Sunglasses and goggles are a very important part of enjoying a winter sports holiday. They protect your eyes against harmful UV rays, impact and keep out the cold. Shatterproof lenses are recommended to protect against impact whilst eyewear that fogs up can be a safety hazard. Other priorities include optical clarity, good contrast (particularly on flat-light days) and of course style. The materials used in their construction should be suitable for use down to -20ºC.
At high altitudes, the harmful effects of solar UV radiation increase and at 2000 meters it can be 30% higher than at sea level. On ski slopes, this problem is compounded because the light is also reflected from the snow resulting in up to twice the normal amount of UV rays. So excellent UV protection is essential.
A key point to consider is the lens color. Grey lenses are great for bright sunshine days and those with a mirror or multi-layered revo coating have excellent reflective properties which reduces glare whilst looking cool into the bargain. Whereas brown, amber, orange or pink lenses improve both contrast and depth perception and help to reduce glare. These are a good all-around choice if you expect changeable weather conditions. They provide the high contrast necessary in high-speed, high altitude sports by filtering out blue light which makes focusing difficult. Blue light is in higher concentrations at high altitudes and is commonly found in diffused light on cloudy days. Yellow lenses are great for flat light or dull conditions because of their excellent contrast enhancement and depth perception properties. If everything is white, contrast is very important.
The eyewear you use for skiing and snowboarding is a very important safety element to your winter sports activity. It is important to purchase the right product to suit your type of activity and the anticipated weather conditions. No one pair of glasses or goggles can accommodate all the conditions you will encounter on the slopes, this guide will help you choose the most appropriate for your own skiing preferences.
Many skiers choose to wear ordinary sunglasses whilst on the slopes. Such sunglasses may be suitable, however high optical quality lenses that are fully UV400 compliant (block both UVA and UVB rays) are essential. The sunglasses themselves should give good peripheral protection to minimize UV rays and drafts from entering around the frames. We recommend you don’t compromise just to save money, unsuitable sunglasses will ruin your winter sports experience.
Close-fitting wraparound sunglasses with shatterproof, polycarbonate lenses provide the best protection and give a wider field of vision. The high base curve style of typical ski sunglasses demands optically correct de-centered lenses for clear distortion-free vision. Anti-fog coatings on the lenses are also recommended. These chemical treatments leave a water-repellent residue that helps reduce fogging on the inside and outside of the lens. For minimum glare, ski sunglasses with polarised lenses may be preferred.
Sunglasses used for skiing and snowboarding should be durable so they don’t break in the case of a fall or wipe-out. A headband attachment can be used so they don’t fall off, even leisure skiers have the occasional tumble. Frames made from Grilamid TR90 are ideal because they are super-strong and designed to flex making them resistant to stress, cracking and fatigue. TR90 is an extremely lightweight and flexible material. It is virtually indestructible, has no risk of toxicity or allergy and is stable to UV exposure. Unlike sunglasses made from cheap materials that discolor from the sun’s UV rays, these are made to last.
When choosing a pair of goggles there are many features to consider before making a purchase. The key factors you should consider are slope conditions and activity levels. Look for models that offer full UV protection and that will be compatible with your helmet. Single lenses are generally less expensive but double lenses are less prone to fogging.
Ski goggles must be tough, durable and very comfortable. Good quality frames are usually made from polyurethane which is very lightweight and shock absorbing. As they are likely to be worn all day it is important to ensure a good fit. The foam lining and headband should be super-soft and ductile, hypoallergenic and have a high absorption capacity. A “V” nose within the foam lining gives a self-adjusting and very comfortable fit around the nose without causing breathing problems.
Double lenses, anti-fog coatings, and vented frames help to reduce fogging and sweat condensation. A dual venting system (DVS) with upper and lower vents will optimize the airflow over the inside surface of the lens. This reduces fogging and provides fresh air for your eyes. Spherical lenses provide extra high contrast and sharpen definition against distracting backgrounds delivering superior terrain definition in all light conditions.
As well as good UV protection, skiers and boarders need extra eye protection from the elements and even airborne objects. Lightweight, padded sunglasses with shatterproof polycarbonate lenses make fantastic ski or snowboard sunglasses. They have a “cushion” foam padding on the inside of the glasses to fit snug to your face and protect against snow, cold, wind, dust and debris. The pads are usually vented for maximum breath-ability. Padded sunglasses look just like ordinary sports sunglasses but the skier will enjoy higher performance levels and enhanced comfort on the slopes.
Photochromic sunglasses react automatically to the available sunlight. On overcast days the lens tints are medium to light. On sunny days they darken to a comfortable sunglass tint and when you go inside, they lighten up again. Since they darken and lighten in response to the amount of sunlight you can wear them from dawn to dusk and never have to take them off. Photochromic sunglasses are available in clear-to-smoke or yellow-to-smoke transitions. As yellow tinted lenses are ideal for dull or flat light conditions these are great for winter sports. The base yellow tint also helps to provide a darker lens in bright sunlight. Also known as photochromatic, transitional, day to night or reactolite sunglasses, they are available in a variety of lens and frame options including padded and Rx-able versions.
Generally there are three types of ski and snowboard sunglasses and goggles for those who need prescription compatible eyewear: OTG (Over The Glasses) sunglasses and goggles that can fit over most prescription spectacles, RX-able models that have a removable insert which can be taken to an opticians and fitted with prescription lenses, and those which can have actual prescription lenses fitted into the frame. Goggles designed to fit over prescription glasses usually provide a quick-release buckle on the head strap to make them easier to take on and off.
One difficulty in choosing your ski or snowboard eyewear is which color lenses to go for. Interchangeable lenses can solve this problem very cost-effectively. Must include at least three lens sets – grey smoke lenses for bright sunny days, yellow lenses improve both contrast and depth perception on flat light days and clear lenses for very dull or dark conditions.
We started up a UK based online sunglasses business many years ago motivated by the lack of choice of affordable good quality sunglasses and goggles. In a market dominated by premium eyewear brands both online and on the high street, it was clear from the outset that there was a large demand for sunglasses and goggles specifically for skiing and snowboarding. It is our aim to bring a wide range of such products to market to suit the needs of most winter sports enthusiasts – high in performance yet at very affordable prices.