There’s nothing worse than struggling to see the bumps and lines in the snow on flat light days or being blinded by the sun on bluebird days. Snow goggle brands have developed lens colors and contrast-enhancing technologies that uniquely cater to certain weather and lighting conditions. There are plenty of things to consider when choosing a snow goggle, and finding the right lens color plays a huge part!
Lens Colors for Every Condition
1. Which Goggle Lens Color is Best?
2. Contrast-enhancing Lens Technology
3. Visible Light Transmission
4. Single Lens VS. Interchangeable Lenses
5. Are Polarized Lenses Good for Snow?
6. Best Goggle Lenses for Bright Conditions
7. Best Goggle Lenses for Every Condition
8. Best Goggle Lenses for Low Light Conditions
Sunglass Rob and Eyeglass Tyler know the importance of having the right lens for the environment you’re in. What conditions you’ll be riding in is perhaps the biggest factor. See how the tint affects your vision and which type of lens is best for each weather condition.
Intuitive by design, snow goggle lens colors will be brighter or darker for your specific needs. The most optimal lens for a bright and sunny day will not be the best option for stormy conditions, and vice versa. Ultimately the best goggle lens color really depends on the conditions you will be using it in. The two main factors to consider when choosing a lens color is Visible Light Transmission (VLT) and contrast technology.
Each snow goggle brand has its own contrast-enhancing lens technology. This allows you to pick up on the details in the snow for a safer and more confident ride. Most of these technologies work in a similar fashion. Specific dyes are used in the lenses which manipulate the light spectrum to filter out “noisy” colors while simultaneously enhancing the colors that your eyes are more responsive to. This helps you to see every detail you need to so you can react quicker to your environment. Oakley has PRIZM, Smith has ChromaPop, Dragon has Lumalens, SPY has HD+, and Anon has SONAR. Each lens technology is split into different light exposure levels to match the various conditions you will encounter on the mountain.
The darkness of a snow goggle lens is known as Visible Light Transmission (VLT), and is conveyed as a percentage; the higher the number, the lighter the lens. Lenses on the higher end of the spectrum are made for those cloudy, overcast days, as the goal is to let as much light in as possible, and vice versa, the brighter it gets.
On brighter days, a darker lens will help to protect your eyes more from the harsh reflections of the sun on the snow. Flat light conditions require a lens that will allow more light through so you can use all of the available light to your advantage. Medium tint lenses are made to be adaptable to a variety of conditions.
There are pros and cons to using a goggle with a single lens or having a goggle with multiple lenses. Interchangeable lens technology gives you the option to change lenses out on your goggles. Having the option to easily swap lenses if the weather takes a turn means the option to customize your goggle for the most optimal visual experience. However, you have to carry an extra lens with you on the mountain and some interchange styles are not as easy as others.
Riding a goggle with a single lens has its ups and downs as well. An all-weather lens will function on brighter days and you will not be out of luck if a storm rolls in. On a sunny day, a bright light lens will be more optimal than a medium lens but a medium tint lens will still work. Some riders prefer a single lens for almost every condition while other riders enjoy having the option to swap lenses out if the weather really takes a turn.
Polarized lenses are great at reducing glare but might not be the best idea for a goggle lens. Glare is created when the vertical rays from the sun combine with the horizontal rays reflecting off a surface. Being able to pick up on glare on the mountain is actually a good thing because it can help you spot ice patches.
Most polarized snow goggles come with 50% polarized lenses to help you spot ice while blocking out the snow’s harsh glare. These lenses may work well on a bright and sunny day but would most likely be too dark in overcast weather.
In some cases, polarized lenses can affect depth perception, so consider if that’s an issue for you.
For those who prefer to hit the slopes on bluebird days, a darker lens tint will be your best bet to keeping the glare out of your eyes. These lenses typically have a lower VLT between 5% and 18%. The best lenses for bright conditions on the mountain are either a plain dark grey, dark brown, or dark rose lens coupled with a heavy mirror. A solid mirror helps deflect glare, while the grey, brown, or rose colors add contrast. Contrast helps you see all the bumps and troughs of the snow both in and out of shadows.
If you’re an all-weather skier who’d rather not worry about changing your lenses, we recommend going with a universal lens featuring a happy medium of VLT. These lenses allow the goggles to perform fairly well in all conditions. Universal lenses typically have a medium copper, rose, or brown tint with little to no mirror. The tints give you contrast for overcast conditions, while still providing some brightness protection for sunnier days. No matter what Mother Nature throws at you, these lens colors will have you covered. If you’re interested in exploring medium tint lens options, we have a complete guide of the best lenses for all weather.
For low light, or flat light, conditions, you’ll want goggle lenses that feature a yellow, amber, or light rose base. These lens colors offer the highest VLT, usually ranging from about 35-60%. This lighter tint allows as much light in as possible and provide you with enhanced contrast throughout those darker days. A mirror coating on a low-light lens isn’t necessary, as there won’t be any glare to reflect. However, having a mirror won’t hinder your riding performance. Check out our ultimate flat light lens guide for a more in-depth breakdown.
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