(The Gear Loop) - The latest ski and snowboard goggles don’t just shield your peepers from sun and snow, they transform your view of the mountains with high-tech lens finishes, integrated anti-fog tech and quick-change systems, which means unpredictable weather conditions won’t slash your time on the slopes.
Gone are the days of basic eyewear that only just about stopped bits of frozen precipitation from flying into retinas, as we now usher in a new era of high performance and, more importantly, highly affordable lenses.
All of the goggles below have been selected after months of use out on the slopes and in the back country, with our decision swayed by those that fit perfectly, those that offered rapid changing lenses and the goggles that packed technologies that dealt with colour confusion for the the clearest view in an array of wintry conditions.
Here are five of the latest goggles that should be your winter radar, should you be lucky enough to escape to the slopes in the coming months.
The best ski and snowboard goggles
Oakley Target Line M Snow Goggles
- Great range of lenses
- Brilliant field of view
- Frame is on the chunky side
For entry level goggles, these new offerings from Oakley are pretty hard to beat. And they’re compatible with spectacles, too.
We loved the wide range of lenses (there are 13 to choose from) and the brilliant grip on the extra-thick, silicone-lined strap. The field of view is enormous, and we appreciated the low profile, as all too often the tops of our goggles get scuffed where they push up against the edge of our helmet, but this wasn’t a risk with this pair.
The goggles have been designed with a mid-sized fit in mind, although there’s plenty of flexibility on the strap.
Anon M3 Goggles
- Fantastic field of view
- Thinner foam layer means an ultra-close fit
- Would have loved to see a longer guarantee given the price tag
Everyone knows that Burton doesn't just make great boards, but we’re firm believers that more people should know about the fantastic eyewear made by Anon - Burton’s goggle brand.
These are a case in point: stylish and lightweight, with a slick magnet-based lens change system and a low profile paired with a wide field of view.
Our pet hate is goggle fog, but a clever combo of precision-engineered vents and moisture-wicking face foam (despite said foam being 40 per cent thinner than the norm) equates to minimal misting.
These goggles are best suited to medium and large faces, although this is another pair with plenty of flexibility, thanks to a thermoplastic polyurethane frame that proves lightweight but offers plenty of give – even in freezing temperatures. Oh, and the goggles often come with a face mask. Who doesn’t love a freebie?
Dragon NFX Goggles
- Top notch anti-fog coating
- Ultra-comfortable, with cloud-like fleece lining
- Not the best choice for smaller heads
We’re die-hard fans of Dragon (their sunglasses are some of the best around) and it was love at first sight with these goggles, thanks largely to the ultra-modern look of the frameless, thermal-formed lens.
Thankfully, it’s not a case of style over substance with the Dragon NFX’s, which have all the standard features, and then some.
For example, the soft triple-layer face foam has been finished with a hypoallergenic lining. Although the top-quality lens - Dragon’s Lumalens Colour Optimised unit - has more stiffness than the average goggle, there’s still plenty of flexibility, and it’s easy to change (a second lens comes as standard in most cases).
Roxy Storm Women's Goggles
- Three-layer foam for maximum comfort
- A brilliant option for spectacles
- Would have loved to see more rubber on the inside of the strap (for grip)
These are brilliant entry level goggles, and although we missed a few features - such as rubber or silicone on the inside of the strap for extra helmet grip - you’ll struggle to find better goggles at this price point.
They’re compatible with spectacles, and have a great field of vision, along with a ridiculously lightweight design. In fact, these are some of the lightest goggles we’ve come across.
We also loved the supersized bag, as all too often goggles come with tiny bags that simply aren’t compatible with cold, gloved hands.
Designed to fit with smaller, feminine faces and features, they are slimmer and more lightweight than some of the unisex options listed here.
Smith I/O MAG Goggles
- Slick, stylish appearance
- Lenses are incredibly easy to change
- Higher price tag
A space age pair of goggles that typically comes with two lens options, these goggles have a higher price tag but they’re worth every penny seeing as they are crammed wiuth tech.
We’re not sure what we love more to be honest, the magnet-based MAG quick release system is awesome, as it makes changing lenses a breeze,but the ChromaPop lens technology also offers greater definition, better clarity and more natural colour by filtering the two wavelengths of light which cause so-called colour confusion.
These are also some of the most comfortable goggles on the market, thanks not only to the damp-busting three-layer DriWix face foam, but Smith’s Responsive Fit frame, which hugs every contour like a second skin.
What to look for in a pair of ski or snowboard goggles
Use your head
It sounds like an obvious one, but start with the size of your head. Most goggles will be designed with small, medium or large heads in mind, and this will usually be stated in the product information.
Take into account the fact that you’ll (hopefully) be wearing the goggles over a helmet, and look for straps that are easily adjustable.
Just because the size of a certain goggle suits you right now, it doesn’t mean it will in the future, when you’ll be wearing different helmets, or might require a pair of goggles that can accommodate spectacles.
A growing number of goggles have magnet-based systems that allow lenses to be changed in a matter of seconds. This is ideal for anyone who wants to have the ability to switch to a different lens depending on the weather.
But bear in mind this type of goggle means you’ll need plenty of room in which to stash your spare lens. Additionally, high-tech coatings and other finishing treatments mean today’s lenses are so advanced that a single lens will often cope much better with multiple weather conditions than they did five years ago.
In other words, while a lens that is easy to swap out is preferable, don’t regard magnet-based systems - that often crank up the price - as an essential factor.
It's all in the lens
One of the most important aspects is the lens itself. All ski and snowboard goggles must filter 100 per cent of UV rays, ie the ones that are most harmful to your eyes. But all goggles will also have a category, ranging from 0 to 4, which relates to how much light overall is filtered by the lens.
Category 0 lenses filter the least light (allowing 80 per cent in), and are designed for night skiing, while category 4 goggles, which filter the most light (allowing just eight per cent to pass through), have dark lenses and are designed for extreme situations, such as high altitude glaciers. The average skier and snowboarder will use a lens from category 1, 2 or 3.
Certain features, such as polarisation, should be approached with caution. Polarisation will reduce glare but can make icy patches harder to see. Coloured coatings, rather than the lens itself being fashioned from coloured material, can help provide contrast, but can make lenses more fragile.
Nail the basics
Finally, it’s important not to overlook more basic features. Silicone patches on the inside of the goggle strap will prevent them slipping down your helmet, and if you’re a spectacles-wearer, look for goggles that have notches in the foam on either side, designed to accommodate spectacle arms.