Goggles are a staple part of your kit, as not only do they protect your eyes from the mountain elements, but they also protect you from UV rays and glare from the sun. They can vary in price quite significantly, and generally the more expensive they are, the more tech features they contain to provide a comfortable and protective goggle.
The majority of goggles are made using a polycarbonate lens, which is the safest and most durable lens to be worn as they are designed to be impact resistant. There are two common lens shapes, cylindrical lenses and spherical.
Cylindrical lenses have a vertically flat lens and while there are perfectly capable of doing the job they are more often found on lower end and less expensive models. The flat profile can produce more glare due to how they can catch 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. This distortion occurs because on a flat lens light can hit the top and bottom of the lens at a different angle than the middle.
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.
Fog can occur when warm air (usually from your body heat) meets cold air, which for obvious reasons is a common occurrence in snowy conditions. Goggle companies have endeavoured to reduce this through various technologies, but most commonly 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, while also 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. However you should be careful not to scratch this coating as it will ruin its effectiveness. You shouldn’t wipe or rub your lens because you could end up scratching it. 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 also play a part in controlling fogging, generally the bigger the vent, the better the airflow, however it also means your face will feel the cold more.
Goggle lenses are available in a wide range of tints that all endeavour to serve a specific snow and lighting condition. As most goggles have removable lenses, in an deal situation you would have a variety of lenses available to you to cater to all light conditions. In general the lighter the lens the more light is allowed to pass through it, while a darker lens allows less light to pass through. Here is a breakdown of lens colours :
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. 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 more light is filtered out and will reduce glare from the sun reflecting off the snow. While these lenses are great in sunny conditions, due to the fact that light filtration is reduced 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 you were sticking 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, so your visibility will be reduced.
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.