Basics: Goggles - Ski Union

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Basics: Goggles

Whichever side of the fence you sit on in the sunglasses vs goggles debate, at some point during a season goggles will pretty much become a staple part of your kit.  Not only will you look like a complete punter battling through a snow storm in a pair of sunnies, but you’re also going to find it pretty tricky to see. Goggles can vary in price quite significantly, but as with most things, the more expensive they are, the more tech features they contain. The majority of goggles are made using a polycarbonate lens, which thanks to their impact resistant design, is the safest and most durable lens to be worn. There are two common lens shapes, cylindrical lenses and spherical:

Cylindrical lenses have a vertically flat lens and while there are perfectly up to doing the job they are more often found on lower end and less expensive models. Something to be aware of is that the flat profile can produce more glare due to how it catches the sunlight at odd angles. This flat shape can also distort your vision slightly as well as slightly reducing your peripheral vision, hence why they are lower in price than spherical lenses.

Spherical lenses are curved both horizontally and vertically. They are designed to provide enhanced peripheral vision, allowing you to see more when you’re riding. They will not distort your vision like a flat lens can because the light can pass in a straight line to your eye, therefore giving you clearer vision. Glare is also reduced, as the curved shape of the spherical lens doesn’t catch light as easily.

Nothing is more annoying than your goggles steaming up, leaving you pretty much blind. If you want to hear the techie reason behind it then here it goes. Fog can occur when warm air (usually from your body heat) meets cold air, which for obvious reasons is pretty common in the mountains. Goggle companies have endeavoured to reduce this through various technologies, but mostly by using a double lens. The majority of goggles will feature a double lens, which contains a sealed airspace between the two lenses to act as a shield and thermal barrier so that the goggles do not fog as easily, along with the bonus of being warmer. Most mid range goggles will also feature anti-fog coating on the inside of the lens, which again will help reduce any fogging, so be carefull not to scratch it off with any enthusiastic lens cleaning. Blotting the lens it the best technique and you should always use the goggle bag or a goggle specific cloth to do this. Vents on the top, sides and bottom of the goggles can also help you out with fogging, generally the bigger the vent, the better the airflow.

Goggle lens tints can not only look pretty sweet, but they also serve a specific snow and lighting condition. As most goggles have removable lenses, in an ideal situation you would have a variety of lenses available to cater to all light conditions. In general the lighter the lens the more light allowed to pass through it.

Amber and Brown lenses are one of the most popular tints. They are best suited for flat light as they increase depth perception and help you pick out bumps in the snow.
Rose tinted lenses are the ultimate lens for flat light condition due to how they increase depth perception and help to sharpen contrast. But while they are great for low light, the tint will not perform well in bright light as they do not filter out enough light.
Black or Grey tinted lenses will offer the best protection on bright and sunny days. The darker a lens the better it is at filtering out light and has a greater capacity at reducing glare from the sun when it bounces off the snow. While these lenses are great in sunny conditions, they don’t perform as well in flat light as depth perception will be reduced.
Orange tinted lenses offer the best all round lens that is suited to medium and bright sunny conditions, while also providing visibility in lower light conditions, so if want to stick with just one lens, this one would be your best bet.
Clear lenses are for very low light conditions such as night riding or extremely snowy conditions. They are designed to allow maximum light penetration, which will help to provide contrast and overall visibility.

Some lenses are mirrored which not only offers a full or partial reflective effect on the outside, but they also provide additional tech benefits. The mirrored coating further blocks out light in bright and sunny conditions, while also reducing glare as it reflects more light. The downfall to this design is that on low light days the lens will let less light through, reducing your visibility.

Polarized lenses are designed to absorb glare from snow, which makes them great for sunny days on the hill. Polarized lenses feature a filter that disperses glare without sacrificing visibility in lower light conditions. Photochromic lenses are a hassle free option as they alter their tint based on the conditions, therefore the sunnier it is, the darker the lens will go and likewise in flat light or darker conditions they will stay lighter, therefore they offer optimised visibility in all light conditions and you don’t have to worry about changing lenses.


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