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(The Gear Loop) - Getting the right eyewear for the ski slopes isn’t just about looking good. Snow blindness is real - if you don’t protect your eyes properly against sunshine and glare from the snow you could end up seriously damaging your eyesight. 

This means any goggles and sunglasses you wear while skiing must have proper protection against UV rays, as well as shatterproof properties in the event of a slam. Be warned: that pair of sunnies you got free with a Happy Meal just won’t cut it on the frozen landscapes.

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With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best sunglasses for skiing this winter, covering a vareity of styles, sizes and price points. Although all of the glasses have been hand-picked for their performance on the slopes, so we have actively avoided bargain basement options.

The best ski sunglasses

OakleyThe best ski sunglasses: product photo 2

Oakley Clifden

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For 

  • Range of category three and four lenses for snow, water and everyday
  • Available in prescription lenses
  • Removable bridge, side shields and leash

Against

  • A strong look you either love or hate

Oakley’s Clifden sunglasses are built for sport - with category three and four lenses for bright, intense light and cloudier days in the mountains.

These offer the best removable wraparound coverage of all the sunglasses we tested - with removable side shields and bridge blockers to stop sunlight seeping in anywhere. Ideal for ski touring in bright sunlight.

The Clifden comes with a leash, so you don’t have to stow them in your pocket when you take them off, and have non-slip nose pads to increase security.

There are five different lenses and colour options, and as with most of Oakley’s sunglasses and ski goggles, they are available in a prescription lens, too.

SmithThe best ski sunglasses: product photo 3

Smith Embark

For

  • Removable, ventilated side shields
  • Amazing clarity and vision thanks to ChromaPop lenses 
  • Removable arms for "goggle mode"

Against

  • Side shields poke you in the eye if you don't open them
  • Pricier end of the spectrum

These sunglasses are the absolute business for skiing and mountaineering, providing 100 per cent protection from UVA, B and C rays. 

They’re lightweight and really comfy to wear on the bridge of your nose and ears thanks to non-slip grips, and the way the sides lock makes it easy to take them on and off with one hand. 

We love Smith’s ChromaPop lens they it enhance contrast and colour, so whether you chose the polarised or glacier photochromic lenses, vision is vastly improved and strain-free. 

The discreet side shields are ideal for the slopes - blocking out light from the sides - just make sure you open them before putting the sunnies on as we’ve poked ourselves in the eye more than once! 

You can take off the temple arms and, using a strap, convert them to goggle mode - handy beneath a ski helmet. The Embark come in wide range of colours for both frames and lenses and Glacier Photochromic lenses have an anti-fog and hydrophobic coating. 

£165 | Buy from Smith Optics

TriggernaughtThe best ski sunglasses: product photo 5

Triggernaught Harper Pro

For

  • Properly robust - they can be squashed flat
  • Classic "lifestyle’ shape" looks good off slopes
  • Sit securely
  • Can be made with prescription lenses

Against

  • Not wrap-around/no side shields
  • Black or grey frames only
  • Slips on bridge of nose

Triggernaught is a small brand that makes seriously robust sunglasses for sport on both the water and snow. They’re shatterproof and can be bent entirely flat without causing any damage, so perfect for putting in your pocket.

The polarised grey tint Category 3 polycarbonate lenses (dark lenses for bright days) offer 100% protection against UVA and B rays, and really relieve strain and discomfort in bright glare. 

The classic frame shape means these sunnies don’t look too sport-specific, so can be worn off the slopes, unlike some other more wrap-around shapes. 

We love the fact that all of Triggernaught's sunglasses can be made with personalised prescription lenses - and these sunglasses pack a real punch at a very affordable price. They don’t look or feel cheap.

£80 | Buy from Triggernaught

SunGodThe best ski sunglasses: product photo 4

SunGod Tempests

For

  • Customisable - from frame and lens colour to lens choice
  • Great price
  • Lifetime guarantee -SunGod will repair any damage (or replace) 

Against

  • So lightweight they feel a tiny bit cheap
  • EarSocks go missing

SunGod specialises in super-customisable eyewear. Whether you go into their Verbier store to make your own, or buy from their website, you can choose any combo of frame and lens colour, lens type - with an option of polycarbonate and nylon lenses, polarised and unpolarised - and even the style and colour of the SunGod logo. 

These sunglasses offer great peripheral coverage without being a sports-specific wraparound shape, so easy to wear off the slopes as well as on.

Nose grips are handy for when you get hot and sweaty and the lenses offer 100 per cent UVA/B protection. They alsocome with hydrophobic and scratch-resistant protection, as well as a lifetime guarantee. We say they feel a bit cheap - we’re not sure if that’s just because they’re super light, but they’re packed full of features and are perfect for the slopes.

£55 | Buy from SunGod

DragonThe best ski sunglasses: product photo 1

Dragon Clover

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For

  • "Upcycled" from five plastic water bottles
  • 100 per cent UV protection
  • Choice of three colour-optimised lenses for different conditions

Against

  • No side shields/not wraparound
  • Only black and green lenses 

Available in three difference variations, the Clover is part of Dragon’s "upcycled" series, and each of these injection moulded frames are made from five recycled water bottles.

The lenses are colour-optimised, really comfy to wear in harsh sunlight but with crystal clarity,  and offering complete UV protection for harsh mountain environments.

As with some other sunglasses we’ve tested though, there are no side shields for this model and it’s not a wrap-around shape, so glare can seep in at the sides.

While the Clover is lightweight and feels secure on your head, the nose grips are made from the same material as the rest of the frames, which could get a little slippery when you work up a sweat. 

SmithThe best ski sunglasses: lifestyle photo 2

What to look for in sunglasses for skiing and snowboarding

Material

Sunglasses designed for skiing and snowboarding, like the ones we've tested above, are fashioned to protect your eyes from the sun but also in the event of an impact. The lenses and frames should be shatterproof and not cause damage themselves - just think what might happen if you fell on those aviator-style glasses with metal frames. Polycarbonate lenses can be more expensive but are more robust against impact.

100 per cent UVA/B protection

When you’re skiing, snowboarding and in the mountains, you need complete protection against UVA and UVB rays. The World Health Organisation says snow can reflect up to 80 per cent of UV rays - so you need the protection from the sides as well as in front of the lens, hence why wraparound frames and side shields are so important. Buying a pair of knock-off sunglasses from a market means you risk not having this important protection which is essential at high-altitude.

Which category?

The category number relates to the amount of light the lens lets through - VLT (visible light transmission). The lighter the lens, the more light gets through, and vice versa. Clear safety glasses are Category 0, with no tint. In the mountains, the very least you should use for skiing is a category 3 lens. Category 4 is for very bright light, but it is illegal to drive in such darkly tinted lenses. 

Polarised or non-polarised?

Polarised lenses filter glare and reflected light, which is great on sunny days, but in overcast conditions you are generally better off with non-polarised lenses.

Handy extras

A leash is handy, so you don't risk damaging them by putting them in your pocket - and some of the models here can be used with their leash in "goggle mode" without the temple arms. Scratch-resistant sunglasses are handy, and a hydrophobic coating makes them quicker to clean. Interchangeable lenses are useful, because light changes so frequently in the mountains, but there’s the risk that they might pop out when you don't want them to. 

Writing by Abigail Butcher. Editing by Leon Poultney.