Why should I wear them snowboarding and which ones do I need? These are questions we are often asked by riders starting out in snowboarding and also progressing riders that want to understand what to get.
First off – Why should I wear snowboard goggles, aren’t sunglasses good enough?
Well googles are there for several reasons, in bright conditions to avoid snow blindness and low light to increase definition. Now sunglasses in bright conditions do work and if you are a seasonaire working to get rid of the goggle tan then they work just fine in the bright weather. When conditions and light deteriorate then that’s when goggles become so much better. Anti Fog and lens’s to contrast the snow and enable you to see clearer in poor light which is really important. Anon did a really nice little visualiser page that trys to show the change of lens tint for vision clarity.
Why are some snowboard goggles more expensive, aren’t all goggles the same?
Most of the price is down to the tech and there are always a range of goggles from most brands to offer more technology in the more expensive goggles. This can be broken down into several areas of cost/tech which we can explain:
- Optical clarity
- Lens Colour and tints
- Anti Fog and ventilation
- Frame design and comfort / vision width
- Lens changing technology
There are two types of goggle in general those with a Cylindrical lens and those with a Spherical lens. Then there are also levels and grades of plastic and production methods used to create the goggles. The Spherical goggle lens has generally a clearer optic than the Cylindrical Lens but beware of cheap spherical lens’s as they are not built the same. Look for a quality brand of goggles that offer high end goggles as their cheaper goggles generally are high quality cylindrical lens rather than cheap spherical.
Lens colour and tints
There are loads of variations in tint and colour and all have their place. The low light lens’s generally are more expensive to produce than the bright light lens’s. There is a scale of VLT (Visible Light Transfer) the lower the VLT then the less light passes through so better in bright conditions then the higher the VLT then more light goes though so better in white out. The second thing is tint, certain colours of lens increase the contrast on snow and make it easier to see the hidden dips and lumps in flat grey light conditions. Mirror and Ion coatings make the lens look cool and can disguise the real tint of the lens to other people but still let you see clearly. New technology is Photocromatic or Transitions Lens’s (like the Dragon APX Boost) which react to light and adjust the tint and VLT of the lens automatically depending on the conditions. This means it gets darker or clearer automatically and makes less lens changing and can give a great all round simple lens for most conditions other than real white out conditions.
Anti Fog and Ventilation
All companies have different technology for combating fogging up of the goggles. From a simple coating to special surface etching ventilation, porous filters to equalise pressure between the lens surfaces there are many ways to attack the fog. Obviously there are cheaper and more expensive methods of keeping seeing clearer and generally, as you get higher range goggles it gets more technical and less fog. Problem is when riding the face gets hot and your breath comes up into and in front of the goggles or you face plant head first into the powder so it’s always a battle to keep you seeing the way down the mountain. The other factor in fogging is ventilation, once there is some fog then the ventilation clears the fog, adjustable ventilation is a good feature on many mid range goggles but the high end goggles generally have such good anti fog systems and design that you don’t need to worry about adjusting the ventilation!
Frame design and comfort / Vision width
This is where it’s personal choice but with goggles like the APX from Dragon, M2 from Anon and the IO from Smith then the rimless or minimal rim goggle is popular at the moment. To make these rimless goggles then the frame is hidden but high tech to keep the ventilation and support/comfort that is needed. A simple traditional rubber/plastic frame is cheaper to hold the lens and make so therefore cheaper goggles. Vision width lets you see more at the sides and up down when wearing and generally the bigger the goggle the more peripheral vision you have. Bigger goggles with good ventilation can also work as OTG (Over the Glass) goggles for riders that use glasses. Some goggles are able to fit a special optical kit, which can be made/customised to prescriptions by normal opticians.
Lens changing technology
Finally and one of the most important things to do with cost is Lens changing technology. Over the past few years this is where each company is competing more and more about how easy and quickly you can change a lens on the lift or on the hill as conditions change. It used to be that you would need to take two goggles onto the hill if you were wanting to have a low light and a bright light lens but now it can be seconds to change and you only need to take a spare lens and cleaning case onto the mountain. The fastest change would be the Anon magnetic system where the lens’s just ping on and off in instance, Dragon also have the X2 Lever system which is super quick. Then the simple clipping systems with Smith and also the push pin systems on Dragon rimless Goggles systems. All these work great and are personal preference as with a bit of practice you can change all of these in about a minute or less without issues. Down the goggle range then you can still swap lens’s but it is harder and is more fiddly to do as they clip into the rubbery frames so people don’t tend to change them as often as when it’s simple and easy.
There are several companies that offer the GPS and computer based goggles using systems like Recon Live to give real time heads up display in the goggles. These are great gadgets and obviously increase the goggle price. Same with goggles with cameras and other gadgets. These are great for tech heads and are often attached to good quality goggles, we would always recommend if you want awesome tech goggles then get them from a reputable goggle/optic brand as you don’t really want a bursting with tech goggle that has cheap optics so you can’t see where you are going when the light goes!
So to sum this all up, generally you mostly get what you pay for with goggles and you should be comfortable with the price you pay for your experience and amount of use you will get. Goggles when looked after can last for years when looked after. We would always suggest trying to have a google that comes with two lens’ in the package and one being a low light lens as that can save you on the white out and flat light day. Even if it takes five mins rather than five seconds to change the lens then at least you have the option! Also if you scratch a lens you have a spare to replace it with.
Lastly there is personal fit, to your face and helmet if you wear one (we always recommend helmets as have got lucky in the past to have one on!) many goggles are designed now with helmets in mind but we often have people coming into store with their helmet to try on goggles and many times it’s not their first selection that they buy based on fit!
Check out our range of snowboard goggles on our online shop and if you have any goggle questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.