A Brief History of Ski Goggles

With ski season right around the corner, it's time for you to start thinking about the right equipment. An often overlooked but essential piece of gear is a good pair of ski goggles. The goggles you choose can make or break your day on the slopes. This guide will provide you with a crash course on the different types of ski goggles, why they're so important, a brief history, the key components, and most importantly, how to choose the right pair based on factors like weather conditions. Armed with the knowledge from this article, you'll hit the mountain prepared to make the most of your ski days this winter.

skiing goggles

Why Wearing Ski Goggles Is Critical for Safety

Ski goggles have come a long way since their inception in the early 1900s. The first goggles were simple leather masks with slits to see through, offering minimal protection from the elements.

Early Developments

In the 1930s, skiers started using aviator goggles with glass lenses, which provided better protection from wind and snow. The first plastic ski goggles were introduced in the 1960s, featuring interchangeable lenses for different light conditions.

The Rise of Modern Goggles

In the 1970s and 1980s, ski goggles evolved rapidly with new lens technologies and frame materials. Double lens goggles with thermal insulation and anti-fog coatings became popular. Frames made of urethane and neoprene provided more comfort and flexibility.

By the 1990s, goggles featured polarized or photochromic lenses that automatically adjusted to different light levels. High-end goggles offered oversized anti-fog lenses with full UV protection.

Recent Innovations

Today's ski goggles are highly advanced eyewear. They boast polarized mirrored lenses, anti-fog and anti-glare coatings, and innovative ventilation systems. Popular lens tints include rose, amber, and hi-yellow for enhanced terrain definition. Premium goggles offer interchangeable lens systems, prescription lens inserts, built-in GPS, and Bluetooth audio.

While ski goggle technology has rapidly progressed, their purpose remains the same: to protect your eyes from snow, wind, and harsh glare while providing the clearest possible view of the slopes. With so many options now available, choosing the right goggles is critical to your skiing experience.

Different Types of Ski Goggles Explained

Protect Your Eyes from Harmful UV Rays

The sun's UV radiation is especially intense in the mountains and reflected off the snow, so protecting your eyes is critical. Ski goggles are designed to block 100% of UVB and UVA rays that can cause damage to your eyes over time. Long-term sun exposure without proper eye protection can lead to conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, and other vision issues.

Reduce Risk of Snow Blindness

Snow blindness, also known as photokeratitis, occurs when your eyes are exposed to the sun's UV radiation for too long. It causes a painful sunburn of the cornea and temporary vision loss. Ski goggles prevent this by blocking UV radiation and allowing your eyes to gradually adjust to the brightness of sun on snow. Without goggles, snow blindness can develop in just a few hours of exposure.

Improve Visibility and Safety

Ski goggles are designed to increase visibility in snowy, icy conditions. They have anti-fog features to prevent lenses from fogging up and special lens tints that enhance contrast, allowing you to better see changes in terrain and surface conditions. This helps you avoid hazards like icy patches, exposed rocks, or tree stumps hidden under the snow. Ski goggles are essential safety gear and help reduce the risk of accidents and injury while on the slopes.

Keep Snow, Wind and Debris Out of Your Eyes

Ski goggles form a seal around your eyes to protect them from snow, wind, ice, and airborne debris. They prevent snow from blowing into your eyes at high speeds as you ski or snowboard down the slopes. Ski goggles also shield your eyes from the cold, wind, and frigid air that can dry them out and cause irritation. By keeping your eyes comfortable, ski goggles allow you to focus on the slopes and have an enjoyable time out on the mountain.

Key Components to Look for When Choosing Ski Goggles

Spherical Ski Goggles

Spherical ski goggles, also known as “fishbowl” goggles, offer the widest field of view compared to other styles. The spherical lens provides peripheral vision and protects from wind and snow. However, spherical goggles can be bulkier and less aerodynamic. They work best for recreational skiing and snowboarding.

Cylindrical Ski Goggles

Cylindrical goggles have a curved lens that provides good side visibility while being less bulbous than spherical goggles. The streamlined shape also makes them well-suited for skiing at higher speeds. Cylindrical goggles are a versatile, all-purpose choice for most skiers and snowboarders.

Frameless Ski Goggles

For the widest possible view with minimal rim obstruction, frameless goggles feature an oversized lens with little or no frame. The panoramic view is ideal for freestyle skiing and snowboarding, though the large lens may feel heavy on the face. Frameless goggles also typically cost more.

OTG (Over-The-Glasses) Ski Goggles

For skiers who wear prescription glasses, OTG goggles are designed to fit comfortably over most eyewear frames. OTG goggles typically have a flexible frame and lens, along with extra padding around the face. While OTG goggles provide correctional lens wearers the opportunity to hit the slopes, the fit may not be as snug or streamlined as regular goggles.

In summary, the type of ski goggles that will work best for you depends on factors like your skiing ability and style, whether you need vision correction, and the conditions you’ll encounter on the slopes. In the end, the right pair of goggles comes down to your individual needs and preferences as a skier. With some research on the options, you’ll be ready to make an informed choice and have a great day out on the mountain.

Lens Types and Technologies for Different Conditions

Lens Material and Color

The lens material and color are two of the most important factors to consider when purchasing ski goggles. The lens material determines how much light can pass through the lens to your eyes. Polycarbonate and acrylic lenses are inexpensive but scratch easily, while polyurethane lenses are very impact-resistant and nearly scratch-proof but more expensive. For most conditions, opt for a lens with medium to high visible light transmission (VLT), such as 50-90%, so you have good visibility.

UV Protection

Look for ski goggles that offer 100% UV protection to guard your eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, especially at high altitudes. UV radiation exposure can cause conditions like snow blindness and long-term eye damage.

Fit and Comfort

For maximum comfort and performance, choose ski goggles that fit snugly but comfortably around your face without any gaps. Goggles that are too loose can let in wind and snow, while goggles that are too tight can cause headaches and distract you while skiing or snowboarding. Look for adjustable straps and padding, especially around the nose and eyes.

Ventilation and Anti-Fog

Lens fogging is dangerous when skiing as it impairs your vision. Look for ski goggles with ventilation to circulate the air inside the goggles and prevent fogging. Many goggles also have special anti-fog coatings on the lenses that help moisture and condensation from building up. Some goggles allow you to open up vents or remove part of the frame for increased airflow on warmer days.

Interchangeable Lenses

Some ski goggles come with interchangeable lenses so you can quickly change the lens to suit different light conditions. This is a useful feature if you ski in a variety of environments and weather conditions. Multiple lenses allow you to have the right VLT and lens color for any situation.

With knowledge of these key components, you'll be able to find ski goggles suited perfectly for your needs and skill level. Protecting your eyes and having maximum visibility can help ensure an enjoyable day out on the slopes.

Finding the Right Fit - Ski Goggle Sizing and Adjustability

Lens Tints for Variable Light

The tint of your ski goggles lens is one of the most important factors when choosing a pair. Lens tints are designed for specific light conditions to maximize visibility while protecting your eyes. For skiing in variable conditions with changing light, consider goggles with interchangeable lenses or a transition lens.

Interchangeable lenses allow you to quickly switch between lens tints as the light changes. Most goggles offer lenses for bright light (yellow or rose tint), medium light (bronze or copper tint) and low light (smoked gray or polarized). Transition or photochromic lenses automatically adjust their tint based on the amount of UV light. As the sun gets brighter, the lens darkens. As light levels decrease, the lens lightens. These adaptive lenses provide flexibility for variable light but may not darken or lighten quickly enough for rapidly changing conditions.

Enhanced Lens Technologies

Many ski goggles now offer enhanced lens technologies to improve clarity, reduce glare, and increase contrast. Polarized lenses block intense reflected light, reducing glare from icy snow and water. Photochromatic lenses adjust automatically to changing light conditions. Mirrored lenses have a reflective coating to block additional light and glare. High definition or HD lenses provide optical clarity and color contrast.

Lens Shapes and Frames

The shape and size of the goggle lens and frame also impact performance. Larger spherical or wraparound lens shapes provide a wide field of view with minimal distortion or blurring at the edge of your vision. Smaller cylindrical lens shapes may obstruct peripheral vision. The goggle frame should fit snugly but comfortably around your helmet with little gap between your face and the foam padding. Venting in the frame helps prevent fogging. Consider a model with interchangeable lenses that can be swapped easily even with gloves on.

With the variety of lens tints, technologies, and frame options available, you can find ski goggles perfectly suited for any condition on the slopes. Taking the time to consider how and where you ski will ensure you choose the right pair to maximize your time on the mountain.

Additional Features Like Anti-Fog and Ventilation


For the optimal skiing experience, it is critical to find ski goggles that fit properly and can be adjusted for comfort. Ill-fitting goggles can be unsafe, uncomfortable, and impair your vision on the slopes. When selecting ski goggles, consider factors like lens shape, strap design, and adjustability features.

Lens Shape and Size

Ski goggle lenses come in spherical, flat, and cylindrical shapes to suit different facial structures. Spherical and flat lenses typically fit most people well, while cylindrical lenses are ideal for narrow faces. Measure your interpupillary distance (IPD) to determine the proper lens size and ensure maximum visibility. Most adult ski goggles come in sizes suited for IPDs between 60 to 74 mm.

Strap Design

The strap, or retention system, secures the goggles to your helmet or head. Elastic straps provide a snug yet flexible fit for most adults, while adjustable straps allow for an optimal custom fit. Straps that are too tight can cause headaches, while straps that are too loose will not properly secure the goggles. Look for straps with buckles or sliders to adjust tension and length.

Adjustability Features

Other useful adjustability features include:

  • Padding - Soft, comfortable padding around the eyes and nose helps absorb shock, prevents slipping, and reduces light leakage. Look for padding made of moisture-wicking, breathable materials like fleece.
  • Venting - Strategically placed vents allow for airflow and help prevent fogging. Adjustable vents provide customization for different weather conditions.
  • Nose guards - Adjustable nose guards, bridges, or protectors help keep the goggles securely and comfortably in place. Padded nose guards provide extra comfort and protection.

With the variety of ski goggle options available, you can find a pair with the proper lens size, strap design, and adjustability features for your needs. Well-fitting goggles with customization options help ensure safety, comfort, and the best possible visibility for enjoying your time on the slopes.

Caring for Your Ski Goggles - Cleaning, Storage and Replacement


To keep your ski goggles in optimal working condition and extend their lifespan, proper care and maintenance are essential. After each use, wipe the lenses clean of any dirt or debris using a microfiber cloth specifically designed for cleaning lenses. Never use paper products like tissues, which can scratch the lenses. For stuck-on grime, use an eyeglass cleaning solution according to the directions on the product.

When cleaning the lenses, use gentle circular motions, working from the center out. The head strap and frame can be hand washed in warm water using a mild detergent. Rinse all parts thoroughly to remove any remaining dirt or cleaning product and air dry away from direct heat. Avoid using any harsh chemicals, abrasive cleaners or solvents like window cleaner, acetone or alcohol which can damage the lenses and frames.


Store your ski goggles in a hard case or soft protective pouch when not in use to shield them from scratches. Keep them in a cool area away from direct sunlight. Avoid stacking heavy objects on top of the goggles or dropping them, which can cause cracks in the lenses or damage the frames.


Ski goggles should be replaced every 2 to 3 years depending on frequency of use and lens conditions. Look for signs it’s time for replacement such as:

  • Scratched, damaged or distorted lenses that impair vision
  • Cracked or broken frames that won’t stay securely on your face
  • Faded lenses that don’t protect from UV rays or bright light
  • Stretched out or frayed straps that no longer keep the goggles snugly in place

By properly caring for your ski goggles after each use, storing them appropriately, and replacing them when needed, you’ll enjoy many seasons of optimal performance and protection. Keeping your eyes safe on the slopes is well worth the investment in high-quality goggles and the time required to maintain them.

Roger Sarkis