Although they’re often referred to as “ski goggles,” snow goggles can (and should!) be used for all winter sports. Skiing and snowboarding, in particular, come with some inherent risks and require that you take steps to protect yourself. One simple but incredibly important way to do that is wearing proper eye protection — goggles.
The best snow goggles protect your eyes from both injury and the elements, but also significantly enhance your vision as you head down the slopes.
The benefits of wearing the best snow goggles
There are several reasons why you should invest in a quality pair of snow goggles — and as you’ll see in our recommendations below, “invest” doesn’t necessarily mean shelling out a bunch of cash.
Being out in the elements exposes you to wind, precipitation and UV rays, even on overcast days. Photokeratitis, commonly called “snow blindness,” causes pain, disorientation and temporary loss of vision, and is the result of overexposure to those UV rays. Snow blindness is essentially a sunburn on the cornea. The best snow goggles prevent snow blindness, plus they offer physical protection against tree branches and other mountain hazards.
If you’re wondering why you can’t simply wear sunglasses, there are several reasons as to why. Sunglasses can easily fly off as you go down the slopes, whereas goggles securely strap on. Because of the way snow goggles fit, they also offer extra protection from the wind and cold, creating a seal around your face.
Reduced glare and increased contrast
The reflection of the sun off of snow, even on cloudy days, can be intense. It’s not safe (or desirable) to go down the slopes squinting and shielding your eyes. The best snow goggles have specialty lenses that sharpen contrast and increase visibility.
You may have noticed that snow goggles generally have brightly-colored, mirrored lenses. This helps make hazards and other obstacles on the slopes more visible. Yellow, gold and amber-colored lenses are best for low-visibility days when it’s cloudy, foggy, or snowing. Brown lenses are ideal both when lighting is poor and when it’s extremely sunny, and darker jewel-tone colors like blue and green are best-suited for bluebird days, as they allow less light to filter through.
The 6 best snow goggles
Whether you only get onto the mountain once or twice a season or you’re on the slopes every weekend, a quality pair of snow goggles can completely transform your experience. All of our picks for the best snow goggles are comfortable enough for all-day wear and come with high-tech features such as anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings. You really can’t go wrong with any on this list, but keep in mind that the “best” pair for you really comes down to personal preference, as snow goggles sit snugly against your face for long periods of time.
1. Zeal Optics Portal Snow Goggles
Zeal’s Portal goggles feature a completely rimless frame with a spherical lens that provides HD-quality peripheral vision. The Rail Lock System (RLS) allows the lens to be slid into channels, then locked into place with a magnet and the entire process takes just a few seconds.
There are more than a dozen lenses to choose from and each one comes with an additional low-visibility Optimum Persimmon Sky Blue Mirror lens. The Portal has venting on both the upper and lower frame for superior anti-fogging, and the lens is resistant to smudges, scuffs and scratches.
2. Wildhorn Outfitters ROCA Snow Goggles
Wildhorn Outfitters is an official supplier for the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team, so you know these goggles are good. The interchangeable-lens ROCA goggles are a “semi-frameless” style (notice that from the front, they’re all lens) and have an extremely flexible frame. When it comes to the best snow goggles, flexible = comfortable. You can also buy several additional lenses, and it takes less than a minute to switch them thanks to the integrated magnet system and clip locks.
3. Smith Squad Snow Goggle with ChromaPop Lens
Smith isn’t typically associated with value, but the Squad snow goggles are an exception. Priced right in the middle of the class, their lenses are just as good as pairs twice as expensive — and they come with a second lens. The Squad doesn’t have any especially unique or high-tech features, but instead shines as a very well-executed basic pair of ski and snowboard goggles. They fit comfortably and the optics are fantastic, with the ChromaPop technology helping small details and colors to quite literally “pop” as you slide down the mountain.
4. Outdoor Master OTG Ski Goggles
Don’t let the almost too-good-to-be-true pricetag of these ski goggles deter you — they are awesome. Over 1 million skiers and snowboarders have tested Outdoor Master’s over-the-glasses goggles, including members of the USA Snowboard and Freeski Association and SkiAustria teams. They’re light, extremely comfortable, and have some of the best anti-fogging properties on the market. Note that these ski goggles come in just one size.
5. SPY Optic Ace Snow Goggle
The Ace ski and snowboard goggles are tall but have a low-profile cylindrical lens, so you get a ton of coverage without feeling like your face is overwhelmed. A bonus high-visibility lens is included, and the Quick Draw system uses side clips to quickly slide the new lens into place. While the Ace’s lens is not as impressive as the ChromaPop on Smith Squad goggles, the optical quality is still very good, particularly in bright conditions.
6. Anon M4 Toric Snow Goggles
This is the most expensive pair on our list of the best snow goggles, but you absolutely get your money’s worth. The Anon M4 comes with two lenses, and you can choose between cylindrical or toric. If you’re unfamiliar with toric lenses, Burton explains they “improve optics by mimicking the shape of the eye.” It takes literally a few seconds to change the lens with the M4’s magnetic system, and it’s so easy that it can be done while you’re wearing them. The field of vision is tremendous and the optical clarity is unreal, plus you can wear these over prescription glasses.
Taryn Shorr is an avid outdoor enthusiast, frequent traveler, and wannabe photographer based in southern Arizona. She lives for the opportunity to explore The Great Outdoors, both at home and in new destinations, and firmly believes that nature is a form of both therapy and religion.
Feature image by Vasily Klykov, Shutterstock
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