Snow goggles are a very important part of your snow equipment. The ability to see the slopes in all conditions is very important, not being able too see when riding is not fun and very dangerous. Any rider would agree that not seeing the slopes will make snowboarding or skiing much less enjoyable.
Traditionally goggles are used to protect your eyes from the cold, wind and snow but they have many technical features that assist in riding. The main features that need to be considered when buying goggles is the sense type, sense colour, ability to interchange lenses, frame type, sizing, and fit.
There are two lens types that are used in snow goggles these are cylindrical and spherical. The main difference between the two lens types are the shape on the lens.
Cylindrical lens are flat vertically but curve horizontally around the face. These lenses are the cheaper option but still provide good overall performance. Cylindrical lenses are a flat surface so they do sit closer to the face at certain places on the goggle.
Spherical lenses have curves both vertically and horizontally. They have many key advantages over cylindrical lenses. The spherical shape is very similar to the shape of your eyes, this shape greatly enhances the vision you have. The curved shape helps with your peripheral vision and your vision of things above and below you. The shape of spherical lenses also assists in reducing glare due to lower amount of sun contact points on the lenses. Due to the increased distance of the goggle from your face goggle fogging is less of an issue. The distortion of vision in cylindrical lenses is common problem, spherical lenses are injection molded which can counter the problems of distortion. The injection mold can create a lens with difference thickness of plastic in different parts of the lens.
Lens tint is a key feature of goggles as they determine what type of weather the goggles is suitable for. Lens tint can be a day maker or ruiner depending on the weather. Being able to properly see on snowy powder is a great feeling and not having to much glare on a sunny day is the best, this can only be done with the right lens tints.
There are many many different types of lens colour and tints that can be matched to any type of weather condition. Goggles lens are rated by the amount of light they allow through to your eyes, this is called visible light transition (VLT). The scale is done through percentages, 0% allows none of the light in while 100% lets all the light into the lens. Typically lens range from 5-90%. In low light conditions goggles VLT will be 60-90%, while on bright sunny days VLT will be 5-20%. Goggles can also be in between this range so they function in both sunny and cloudy conditions. Manufactures now have also created lenses that change there VLT with the amount of UV rays they are exposed to.
Colour is also a feature used in goggle lenses, generally in low light conditions lenses with VLT ranging between 60-90% the colours used are yellow, rose, amber and light blue. Bright condition lenses usually use darker colours like black and grey or have a mirrored colour tint.
Generally most riders who spend a decent amount of time in the mountains have multiple lens that are suited to different types of weather conditions. Having multiple lenses is a great way to utilise one frame for all of your riding. Most brands now offer some of there goggle range with 2 or even 3 lenses so you just need the one google. Having multiple lenses brings in another feature of the goggle, the ease of changing between lenses.
Interchangeable lens are becoming increasing popular with goggle brands. Many goggles new come with multiple lenses and the method of changing them has become even easier and faster. High end brands like Dragon (who we stock at Tignes Spirit) now has quick lock systems that allow you to change your lenses while sitting on the chair lift with groves on. Most of the quick chance googles have a frameless goggle frame.
Goggle frames can be split into several groups, each having different sizing options. The lens types used are framed, frameless and OTG (over the glasses). Framed goggles have a frame around the lens and incase it in. Frameless goggles have the lenses on the top of the frame system. OTG goggles are similar to framed goggles but have space for goggles to fit inside.
Goggles frames also incorporate features like ventilation, straps and face foam. Ventilation is normally at the top of the goggles, these allow heat from the face to escape and stop the goggles from fogging. The foam on the inside of the goggle has to fit around your face sung and be comfortable.
Frames come in a number of sizing options, small lens fit kids and smaller faces. Medium frames will fit the vast majority of people. Large goggles may not fit everyone but the idea behind large goggles is that they give you much more peripheral vision and allow for more vision up and down as the frame is out of your vision.