After your boots and bindings, a solid set of goggles is arguably your most important piece of ski and snowboarding gear. It’s hard to carve out a perfect line when your snow goggles are fogged up or making your eyes water from a bad seal. Fortunately, recent years have brought boatloads of awesome new goggle technology and innovation to the ski and snowboard world. We tested dozens of pairs and came up with a list we thought performed exceptionally well in a variety of different areas. Here are 10 of the best ski goggles currently available.
The best lens technology — SPY Legacy Happy Lens
Spy’s Legacy Happy Lens aims to filter out bad short-wave blue light in order for good long-wave blue light to penetrate through its lenses, thus enhancing your mood on the hill. This claim is based on research that suggests long-wave rays improve your mood and make you more alert. The verdict is still out on whether the lenses actually make you happier (we’re usually pretty excited to be on the mountain, to begin with) however, the overall optical quality of the Legacy is enough to merit a mention in itself.
The spherical lens brings out textures with incredible clarity and delivers on its promise to make colors pop. Additionally, the Legacy features Spy’s newly improved Lock Steady 2.0 interchange system that lets you swap out lenses with a quick tap that unhinges the lock without requiring you to dirty up the lens. It holds together well upon impact and features solid anti-fogging technology.
The best lens for visual clarity — Smith Squad XL
Smith’s Squad XL is a brand-new addition to the Squad family with a 20 percent larger lens and greater peripheral field of vision. The cylindrical lens is equipped with Smith’s Fog-X anti-fog technology and three layers of foam to create a solid seal, providing additional moisture-shedding properties that allow for a dry, fog-free view of the terrain ahead. Unlike the regular Squad, the XL comes with two photochromic lenses.
This model’s ChromaPop lens tech — a long-running staple of Smith’s sunglasses — works by filtering out specific wavelengths of light to reduce ambiguity in the part of our brain that processes color. The result is a visual clarity that lets you ride in virtually any light conditions with nearly unmatched optical clarity. The Squad comes with two tints: Storm, which brightens flat light and enhances contrast on darker days and Sun, which reduces glare and fills in shadows. Add the company’s self-shaping Responsive Fit Frame that morphs to the contours of your face — along with the Ultra-Wide Silicone Backend Strap — and you’ve got a killer all-around goggle.
The best quick-change lens — Giro Contact
If you’re the skier or snowboarder who rides with a quiver of lenses stashed in your bag, the Contact by Giro may be the setup for you. Although there are dozens of quick-change goggles on the market, it’s hard to beat the shutter-button release-and-locking mechanism of Giro’s Snapshot lens interchange system. The quick-change technology uses self-locating magnets to guide the lens toward the proper position before snapping it securely into place. That means lenses that are quick and easy to swap out while still providing a fit that grips hard into place and stays secure all day.
Beyond the awesome interchange lens system, the spherical goggles are loaded with standout features including Expansion View Technology to bolster peripheral vision, triple-layer face foam with micro-fleece, and an anti-fog coating to blast out moisture and prevent cloudy lenses. Perhaps the coolest part of the Contact, however, is its patented VIVID lens technology by Zeiss which uses contrast-enhancing blue light to sharpen visual clarity and create texture while also blocking harmful UV light.
The best anti-fogging/ventilation — Oakley Line Miner with Prizm Inferno Lens
If you want to crush tree lines, sweat hard, and not have to worry about your lenses fogging up, Oakley’s Line Miner with its supremely awesome cylindrical Prizm Inferno lens is a fantastic option. The technology uses a small battery pack that you attach to the strap at the beginning of your day. Keeping the goggles in Standby mode while riding allows you to simply press a tiny button to activate the fog-destroying inferno technology. The system essentially defrosts the lens from inside just like it would car windows. The battery pack stays charged for up to six hours and, a bonus, the tech keeps your face warm and toasty — it’s also much quieter than similar systems.
The Prizm technology in the lens filters the color spectrum to optimize visibility and enhance contrast on the slopes. The goggles fit close to your face and offer an awesome field of vision, maximizing peripheral views. For glasses wearers, these are OTG compatible and even have notches at the temples to integrate with prescription eyewear. The only drawback is some people find the battery pack slightly cumbersome.
The best value goggle — Bolle Nova II with Matt Blue gradient
Whether you’re just getting into the sport, or simply don’t have the money to shell out three figures for a pair of goggles, Bolle’s Nova II provides a great range of technical features within a budget price point. The medium to large fitting goggles feature a Modulator Vermillon Blue Lens that blends pink photochromic qualities with a blue mirror to deliver clear, adaptable optics. Its P80 anti-fog treatment, combined with Flow-Tech venting, keeps your vision fog-free, all at a killer price.
For an extra $20 compared to Bolle’s Mojo, you get a higher-quality lens for minimal additional investment. Bottom line: If you’re looking for cheap but decent entry-level goggles, these are a great choice.
The best field of view — Shred Smartefy
Shred’s Smartefy is a beast of a goggle that’s been on the rise recently thanks to its maximum field of vision with a minimum frame — largely due to its Shredwide technology. On top of the Smartefy’s snow-globe visuals, the goggles are treated with a hydrophobic anti-fog coating and layered with multi-density face foam that helps keep a tight, comfy fit on your face. The foam wicks moisture and ventilates smoothly, leaving you with a cloudless and clear view of the slopes.
Shred’s NoReflect treatment helps fight inner lens reflection while the company’s patent-pending NoDistortion technology equalizes pressure between the dual lens chamber and conditions in the air via a semi-permeable valve, creating crystalline visual clarity. If a wide range of peripheral vision is what you’re after in a goggle, you need to check the Smartefy out.
The best photochromic lens — Zeal Portal RLS
A lot of brands offer photochromic lens options but it wasn’t until Zeal’s patented Automatic+ technology dropped that we’ve seen a lens that adapts so well to so many different light conditions. With an 18-33 percent visible light transmission (VLT) range, you can wear this spherical lens through pretty much anything the day throws at you. If it’s bright and sunny, it blocks out light and glare; if clouds roll in and the slopes get socked, the lens shift to allow more light in. The rimless frame on the Portal offers a stellar field of vision and its Everclear anti-fogging system makes hazy vision a thing of the past.
Perhaps an equally big story about the Portal is its utilization of Zeal’s brand-new, patent-pending Rail Lock System (RLS) — an innovative new technology that combines bottom magnets with two built-in frame channels to push the lens down and pop it into place. The system makes the change-up fast and easy while insuring the solid seal that won’t shatter when you take a fall.
The best backcountry lens — Native Tank 7
Native’s Tank 7 is a goggle that was conceived, designed, and built specifically with long days of trudging through deep snow and skinning up hills in mind. Taking its name from a well-known backcountry trail in Colorado’s Sawatch Range, the Tank 7 showcases Native’s SnowTuned lens technology meant for hiking and sweating. With an anti-fog coating intended to prevent fog for up to eight minutes, the diffusion blows away all other anti-fogging systems which typically aim for 30 seconds, with the next longest clocking in at roughly two minutes. The idea with these goggles is you can pause for several minutes in the backcountry to grab a snack, adjust your gear, or look at a map without having to take off your goggles.
The Tank 7’s other features include its Switch Outrigger mechanism which lets you quickly reverse the interior reflective strap side for visibility if you’re hiking in the dark or in a rescue scenario, and its Enhale Nasal Nest that creates a snug nose seal without any pinch, allowing full breathing capability. Other highlights of the Tank include ultra-comfortable, fluted hypoallergenic triple face foam and an exceptionally wide field of view.
The best OTG — Smith Knowledge Turbo Fan
There are so many Over the Glasses (OTG) styles to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one; however, Smith’s Knowledge Turbo Fan goggles come with an awesome combination of multiple qualities we like — excellent anti-fogging features, good field of vision, and great optics at a fairly reasonable price. For $85, the Knowledge goggles use Floating Foam Membrane to lift pressure off the eyeglasses, creating a comfy feel while still offering clear vision. The lens combines 5X Anti-Fog Inner Lens and Vaporator Lens Technology for well above average ventilation even without the fan. The silicone backed strap with an articulating positioning system works to assure that everything stays in place while riding. Bottom line: This is a great all around goggle for eyeglass wearers at a fraction of the price.
The best lightweight goggle — Electric Electrolite
When Electric’s Electrolite goggles dropped last year, they redefined the company’s typically large-framed frame design in favor of a more minimalistic, close-to-face fit. The result is something that feels like a feather on your face. The frame is composed of Ethylene-vinyl acetate with a strap that’s 100 percent compression-molded silicon, making the whole setup roughly 30 percent lighter than the industry average — according to Electric.
Since it’s made from foam instead of plastic, they’re not only one of the lightest goggles on the market but also one of the most bendable, withstand-any-beating setups you can find. No more delicately placing your goggles inside your helmet or cradled in their own case — cram this one in your bag with the rest of your gear and you’re good to go. Whether you’re riding backcountry and counting every gram of weight, or you prefer a light, easy feel on your face, you won’t be disappointed by the Electrolite.