Goggles are essential for taming the sun and protecting your eyes from harmful rays, wind, ice, snow and branches. There are several important aspects of goggles that should be considered:
- Vision quality – The best bet here is to go to a shop (preferably with snow around it) and try out several different brands. While in the store (or preferably outside), select several objects and focus on them with and without the goggle to see if it distorts your view. Also judge the clarity and sharpness of the objects with and without the lens. An eye chart (simply made on a computer) is ideal for this or Oakley recommends using the distance at which three lines blur together as a measure of sharpness and clarity. Don’t forget to judge your peripheral vision as well. When you are ready to buy definitely consider Oakley and Scott with Amplifier lens goggles. I used Scott goggles for years but recently changed to Oakley due to fit with my glasses.
- Comfort and fit – Again go to a shop and try on many different pairs until you find one that is really comfortable and fits your face well. If you wear a helmet, also ensure that the combination fits well together.
- Anti-fogging – At a minimum, your goggles should have dual lenses to create a barrier to resist condensation and fogging. In addition, your lens should have an anti-fog lens treatment and proper venting. If fogging is a major problem even with the measures above consider Smith’s goggle with a turbo fan. One person I knew raved at its ability to cut fog.
- UVA/UVB radiation – UV radiation cannot be seen because it is shorter than the visible light spectrum. The EPA recommends that eye protection should filter out 99-100% UVA/UVB radiation. When skiing this is particularly important because snow reflects a large portion of UV light. UVA light (wavelength: 320-400 nm) is most prevalent on the earth’s surface (makes up 99% of all UV radiation) because it is not absorbed by the ozone layer. Some UVB light (wavelength: 290-320 nm) does reach the earth’s surface but it is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer. UVC light (100 -290 nm) does not reach the surface of the earth because it is absorbed by the ozone layer and oxygen. UVA and UVB light can cause eye damage such as cataracts and snow blindness after prolonged exposure. For more information, you can visit the Environmental Protection Agency and Wikipedia (a free encyclopedia).
- Polarization – This is used to eliminate glare and reflections through filtering horizontal waves.
- Anti-reflection coatings – These are also used to minimize annoying reflections.
- Lens shades – If you have a high quality lens with good clarity and sharpness, the lens shade will not make that much of a difference and is often not worth the effort to switch or the extra money they cost. Uvex’s new F1 Magic Gog instantly changes from clear to amber eliminating this problem and as a result, was chosen as “Best of What’s New” in 2004 by Popular Science. However, be forewarned that this goggle has a hefty price tag. SkiEnthusiast has found Scott’s Amplifier lens works well in almost all light conditions including tough flat light. However, if you do have further interest in lens shades, visit www.abc-of-skiing.com for a good summary.
- Shatter resistance – This is not a problem for most lenses but ensure your goggles are shatter resistant. Some manufacturers specify that their goggle meets a specific shatter resistant standard.
- Glasses – If you wear glasses, many manufactures provide goggles with extra deep lenses for added room.
Again one of the most informative sites I visited was Oakley.com. Below are a list of manufacturers for your reference. Just goggle name.
Bolle | Bugz | Carrera | Clic | Dragon | K2 | Marker | Oakley
Panoptx | Rooly | Scott | Spy | Smith | Uvex | Von Zipper