Whether you’ve got top of the range designer specs, or brandless bargain-basement ski goggles, one thing that none of us can escape is the odd bout of fogging. But don’t worry, because we have the solution.
Goggles fogging up is no fun for anyone, and it always seems to happen at the most inopportune moments. Whether you’re dropping in for a heart-pounding park run or you’ve found a gnarly steep to cut some lines down, seeing the inside of your goggles murk up isn’t just annoying, it can often be down-right dangerous. But why does it happen? And most importantly, how can you stop it from happening? We’re taking a quick lap through the reasons your goggles fog and what you can do about it below. So strap in and let’s go!
Goggle fog is condensation. If you cast your mind back to school science classes, you might remember that condensation is the often rapid formation of water droplets on a cold surface. When warm air, rich in aerosolized moisture droplets — like your breath — touches a cold surface — like your goggles — the droplets all clump together into bigger droplets and form a layer on that surface.
If you exhale a hot breath onto the outside of your goggles, you’ll see this ‘fog’ build up there. And you’ve probably used it to clean your goggles off at some point! But this fog also disappears quickly. And yet it seems to linger on the inside lens much longer. Why is that? The outside of a goggle lens is often treated to be hydrophobic and oleophobic, which means that water and dirt won’t stick to it. This allows the condensed moisture droplets to then evaporate away again really quickly as there’s little resistance for them.
The insides of goggles aren’t usually hydrophobic, which means to get rid of condensed moisture, you need to introduce either warmth or air-flow to speed up the evaporation process.
The most common cause of goggle fog is your breath. If you’re wearing a mask and the goggles are on top of the mask, while you breathe, the heat from your breathing might rise up under the mask and into the goggles. As goggles have vents in them (to help relieve this), when you start breathing harder — ie. when you’re working harder or getting pumped for something — the amount of hot air going in may outweigh the air flowing out through the vents, resulting in fog.
The second thing that causes fog is an increase in moisture from your skin. If you’re working harder and producing more sweat, this can also create a more humid microcosm inside your goggles. The higher degree of moisture in the air inside the goggles means that they might fog as that hot, wet air touches the cold goggle lens.
This will differ across some goggles — as some goggles will be more prone to fogging than others — but the general rule of thumb is to increase air flow.
Choosing the right goggles at the start is the best way to prevent fogging in the long-term. Many brands produce goggles that are specifically for the backcountry, which often have the best anti-fogging capabilities due to the intense nature of this kind of activity. OTG goggles, or over-the-glasses goggles, have notches of foam missing at the temples to accommodate reading glasses, which also increase airflow dramatically. These are good choices if you find your goggles fog a lot more than everyone else’s!
However, most reputable goggle brands will have a focus on their goggles not fogging up. So just do your research and make sure to choose a pair of goggles that have good venting. Vents across the top are great, but those goggles which have bottom or side vents as well will allow for much greater airflow, and that’ll likely halt all your fogging problems.
It’s all well and good to say, hey, buy some new goggles, that’ll solve everything! But that’s not always feasible. So what can you do with your current goggles to help reduce fogging?
Your goggles will likely have vents on both the underside and top side of the goggles. Make sure these remain unblocked by your mask, beanie, helmet, or anything else. Preventing warm air from escaping will definitely make your goggles start to fog! So keep those vents free and clear for maximum ventilation.
Building on tip number one, making sure that your vents are free from snow and ice will keep air flowing nicely. After a fall, or even if you’re just slashing pow or riding while it’s snowing, snow can sometimes build up around the vents. This not only stops air flowing, but can also create even more temperature disparity between the air inside and outside, leading to fogging. So keep those vents nice and clear of snow.
It’s such an easy thing to do! You pull your goggles up, rest them on your beanie, and when you pull them down they’re all foggy. Snow and ice on your beanie can create rapid cooling of any warm air built up inside the goggles, creating condensation, and fogging that might take a while to clear. So don’t rest them on a snowy beanie if you can help it!
Okay, so you take your beanie off, and you’re free and clear, right? Well, resting goggles on a sweaty head or on your hair can have an adverse effect, too. Extra warm air and moisture coming off your scalp can cause the temperature and humidity in the goggles to rise, which creates condensation, too. I know, there’s no winning! Your best bet is to take them off completely. But, you know, don’t get any snow in them.
A hard exhale upwards can be a quick way to get all fogged up. Air travels up under your mask, and can go straight through the vents and into your goggles. The rapid mixing of hot breath with cold air flowing through them can create rapid fogging. So breathe steadily, and out, not up.
The easiest way to ensure airflow through your goggles is to keep moving. Skiing and boarding will allow air to get into the vents and will clear any fogging nice and fast.
If you get too hot, your skin will start to exude more moisture and heat to try and cool you down. If this happens, the inside of your goggles will fill with vaporised sweat, raising the humidity and temperature, creating, you guessed it, condensation! Managing your body heat and staying cool is the best way to prevent sweat fogging. Trust us, it’s a thing!
When you’re fitting your face mask, lay it across the bridge of your nose, and then pull your goggles down on top, pinning the mask over your cheeks so that the goggles are in contact with it right across the bottom edge. This should lift the bottom of the goggles off your skin slightly, allowing for more air to get in through the cracks, reducing fogging.
We know some people don’t wear masks right up under their eyes, or don’t like having their noses covered. In these situations, you can do the reverse of the above tip with your beanie. Pulling your beanie down to your forehead and putting the top edge of your goggles over it will open a seam that allows hot air to escape, curing your fogging.
Not really recommended unless you don’t mind risking your goggles! Truly a last resort, but if there’s nothing else that’s working, carefully cut through the foam at the temples down to the frame, under the straps, using a small scissors. Taking out a chunk that’s approximately two centimetres wide (narrower than your strap) shouldn’t comprise the fit or feel of the goggles, but should dramatically increase the amount of hot air that can escape. But as we said, this isn’t recommended unless you’re prepared to drastically and irreparably alter your goggles!
These are our top tips for preventing fogging! We hope you found them useful. And if you’re looking for a new set of goggles for this season or next, check out our list of the best goggles around right now.