Ski and snowboard goggle lenses come in loads of styles, tints, and shapes, and if you’re reading this article, it means you need some guidance before purchasing a new goggle or lens. We are here to guide you through everything you need to know from the basics through to the different tech!
Did you know: The lens colour isn’t about looking pretty or finding something that matches your outfit?
Yep, the colour of your lens means so much more than that…
Choosing the right tinted lenses will improve your visibility of the terrain whist protecting your eyes in a wide range of conditions. The right lens will help you:
- See the contours, bumps, and moguls in the snow better
- Reduce glare
- Protect your eyes from snow spray, small rocks, and branches
- See further ahead in low-light or snowy conditions
- Protect your eyes from harmful UV on sunny days
How to choose your goggle lens colour
Choose the right lens colour for the right conditions
When it’s snowing or cloudy…
In these conditions the terrain is harder to see as the light is ‘low’, making bumps and concaves in the snow challenging to spot. For these flat-light conditions, use a yellow, orange or rose-tinted lens, which are designed to increase contrast on the snow and let in a high percentage of light. You can shop this lens as a standalone goggle; however, many brands include a spare low-light lens as part of a goggle package.
When it’s a mix of clouds and sunshine…
These are the most common conditions people will experience. These conditions occur when the sun is in and out of the clouds throughout the day. Mixed conditions require a lens that is either adaptable, interchangeable, or lets in a medium percentage of light.
When it’s bright and sunny…
Otherwise known as bluebird days, which we pray to the snow gods for. These are the conditions when there is not a cloud in the sky, the sun is shining, and the terrain is easy to read. These glorious days call for a lens that lets in a low percentage of light and reflects as much light away as possible. These lenses will often have a mirrored effect and are much darker in colour. Make sure you are wearing suncream!
What’s the best all-round ski goggle lens colour?
The best lens colour is one that can handle a wide range of weather conditions, so use a pair of goggles that come with a spare interchangeable lens, photochromic lenses that adapt to the changing light, or a lens with a medium VLT rating.
If you don’t know what VLT rating is yet, that is okay, let us explain…
What is a VLT rating and why is it important
VLT stands for Visual Light Transmission and is a measure of how much light passes through the lens. This measurement uses a scale of 0%– 100%; 0% would be skiing or boarding completely blind in darkness whereas 100% would be a clear lens.
Before we get involved with VLT ratings, you should know that each brand has its own VLT percentage ranges when it comes to placing the lenses in categories. So, it is more of a guideline than a rule. Each lens will have its own VLT rating, so it is a wonderful way of understanding the ideal conditions for the lens.
- 5% – 12% – This VLT range sits at the lower end of the scale, ideal for bright light conditions
- 13% – 28% – This VLT range is considered medium, suitable for varied light conditions that are a mix of sunny and cloudy
- 29% – 60% – This VLT range lets in a large amount of light, great for overcast days and whiteouts
Other things to consider when choosing your goggle lenses
Getting started is the hardest bit, but now you know all about the different conditions and VLT ratings the hard bit of over. There are a few key terms that are handy to know when starting your search and can help you differentiate between the different lenses.
Anti-fog coating and double lens construction – This coating inside the lens prevents the build-up of fog so your vision stays clear. This is a common feature on most goggles; however, this coating can be damaged easily so do not wipe the inside of your goggles. A double lens construction uses two lenses with a small air gap between them, preventing the build-up of fog and is a much sturdier long-term solution.
Prizm Technology – This technology is specifically for Oakley lenses; Prizm was designed to increase contrast in the snow by filtering out unwanted colours. Prizm makes details in the snow easier to see and helps you to see texture and shadows on the terrain. As a result, you can ski or board with more confidence and boost your performance. Shop Oakley Prizm goggles
Photochromic lens – These lenses adapt to changing lighting conditions, ideal if you want to purchase a pair of goggles with one lens that does everything. The benefit here is you do not need to carry a spare lens with you, the slight downside is that you need to wait for the lenses to react to the change in conditions. Shop photochromic ski goggles
Spherical and cylindrical shape lens – The shape of the lens doesn’t just change the look of the lens; it can impact your visual experience. A spherical lens is curved along the horizontal and vertical axis to create a bubbled look that prevents distortion, reduces glare, and increases your peripheral vision. Due to the complex manufacturing of this lens shape, it’s usually found on high-end goggles. A cylindrical lens/ flat lens is curved along the vertical axis to create a low-volume fit that is cheaper to produce but prone to more distortion compared to a spherical lens. This shape lens gives the goggle a fun retro look.
Check out our range of spherical or cylindrical ski goggles, or learn more about cylindrical vs spherical lenses here.
Tips and tricks
- It’s always handy to have a spare lens in your backpack. Many backpacks have a specific plush-lined lens/goggle pocket to safely store your lens.
- Lookout for brands that come with a spare low-light lens, it’s like getting a 2-for-1 deal and ensures you are ready for all conditions.
- If you want to keep things simple with one lens, go for a medium VLT-rated lens that can handle a mix of sunny and cloudy conditions.
- Although the mountain is cold, the UV is strong, therefore your lens should provide 100% UV protection. Check the lens specifications as cheaper lenses with reduced UV protection come with the risk of eye damage.
The best goggle lens colour for low light, snow and foggy conditions is either a yellow or rose-tinted lens. These colours are designed to allow maximum light through the lens which makes the terrain easier to see.
In flat light conditions and cloudy days, the best lens colour is anything with a rose or yellow tint which are both designed to let in a high percentage of light.
The best goggle lens colour for sunny or bluebird days is either a mirrored, dark/black lens, or a lens with a VLT (visual light transmission) rating between 5-15%.
The best way to make sure you have goggle lenses that are good for all conditions is to choose either a pair that comes with a spare interchangeable lens or a pair that has photochromic lenses which adapt to the changing light automatically. If you’re on a tighter budget or your goggles only come with one lens, choose a pair that has a medium VLT rating (between 13%-30%).
Most goggles come with a small lens cloth; this cloth is specifically made for lenses and should be the only thing you use to clean the outside of the lens. Use either a small amount of water or breath onto the outside of the lens and wipe the outside of the lens in circular motions. Do not clean the inside of the lens as you can cause damage.
Falling over is part of the process, as a result sometimes snow gets inside the goggles. If this happens, just shake the snow out and let it air dry. Do not try to wipe the inside of the lens whilst wet.
Whilst you aren’t on the mountain you should keep your lens in a soft microfiber carry case. For extra protection place the lens within a goggle hardcase, ideal for traveling and airport luggage belts.
The two biggest factors to consider are the VLT rating, helping you select the right lens for the conditions and the lens shape to maximise performance.
Now that you know everything about lenses, you can discover more about goggle shapes, features, and sizes in our snow goggles buying guide.
Ready to shop?
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