A well thought out pair of goggles is one of the most important yet most often overlooked pieces of equipment in today’s skier’s arsenal of cold weather protection gear. It is an all too common story to hear about another’s (or one’s own!) skin-of-the-teeth near miss with a tree or rock due to a fogged up lens, or the temporary blindness & coal miner face caused by the facial foam literally crumbling after years of well intended use. The proper selection and regular care and replacement of lenses can ensure both a safe and comfortable experience for all snow sport enthusiast alike!
Unlike sunglasses, goggles also give users the benefit of blocking skin drying wind and offering a higher degree of sun protection! When properly dressed and fully outfitted with goggles, beanie/helmet and facemask, skiers and snowboarders are virtually invincible to the effects of winter weather, making both the bluebird and stormy powder days that much better.
Variable Light Transmission (VLT) is an industry term for the amount of light that is reduced by the tint of a goggle’s lens. A higher VLT rating will indicate a higher reduction of light, making these lenses good for clear and sunny days. Dark amber/brown, dark green/grey, and copper lenses are all good lens choices with high VLT ratings for bright conditions. Grey tints also share the additional benefit of showing “true” colors. Low VLT tints such as rose, yellow/gold, light amber, or even clear (0% VLT) are solid choices for stormy days, flat lighting, or nighttime, offering little light reduction and increased contrast, allowing riders to see undulations and inconsistencies in the snow much better. Make sure however that the lens you select blocks enough light by looking at a light inside the store to see if there is still an acceptable level of reduction. Mirror coatings act to enhance the effectiveness of lens tints simply by reflecting light, in addition to looking cool, however they do come at the cost of reduced durability. Oftentimes it is just not possible to have one lens to suit all conditions. Manufacturers have addressed this by offering a variety of interchangeable lens options, some goggles even being designed with ease of replacement in mind.
Fitting goggles properly is just as important as the proper selection of a lens. Some models of goggle (such as the Smith I/O® seriese) or Dragon APX® come in different size frames to fit different facial shapes. Other models are designed specifically to fit these particular facial structures like the Oakley Stockholm®, which was designed specifically with ladies in mind. One way to ensure proper fit when trying goggles on is to bring one’s helmet into the store for use when fitting. This will help ensure both that the helmet does not interfere with the goggles fit, and also serve to avoid the dreaded “gaper gap”. In response to these issues many goggle models now offer “outriggers” to move the strap away from the goggle frame and position it more in-line with the profile of the helmet. Running one’s fingers along the bottom of the frame/face to feel for a flush fit will ensure that the shape of the frame matches one’s face. Oakley’s Crowbar® and A Frame® and Smith’s Phenom® are all great choices for people with small/medium sized faces amongst many others. Models like the Oakley Canopy® and Splice® as well as the Von Zipper Fishbowl® and Smith Prophecy® all offer a large fit in addition to a great degree of peripheral vision. Last but not least, make sure they look good!
Lastly, proper care for goggles will ensure that the money well spent on goggles goes the furthest it possibly can. Even the most expensive pair of goggles has a reasonable lifespan, however avoiding things like wiping the inside lens when wet or after crashing in deep powder (air-drying is the best option here, if absolutely necessary gently dabbing rather than smearing or wiping will minimize damage to anti-fog coatings). Also storing goggles in cases or bags and not over-stretching straps over foreheads or helmets will help considerably. Keeping lenses free of dirt and grime will reduce scratches, and not using cleaning agents will ensure coatings or composites aren’t damaged by chemicals.
Sugar Bowl’s wonderful staff at both the Judah and Village Chalet Retail store locations are up to date with today’s latest goggle styles and technology and will be more than happy to answer any goggle or sunglass questions resort guests may have as well as assist in fitting and sales. Both stores offer full selections from top manufacturers like Dragon, Bolle, Scott, Smith, Oakley, Von Zipper, Anon, and POC.