The fact that snowboarding conditions tend to be pretty gnarly is part of the thrill of snowboarding to some and a background detail to others. The same conditions that create carefree powder days can render you frostbitten in just a few hours without the right gear.
A nice jacket and pair of pants should take care of that. Maybe some hand warmers too. Snowboarding is fun, but only if youâ€™re equipped. Now imagine that same beautiful powder day — you have a nice snowboard, a set of bindings, a pair of boots, and all the outerwear you need to warm you up.
Thereâ€™s one issue, though — there is nothing over your eyes. And now, instead of enjoying a powder day, youâ€™re trying to dodge hundreds of thousands of snowflakes that are horizontally flying towards your eyes.
If your eyes are open, you canâ€™t ride a centimeter without a snowflake entering your eyes at a pretty high velocity. And if you close your eyes to protect yourself, you canâ€™t ride (unless youâ€™ve connected echolocation and snowboarding). Sounds terrible, doesnâ€™t it?
Protecting your eyes while snowboard is crucial. It is important for your eye health and generally a good idea if you want to maximize your day on the mountain. Powder days, sunny days, flat-light days, you name it, are going to be a lot more comfortable, fun, and safe if you are wearing snowboard goggles.
In this post I am going to analyze, in detail, the components of snowboard goggles; where to buy the best snowboard goggles; a quick summary of the 4 best goggles on the market this year, each for men and women; and a more in depth review of each goggle.
Much Awesome: Table of Contents
How to Choose the Best Snowboard Goggles
Unless you want a lens that will fog up on a powder day or goggles with a tiny field of vision, itâ€™s important to know what to look for when you are buying new snowboard goggles. While there are many technologies that different goggle companies use, there are certain things that each goggle should have.
Field of view
refers to how much you are able to see through your snowboard goggles. As different companies have entered the goggle market and competition has increased, the general trend has been to create goggles with a larger field of view. It makes sense — the more you can see, the more aware you will be on the hill of other people, objects, and terrain. While snowboard goggles with a large field of view might be a little goofy and bug-eye looking, they are worth it.
There are two popular lens shapes: cylindrical and spherical.
Cylindrical lenses exclusively bend on the X axis (horizontally) to match the curve of your face. Most older goggle lenses are cylindrical.
While goggles with cylindrical lenses are smaller and usually more affordable, they are a few issues with the design. Cylindrical lenses have less glare defense, more of a chance of fogging up, and could distort your vision at certain angles.
Spherical lenses are the larger and more bug-eyed lenses. They bend on the X and Y axes to provide riders a fuller and clearer field of view.
Spherical lenses have excellent glare defense, a lower chance of fogging up due to the high volume between your face and the lense, and a more optically-correct field of view with little to no distortion. Spherical lenses are oftentimes more expensive, but if you are a serious rider it is worth it.
Several different types of optics technologies exist.
Some technologies are patented and used by a single manufacturer while others are used by many brands under common names.
I am going to break down the optics technologies used by many brands as they are the more popular technologies. Other lenses use ChromaPop, Prizm, or other technologies, but they are all in some way based on the ones that I will describe below.
Polarized lenses are designed to reduce glare from snow, water, and glass. They provide a clearer and more optically accurate view that reduces eye strain, improves visual comfort, and improves contrast. Polarized lenses are excellent and almost universally loved, except for a select amount of people who, for a reason we do not yet understand, are made dizzy and uncomfortable by polarized technology.
Mirrored lenses reflect light away from your eyes. As the name implies, these lenses have a mirror effect and are certainly some of the cooler looking lenses on the market. Mirrored lenses are excellent for sunny days when sunlight reflects off the snow. They are also pretty durable.
Mirrored lenses struggle on dark and cloudy days, though. They are designed to reflect light in such a way that, in minimal lighting conditions, these lenses will reflect too might light away from you and complicate your riding.
Photochromic lenses, widely known as transition lenses, darken automatically in very sunny conditions. In the absence of excess light — when you are riding at night or in cloudy conditions — the lenses will return to their normal and clearer state.
Photochromic lenses are fantastic because you will not need more than one goggle lens — they work well regardless of the lighting conditions. Photochromic lenses tend to be more expensive than other options, but it is worth the extra money if you care more about eliminating the hassle of replacing your lens mid-ride than paying a little bit more for your lens.
Visible Light Transmission (VLT)
VLT is the quantity of light allowed in the lens. VLT is measured as a percentage from 1 to 100. The higher the percentage, the greater amount of light is let through the lens. Higher VLT is better for darker conditions and lower VLT is better for lighter conditions.
Interchangeable lenses are designed to be easily dismantled and changed on the fly. Two or three lenses are all you will need to accommodate your eyes in every lighting condition. Photochromic lenses are an all-in-one lens — you wonâ€™t need interchangeable lenses with this technology.
Anti-fog coating is a material applied to snowboard goggles to eliminate the issue of your lenses fogging up. The coating does not last forever, but it mitigates a very annoying problem for a good amount of time. In the past, few to no snowboard goggles came with a layer of anti-fog coating — it was a material you had to buy and apply yourself. Now, many but not all snowboard goggles come with anti-fog coating to prevent fog while you ride.
Where to Buy the Best Snowboard Goggles
Faces have different shapes. Some faces are flatter than others, other faces are pointier or rounder than others. Snowboard goggles have different shapes, too. The goggles that I declare to be the most comfortable goggle in the world might fit me very well, but fit you awkwardly.
It is important to try on goggles before you make a purchase. You donâ€™t want to end up with goggles that donâ€™t hold above your nose or compress your face. The best place to do this is at a shop with a large selection of snowboard goggles.
Unfortunately, many ski and snowboard shops overlook their goggle selection. They stock a single glass case with 7 or 8 goggles from 1 or 2 brands and call it good. If this sounds something like your local snowboard shop, it is better to buy your goggles online.
Online shops have a huge variety of snowboard goggles, and they usually explain the technologies featured in each goggle in detail. The following shops have a great selection of snowboard goggles at competitive prices.
Snowboard Goggle Comparison Table
There is no pair of snowboard goggles that suits everybody. We each have different face sizes and preferences for optics technologies. I have compiled a list of goggles that are similar in that they are some of the best and most innovative snowboard goggles on the market, and different in that they offer a wide set of different technologies for all types of preferences.
Below I am going to review 4 of the best goggles, each for men and for women. I am also including one less innovative and more affordable option for men and women.
Regarding the categories: lens indicates whether the goggle has fixed or interchangeable lenses; optics indicates which type of lens is used; shape indicates whether the lens shape is cylindrical or spherical, and the price is self-explanatory.
The Best Men’s Snowboard Goggles
|Make and Model
|Smith I/O MAG ChromaPop
|Check Price On REI
|Oakley Flight Deck XM Prizm
|Check Price On Snowboards.com
|Anon M4 Toric
|Check Price On Amazon
|Check Price At Berg’s
The Best Women’s Snowboard Goggles
|Make and Model
|Check Price On Amazon
|Check Price On REI
|Zeal Portal RLS
|Photochromic & polarized
|Check Price On REI
|Check Price On Amazon
The Best Snowboard Goggles Reviewed
I am going to review each pair of goggles in greater depth, focusing on the more notable technologies and other information that riders who want to buy goggles are looking for.
These reviews are short and concise. They will be worthwhile for you if you want to learn about the best snowboard goggles without reading an essay. If youâ€™re a gearhead and you want to learn every detail about a pair of snowboard goggles, it is best to read through the manufacturerâ€™s website.
Men’s Snowboard Goggles
Smith has been making some of the best goggles on the market for some time now. They set the standard for all things goggles and are recognized as such by snowboarders around the world.
Smith offers their MAGâ„¢ interchangeable system which allows you to change your lenses on the go. Some riders have declared their wish for the system to be a little quicker, but in general almost everybody loves the goggles.
The Smith I/O MAG ChromaPop goggles come with 2 ChromaPopâ„¢ lenses. One lens is better for bright lighting conditions and the other is better for dark conditions. ChromaPop is its own optics technology, but it is a reputable technology and riders love it.
The lenses are layered with Smithâ€™s 5X anti-fog inner lens to prevent your lens from fogging up right before you hit a jump, mogul, or tree run. The goggles are padded with 3-layer DriWix face foam, providing a comfortable fit with padding that will last a while.
The goggles are designed to fit around your helmet comfortably. The goggle is also available in Asia fit for riders with flatter faces and Photochromic lenses for riders who prefer a single transitional lens for $40 more. Smith offers a lifetime warranty on the goggles.
The Oakley Flight Deck XM Prizm is a version of Oakleyâ€™s Flight Deck goggle made specifically for people with a small to medium face frame.
Snowboards.com provides you with a choice of Oakley Rimless Spherical Lenses that cover a wide variety of colors and VLT percentages. Some lenses are better for the bright sun and others are better for overcast and cloudy days.
Your order only comes with 1 lens, but the product is priced accordingly. Oakley sells lenses for anywhere from $60 to $120 on their website.
The Lens Sub Frame attachments will allow you to substitute lenses relatively quickly, but not quite as fast as other frame-changing technologies
Prizm optics technology is, according to Oakley, â€œdesigned to enhance color and contrast so you can see more detail.â€ Oakley is a reputable eyewear brand and many of their products from snow to sand feature their Prizm technology.
F3 Anti-Fog coating ensures a fog-free ride. A streamlined frame and outriggers makes the goggle compatible with any helmet.
The snowboard goggle is helmet compatible and designed to fit over glasses. The goggles are backed by a two year warranty.
The Anon M4 Toric are the most expensive menâ€™s snowboard goggles on this list. They are designed for serious riders seeking gear that features the most innovative technologies in snowboarding, and who could pay for them. The Anon M4 Toric goggles are relatively large, so avoid these goggles if you prefer a smaller fit.
Anon uses Magna-Tech speed change technology that features rare earth magnets and up to 8 points of connection to keep your lenses secure. The lens to frame seal is seamless and secure, so you wonâ€™t have to worry about water or snow getting into the open spaces between your lens and frame.
Toric technology features lens curvature that mimics the curvature of the human eye. This allows for a field of view that is large and undistorted. The Sonar lens by ZEISS is designed specifically for snowboarding and skiing to enhance contrast.
Triple layer face foam ensures you that your goggles will be comfortable and durable to all the intense terrain and falls that extreme riding invites.
The Anon M4 Toric goggles come with 2 toric lenses that could be changed very quickly. The goggles are designed to fit over your glasses and they are helmet compatible. Anon provides a 1-year warranty with the M4 Toric snowboard goggles
The Smith Project snowboard goggles are not high-tech. They do not feature technologies that you cannot pronounce and they arenâ€™t built for the expert rider who demands that their gear be the prettiest or most innovative gear that exists.
These goggles are made for beginner riders or riders who are either so destructive or unlucky that they canâ€™t trust themselves with snowboard goggles that cost anything more than the Project.
The Smith Project are the one set of snowboard goggles on this list that feature a cylindrical shape, meaning that your field of view will be smaller and more distorted than they would be with spherical goggles.
The lens is fixed, meaning that you cannot change the lens for a lens with a different VLT rating. Different lenses are offered in the initial purchase, though, so you could pick the lens that suits the riding conditions that are most common in your area.
The Fog-X Anti-Fog Inner Lens is a coating that will prevent your lens from fogging up. Airflow Lens Technology provides active ventilation that will reduce fog when the Fog-X technology does not.
The goggles feature a single layer of foam which wonâ€™t be as comfortable or long lasting as triple layer foam, but it is part of the compromise of a cheaper set of goggles.
The Smith Project is over-the-glasses compatible and will fit over your helmet. Smith provides a lifetime warranty for the goggles. These goggles are not the best pair on the list, but if you want an affordable option, the Project is your best choice.
Women’s Snowboard Goggles
The Giro Ella is an excellent pair of snowboard goggles. They are mid-level goggles in terms of technology and price. You are trading off a few cutting edge innovations like spherical lenses for a goggle that is affordable but not far behind the best goggles on the market.
The lenses are interchangeable, and with the Quick-Change Magnetic-Assisted Lens System, you can change your goggles on the fly with no extra hassle.
VIVID lenses are designed to enhance contrast and definition. The lens filters out harmful UV light and haze, only allowing light that will help you on the mountain. The goggles come with 2 lenses. One lens has a 20% VLT and the other has a 58% VLT, so you are covered for all types of riding conditions.
The field of view is wide thanks to Expansion View Technology, if a little distorted due to the cylindrical shape of the lens. The lenses also feature anti-fog technology and a venting system that works to minimizes fog.
Triple layer face foam keeps your face warm and comfortable. The goggles fit over your glasses and are helmet compatible. Giro offers a limited lifetime warranty on the Ella goggles.
The Anon WM1 goggles are built for serious riders who do not mind paying extra for cutting edge technology that will enhance their experience on the slopes.
They are designed to accommodate the shape and narrowness of a womanâ€™s face. With that said, the frame is relatively large for womens goggles, so be careful if you have a smaller face.
The goggles feature Magna-Techâ„¢ Quick Lens Change Technology that use 14 rare-earth magnets, allowing you to quickly change your lenses. The magnets can sustain up to 16.5 pounds, so rest assured that your lenses will be safe on your goggles.
The sonar lens is designed to enhance contrast. This will help you recognize where a jump or mogul begins and ends, and the spherical lens will help you see features as they are, with little to no distortion and an excellent field of view.
Triple layer face foam ensures a comfortable ride with nothing getting between the Anon WM1 goggles and your face. The lenses feature an anti-fog treatment and an excellent ventilation system that will reduce fog.
The goggles include one additional lens. They are both eyewear and helmet compatible. Anon backs the WM1 with a one year warranty.
The Zeal Portal RLS is a well built pair of snowboard goggles that riders love. The Portal RLS features Zealâ€™s new rimless frame technology, designed to maximize peripheral vision. The field of view is large and undistorted thanks to the spherical shape of the lens.
The frame is equipped with a ventilation system and Everclear Anti-Fog molecules that prevent fog from building up between the lens and your face.
Zealâ€™s Rail Lock System (RLS) is designed to provide a rail system for your lens that allows you to guide, slide, and magnetically lock your lens in place. The technology is new and provides a quick-lock interchange system for your lenses.
A selection of lenses are available, covering a range of prices, VLTs, and technologies. Some options include photochromic optic technology, some are polarized, and others are both. A Persimmon Sky Blue lens with 65% VLT is included in each purchase to provide a light lens in dark conditions.
Permashield Hardcoat prevents scratches and scuffs on your lenses. Triple face foam provides maximum comfort for your face and durability for your goggles. Zeal provides a two-year limited warranty for their goggles.
The Bolle Scarlett is an excellent choice for beginner snowboarders and riders who donâ€™t wish to shell out their bank account on snowboard goggles. While the Scarlett might not have a quick-change technology or fancy lenses like other snowboard goggles, they are reliable, well built, and designed to last.
Carbo Glas Anti-Scratch technology will prevent your lens from scratching too quickly from impact with the snow (at ease, beginners). The lenses are designed with UV protection technologies that will keep unwanted glare out of your field of view.
Due to the relatively small frame and cylindrical shape of the lenses, your field of view will be smaller and slightly distorted. This doesnâ€™t present as much of an issue to beginner riders as to expert riders who ride quickly down sketchy terrain.
You could choose from a set of lenses with different VLTs and optics technologies when you are making a purchase. Some are better and thus more expensive than others.
The goggles are built with double-density foam to provide you comfort. An Anti-fog layer and an excellent ventilation system will reduce fogging, which is important as beginner riders will face enough challenges on the slopes. The Bolle Scarlett is designed to fit around your helmet. Bolle provides a limited lifetime warranty for the Scarlett goggle.
Snowboard goggles should not be overlooked. Snowboarding is a risky enough sport that you should take every possible measure to reduce your chances of discomfort and injury. Snowboard goggles provide protection from the snow and the harmful rays that reflect off the snow.
I hope this article provided you a good idea of the many technologies and the best snowboard goggles on the market today.
Not every snowboard goggle I reviewed features every type of cutting-edge technology that exists. The best technologies come at a high cost and not every rider wants to pay that cost. Considering the audience, I reviewed both high and low end snowboard goggles, while leaving out extremely cheap goggles made by unreputable manufacturers.
Happy riding and be safe!