Wearing the right goggles when skiing or snowboarding is more than just a question of style. They must offer safety, ensuring a good time on the slopes. Anyone who has ever had a pair of goggles with an “inferior” lens knows how much contrasts can become blurred and one’s own assessment of 3-dimensional space can be distorted. And anyone who has ever had glasses with poor ventilation and permanent fogging also knows that your level of fun will decrease rapidly if you can’t see where you’re going. So, you should take shopping for ski goggles seriously! We’re giving you a few tips here on what you should look out for.
Ski goggles not only complete the outfit and are a fashion accessory, but they also effectively protect our eyes from external influences. To ensure that the protection is really there, all ski goggles are tested according to the EN 174 standard.
First, the light transmission (light transmittance) in the visible range is determined. The classification is made into the following filter categories:
- Level 0 = 80-100% light transmittance
- Level 1 = 43-80% light transmittance
- Level 2 = 18-43% light transmittance
- Level 3 = 8-18% light transmittance
- Level 4 = 3-8% light transmittance
The glasses are also subject to strict requirements for protection against UV radiation. Especially on the mountain this is very important. In addition to UVA, UVB and UVC protection, the goggles should also protect against the dangerous blue light.
The lenses continue to be tested for their mechanical strength. Especially in case of a fall, ski poles and other objects can quickly become a danger. It is therefore important that the lens provides adequate protection, does not break and does not detach from the frame. Furthermore, the lenses must not have any distorting effect and must be water and snow tight.
Structure of ski goggles
The design of ski goggles is quite simple and has proven itself over the past 30 years as follows: the goggles enclose most of the upper part of the face and usually consist of a large, one-piece plastic frame with only one large, convex-shaped lens. Whereby there are also “frameless” ski goggles.
How comprehensively and clearly you can perceive your surroundings depends primarily on the lens you choose. Almost all lenses are made of polycarbonate. This is a lightweight and flexible plastic that is relatively break-resistant and, above all, does not shatter.
- Category 0 for heavy clouds and night skiing
- Category 1 for changing light and weather conditions
- Category 2 for sunny days with low cloudiness
- Category 3 for mainly sunshine
- Category 4 for bright sunshine and glaciers
But beware, not all polycarbonate is the same! There are significant differences in the quality of the glasses. This depends strongly on the production and refinement (e.g. polarization, anti-dirt coating, single or multi-layer, etc.). One thing is certain – the more refinement and the better the workmanship, the higher the price. We recommend going for quality and to buy goggles that guarantee an unclouded, undistorted view under all conditions. For this purpose, glasses with interchangeable lenses of categories 1 and 3 or even a single self-tinting (photochromic) lens, whose light absorption adapts to the light intensity, is sufficient.
Lens changing system
It is not uncommon to have fog with snowfall in the morning and bright sunshine and blue skies in the afternoon. If you don’t want extra glasses for different light conditions, you should look around at manufacturers who offer an interchangeable system. With most manufacturers it is sufficient to simply press out the lens and replace it with a different tint. Uvex offers with its Take-Off System an equally easy to handle solution: With the help of a mini-magnet, which is attached to both sides of the frame, the dark magnetic lens is simply fixed to the base lens of the ski goggles. If you want even more comfort, you should go for the glasses with Zebra or Cameleon lenses from Julbo. These lenses are self-tinting and change their protection level within approx. 20 seconds depending on the incidence of light.
There are also ski goggles that have been specially developed for people who wear glasses (OTG – over the glass) and can be worn over corrective glasses. They are slightly larger in size and usually have lateral cut-outs in the foam so that the temples of the goggles can find their place. Julbo also offers so-called “Optic Clips”, which are fitted directly by the optician with the individual vision and then clipped into the ski goggles.
A crucial factor to pay attention to is the helmet compatibility. The frame of the ski goggles should fit into the recess of the helmet and be flush with the face. The gap between goggles and helmet should not be too large. Silicone strips on the inside of the band prevent slipping and provide a secure hold. Ideally, you should choose the same manufacturer for both goggles and helmet.
The agony of choice
If the ski goggles are not comfortable or do not fit optimally, then it is not the right one – no matter how beautiful the design is. When trying on the goggles, you should therefore pay attention to a few points to find out which goggles fit: To do this, shake your head vigorously in all directions. The lenses should not slip or press uncomfortably. It has proven to be a good idea to wear the lenses for a few minutes to test them, since only with time do possible pressure points become apparent. Furthermore, the headband should be flexible and easy to adjust.