The mountains are covered in a thick layer of powder, and that can only mean one thing: time to hit the slopes. Whether you’re a skier or a snowboarder, this winter is shaping up to be a fantastic season for everyone who loves to play in the snow.
Right about now, many of you are probably getting your equipment from last season together. As you rummage around in your cupboards and basements, you may be trying to figure out whether you need to buy any new equipment for the coming season.
Well, if you’re going to splurge on just one new piece of gadgetry this year, we recommend that you think about upgrading your goggles. While a helmet is undoubtedly essential, goggles also play a major role in safety. After all, if you can’t see where you’re heading, you’re in trouble.
Unfortunately, many skiers and riders skimp out on this crucial piece of gear. We’re about to share why this can be a bad decision before you head up the mountain, and why a pair of goggles might be much more helpful than you think.
Goggles come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and as even novice riders will tell you, not all goggles are created equal. The best goggles out there today are packed with all kinds of helpful features that can accelerate your snow sport experience.
Why Goggles are Important
Before we get into some of the more impressive features you need to know about with new goggles, let’s back up for a second and ask ourselves why goggles are so important in the first place. For the most part, there are two reasons:
- They Reduce Glare – If you’ve ever tried to ski on a sunny day without goggles, you’ve probably experienced a mild case of “snow blindness.” Because snow is white, it’s incredibly reflective. The full force of the sun’s rays gets bounced up right into your eyes. Although you might not notice the effects at first, merely opening your eyes can be incredibly painful later in the day.
- They Protect Against Wind and Snow – If you’re skiing in rough conditions, it’s easy to become shrouded in a thick cloud of snow and wind. You can still have tons of fun on the slopes in these conditions, but not if you don’t have proper goggles. With the right goggles, you can ride at full force without worrying about getting snow in your eyes.
What Are 100% UV Protection Goggles?
If you’re mainly concerned about sun protection, you need to get your hands on a pair of 100% UV protection goggles. As the name implies, these goggles have lenses that completely negate the harmful effects of sunlight on the slopes.
Goggles With Interchangeable Lenses
If it’s cloudy, there’s not much point in wearing UV protection goggles. Furthermore, these goggles behave in the same way as sunglasses, which can make it hard to see in low-light conditions. Think about it – you’re not supposed to wear sunglasses while driving in the dark, right? The same logic applies to wearing UV goggles in cloudy, snowy conditions.
There’s a simple solution. Many goggles out there give you the option to switch out your lenses on the go. If it’s sunny, reach for a pair of your reflective UV lenses. If it’s bucketing down with snow, clip in your clear lenses instead. These clear lenses essentially just protect your eyes against snow and wind while providing crystal clear visibility.
Using Photochromic Lenses on the Slopes
If switching out your lenses sounds like too much of an ordeal. There’s an even more advanced and stress-free option out there. Also known as transition lenses, photochromic lenses give you the best of both worlds. Because these lenses automatically adapt to light conditions, you won’t have to worry about swapping them out.
Instead, you can let science work its magic as these lenses shift and change in reflectivity for any condition you might be facing.
Using Sunglasses on the Slopes
Goggles aren’t your only choice when you hit the slopes. You can also go for a more stylish option with sunglasses. When it comes to which one is better, there’s quite a debate on the subject. Some insist that because sunglasses are less bulky and more lightweight, they’re actually more comfortable and better suited to athletic endeavors.
Others argue that goggles are sturdier and safer. We should point out that goggles can offer some degree of protection when (or if) you fall on your face. Goggles are also warmer because they hug a large percentage of your face.
At the end of the day, the truth is that sunglasses are probably better suited to warmer, sunnier, and more relaxed days. In contrast, goggles are ideal for serious riding – especially when it’s cold or snowy out.
Our Top Picks for Goggles
If you’re thinking about upgrading your eyewear game before you ride or ski, check out these options. These quality shades and goggles won’t let you down.
Best Low-Light Goggles – Bloc Evolution E014/Bloc Small Fit Moon JM01
Bloc Goggles are a safe bet, especially with anti-fogging technology and special yellow, amber, and gold lense material for low-light conditions. If you’re heading into rough and low-light conditions, these lenses will make subtle contours in the snow easier to see.
Bright Condition Goggles – Bolle Tsar, Solice 708 Junior, or Smith RIOT
These darker lenses will help increase contrast and improve visibility in bright conditions. These goggles feature dark browns, greys, and greens to achieve this.
Best Night Goggles – Salice 609
Night skiing is lots of fun, and it’s excellent for discounted lift tickets. If you’re planning to hit the slopes after the sun goes down, you should aim for clear lenses, which is what the Salice 609 offers.
Best Photochromatic Goggles – Oakley Line Miner/Flight Deck
If you’re looking for a killer pair of photochromatic goggles, look no further than these top of the line Oakley models.
Best Sunglasses for the Slopes
If you’d rather rock a pair of shades as you tear down the mountain, there are several options to consider. If you’re going to be out in the bright sunlight, consider sunglasses with mirrored coatings, such as Uvex Sportstyle or the Smith Ridgewell Chromapop.
Polarized sunglasses are a smart choice for skiing or riding, as they eliminate glare coming from horizontal lines. The Oakley Holbrook is a stellar choice for polarized, snow-ready shades.
Of course, you can also find photochromatic lenses in shades. If you’re looking for sunglasses that can adapt to any conditions you might be facing on the slopes, reach for a pair of Oakley Jawbreakers.