You have to be able to see the terrain, the slight height differences on the piste and the flatter the light the less your contrast will be. That’s because without direct sunlight there will be less little shadows on the snow that help you read the terrain. Your depth perception will also be impaired.
On the other hand, when the sun is out and bright, you will need goggles with lenses that can handle the intense rays of the sun, and the reflection of off the snow that can account for even more brightness.
With many goggles it is possible to use different lenses. Lenses that provide the required shading for high / bright light, and lenses that add extra contrast to low / flat light. In the first category, you will often see highly reflective lenses, with darker glass, while the second category of lenses are often orange or yellow and less reflective but rather transparent because you want as much the available light as possible to reach your eyes.
There are goggles on the market that are very well adapted to different and varying circumstances. Often somewhat higher priced, but very worthwhile. A good pair of goggle can you really save you from some nasty falls.
An important part of a good goggle is the anti-condensation characteristics. Nothing is more annoying than having put on your skis or snowboard, to be busy getting condensation moisture from the inside of your lens. Many googles have a double glazing, with an inner and outer lens. If the inner air layer contains moisture (eg because you have replaced the outer lens) you will get a lot of trouble with condensation that you will not get out. In this case, a good tip is to put the goggle on a heater with that layer open so that the condensation can escape.
As far as UV protection is concerned, it does not matter if you wear sunglasses or a goggle. Whether you’re snowboarding, skiing or cross-country skiing, a ski goggle / sunglasses is crucial to protect your eyes from the bright light. Many people do not realize that the harmful UV radiation in winter is much more dangerous than in the summer.
In summer, the green environment reflects only about 6% of the light. In snow, however, this percentage is almost 95%. Only high-quality goggles with high-quality lenses provide eye protection against eye inflammation and serious damage. This is because the sunlight, which contains a lot of UV radiation, can damage the retina.
Protection against the snow
If it’s snowing and you’re going eighty or ninety kph, getting that snow in your eyes can be annoying, to say the least. A regular pair of sunglasses will not help you. It is important to note how the goggles line up to the shape of your helmet so that there is no possibility of snow getting between your glasses and your helmet. In addition, you can note if the goggles have a frame or not. Frameless goggles can make snow easier to slip or whipe off your lenses. Charging through your own spray and having that heavenly powder facial during a powder run can cause a lot of snow to hit and hang onto your face and then it’s nice if it slides off your goggles easily.
Also in crashes, a good set of goggles offer protection for your eyes that can not be provided by sunglasses.
Finally, wearing comfort is something that is really important. The goggles press on your face all day, and if the foam layer on your face, is not of a good quality, that can be quite annoying. Other features like an anti-slip layer on the goggle strap so that it stays put on your helmet or a flexible frame make wearing your goggles more comfortable.
Quite a few things to watch out for. Be prepared for changing circumstances, take note of that fit and carefully review the characteristics of a specific lens.