Ask any snowboarder what he thinks the most important parts of his gear are and you will get a pretty universal answer – the helmet and goggles. Finding the best snowboard goggles won’t be easy since there are countless models out there which all seem really similar at first. However, the more you learn about the various types of goggles, their lenses, and the rest of their features, the better you will be at separating the good models from the bad ones. This is what this guide is for and here we will be going through the top models for 2020 and their most notable pros and cons.
Snowboard Goggles Comparison
Smith Optics Project Adult Snow Goggles
As with most other snowboard gear parts, there is a brand that dominates the field both in terms of affordability and quality. With goggles, this brand is Smith Optics and their Project adult snow goggles are one of the top choices for snowboarders and skiers alike. Even though I already mentioned the reasons behind their appeal, there are a few other features that are the absolute cherry on top for these goggles.
For starters, these cylindrical goggles feature a medium-fit frame which makes them ideal for most people. That also makes them widely compatible with different kinds of helmets. The goggle’s venting system is located at the topmost part of the lens allowing hot air to be quickly evacuated. That, combined with the Fog-X anti-fog technology used for the lenses, makes for an ideal cold-weather pair of goggles. In terms of comfort, all the Project series models have a single-layer hypoallergenic compression-molded foam that sits nice and snug on your face and won’t attribute to the feeling of tightness even after continuous use. The silicone-backed strap is very wide which adds to the overall comfort of these goggles.
The few downsides for these goggles are that they can trap moisture between their lenses sometimes. The straps are also a bit short to use with large-sized helmets.
- Excellent price-to-value ratio
- Decent field of view
- Good venting
- Come in a lot of tints and VLT percentages
- Very comfortable
- Good for all-weather use
- The strap isn’t long enough to fit large helmets
- Moisture can be sometimes trapped between both layers of the lens
OutdoorMaster OTG Snowboard Goggles
The OutdoorMaster OTG snowboard goggles are one of the top budget models on the market due to their feature-rich nature and their unique design elements. These are also one of the few OTG goggles on this list, meaning they are compatible with people wearing prescription glasses. They are also one of the cheapest here but by no means the worst in terms of overall quality and construction.
These glasses feature a toric design for their lens meaning that the lens is curved horizontally and vertically in an ergonomic to the face way, unlike spherical goggles that have a stronger vertical curve. There is a rich choice of lenses here all with different VLT indexes. These here are with a fairly low VLT index of 11% and a dark tint. There are 18 more tint options with VLT ratings from 10% to 98.9%. In terms of fit, these have a medium-sized frame that is universally compatible with most helmet sizes and designs thanks to the extra-long elastic strap.
It is also worth mentioning that the OutdoorMaster goggles come with 1 year warranty and a carrying pouch. The most common issue here is that the top foam often absorbs a lot of moisture if it’s snowing outside and can make the goggles fog up really badly.
Wildhorn Roca Snowboard Goggles
The Wildhorn Roca Snowboard goggles are a great bang for your buck if you’re looking for a premium pair that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. They are rich in features and are far better built than most of their competitors.
The spherical lenses here have a few features to them. First off, there are 6 magnets and a clip system in place to keep the lens attached to the goggles. That hybrid attachment system allows you to quickly change lenses based on the weather conditions. On that note, there are 7 aurora lens tints that are all offered individually from Wildhorn. There are also 7 additional lens tints with varying VLT ratings. All of the lenses here feature a frameless wide-view design that makes you more aware of your surroundings and keeps you safe.
The frame of the goggles is a medium-to-big one making it compatible with most helmets although it might struggle with smaller helmet sizes. The frame itself is made out of polymer urethane thermoplastics which are comfortable, fairly flexible, durable, and have an anti-slip coating. The padding is triple-layered which adds to the comfort. The strap here is long enough to fit a large helmet and is also quite wide making it less tiresome to wear all day.
- Wide-view frameless design
- Durable construction
- Premium quality
- Wide range of different VLT% lenses
- Lenses can be changed easily
- Minimal fogging
- A bit expensive
- Lenses scratch very easily
Zionor XA Snowboard Goggles
If you’re looking for a stylish yet practical pair of goggles that is also very well-priced it might not be easy finding anything. Still, there are a few budget options that seemingly check all the boxes. The Zionor XA Snowboard goggles are definitely one of those models. These are unisex snow goggles that have a wide-view spherical lens design that gives you an almost uninterrupted field of view for excellent visibility on the slopes.
The lens that these goggles come with is the XA-A1-Silver one which has a VLT of 18.5% making it perfect for sunny weather, although not so good for overcast or darker days. There is also a mirror (anti-glare) coating which also has a UV400 protection index. While the lens features a dual-layer design, there can be a bit of fogging, especially on snowy days. The downside of the wide lens is that it doesn’t fit some helmets due to its design. Still, the strap is long enough to handle even larger helmet sizes.
The comfort here is great considering the price. There is triple-layer padding and a TPU frame which has two-way openings for the venting.
- Cheapest in class
- Full-view lens
- Low VLT index
- UV400 protection
- Comfortable padding
- Two-way venting system
- Won’t fit some helmets
- Longevity is questionable
- Can fog up on rainy/snowy days
Oakley Men’s Canopy Snow Goggles
It wouldn’t be a goggles list without Oakley on it. Unfortunately, the Oakley Men’s Canopy snow goggles didn’t occupy my top 3 on this list. This is largely due to their insanely large price tag. While I won’t argue that this price is somewhat justified, it still is out of the reach of a lot of people looking for a decent pair of snow goggles.
The lens here features a Toric design which goes hand in hand with the ergonomic topic of these goggles. While they won’t offer you an ultra-wide field of view, their lenses are universally good at all weather conditions and rarely fog up no matter the conditions.
In terms of comfort, most Oakley models use their patented O-matter frame with O-flow arch that sits really well on the face and provides a ton of comfort. It also allows for proper venting, making fogging almost non-existent here. On the inside, there are two frame notches at your temples which will make these goggles compatible with prescription glasses.
- Compatible with prescription eyewear
- Very comfortable
- Lenses are of premium quality
- Wide choice of lens tints
- Full UV protection
- Extremely expensive
Cooloo Snowboard Goggles
The Cooloo snowboard goggles are yet another excellent option for those that are on a budget. They feature a wide variety of lens tints that offer different VLT indexes.
The spherical lenses here have a good field of view and are good for all-weather use, although they won’t be able to handle extremely sunny and bright days well. The goggles themselves are very durable and flexible, making them ideal for kids or adults that are now learning and will fall a lot.
One notable downside here is the excess fogging, especially in wet conditions. While the venting does a good job most of the time, you have to be very careful with how you dry these goggles. In conclusion, if you’re a parent that is shopping for snow gear for both his kids, this 2-pack is a great budget option that will provide flexible protection for your kids’ baby steps into snowboarding. You also get a carrying bag and 12 months of warranty for each of the goggles of the two-pair.
- Very cheap
- Comes as a pair of two goggles
- Flexible and fairly durable
- Wide range of lens tints
- UV400 protection
- Not compatible with most helmets
- Easily fog up
Snowboard Goggles Buyer’s Guide
As with all other items that make up your snowboard gear, there are quite a few details surrounding goggles that make them a complicated item to research upon and buy, especially if you are new to all this. There are different types of goggles with different designs, fields of view, and fit. When it comes to their lenses there are also numerous variations that can really make your buying experience hard. To clear things up we will go through all the various aspects and features of these goggles in a step-by-step manner. Let’s first start with the most important part…
Snowboard Goggle Types
There are a few ways to distinguish between different snowboard goggles. The first way is to divide them based on their lens shape. According to that, they can be – Cylindrical (Flat) and Spherical.
Cylindrical snowboard goggles are curved horizontally from ear to ear to form half the side of a cylinder. Unlike spherical goggles, they are flat at their front side. That same flatness has certain advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that they are simply cheaper to make and can offer a good amount of budget performance. For beginners, they are the ideal choice due to their all-around performance and typically good quality for your money. Their main disadvantage over the spherical goggles, however, is that their flatness can result in more reflections if you’re snowboarding on a sunny day. There is also a third kind of shape for your goggles’ lenses – Toric Lenses. These are similar to the cylindrical ones but have a slight curvature on the y-axis and offer a better ergonomic fit to your face’s anatomical curves.
The second way to distinguish between different snowboard goggles is to separate them based on their frame size. There are Small, Medium, and Large frames. Furthermore, shapes and fit will vary from brand to brand. Still, the overall sizing is more or less universal across those three sizes. Small frame goggles are meant for kids, youth, and women or adults with smaller heads. Medium-sized goggles will fit most adults without being overly bulky. They are also more appropriate and compatible with helmet use due to their larger size. They will normally allow the helmet to sit on them and that will help the goggle and helmet vents align. Large goggle frames will accommodate the largest head sizes and also have the widest field of view out of the three sizes. They are less compatible with helmets and aren’t ideal for people with smaller head sizes.
You can also separate snowboard goggles in three different groups depending on their lens-swap types but we will get into more details about this in a moment.
There is one more type of goggles that is often overlooked. That is the OTG (over the glasses) snowboard goggles. They are built for people that wear prescription glasses by having a deeper frame that allows more room inside. They are also a good fit for most helmets. These are, in essence, a much cheaper alternative to prescription snowboard goggle lenses.
Features To Look For
A good pair of snowboard goggles can be judged by a variety of factors. Some of the most important ones that we will go through are:
- Lens Swap Types
- Lens Color & Tint
- Frame Size
- Field of view
- Helmet compatibility
- Fit & Comfort
Since the topic of lenses is the most confusing one to beginners and is also the most information-packed, we will start off by discussing the different types of lenses and their tints…
Lens Swap Types
Having the ability to swap out your goggles’ lenses is a must-have if you are using your goggles for more than just ripping powder. There are three types of goggle lens-swap types – Fixed, Standard, and Quick-swap.
Fixed-lens goggles, as their name suggests, use a single lens that is permanently placed into the goggle’s frame and cannot be removed or swapped. Most small and budget-oriented goggles are of this type mainly to cut down on production costs.
Standard goggle lens swap types are the most common type of goggles you see out there. Their lenses are fully removable which allows you to swap between lenses with different VLT ratings. While the removal process is possible here, it rarely is easy so it will take some practice before you start doing it quickly with your goggles. If the speed of the lens-swap is an important factor for you, consider the next type…
Quick-change goggles allow on-the-fly swaps of the goggles’ lenses due to more sophisticated and modern frame design. This is the best for people that are snowboarding in different conditions and want to use the best lens for each terrain and day-time. While these glasses are a great choice for anyone looking for goggles that swap out lenses easily, they often come with a big price tag attached to them.
Lens Color & Tint
The lens color and its tint levels are perhaps the most important feature for anyone that wants to have the best visibility while snowboarding down the slopes. If you’ve ever been to the mountain, you’ve seen that there are goggles with all types of colors and opaqueness. The reason for that is because each goggle has a different level of tint as well as a different color that lets a different amount of light in. Some goggles even look fully mirrored and in a moment you will understand which type they fall under.
The tint and color of the goggles primarily determine the VLT rating (Visible Light Transmission). The higher this rating is, the more light will be able to go through the lens. That will allow you to see better in low-light or less-than-ideal conditions. Low-VLT ratings, on the other hand, work best for extremely sunny and bright days. They won’t allow much light inside and often look mirrored from the outside. In terms of their VLT, goggles can be divided into:
- Low-VLT goggles: 0-20% VLT
- Medium-VLT goggles: 20-55% VLT
- High-VLT goggles: 55-100%
Low-VLT goggles are meant for sunny days in the mountains. Apart from allowing you to see clearly through the bright slopes, they also provide the best UV protection. They typically have dark tints such as black and dark grey and almost always have a mirrored look.
Medium-VLT goggles are perfect for variable light conditions and cloudy days. If you want something versatile that will handle different types of light conditions, these types of goggles are the perfect all-rounders. They also have a decent UV protection rating and great visibility in the widest range of conditions.
High-VLT goggles are geared primarily towards night-time snowboarding. They have a light almost transparent appearance and have the least amount of UV protection (almost none at all). More expensive models with high-VLT lenses will have high-contrast ratios and will allow you to see your surroundings better and more bright. That will improve your depth perception which is crucial for night rides.
The lens type that accommodates the widest spectrum of light conditions is called “Photochromic”. These lenses are typically very expensive but offer the best multi-condition performance and are an ideal compromise for anyone that doesn’t want to change lenses every time when the weather changes. Apart from their price, their main disadvantage is that they don’t let the eye adapt to fast-changing light conditions. What that means is that they will perform excellently in a day that starts out sunny but slowly turns into an overcast one but won’t do great if you’re zipping between shadows on a bright day.
One last thing that you have to consider with the lenses is their anti-fog coating. While almost all goggles out there will be marketed as a “great anti-fog pair of goggles” that rarely is the case. More expensive models nowadays come with pre-applied anti-fog coating gels. These typically do a great job but can wear out fast if you wipe the goggles constantly. Some double-glass lenses also can get water stuck between their layers. once your lenses stop preventing fogging up it might be a good time to swap them or re-apply an aftermarket coating.
Even though the size of most goggles can be adjusted through their strap, the frame size remains an important feature that will determine how well the goggles will fit on your face. Goggles with large frames are typically meant for people with larger heads. If you’re riding with a helmet and want something that will work well with the helmet’s venting system, a medium-sized goggle frame design is the way to go. Small frames will fit kids and smaller adults the best but won’t be truly compatible with a helmet.
Field of view
As early as a decade ago, most ski and snowboard goggles featured a slim design that fit close to your face and gave a decent amount of visibility. Modern models, however, feature a bug-eye design that wraps around your head and almost doesn’t reduce your natural field of view. Still, there are some smaller goggles which are made to focus your vision forwards. If you’re into freeriding, these are great but if you regularly go down the slopes sharing them with a ton of other people, a wide FOV (field of view) goggles will give you a great sense of your surroundings.
While the design of the goggles isn’t the most important feature, it is always a cool thing to color-match your gear. A high-contrasting pair of goggles will look great on a dark gear. For instance, orange-tinted goggles work great with black helmets and jackets. Apart from that, there are a few other design elements that you should keep in mind. The nose cutout, the strap color, design, and width, and the vents are all parts of the design that affect the goggles’ look but also affect performance.
We already touched on that aspect a few times but to summarize it – smaller goggles aren’t fit for a helmet while medium goggles are typically designed with helmet-use in mind. While large helmets can fit some helmets they are usually too big to work well with a helmet.
The main reason you need to get your goggles to be compatible with the helmet is because of their venting systems. Without the vents aligning, the hot air from your goggles might not have anywhere to go and cause fogging or excess heat inside your helmet. Speaking of that…
Venting is one of the most important features mainly because fogged up goggles can ruin your day at the slopes. Cheap goggles will fog up a lot, there is no way around it. To prevent that you can either get aftermarket sprays or gels. Spitting and smearing also works but you wouldn’t want to do that all the time. That’s why more and more goggles are going hard on proper venting. Typically the bigger the vents up top, the better. Still, too many vents will decrease the temperature inside the glasses and might even make the inside turbulent with wind if you’re going fast, which will make your eyes tear up and will, therefore, reduce your vision. If you’re using a helmet, aligning the vents with the helmet’s vents is also crucial for good airflow. My best advice would be to buy the goggles and helmet at the same time to ensure that they fit with each other’s designs and venting.
Fit & Comfort
Getting the right goggles for you is mostly a matter of fit. The model can be packed full of features and extremely expensive but if it doesn’t provide the right fit for your face it will be pretty much unusable. The best way to find the right pair for your face and head shape is to either try out as many models as you want in a local shop or getting a few of the best competitors online and returning the ones that don’t fit you well.
There aren’t many accessories that you can get with your snowboard goggles. The most important ones are a travel bag and a wiping cloth. Microfiber cloths work best for cleaning your lenses on the inside. If you travel a lot, having a hard case instead of a bag is also a good thing to look for. Some companies even give you anti-fog gels and spray to re-apply once your factory applied one is removed.
Snowboard gear is expensive, there is no way around that. Even if you get mostly budget items, it will still quickly add up to a large sum of money. This is why it is important to set your priorities before you start choosing the different parts of the gear. While some people prefer emphasizing on the style of their gear, others prefer safety and convenience first. My advice is to set aside the biggest budget for items like your helmet, goggles, and gloves. Everything else will more or less provide a decent amount of performance even on a tight budget.
All these features won’t matter, however, if you aren’t taking good care of your goggles. That can lead to accidental scratches of the lenses’ coating, damaging the goggles’ vents, and more issues. Let’s learn how to prevent all of that now.
How To Take Care Of Your Goggles
There are a few essential tips that you should know when it comes to taking care of your goggles. Some of them are fairly logical, while others typically come through experience. Nevertheless, I wanted to give you all the steps to keeping your pair of goggles healthy for the longest duration of time possible.
The first and most important rule is to never lay your goggles on a flat surface with their lens facing downwards. While some lenses are made out of composite materials, the most common material used is plastic and plastic scratches easily. That being said, specs of dust, dirt, or uneven surface can damage lenses beyond repair. Secondly, don’t wipe your goggles with wet wipes that aren’t approved for cleaning glasses or smooth surfaces. The carrying bag that goggles come with is typically a great tool to clean your goggles from dirt or water. Glass cloth wipes are also perfect for the occasion, as well as microfiber cloths approved for eyewear. To keep the lenses away from potential damage, make sure you always keep them in their travel case or bag.
While different parts of your surroundings can damage the goggles’ lenses, there is one big enemy to every part of the goggles – heat. Leaving your goggles on a heated surface like your car’s dashboard to dry them out is a terrible mistake a lot of beginners do. The heat will damage not only the frame but will also shorten the lifespan of the strap, foam padding, and also distort the lens’ see-through features.
Speaking of drying, always make sure that your goggles are completely dry before you store them away for the off-season. Leaving your goggles with any amount of water on them will make them fog up easier the next time you use them. If your goggles have removable lenses, you can remove them to allow better and more efficient drying.
Now, let’s answer some of the most common questions people have regarding this topic…
Frequently Asked Questions
What does VLT mean when it comes to winter goggles?
VLT means Visible Light Transmission. It is an important factor when it comes to how much light passes through your goggle’s lenses. The higher the VLT, the more light goes through the lens, meaning the more visibility you have in low-light conditions. Low-VLT lenses are designed for sunny slopes and day-time riding, while high-VLT goggle lenses are meant for night riding.
What goggles do pro snowboarders wear?
Some of the most common brands that you will see on a professional snowboarder’s eyewear are Smith Optics, Giro, Oakley, and Electric. Despite the endorsement deals, these brands really deserve their fame and place at the top due to their supreme quality and excellent performance.
What is the best color lens for snowboard goggles?
Depending on the conditions you’re snowboarding in you can choose different colored lenses. Gold, Green, Yellow, and Amber are great colors for low-light conditions since they offer higher VLT ratings that will let more light pass through. Some darker tints will offer lower VLT ratings allowing you to see better in days with clear skies and bright sun.
Finding the best snowboard goggles will depend on a lot of factors. The main ones of which will be the lens type, how comfortable the goggles are, and how well they fit with your helmet. As with the rest of your snowboard gear, you shouldn’t forget the style, especially if you’re trying to color-match your whole gear. If you are lost in the sea of models on today’s market, you can always pick one of the goggles I personally selected for this year’s guide!