Ski goggles are about as hard to choose as the right puppy. With so many choices, which way do you lean? Fear not, because our experts were on hand to weed the wheat from the chaff.
Goggles are a mountain essential. Bright sun or swirling snow, you need to see where you’re going. Goggles protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, as well as improving your vision, and of course stopping anything from hitting you in the face!
But they need to be comfortable, too. And of course they need to look good. The market is flooded with brands all claiming the best tech, the most comfort, the highest degree of contrast. And it’s natural you aren’t sure which to go for. Good thing we’re here then, right? Below, we’ve rounded up our best ski goggles picks for this season, and broken down all the tech jargon so you can make the most informed choice possible.
The Line Miners from Oakley are a stalwart in the range and build upon the O Frame’s design and success, packing in a little more tech for a supremely functional and affordable package that’s used by everyone from casual riders to the pros. And when we say pros, we mean pros. Stale Sandbech, Rene Rinnekangas, Jamie Anderson, Red Gerard, Judd Henkes, Hailey Langland, Scotty James… Just to name a few.
These pros all ride in Line Miners, which embody the classic framed design with Oakley’s amazing Prizm lens. Designed to enhance contrast in low and flat light conditions, and offer a super wide field of view, these goggles are a dream to ride in. And with OTG functionality, and Oakley’s pop-out system to change with the conditions, and high impact safety ratings, these goggles are made to be pushed. As such they are our top pick for the best overall goggle, offering brilliant performance and value for money.
The Dope Sight is a super cool cylindrical style goggle from DopeSnow that offers awesome field of vision, as well as a quick-swap lens system and a dual-layer flat lens. This innovative system offers an inner and outer lens created with a vacuum between. This eliminates fogging, but also creates a slight curvature of both lenses for maximum light diffusion and glare deduction. Along with 100% UVA and UVB protection, a scratch-resistant treatment, and a hyper flexible TPU frame to absorb impacts and fit perfectly to any face, the Dope Sight may just be the best value-for-money goggle on the market.
The Montec Scope is based on the Dope Sight design, and offers the same tech and lens-swap options. With a triple-layered triple-density foam construction, they offer premium comfort and have been designed to be perfect for long days on the mountain. Montec’s riders are backcountry powder hounds, and they demand a lot from their goggles. As such, Montec’s products have been rigorously tested and tailored for riders who push the envelope and demand the best from their gear. Fully vented to keep you cool and fog free, and available in both medium and large sizing for the perfect fit, the Scope is a great goggle choice for every rider.
When it comes to the bigger-is-better ethos, you can’t get much better than the Fall Line XL. The Fall Line’s are a premium frameless goggle with a space-age cylindrical look and more tech than you can shake a stick at. Featuring Oakley’s Ridge-Lock lens-change system, you can swap the lens on the fly as the weather changes.
Add that to the Prizm lens itself which boosts contrast in flat light conditions, and the Fall Line is checking all the boxes. High-impact ratings mean you can send with confidence, and with OTG compatibility, they’re the perfect choice for every rider. Topped off with polar-fleece lined foam padding for unbeatable comfort, and the Fall Line should be a top contender with anyone who’s looking to pay a pretty penny, and get what they pay for, too. Pricey, yes, but worth the money? Definitely.
When it comes to the best field of view, there’s only one goggle that stands above the rest here, and that’s the Flight Path XL from Oakley — a goggle specifically designed to maximise your field of vision on the mountain. The Flight Path XL toe the line between the Flight Deck and Flight Tracker, and are the product of development alongside Super G World Champion Aleksander Kilde.
Utilising Oakley’s Ridgelock EV Lens system, which comes with an internal gusset that increases FOV by 19% on a horizontal axis and 35% on the vertical axis, vision is improved massively. This is topped up with Prizm tech to boost contrast in low light, making the Flight Path the ideal choice for fast riders who need to see everything that’s lying ahead.
It may seem like a cop-out to choose three goggles for this, but these goggles from Dragon are all very closely linked in their design and development, and are more variations on a theme rather than separate products. If you look closer at these goggles, you’ll see a lot of the same tech here, but with a single or a select number of differences per goggle.
All of them pack in Dragon’s amazing ionized Luma Lens which deepens contrast and boosts colour for superior performance in low and flat light conditions — or crucially in the backcountry where everything is just an endless field of white… Now for the differences. The PXV is the largest of these goggles, and offers Panotech, which helps widen field of view. Ideal for faster riders who need to see everything. PXV2 is a slightly smaller offering if you don’t dig that oversized look or have a smaller face, but still has all the same tech. While the RVX ditches Panotech in favour of an over-the-glasses design with Swiftlock 2.0 for ultra-fast lens swapping, which makes it a top choice for changeable conditions.
All three of these goggles also feature anti scratch, anti fog coating, hydrophobic, and oleophobic treatments, hypoallergenic triple layer foam padding, and super durable and flexible construction for total protection and performance on the mountain. Goggles don’t get more accomplished than this.
The Dragon NFX and NFX2 goggles are the perfect all rounder, and their flexible, frameless design means that they sit snuggly on all face sizes! With a host of pros wearing these goggles, including Leanne Pelosi and Georgia Nicholls-Austin, we think the NFX and NFX2s are just about the best goggle around at this price point.
Coming in both full and small sizes, they’re ideal for all face sizes, and with some premium tech, they perform well from the park to the powder and back. Featuring a flexible Luma Lens, these goggles have colour and contrast boosting technology, as well as a super-anti-fog treatment, armoured venting, and everything else you could need for a long day on the mountain. We love these goggles, and we know you will too!
With a super slick design, these goggles are out top choice for a budget pick this year. The result of years of development, the teams at Dope and Montec have combined their thinking power to iterate, innovate, and ultimately deliver a goggle that performs as well as some twice its price.
With a dual layered flat lens served up in a cylindrical design, you receive some pretty neat tech. A partial vacuum causes slight bowing of the lenses which diffuses light and prevents heat transfer for eliminated fogging. Add in total UVA and UVA protection, a wide range of lenses and straps with quick-swap functionality, and these goggles really don’t fail to deliver anything that the big boys of the industry would. They just cost less.
When you’re talking about oversized goggles, you can’t not mention the Flight Decks. They may look like something straight out of Top Gun, but hey, who doesn’t love that movie?
The Flight Deck embody the bubble-eyed look to perfection and deliver a truly beautiful, minimalist look that’s hard to beat. Combined with Oakley’s Prizm lens which boosts contrast in low light conditions, and their Ridgelock Lens system which lets you change on the fly, and these goggles deliver everything that makes Oakley the name to beat in the goggle world. Add in OTG compatibility and high-impact safety ratings, and these are a pair of goggles that perform as good as they look. Which is saying something!
Dragon make another entry into our list here with their amazing X1 goggle. Everyone knows that X is the coolest letter of the alphabet and only gets attributed to the most awesome stuff. The X-Files. The X-Men. Space-X. So if it’s attached to a goggle, you know it’s going to be special.
The X1 from Dragon is a top of the line spherical offering that packs in their Lumalens tech for insane all-mountain performance. Lumalens focused on boosting colour and contrast, and the super wide FOV offered by the goggle’s size and shape means that you can see everything coming your way. Topped up with hypoallergenic super soft foam for all day comfort, and a quick-swap lens system, the X1 is a force to be reckoned with on this mountain this season.
While the Line Miner jumps in for the best overall goggle for the men, it’s our top pick for the women’s backcountry goggle! Thanks to its lower reach on smaller faces, the Line Miner provides great coverage in powder conditons and is super comfortable to wear with a face mask. As such, for us, it’s a prime choice for your backcountry adventures.
The Line Miner’s party trick is its Prism Lens which offers amazing contrast and colour in low-light conditions. This makes it an ideal goggle for long, flat powder fields where you need to pick your line carefully. And with the endorsement of pro riders like Jamie Anderson and Hailey Langland, you know that they’re a dependable choice you can take all over the mountain! And being available in medium and XL sizes, they’re great for all face sizes and shapes, too.
When it comes to lens shape, you’ve got three to think about. The easiest way to visualis these is by thinking about the axises and curvature. Don’t worry — it’s simple. The X axis is from side to side — horizontal — and the Y axis is from top to bottom — vertical.
Cylindrical lenses have a curve on the X axis, but are flat on the Y axis — like a section of a cylinder.
Spherical lenses are curved to an equal degree on both the X and Y axises — like a section of a ball.
Toric lenses have a tighter curvature on the Y axis than they do the X axis, which improves peripheral vision by creating a fish-eyed effect.
Spherical and cylindrical lenses don’t have much of a physical effect on peripheral vision, and the choice between them comes largely down to style. Though with a Toric lens, some companies have embraced the design trend, believing that it offers better FOV than a traditional cylindrical or spherical lens. Though peripheral vision varies widely from person to person anyway, before we even talk about lenses! So how beneficial that extra potential FOV is is still up for debate! A goggle should be comfortable, and perform well. The shape, as we said, is more an aesthetic choice than anything else.
Now this is where things do get interesting! Each of these options works differently with light and understanding how they function will help you make the right choice. While polarised (or Ionized for some brands) are the most popular choice for high-quality goggles, each does have its merit.
A mirrored lens will work to reflect the majority of light away from the eyes of the wearer. This will create a ‘darker’ effect by working to keep a high degree of light away from the eyes. This is especially effective in harsh or bright sunlight because the combination of sunlight light and the snow reflection can cause eye strain and make it difficult to see. If you’re regularly riding in very bright conditions, mirrored can be a good choice.
Polarised lenses are a bit more technical, and work off a chemical laminate mesh. This mesh functions at a molecular level, and prevents certain light-waves from passing through. These lightwaves are the ones that produce ‘glare’. As such a polarised lens functions best in those glaring conditions and is ideal when riding with light in your eyes or again, in bright conditions, where it lets the eyes feel more comfortable. However, much like mirrored lenses, a polarized lens will make things ‘darker’, so it’s tricky in low-light situations! A polarized lens, however, can have a higher VLT rating (lets more light through) but protects the eyes more, so may be a little brighter than mirrored lenses in the same conditions with the same protection. But for this nifty tech, you usually have to pay a little extra.
Photochromic lenses react to light and darken accordingly. These can be useful for more casual situations, or for those riding in reading-glasses or prescription goggles, which can’t be swapped out on the fly, but for most cases, this tech isn’t used as both mirrored and polarized are favoured for performance. As most lenses can be swapped on goggles these days, too, photochromic occupies a small niche in the market.
VLT or Visible Light Transmission is a rating given to goggle lenses which refers to how much light is allowed through at any one time. The darkest lenses — usually blacks, greens, and blues — can let in anywhere from 10-20% of light. This means 80-90% of light is blocked, reflected away, or kept out thanks to the tint of the goggles. Our eyes can only cope with so much light, and function better when not overwhelmed. A low VLT like this is ideal for direct sunlight and very bright days.
Red lenses are usually let in anywhere from 20-40% of light, which is a solid figure for all-around use. A lot of riders favour red lenses for continual use as it’s a good middle ground.
When the light drops and it’s low or what they call ‘flat light’ conditions — ie. grey, misty, snowy — and you can’t see the ground in front of you, a low light lens is necessary. Usually pink or yellow, these lenses let in a lot more light — often 60%+ to help you see all the little contours and ridges in the snow.
However, it’s also important to check out what kind of tech the goggle company is using to help improve things like colour and contrast. Oakley have Prizm, and Dragon have Luma Lens, for example, which boost contrast and dynamic range for safer riding!
As we all love to ride in all weathers, the need to be able to swap lenses on the go has become super important. Every brand has their own system. From Swiftlock to Ridge Lock to magnetic snap in — there’s no right or wrong way to do it. But each brand has recognised the rider’s need to be able to quick change their lenses without changing their goggles, and now interchangeable lenses have become the norm. Be aware, however, that some cheaper goggles won’t have this ability, or if they do, it may not be super secure! So always do your homework and if in doubt, trust a trusted brand!
Value and price are two different things. Value, for us, boils down to what you get for the money. Our favourite winter sports brands are Oakley, Dragon, and Dope/Montec. We feel that they offer industry leading technology for a great price, which is why we back them and recommend their products to riders all over the world. With colour and contrast boosting tech, super comfortable designs, and great customer support and service, they’re goggles may not be the cheapest, but we definitely think they’re the best!
Field of View or FOV relates to how wide a field of vision is visible through the goggles. This is likely to be limited more by your own field of vision rather than the goggles, but some cool tech like Toric lenses has now gone beyond human capability, offering a fish-eye effect in certain cases to enhance your FOV even further. A larger goggle, ultimately will offer the best FOV. So if you need ultra-wide, then go big!
Fogging occurs inside a goggle for the same reason it does on any surface. Condensation is formed by the sudden meeting of a warm and cold. Either cold air on warm lenses, or warm air on cold lenses. The two primary causes of fogging are from either poor ventilation, or breath getting into your ski goggles!
Most reputable brands have venting which allows the heat from your skin to escape out of the top of the goggle. This convection of the hot air escaping causes a vacuum effect which draws cool air in through the foam around the goggle, keeping the temperature inside and outside relatively normalised. This will prevent fogging in most cases! As such, ventilation is a good thing to look for when buying a goggle. And if you see ‘armoured venting’, what that means is that the vents aren’t just holes that weaken the structure of the goggle, but are rigid. This means, even in crashes, the ski goggle won’t break or deform. Definitely a good addition to any design.
The second reason goggles fog is due to your warm breath travelling into the goggle chamber. This can happen if you have a mask on that’s tucked under your goggles and you exhale. Or even if you have a jacket zipped up and your breath is reflected back at the outside of the goggles! Fogging outside like this will clear quickly as the cold air cools the surface, but internal fogging can be an issue. This is usually down to the mask fit rather than the goggles, so be aware of your setup, and your breathing!
Framed and frameless goggle models both have their pros and cons, as well as looking different, too. The main difference, however, is how they interact with lenses. And this could be a deciding factor for you! Framed goggles are a little more classic, and have usually what’s known as a pop-out lens change system. A soft rubber or plastic frame can be pushed back off the lens for it to release, and a new one then can be pushed in in its place. This can be a little bit of a finicky process and can take a little extra time. But, these kinds of goggles avoid unplanned pop-offs — a major issue with magnetic lenses!
Some frameless goggles employ magnets to hold the goggles in place. To remove all you need to do is to pull the lens up from one corner, and the magnets will release. They won’t come off easily otherwise, so you’re going to be safe 99% of the time! However, in bad crashes, sometimes the lens can come loose and if conditions are powdery… Well, you can imagine it’s hard to see where your lens has gone when you’re rag-dolling. Magnetic lenses also tend to me a little more rigid than other lenses, so it’s important if you’re going with magnets to make sure you get a goggle size that suits your face!
Other frameless designs utilise a lock system where the lens sits on the frame and is held in place by clasps or locks. This is a good system that combines security with style, but the clasps can be small and doing this in gloves can be tough.
Is there a best option? No. All companies work towards making their goggles and lenses safe, secure, and comfortable to wear. If you’re crashing a lot, maybe stay away from magnets. But if you’re hiking backcountry and you need to swap lenses without taking the gloves off, magnets are easiest! Pop-out and lock systems are a great middle ground, though. However, at the end of the day, it comes down to preference, and style, too!
Most goggles will employ a triple-layer foam construction for their padding these days. What that tends to be is a layer of porous foam next to the frame which allows for maximum airflow to prevent fogging. Layer two is then a super soft and thick layer that conforms to the face for a good seal and reduced pressure buildup.
And then layer three is the ‘comfort’ layer. Often made from a super soft foam or a micro-fleece coated foam, this layer is in contact with the skin all day long and can often be hypoallergenic, moisture wicking, or a number of other things to keep your goggles feeling good! Pay attention to the padding as often its an overlooked factor that makes a big difference.
Generally, goggles come in two sizes: medium, and large. When you see XL or XM — for example with Oakley goggles — this is just their version of large and medium. Known for oversized snow goggles, they’ll put the ‘X’ in there to make it clear that they’re going to be oversized!
Because most goggles these days have flexible frames and lenses (and we say most), you don’t really have to worry about fit, and can often go for whatever size you think looks best. A soft goggles combined with plush foam padding will mean that even an oversized goggles will conform to a smaller face.
However, a good rule of thumb to follow is to think of your helmet sizing! If you’re a medium (or larger) helmet size, you can wear a large goggle with no problem! If you’re a small (or smaller) helmet size, a medium goggle will look oversized anyway.
OTG is a goog idea for those who need to wear glasses every day. If you don’t like contacts, then it’s a good idea to get a pair of ‘sport’ glasses anyway — which are often made from impact and shatter resistant materials to keep your eyes safe on the slopes!
OTG goggles won’t differ from regular goggles in terms of fit or function, but they will have two ‘notches’ cut from the foam at the temples to allow the wearing of reading glasses underneath.
Some goggles also come with prescription inserts — which is a special compatibility that allows you to insert prescription lenses into a special frame that sits inside the goggles. This makes the goggles prescription, and means you can go glasses-free underneath. Neat, right?
But what if you don’t wear glasses and you’ve found the perfect goggles, but they’re OTG? Should you still buy them? There’s really no reason not to. And OTG goggles offer amazing ventilation thanks to the missing notch. Which is why many manufacturers make their goggles OTG anyway. There’s really no downside.
Helmet compatibility usually refers to both the width of the goggle, and the curvature of the top of the goggle in relation to the curvature of the brim of your ski helmet. Most are ‘universal’ fit, which means that most goggles manufacturers pay attention to helmets on the market and make the size and shape of their goggles to fit pretty well. You can mix-and-match brands of goggles and helmet without any trouble and as we said, they’ll fit fit fairly nicely.
However, companies like Oakley, Anon, POC, Smith, Giro — just to name a few — make both goggles and helmets, and offer complete compatibility. That means the curve of the goggles and the curve of the helmet match perfectly to provide a perfect fit with no gaps.
Is this a reason to match brands? That’s up to you. As we said, most goggles will fit most helmets without any issue. So don’t feel pressured to buy a new helmet too if you’re switching up your goggle brand!
When it comes to durability, impact and shatter resistance are top priority. All good brands these days will make their goggles and their lenses from materials that bend instead of breaking.
Not only does this improve fit, but it also means that your goggles will stand up to impacts and crashes with ease. However, durability goes beyond that now, and also includes things like scratch-resistant-coating, oleophobic coatings, and armoured venting.
It’s easy to scratch your ski goggles when you’re stuffing them in bags and jackets, so a scratch-resistant coating is a good idea if you’re someone who does that a lot. Oleophobic means that oils and dirt won’t stick to it as much — but we think this is sort of gimmicky, as you can always wipe off any fingerprints or smudges with a cloth. Armoured venting means that the vents on the top of the goggles have a rigid structure that won’t collapse on impact. This is common on lots of goggles now, and is a big plus for those who need a super sturdy goggle. But not essential by any means.
There’s not a whole lot we can say about style, other than possibly run through the latest trends for you. Goggles started out with thick frame and a cylindrical lens. They were often chunky, stiff, and not all that comfortable. Over the years, fashions developed and frames got thinner until the ‘frameless revolution’ happened. That was a big year!
Once we got there, Oakley led the charge into the spherical market with their Flight Deck, a goggle modeled on fighter-pilot goggles that had that big bubble-eyed look. From there, things developed in two styles — cylindrical, and spherical.
Flash forward to now, and frames have made a comeback. Producing framed goggles is cheaper than frameless or those with thinner frames, so you’ll often find budget goggles will have that classic thick-framed look.
However, there’s no performance benefit to going frameless or even thin-framed. That boils down to the lenses and the construction. So whether you’re into the bubble-eyed look or the minimalist cylindrical style, the choice is yours. Choose your gear and just go riding!
Oakley Line Miner
Oakley Fall Line XL
Oakley Flight Path XL
Oakley Flight Deck
Oakley Line Miner
Dope Snow – This is a company that is taking the snowboard apparel industry by storm. It has fresh and functional products at great prices.
Montec – A new brand in the industry that stands for high-quality, technical snow gear at affordable prices.
Oakley – Is known for its high tech goggles and snow wear. They are represented by some of the best athletes in the world.
Fixed lenses are a thing of the past! Photochromic lenses may claim to do it all, but having the ability to change out your lens to match the conditions is definitely the way we’d want to go. Go interchangeable if you can. The method of swapping, though, is up to you! Magnetic, pop-out, or lock/clasp are all great choices.
There’s no conceivable benefit to going framed or frameless in terms of performance or peripheral vision when the goggles are the same size. Of course, a small framed goggle model and a large frameless goggle type will have different FOVs. But on goggles the same size, there’s no tangible benefit, so it comes down to your personal preference.
Fogging is caused by hot air getting trapped in your goggles. This can often happen when your breath travels up under your mask and into the goggle chamber. Check your mask positioning, and that there are no gaps, as this is the likely culprit! Otherwise, your goggles may be defective, faulty, or just not be very good! Cheap goggles that don’t have anti-fogging tech or coatings can get steamy over time. So if this is the case, consider an upgrade.
It will be on your face for 6-8 hours per day. So pretty important! Triple-layer is the standard and every brand has their version. Choose the one you think sounds the best. If the brand is reputable, they’ll all be pretty good!
Most goggles are flexible so fit isn’t such a big deal these days. However, there are a few things to consider. If you’ve got a size medium or larger head (helmet size), you can wear a large goggle without issue. If you have a small or smaller head (helmet size), then a medium will be a good choice! As for helmet compatibility, check out the section in our guide below for more info — but the long and short of it is that most goggles fit most helmets without issue!
You can, providing the goggles have OTG compatibility. A small notch is cut from the padding at the temples to accommodate the glasses arms. Some goggles have prescription inserts, too. So do your homework to find out what’s best for you!