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Busy booking your next ski holiday? Make sure you pack a great pair of ski goggles before you leave for the pistes. Snowsport-specific goggles will protect your eyes from snow and wind in the mountains and help you see clearly come sun or snowstorms.
What is Visible Light Transmission?
Goggles for winter sports come in a rainbow of different lens colours to work for changeable winter weather conditions. As a rule, yellow and pink lenses are best on cloudy days, and darker colours and polarised lenses work well on sunny days.
If in doubt, look for the lens’ VLT (Visible Light Transmission) percentage – the lower the number, the better suited it is to bright sunshine. For example, a VLT of 38% is best for low light and cloudy conditions, a VLT of 9% is ideal for sunny days out on the snow and a 21% would make a good all-rounder.
Best snow goggles at a glance
- Best value for money: Smith Squad Goggles
- Best for field of vision: Oakley Line Miner Sage Kotsenburg Goggles
- Best on test: Bolle Torus Goggles
- Best for those on a budget: Decathlon All Weather G 100 1 Goggles
- Best photochromatic lenses: Messy Weekend Achton Xep Goggle
- Best for crystal clear vision: Vallon Freebirds Goggles
- Best customisable lenses: Sungod Sniper Goggles
- Best versatile single lens: IziPizi All Weather Goggles
- Best over the glasses goggles: Dragon Alliance RVX OTG Goggles
- Best interchangable lenses: Pandaoptics Cobalt Goggles
What ‘category’ snow goggle do I need?
You’ll also see lenses split into three categories – Cat 1 is lightly tinted for overcast conditions; Cat 2 is a good all-rounder and Cat 3 is ideal for bright sun. To deal with fast-changing weather conditions, skiers usually either carry two pairs of goggles or one pair that allows for interchangeable lenses, so you can pop a differently tinted lens in quickly if needed.
If you’re only investing in one pair of goggles, it’s definitely worth choosing a pair with changeable lenses, so you’re ready for any conditions. A problem with cheaper goggles is that they can easily fog up, immediately clouding your vision. Look for goggles with double lenses and that are treated with anti-fog and anti-scratch technology to keep them clear and scratch-free. Good lenses usually offer 100% protection from UVA and UBV light as standard, but do make sure that the pair you pick protects your peepers from both.
Try your new goggles on before you head to the mountains, to check they fit your face well. Goggles are usually unisex, but smaller or female-specific goggles are a good choice if you have a narrow face. Check the goggles you buy sit flush with your face, and that the strap feels comfortable on your head and doesn’t slip down when you move. The foam between the goggle frame and your skin should not impede your vision. If you wear glasses, look for goggles that are labelled as glasses-compatible - these are designed to fit over your frames.
How should I care for my ski googles?
Ski goggles are expensive, so make sure you care for yours so that they last for many winter seasons to come. It’s easy to scratch lenses – to keep your goggles in good nick, only clean them with a lens cloth, and store them in a soft goggle bag (usually included) when you aren’t wearing them, rather than just chucking them in a backpack or a jacket pocket. Never wipe the inside of your lens, as this can remove the anti-fog coating.
There’s a trend for sporting big, wraparound goggles that offer uninterrupted peripheral vision. These spherical lenses tend to be more expensive but we reckon they’re worth an extra spend for the improved vision you end up with, especially if you’re planning long days on the pistes.
Check the strap on the model you buy is easy to adjust, and fits snugly over both a beanie hat and your helmet (some helmets have clips you can pop a goggle strap into). When worn with a helmet, your goggles should sit flush to the helmet lid, so that there’s no gap on your forehead (otherwise you can end up with an oddly placed suntan strip!). Try out goggles against your face and check that the foam-clad frame feels light and comfortable around your eyes.
Here are the best men’s ski jackets on the market 2023, and the best women’s ski jackets.
Headed out on the trail? These are the best winter sleeping bags, and the best winter tents.
Key specs – Interchangeable lenses: yes, lenses available: red Cat 2, yellow Cat 1
Smith and the North Face have dreamt up a great double-lensed goggle that sits at the more affordable end of the market. The Squad goggle boasts two decent lenses that pop in and out of a durable frame, plus a decent grippy strap, all for under £100.
A red Cat 2 lens and a yellow Cat 1 lens are good for most weather conditions besides bright sun, and while the frame does impede slightly on vision, it’s a good size for smaller faces.
Key specs – Interchangeable lenses: no, lenses available: gold 14% VLT
Oakley create unique designs of their popular Line Miner goggles with the greats of the snowsports world, and our pick for this season is this map-inspired frame, created in partnership with two-time Olympic medallist snowboarder Sage Kostenberg.
The Line Miner offers brilliant peripheral vision thanks to an oversized cylindrical lens that doesn’t impede your view of the pistes at all, although that means these goggles are on the large size, so they won’t suit petite faces. A 14% VLT gold/pink lens offers great vision in sun and cloud alike, so this is a good all-rounder if you don’t want to bother with swapping lenses.
Key specs – Interchangeable lenses: yes, lenses available: five Cat 1-3 available
Bollé’s Torus Neo is a goggle that means business. Five iterations of the Torus Neo come with two lenses each, so you can pick the pair that works for you from a range of Cat 3 and Cat 2 colours suitable for bright sunny days, plus a bonus Vermillion Blue Cat 1 lens for overcast days.
Once you’ve got the right lens snugly in place, this goggle is a high performer – spacious vents avoid any fogging, there’s a clear and unimpeded field of vision and this was also one of the most comfortable goggles we tested, lined with soft foam and deep enough to fit over glasses. Top of the class.
Key specs – Interchangeable lenses: yes, lenses available: CAT 3 brown, CAT 1 yellow
Who says snow goggles have to cost an arm and a leg? Decathlon have a decent two-lens offering that’s by far the cheapest of our recommendations – their all-weather G 100 I offers great bang for your buck at just under £25. This affordable design comes with two interchangeable lenses, one CAT 3 and one CAT 1, so you’re covered for most light conditions.
These goggles are flimsier and more prone to fog than more expensive models, but if you’re heading on your first ski holiday or snowsports lesson, they’re a great pick that’s light on the pocket.
Key specs – Interchangeable lenses: no, lenses available: clear/blue photochromic lens
See clearly now – the clever photochromic lens on the Achton Xep goggle is clear, until you step into bright sunshine and it adjusts to royal blue in seconds. This saves the hassle of constantly swapping lenses in changeable conditions, and makes the Danish-designed Achton Xep a great quiver-of-one lens for the mountains. The wide lens will suit most faces and offers a decent field of vision, and we like that the plastic frame is made from recycled trash.
Key specs – Interchangeable lenses: yes, lenses available: 15% VLT, 13% VLT, 36% VLT
Vallon do a fine line in retro-inspired and rather handsome mountaineering sunglasses – their goggle offerings are no different. The Freebirds may have a retro feel but their technology is bang up-to-date, with a wide spherical lens for a sweeping, unimpeded field of vision and ZEISS lenses which provide great clear quality.
The included CAT 3, 15% VLT lens is ideal for sunny to clouded conditions. A spare lens isn’t included, but two interchangeable hues are available for £30 each – Smoke, a 13% VLT suitable for bright and sunny conditions, and Orange, a 36% VLT for poor conditions.
Key specs – Interchangeable lenses: yes, lenses available: eight available, 11-38% VLT
Sungod’s Snipers are fully customisable when you order them online, allowing you to pick a lens tint from eight options, ranging from 11-38% VLT, then play around to find your favourite frame and strap colours. The lenses are also fully interchangeable, clipping in and out of the frame quickly and easily.
The lens of the Sniper is on the larger side, but offering a great field of vision. The strap is comfortable and stays put on both a helmet and a bobble hat. The Snipers are also covered by a lifetime guarantee against breakage, and can be returned for repair from anywhere in the world.
Key specs – Interchangeable lenses: no, lenses available: 20% VLT
This minimalist style is IziPizi’s all-rounder of a ski goggle, fitted with a grey category 2 lens that aims to offer good visibility in most weather conditions. If you don’t like massive bubble-shaped goggles that take up half your face you’ll love this more subtle style, and there’s enough room for glasses beneath the Cat 2 despite its slim frame.
Six frame colourways are available, as well as Cat 1 and Cat 3 lens versions. We rate this as a fuss-free all-rounder, and we like that you can order small or large sizes of IziPizi’s range, rather than having to choose from male or female offerings.
Key specs – Interchangeable lenses: yes, lenses available: grey 23% VLT, violet 62% VLT
These high-performing frameless goggles ticked all the boxes on test. They’re nicely sized to fit most faces, with wide vents and anti-fog lenses to keep your vision crystal clear. Two lenses are included - we tested out the ‘smoke’ grey 23% VLT lens, design for sun, and the violet 62% VLT lens, ideal for snow and low light. Both proved excellent, and between them should have you covered for most Alpine conditions.
The lenses click on and off quickly and easily using a lever – and this is manageable even with snow mittens on. The goggles are lined with thick, fleece-lined foam and sit quite far out from the face, but the benefit is that you get a very comfy fit and there’s plenty of space for glasses beneath them.
Key specs – Interchangeable lenses: yes, lenses available: mirrored blue 16% VLT, yellow 83% VLT
Swapping between lenses can be a hassle in the mountains, especially when you’re wearing big mitts against the cold. Pandaoptics make the process simple with a clever magnetic system that snaps a lens in place in seconds and holds it there all day.
Both included lenses are great quality, providing a wide view of the mountains thanks to the Cobalt’s frameless design and never fogging up. The wide, panda-adorned strap is great too, staying put snugly against a helmet.