|Goggles are a form of protective eye wear that skiers/snowboarders use to keep wind and snow out of their eyes. Goggles also supplement their vision by filtering out unwanted light. This helps them see better in bright light conditions (where reflection from the snow can make vision sometimes difficult) and they can add contrast to the snow to make gradations and conditions more apparent (especially during flat light conditions).|
The main disadvantage to wearing goggles is that they have the ability to fog up. However, there is a host of technologies available to counter this problem, including thermal lenses, vents and even fans.
When choosing a goggle, the main features to consider are field of vision, lens color, antifogging technology and comfort.
What makes for a good pair of goggles? Thermal Lens
A thermal lens is a dual layer lens that is especially resistant to fogging.
(Hot moist air) + (cold air) = Fog. Basically, fog builds up when there is hot air on one side of a lens and cooler air on the otherside. At the interface between these two temperatures (in this case the lens), water vapor condenses and forms fog. A good pair of goggles creates a gradual temperature gradient, so that the differences in temperature are not dramatic enough for fog to build up. They do this by using two lenses, each of which has vents. In between the two lenses, the hot air coming from your face mixes with the cold air from outside. This creates a warm air buffer between the two environments.
A goggle, like the Spy Orbits pictured below, has what is called a spherical lens. As the name implies, the lens has a curved shape that follows the eye and face. It's said to have less distortion than a flat lens and a greater amount of peripheral vision with less glare.
The increase in peripheral vision allows the manufacturer to make a smaller frame
while still having a greater amount of vision than flat, regular goggles. While it is nice not to look like a bug while you're on the snow, it's even better (and safer) to be able to see more. The spherical lens is especially important for snowboarders who go down the hill sideways and are constantly using their peripheral vision to avoid objects and other people.
If you've ever had a camera and tried to take a picture during a sunny day, you know how crippling glare can be. Sunspots and glare occur when sunlight hits a piece of glass (or plastic) at just the right angle. Because a spherical lense is round, sunlight can't hit it at just the right angle in many spots at once. The sun only shines from one angle, so the amount of glare at any one spot on the goggle is cut down dramatically.
Have you ever been cruising down a run and out of nowhere you fall into a skier-eating pit that you didn't even see? This phenomenon happens when your goggles can't create enough contrast in the snow to see all the bumps and dips. Sometimes, especially when it's overcast, you can get what's called "flat light." Flat light is despised by everyone on the snow because it seems to disguise all the gradations. Sometimes even moguls the size of washing machines can disappear during flat light conditions.
One common mistake is to get goggles that have tinted lenses, instead of more expensive ones that have filtered lenses. A tinted lens will block certain parts of the light spectrum while a filtered lens doesn't.
Better goggles have better foam. Look at the way a goggle's foam is attached to the frame,
if it looks sloppy, then it probably won't last very long. The number one reason why people have to replace goggles is foam deterioration
Some goggles even have a multi layer foam system. They'll have a firmer foam (to spread the compression evenly across the user's face) next to the goggle frame,
and a softer foam closer to the user's face for comfort. Several models even come with a third layer of wicking material that keep sweat in check, thus decreasing the amount of moisture in the goggle cavity, which helps keep fog down.
Look for easy to adjust bands, that are big enough to go over a helmet. Some goggles have clips that allow you to be able to take off the goggles without have to adjust the band.
Some straps have a slightly sticky strip on the inside, which prevents the strap from moving around much when it's on a helmet.
Every manufacturer has their own little gimmicks and while these aren't reasons to not buy a pair of goggles, just don't confuse them with good selling points:
1) Adjustable Vents- I realize that it's cool to feel like you are in control of your goggles, but honestly, is it ever necessary to close those vents?
2) Mirrored Lenses- You will pay more for a mirrored lens, and yes they look cool, but that's the only thing that they have going for them. They don't help your vision (they don't hurt it either), they just have the looks.
What Not To Do With Your Goggles
Goggles are made to work while they are being worn properly, so if you take them off, don't expect them to work. It's tempting while you're on the lift to take off your goggles and put them on the top of your head, but don't. It doesn't matter how good they are, they will fog up. Furthermore, even taking them off and hanging them around your neck is bad; as soon as you put the goggles back on your face, they'll have already cooled down, so they will fog up when exposed to the hot air next to your face.
If you do take off your goggles and then put them back on later, the best thing to do is to just wait and leave them on your face until they equalize naturally.