There's so much that goes in to finding the perfect pair of ski goggles, so we've created the perfect buyers guide to break down the components of what makes for an exceptional ski goggle. Once you browse through this step-by-step buyers guide of ski goggles & snowboard goggles, you can rest assured knowing you've considered all that goes into goggles and your final option is the one for you. We're confident this step-by-step ski goggles buyers guide will answer all your questions about prescription ski goggles.
The breadth of snow goggle shapes, sizes, features, bells, whistles, etc. can be overwhelming. But don’t be alarmed. We’re about to break down the process of how to buy the best ski goggles even further to help answer your questions about the details of each facet. So it goes here goes...
Key things to consider when buying snow goggles:
1. Popular Brands
2. Lens Types
3. Lens Tints
5. Prescription Snow Goggles
1. POPULAR BRANDS
Smith Optics, Dragon, ZEAL Optics, Oakley, POC, Anon Optics, SPY Optic, Electric, VonZipper, Nike and Scott are top contenders in the world of snow goggles. With the expansion of enhanced goggle technologies, these snow goggle brands remain in competition to one up each other. To no surprise, they they continue to exceed our snow goggle expectations. These brands produce ski goggles and snowboard goggles that are bound to take your adventure to the next level.
2. LENS TYPES: There are two main types of snow goggle lens shapes: Cylindrical Lenses and Spherical Lenses. Here’s a breakdown of the difference between cylindrical vs. spherical goggles:
Cylindrical Lenses (Flat Lenses) – cylindrical lenses curve across the goggle from left to right, however they are vertically flat between the forehead and nose.
- Price: Flat, cylindrical goggle lenses typically have a lower price point. They’ll get the job done, however, there are some things to consider before choosing cylindrical lenses over spherical lenses.
- Glare: Given its flat surface, they do not reflect glare from the sun as well as spherical lenses, as there is a larger surface area for UV rays to penetrate.
- Fog: The flatter surface of cylindrical lenses allows less volume between the face and the cold outside weather. This decrease in volume has been known to run a higher risk of fogging. However, new goggle technology improvements, like the Oakley Inferno, better facilitate airflow and internal goggle temperature in order to maintain fog-free vision.
- Vision: Cylindrical goggles have made improvements in the realm of field of vision. This lens design delivers wall to wall, top to bottom surface area, delivering peripheral views like never before. The new Oakley Line Miner is a true testament of these visual improvements.
Spherical Lenses (Curved Lenses) – unlike cylindrical lenses, spherical lenses not only curve across the goggle from left to right, but they also curve up and down goggle from top to bottom.
- Price: Spherical snow goggle lenses typically have a higher price point than cylindrical lenses, however, you sure do get your money’s worth.
- Glare: The curve of the spherical lens provides a better defense against glare, as it has fewer surface points for UV rays to penetrate.
- Fog: The curvature of the lens also creates more volume between your face and the cold outside, therefore, facilitating exceptional ventilation and defense against fog.
- Vision: The tapered design of spherical lenses provides a more optically-correct view through the goggles, therefore minimizing distortion and allowing for better peripheral vision.
From a fashion standpoint, it has become a trend to wear cylindrical lenses because of their retro-cool look. On the other hand, the real technical slope shredders are more interested in having the latest goggle technology, so they prefer spherical lenses. For this reason, goggle brands often release two versions of the same goggle with each type of lens. Ask an optician and they’ll recommend spherical lenses. Hands down.
INTERCHANGEABLE SNOW GOGGLE LENSES
Skiers and snowboarders encounter a range of weather conditions on the mountain, and although there are versatile lenses to help adapt to different weather conditions, no single lens can optimally perform in all of them. That’s why the goggle-making geniuses have developed quick interchangeable lens systems to make changing lenses easy – even while you’re wearing gloves. Nevertheless, some slope shredders prefer one lens, while others prefer multiple lenses. Here are three types of lens options to help you adapt on the slopes:
- Interchangeable Lenses: A lot of goggles nowadays are interchangeable and they generally come with two sets of lenses. The idea is you get one lens for bright conditions, and one lens for low-light conditions, easily interchangeable for ever changing weather conditions.
- One Lens: The other school of thought is to get something in the middle that will work fine in either type of condition if you don’t want to change back and forth between lenses. It’s not exactly perfect in either bright or super overcast days, but it’s versatile enough to get you through a range of weather conditions with just one lens.
- Photochromatic (light-reactive) Lenses: Photochromatic lenses are not very common when it comes to ski & snowboarding goggles. However, Smith Optics and Zeal Optics do offer some snow goggles with photochromatic lenses, providing you with even more versatility in a single lens. Photochromatic lenses automatically react to changes in light conditions, adjusting the tint of the lens by darkening when it’s sunny, and lightening when it’s overcast. Changes in UV exposure triggers the lens to lighten or darken depending on how bright it is. Photochromatic lenses give you awesome adaptability by darkening when it’s sunny, and lightening as the sun goes down.
3. LENS TINTS: There is a variety of different lens colors and tints, each designed to help riders adapt to changes in light conditions. Every lens tint varies in how much light they allow to pass through the goggle. The amount of light allowed through the lens is referred to as Visible Light Transmission (VLT). VLT falls along a range between 0% and 100%, meaning, the higher the VLT, the more light allowed through the lens, and vice versa. There are four families of snow goggle lens colors / lens tints:
- Bright Conditions – A dark lens allows a low amount of light through the goggle, which is ideal for brighter conditions. They typically have a lower VLT between 5% and 20%, and are often mirrored to help deflect glare. These lenses are usually grey in color, however they often have a rose or brown base color to help enhance contrast vision, which is important for seeing in and out of trees and shadows.
- Medium/Bright Conditions - For those "partly cloudy - partly sunny" days, you're going to want a lens that works fairly well in a range of conditions. We suggest going with a medium copper, rose, and brown tints with a light to no mirror. The rose tint gives you some contrast vision for the overcast conditions, yet they can still provide some brightness protection for sunnier days. These lens tints will be your best bet to contrast when cruising down the mountain on those fair weather days.
- Low/Medium conditions - The best lenses for overcast days on the mountain are going to be a yellow / amber tint with or without a mirror. This type of tint will deliver the best contrast, enabling you to clearly see the bumps in the snow up ahead. The mirror lenses on these days aren't as necessary because there won't be much glare, however, they won't negatively impact your vision either.
4. VENTILATION: When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, fog has always been an enemy. Goggle technology in the last few years has come a long way and most of the newer, high-end goggles are pretty tough to fog. Ski and snowboarding goggle manufacturers have developed an arsenal of anti-fog ammunition to combat fog on the mountain:
- Anti-Fog Coating – Most quality snow goggles on the market come equipped with an anti-fog coating on the inside of the goggle shield. An important thing to note is it’s best to avoid excessively touching the inside of the shield in order to preserve the anti-fog coating.
- Vented Lenses – Most quality snow goggles have vents built right into the shield. Lens technology has become more advanced over the years, enabling goggle makers to be more strategic in terms of where to put the vents and how many.
- Dual Lenses – Most medium-to-high-end goggles have dual lens technology. It’s basically two shields molded together that help to keep the heat from your face separated from the cold outside air. It functions similar to a dual window pane in your house, keeping it insulted to help prevent fog.
- Fans – Smith Optics has an amazing Turbo Fan system in some of their goggle models, such as the Smith I/OX Elite Turbo. It has a little, battery-operated fan mechanism built right into the frame that sucks the moisture right out of the goggle.
5. PRESCRIPTION SKI GOGGLES & PRESCRIPTION SNOWBOARD GOGGLES
Prescription snow goggles have lens inserts that fit securely inside your goggle. You can find custom prescription goggle inserts for virtually any snow goggle at SportRx. These Rx goggle inserts are far more effective than over-the-glasses (OTG) goggles for three main reasons:
- Anti-Fog. Prescription goggle inserts fight fog far better than OTG goggles And here's why: A) The Rx insert for your prescription goggles sits flush against the shield of the goggle, which is farther away from your face and closer to the shield of the goggle where the ventilation is. B) Unlike your eyeglasses, prescription goggle inserts are treated with an anti-fog coating – just like the one your goggle lens is coated with.
- Comfort. Prescription snow goggles are far more comfortable than wearing eyeglasses underneath your goggles. For one, there is no temple pressure from the arms of your glasses; and two, you don’t have to mess with adjusting your glasses as they move around inside your goggle. Prescription goggle inserts stay in place and optically-aligned.
- Safety & Damage Control. Let's face it. Regular prescription glasses are not the safest thing to have next to your eyes when you're bombing down slopes at 40+ MPH. What’s more, if you take a spill, you risk damaging your only pair of everyday eyeglasses, or even worse, losing them in a sea of snow. Another alternative for prescription ski goggles is the option of prescription ski goggles without insert. The SportRx opticians have catered to those of you who would prefer to skip the inserts by customizing the SportRx XPF 120, which are a true insert free snow goggle solution.
We know it's a lot to take it, but hopefully this guide gives you a clear path toward owning that perfect pair of ski goggles for your next trip to the mountains. If you have any further questions about ski goggles or prescription goggles, please don't hesitate to call us. We're here to help, 7 days a week!