What to Know About Ski & Snowboard Goggles

man wearing and describing ski and snowboard goggles

If you’ve ever skied, snowboarded, or even cycled in the winter you know goggles are a must! Not only to block bright light, but also wind and snow. There are a lot of different options when it comes to ski and snowboard goggles but don’t feel overwhelmed, we’ll go over the basics and expand on each area in a minute.  

Goggles have three main parts: the frame, the lens, and the strap. A lot of goggles now will have interchangeable lenses for different riding conditions. Lighter or clear lenses for dark conditions and a range of tinted lenses for brighter conditions. Frames vary a lot depending on the model but it’s important to find one that fits your face. Some frames are also OTG or over-the-glasses compatible, so you don’t have to get an expensive prescription lens. Straps are generally pretty standard but some do have a quick-release clip on the back for fast changes. 

Goggle Lenses 

Now for the fun part, all about lenses. The first thing you’ll want to consider with lenses is their shape. There are currently three shapes of lenses: cylindrical, spherical, and toric.

snowboard goggle lense shapes
  • Cylindrical lenses are flat vertically but curved horizontally. They are generally the least expensive.  
  • Spherical lenses are curved evenly both vertically and horizontally. They offer a larger field of view and less distortion than cylindrical lenses.  
  • Toric lenses are named after the “torus” shape, which looks like a doughnut, and are meant to mimic the shape of the human eye. They are also curved both horizontally and vertically, but the vertical curve is tighter than the horizontal curve. This gives better peripheral vision and even less distortion than the other two lenses. 

After shape, next would be the tint of the lens. VLT or visible-light-transmission is a measurement of the percentage of light that passes through the lens. For bright, sunny conditions you usually want a VLT somewhere between 10-20%. Dark or night condition lenses can go from about 65-99%. The rest will fall between there somewhere but average lenses are usually about 30-40%. Additionally, some lenses come in polarized varieties to drastically cut down on glare in all conditions. 

ski and snowboard goggle lenses

Lastly, everyone hates when your goggles fog up but thankfully there are technologies that can help; the most prevalent being an anti-fog coating. This coating is usually applied to the inside of the lens so you’ll want to avoid rubbing the inside if possible as this coating can be worn away.  

Another fog fighter is dual-layer lenses. These work similarly to double pane windows in that they have a small air gap between the two layers of the lens that will insulate the outside of the lens from the inside. 

Goggle Frames 

Simply put, frames are the backbone of ski and snowboard goggles. They dictate the overall shape and bulkiness of the goggle. While some goggles support interchangeable lenses, not all do. If you want one pair of goggles that is versatile and will work in many conditions, you’ll need frames that support changing lenses and will want two to three different lenses for different lighting conditions.  

Another frame feature to look out for is ventilation. More ventilation can help reduce fogging but will make your face colder.

You’ll also want to consider how the frame fits on your face. Everyone’s face shape is a little different so every frame won’t fit everyone the same. Some companies have also started offering “narrow bridge” frames that have more padding and a flatter profile around the nose to fit certain face shapes better.  

As was mentioned earlier, some goggles come in over-the-glasses or OTG styles. These have more clearance for glasses and have cutouts so they don’t push the arm of the glasses into your face. 

Helmet Compatibility 

It’s usually the case that if you buy ski or snowboard goggles and a helmet that is the same brand, they will integrate well together; which just means there will be little to no gap between the top of the goggles and the helmet. This doesn’t mean you have to always buy the same brand together. It does mean you should have your goggles handy when buying a new helmet, or vice versa. That way you can try them together before you buy and save yourself a headache, literally. Any modern goggle will fit any helmet.  On the other hand, if you don’t wear a helmet, and you definitely should, you may want to make sure the strap sinches up tight enough for your head. 

Stop into Your Local ERIK’S

There’s a decent amount to consider when buying a pair of ski or snowboard goggles but take it one step at a time and there’s nothing to worry about. Find a shape and main lens you like. Make sure it fits your face, glasses, and helmet, and you’re all set! 

Now check out our huge selection of goggles online.  Or stop by your local ERIK’S and we’ll help you find the perfect pair.