Finding the right type of snow goggle for your skiing and snowboarding activities

Finding the right type of ski goggle is your best companion during your winter activities. Throughout the years helmet use has become the standard and picking the right type of goggle protects you from the cold, wind and unforeseen falls. Especially during bad weather you are better off with the right snow goggle.

Why pick a ski/snowboard goggle over sunglasses?

There are good reasons you want to pick a goggle over a pair of sunglasses. A ski or snowboard goggle covers more skin and fits better, this means that unfiltered light has no chance of reaching your eyes. UV radiation at high altitudes, with plenty of glare from the snow are not a risk you should take lightly.

Even during overcast, through heavy clouds, these UV rays penetrate the skies and without proper protection for your eyes, these UV rays will be mercilessly on your eyes all day long. An ordinary pair of sunglasses will stop a percentage of this, but they still reach your eyes through the sides. A well fitted ski goggle is therefor the way to go in offering 100% UV and wind protection.

Picking the right type of snow goggle, the basics

In theory, all snow goggles are build with the same principle. A large lens covers both eyes and the foam around the frame or lens seals the connection between your head and the snow goggle. That is as far as the link goes when you start researching your next snow goggle. In the early days snow goggles were used with one lens and one lens only, the frame took up most of your peripheral vision and lenses were mostly made from a bent cylindrical shape. Nowadays there are many types of frame and lens combination to pick from, we’ll discuss all of them briefly:

  • Cylindrical  – A cylindrical lens bulges from left to right to give you a wide field of view without adding bulk to the frame, making the frame and lens combination
  • Spherical – A spherical lens also has a bulge from top to bottom, following the contours of your eyes, the image is less distorted than with a cylindrical lens and more true to life. A spherical lens is often large and frames need to be bigger in order to accommodate this extra space.
  • Toric – A toric lens has a large bulge from left to right, compared to the top and bottom. This gives you a distortion free, wider field of view from left to right, but since the top to bottom bulge is smaller, it will somewhat affect your depth of vision. Frames equipped with toric lenses are often comparable to cylindrical equipped frames and they offer a more wrapped around design, compared to the bulkier spherical lenses.

How should a proper ski or snow goggle fit?

It is important to have a well-fitting snow goggle that you can wear all day with comfort. Make sure your goggle fits well on your ski helmet. Not all goggle and helmet combinations might work. It is impossible for any brand to test all combinations, but for Mariener we have tried our goggle on a number of well known helmet brands and we are confident that our goggle has a universal fit to most generic helmet designs. The potential gap between your goggle and forehead is the biggest concern. Ideally there should be no gap, but a small gap won’t cause too much of an issue. Only for larger gaps, cold, wind and the lack of UV protection will become an issue for your head.

What type of lens category should you pick?

All our lenses are defined by a light transmittance index rating, called the lens category. In short, this means how much light it will block. Different conditions, require different levels of tint for safe use in these situations. The more sunshine, the darker the lens needs to be in order to be able to offer the best protection and at the same time not blind you by the bright sun. The lens tint has nothing to do with the level of UV protection, as this will always be of the highest standard, full 100% UV protection, no matter the darkness, but some lenses are simply not suitable for heavily clouded conditions.

  • 1. Category 0 and 1 have a neutral, light yellow or orange color. These provide protection against the cold, wind and snow and provide a more contrasting image. These lenses are ideal for poor visibility during snowfall, fog and low-hanging clouds.
  • 2. In case of (light) clouds, varying cloudy weather and slopes in the woods and on the shadow side of the mountain, a category 2 offers the solution.
  • 3. For sunny conditions on winter sports, a category 3 ski goggles is ideal.
  • 4. For very sunny conditions high in the mountains, such as winter sports on a glacier or expeditions, category 4 is recommended.

How can you clear up any possibilities of lens fogging?

We’ve previously written a blog article about fogging. Due to the large temperature differences between the inside and the outside of the snow goggles, visibility can be hindered by condensation. The warm humid air that comes from your head, your breath and your skin faces the cold lens and then it will condensate and block your vision. In general all snow goggles have some time of protection again fogging.

  • Either a special anti-fog coating is applied to the lenses
  • A double lens, stuck onto the outer lens, provides an extra layer of air so that the temperature difference is bridged and condensation occurs less quickly
  • A more open structure of the soft foam layer that is pressed against your face provides extra ventilation
  • Air holes in the frame or lenses provide extra ventilation

At Mariener, we want to minimize the possibility of fogging, so we opt between coatings, extra ventilation and double lenses whenever we can. Our Snow Goggles have 360° of frame ventilation and depending on the particular model, also lens ventilation and an extra protective hydrophobic coating keeps your lens free from condensation or obstruction no matter what type of activity you throw at them!

Are there benefits of using a polarized snow goggle?

Polarized lenses work wonders for sunglasses. We’ve covered some ground in our previous article about polarized lenses. But what about polarized lenses for Snow Goggles? They prevent glare from snow and water. Some opticians advise against wearing polarized lenses when skiing, because you may be unable to see the icy patches on slopes that you’ll want to avoid. Besides being expensive, you may need to ask yourself, do you really need them on the slopes?

Self adjusting, photochromatic lenses.

The weather is often a tricky partner when you are out on the slopes, variable and often unpredictable. You’ll need optimal visibility for both sunny and dreary days. One option is to take a snow goggle with removable lenses. They come in a large variety of mechanisms, like hinges, magnets and pins to keep the lens in place. For those who do not want to change their lenses, there are also snow goggles with photo chromatic lenses. These will automatically adapt to the amount of light available. Like polarized lenses, these are often very expensive and the transition speed between tints may vary if the weather varies too much.