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Buying Guide for Snowboard Goggles



By Steve Kopitz


When buying new gear many people neglect snowboard goggles. After spending money on the coolest board, newest jacket and everything else snowboard goggles are usually the item that gets skimped on. There is nothing wrong with a good deal; you just need to know what you are looking for and what you’re getting for the price you’re paying. Snowboard Goggles that do not fit properly or are the wrong tint for conditions can make a day of riding pretty miserable, pretty quickly.


Things to consider when buying snowboard goggles:


Proper Fit for Snowboard Goggles


OTG Snowboard Goggles (compatible with prescription glasses)


Snowboard Goggle Lenses


Additional Snowboard Goggle Features


Basic Snowboard Goggle Care



While it is perfectly acceptable to choose your snowboard goggles based on style; making sure they fit properly will be critical to enjoying your time on the slopes. Snowboard goggles are available in adult and kids or junior sizes. While there are not actually sizes of adult snowboard goggles the variety of frame styles do fit differently. does its best to give you an estimate as to how small or large each frame will fit. Additionally, some manufacturers such as Oakley and Dragon make alternative fit snowboard goggles to accommodate flatter noses. highly recommends trying your goggles on with a hat or your helmet before heading to the slopes as we can not return used merchandise if you decide you do not like the fit.


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If you are wearing a hat, a proper fitting snowboard goggle should:


Fit comfortably to your face with out creating pressure points.


Create a soft, but snug seal on your face. If any gaps in the seal exist between your face and your goggles air can funnel into your goggles and into your eyes.


Provide appropriate peripheral vision with out being uncomfortably large.


Have a band/strap which cinches snugly around the back of your head keeping the snowboard goggles snug against your face.


If you are wearing a helmet, a proper fitting snowboard goggle should:

Fit comfortably to your face with out creating pressure points.


Create a soft, but snug seal on your face. If any gaps in the seal exist between your face and your goggles air can funnel into your goggles and into your eyes.


Provide appropriate peripheral vision with out being uncomfortably large.


Have a band/strap which cinches snugly around the back of your head keeping the snowboard goggles snug against your face. Keep in mind that for a proper fit snowboard goggles should be worn on the outside of your helmet. While many kids wear their straps on the inside to be “steezy” this will alter the fit of the helmet. Giro makes a park specific goggle with out a plastic adjuster on the back to help minimize the effects that wearing your goggle strap under you helmet creates.


Form a tight seal between the top of your snowboard goggles and your helmet. A tight seal is critical in preventing brain freeze and gaper gap. Even the smallest gap between your snowboard goggles and helmet will funnel cold air onto your forehead potentially causing brain freeze. Gaper Gap is a “technical” ski and snowboard term for the gap between ones snowboard goggles and helmet making them stand out as a novice in the process of snowboard goggle and helmet selection.


It is incredibly important to try your goggles on before heading to the slopes to ensure that you not only like the color/style, but that they fit properly and comfortably as well.


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Over the Glasses Snowboard Goggles


What do I do if I need to wear my prescription glasses for skiing?


Luckily there are an increasing number of styles of OTG snowboard goggles for those who need to wear their glasses while snowboarding. OTG snowboard goggles are available in kids and adult sizes. While most of the adult OTG snowboard goggles are rather large some of the manufacturers do make medium sized OTG snowboard goggles. While the overall dimensions of the OTG snowboard goggles frames are larger than regular goggles the OTG goggles also have notches to accommodate the temple arms of your eye glasses.



Oakley L Frame OTG Goggles 2011
Scott Voltage Kids OTG Goggles 2011




Snowboard Goggle Lenses


Snowboard Goggle Lenses come in two different construction styles, two different shapes, a multitude of different tints, and a variety of different coatings. Oh, and every manufacturer makes up their own names for their tints and coatings. With that being said selecting a lens can be very tricky. But with this information hopefully you will feel ready to make an informed decision about snowboard goggles.



Construction Style


Let’s start by talking about construction style. Much like windows, snowboard goggle lenses can either be single or dual “pane”. While single lenses do have their place, most people will agree that dual lenses are better.



Single Lenses


Single lenses are cut from a single sheet of plastic providing a simple barrier between your eyes and the outdoors. This being said single lenses are less expensive to produce and therefore are most often used on kids snowboard goggles and inexpensive adult snowboard goggles.



Dual Lenses


Dual lenses have two panes of plastic with an air gap in between them. The air gap serves as an insulating barrier helping to equalize the temperature between your face and the outdoors. This helps reduce fog in the lenses keeping your view of the slopes crystal clear.



Lens Shape


When referring to lens shape manufacturers and retailers are talking about the curvature of the lens from top to bottom across the lens, or lack there of. Therefore the two shapes for snowboard goggle lenses are spherical or flat/cylindrical.



Flat Lenses


While they are often referred to as flat lenses, cylindrical lens probably better describes this lens shape. The lens curves from side to side across the goggles but is not curved from top to bottom. It’s like the lens was cut from a cylinder or tube of plastic. Flat or cylindrical lenses often limit your field of vision more than a spherical lens would. Because the shape of a flat lens differs from the shape of your eyes it can distort your peripheral view. Due to the flatter shape of a flat lens they are not as efficient with filtering sunlight. Therefore, you may experience glare due to sunlight catching the lenses at odd angles.



Spherical Lenses


If a cylindrical lens looks like its cut from a cylinder, then it makes sense that a spherical lens looks like it was cut from a sphere or ball of plastic. Spherical lenses are curved in all directions thus expanding your field of vision and offering better optical clarity at the peripheries. Since spherical lenses are shaped to offer better peripheral vision they are better for snowboarders who experience large blind spots when making heel side turns.

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Lens Tints


As mentioned above there are several different lens tints available in order to give you perfect visibility in every condition imaginably experienced by a snowboarder. On we not only give you the name of each lens tint, but its VLT rating and best suited conditions on our product pages. The VLT rating stands for Visible Light Transmission and is shown as a percentage of light that is allowed to pass through the lens. The higher the VLT number the more light is allowed to pass through the lens. Most clear lenses allow roughly 85% or more light through. The darkest lenses meant for full sunlight typically allow about 10-15% of the light waves through.  Each brand may name their tints differently in order to appear original, but most of the manufacturers have something similar to the following tints.




Simply put, clear lenses are for skiing at night.





Amber and RC36 lenses are very common tints which typically look brown. They are best suited for partially sunny conditions, typically featuring a VLT rating in the mid 30s. Amber or RC36 lenses help reduce glare and provide better contrast in snow conditions. This lens can be a bit to dark for night riding, so keep that in mind if you don’t hit the slopes ‘til the night passes start.



Gold / Persimmon / Orange:


Gold, Persimmon, or Orange lenses are very similar to Amber colored lenses. They are typically suited for low to medium light conditions featuring a bit higher VLT than an Amber lens. Gold, Persimmon or Orange lenses can be beneficial in flat light conditions because they provide good contrast, shadow definition and improve depth perception. **Gold lenses with chrome or ionized coatings don’t apply in this category.





Rose or Pink tints are good in low, flat light conditions. The pink tint helps to improve definition in snow conditions. The rose or pink tints are typically offer a lower VLT than yellow lenses which are well suited for night skiing.





Like rose or pink tint lenses, yellow lenses are designed for low, flat light conditions. Yellow lenses typically have a higher VLT rating and are therefore designed for snowboarding in lower light conditions. Yellow lenses work well for that 5pm – close lift ticket time thanks to their ability to improve visual contrast in flat light.



Red Chrome/ Mirrored (Fire):


Often called a Fire lens because of its red, yellow and orange transitioning tint the Red Chrome/ Mirrored lenses are best suited for bright conditions. The Red Chrome/ Mirrored lenses are best suited in bright conditions and help cut glare and reduce eye fatigue in bright light.



Green Chrome/ Mirrored:


Green Chrome or Mirrored lenses offer a cool look typically transitioning between blues, greens, and purples depending on how the light hits them. The Green Chrome/ Mirrored lenses are best suited in bright conditions and help cut glare and reduce eye fatigue in bright light.



Black Chrome / Mirrored (Limo):


While you will definitely look legit in a murdered out black frame and lens combo, these dark lenses are designed for extremely bright conditions. Typically only allowing roughly 5-10% of light through the lens it will be incredibly difficult to see in flat or low light conditions and at night.





Natural lenses are available with standard or mirrored coatings. Natural lenses provide the truest colors available thus reducing eye strain after long days on the slopes. A clear view of your surrounding environment provides for happy shredding in partly cloudy to sunny conditions.



Low Light/ High Intensity Lenses:


Low Light/ High Intensity lenses are designed for night riding. They can be a few different colors such as yellow or blue. The lens description should mention a high VLT rating and its ability to provide definition and visual contrast in low light conditions. These lenses also work well for tree riding in overcast or partially cloudy conditions.

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Additional Lens Features



Mirrored Lenses:


Many snowboard goggles are offered with mirrored or “chrome” lenses. This means that the lens is treated with a manufacturer’s specific coating to make them appear reflective. Different lenses will have varying amounts of reflective properties to them. Some will look slightly reflective, while others are nearly impossible to see into at certain angles. It is important to check the VLT ratings on these types of lenses to see what light conditions they are best suited for.


Mirrored lenses do have functional properties other than just looking steezy. Mirrored or chrome coatings can help block additional sunlight from passing through the lens making them better in brighter conditions. The mirrored or chrome coatings can also help reduce glare because it reflects more light than a traditional snowboard goggle lens.





Polarized Lenses:


Snowboard goggles which feature polarized lenses provide better glare reduction and UV protection than Non-Polarized lenses. Like being on the water, snow will reflect a lot of sunlight and can cause extremely bright glare. Polarized lenses are designed to reduce the amount of reflective glare that will penetrate your snowboard goggle lenses.


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Photochromatic Lenses:


Photochromatic lenses are the best types of lenses you can buy. Photochromatic lenses work in the same way transition lenses work in glasses, lightening and darkening based on lighting conditions. Photochrmoatic lenses provide superior visibility in all conditions because the lenses are constantly adjusting base on the light, getting darker in brighter conditions and lightening up in overcast conditions.


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Additional Snowboard Goggle Features


Many of the goggle manufacturers are offering unique features to set themselves apart from the rest.


Turbo Fan:


Several people especially those who wear prescription eye glasses to snowboard in have experienced not only fogging goggles, but fogging glasses inside their snowboard goggles. Smith’s Turbo Fan to the rescue, by installing a small fan in the top of the snowboard goggle frame the warm air can be pulled up and out of your snowboard goggles leaving you with a clear view. This small, quiet fan is battery powered and can be switched on and off when fog isn’t an issue. Snowboard goggles with the Turbo Fan option are highly recommended for snowboarders who need to wear their glasses to ride.


Smith Turbo Fan Snowboard Goggle



Quick Change Lenses:


Many of the snowboard goggle manufacturers are realizing that an increasing number of riders are buying snowboard goggles with replaceable lenses and swapping them out based on light conditions for the day. Quick change features like Oakley’s Air Brake and Smith’s Quick Release Lens System allow riders to change lenses in seconds and get out on the slopes in the correct lens quicker. Don’t risk breaking a lens or your snowboard goggle frame trying to carefully change lenses, get a snowboard goggle with a quick change lens system and stop messing around.



Basic Snowboard Goggle Care


Just like sunglasses and prescription glasses, snowboard goggle lenses are subject to scuffs, scratches, gouges, and even cracks. In order to keep your lenses in good shape you should follow these basic rules to snowboard goggle maintenance.


Keep the inside of your snowboard goggle lenses cherry… the oils on your hands can cause the coatings on the lens to deteriorate. Smudges from your finger prints can be very difficult to remove from the interior of the lens. Do not wipe the interior of the lens.


When cleaning your snowboard goggle lenses you want to use a snowboard goggle or glasses cloth. Many snowboard jackets have goggle wipes built into an interior pocket so you can easily clean your lenses on the slopes. The goggle bag that your snowboard goggle may come with is designed to be used as a wipe as well. Paper towel, toilet paper, Kleenex, your sleeve, your friends sleeve, etc are scratchy (… even the good kind of Kleenex) and can leave small scratches on your lens. These small scratches might not be noticeable at first, but trust us, they will add up over time.


Do not use cleaners of any kind to clean your lenses. Cleaners can damage anti-fog and mirrored coatings on your lens.


Always store your snowboard goggles in a case or snowboard goggle bag (typically comes with snowboard goggles). The most dangerous place for snowboard goggles are in your bag where they can get damaged by zippers, Velcro, snaps, etc. Snowboard goggle cases might seem like an unnecessary expense, but at as little as $20 they are a heck of a lot cheaper than replacement snowboard goggle lenses.


When storing your helmet and goggles, be sure to remove your goggles from your helmet. Leaving the goggles around your helmet can cause the strap to stretch out too much.


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