Buying Ski Goggles: Your Guide

If you are a typical ski or snowboarding enthusiast, your experience in buying ski goggles might run something like this:

1. You walk into the hotel gift shop. They have two pairs of ski goggles.

2. You pick one of the two pairs at random and buy it.

3. You get on the slopes and find that they are not compatible with your helmet, the color is all wrong for the weather and the terrain, and they keep falling off your face. Then when you get home you find out

4. You paid too much.

This is an all-too-common sequence of events in the most people's first experience of buying ski goggles.

The first thing you need to know about buying goggles for skiing or snowboarding is to plan ahead. You will get better prices and a better selection at a well-stocked ski and boarding store, sporting goods store, or a specialty optical store. You will have a larger selection, more time to make your choice, and probably you will pay less.

When you are shopping for ski goggles, be sure to try them on. The goggles need to fit your face. If the buckle is a pain to adjust to your face, or if it won't stay adjusted, don't buy the goggles. A wide band is more comfortable than a narrow band, and rubberized buckles won't dig into your scalp. The foam inserts to keep out wind, ice, and dirt should be thin enough to discourage fogging, but thick enough to cushion your face if you fall.

If you wear eyeglasses, make sure the goggles will fit over them. Opticians who work near ski slopes can usually make prescription inserts for goggles so you will not need your glasses at all.

Goggles also need to provide good vision under the conditions you plan to use them. If you are planning to hit the slopes at night, try the goggles in a room with minimal lighting, such as a changing room.

If you are planning to use them in bright light, ask the clerk for permission to wear them outside. You want to be sure your goggles will be free of glare and distortion when you look at the lights along the trail or half-pipe.

You also need to choose the right tint. For bright light, dark (especially green) tints will keep your eyes more comfortable. If you are going to be on the snow under foggy or cloudy conditions, then amber, gold, or yellow lenses will filter out blue light so you can see shadows in the snow that tell you where the bumps are. Rose-tinted lenses will also help in low-light conditions.

Polarized lenses are great for blocking glare in the middle of a sunny day, but they are less than ideal for skiing or snowboarding later in the afternoon when long shadows appear in the snow. Mirror coatings are primarily for cosmetic effect, and you need to sure of buying ski goggles with clear lenses for nighttime activities.

Always insist on UV protection. White surfaces reflect the maximum amount of UV light. Years of exposure to UV light can induce cataracts and other diseases that will eventually rob you of your sight. Buying ski goggles with UV treatments that block at least 95 per cent of UV light will protect your sight. Make sure the frames leave clearance for peripheral (side) vision. Lower-profile styles fit better with a helmet but some of them skimp on peripheral vision. Ideally, you should be able to see 180 degrees from side to side so you will not collide with other skiers, snowboarders, or stationary obstacles.

Buying your first pair of goggles in person is always your best bet. But once you know what you need, you may be able to save money by buying goggles online.


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