It does not matter what level of skiing you are at, from first time beginner to professional racer, a set of goggles is essential for many reasons. There are a wide variety of models available that have a range of prices, to suit all budgets. Typically, you can spend between $30 to $200
The differences in pricing mostly reflect the goggles lenses and the added benefits more expensive lenses would offer.
Why do we need to wear ski goggles?
There are two main reasons why we wear ski goggles:
The first is protection from the wind and the cold on our eyes when we are travelling at speed and the second is to protect the eyes from the sun.
There is another reason, which is of course fashion, and like all accessories some it is not an essential consideration but certainly one that many people take seriously.
Higher priced goggles might offer more anti fogging abilities, lenses that are made from materials that allow more clarity of vision and also anti scratch properties. All ski goggle lenses should have 100% UV (ultra violet) sunlight protection.
Ski goggle lenses are also designed for different weather conditions.
Some lenses are designed for bright sunlight whilst others are designed for foggy or cloudy (white out) conditions. Professional skiers will have several sets of goggles to use for whatever weather conditions they face. It is also sometimes possible to have inter-changeable lenses on your goggles, although as it is the lenses that make up the bulk of the cost, it is just as effective to buy a second set of goggles and wear them according to the weather at the time.
As a beginner or recreational skier who can understandably only justify one set of goggles, I would recommend lenses for cloudy, foggy and white out conditions. (A white out is when it’s difficult to determine the difference between the cloud and the snow, therefore creating a feeling of disorientation). These lenses will enhance the contrast and help to minimize the impact of white out conditions. When the weather is sunny then you can wear sunglasses instead of your goggles, so you have goggles for bad weather, and sunglasses for good (sunny) weather.
I have come across many recreational skiers who dislike wearing goggles and therefore always wear sunglasses for the following reasons: They feel uncomfortable, their face gets too hot, they think they look stupid, they prefer sunglasses as they think they look better in them.
The downsides to wearing sunglasses even on a sunny day are that it might still be very cold and your eyes can water/start to freeze up, the wind gets in your eyes, they can fall off too easily if not properly adjusted.
Personally I do wear sunglasses on sunny days, especially if teaching, mainly for some of the reasons I have given above! But, if skiing at anything approaching high speed, I would rather wear goggles with clear lenses on a sunny day then wear sunglasses. Also, they are not uncomfortable to wear, especially today as the manufacturing technology has improved.
If you are skiing in deep powder snow, always wear goggles, do not wear sunglasses, whatever the weather. If you fall, you will either lose your sunglasses in deep snow or they will get wet on the inside and you won’t be able to clear them until you get indoors.
Goggles can also ‘fog up’. This can be a common problem, especially with beginners. This generally happens when moisture forms on the inside of the lens due to overheating or water/snow entering the goggles. Once snow gets onto the lenses, either inside or outside, it can be difficult to stop the goggles from fogging up. The best solution is to try and prevent any snow or water getting on the lenses, but it is often easier said than done if you fall over in the snow or it is snowing. You should carry a good lens cloth with you and if the goggles do fog up, try and use covered type ski lift, where you will have time to dry them off. If you don’t have that facility and you really have problems with vision, it would be best to find a restaurant or other indoor area once in a while to dry the goggles off.
More expensive lenses can certainly help prevent fogging up but in my experience; if the weather conditions are humid and wet then all goggles will fog up at some point. It’s just part of the skiing experience. The best advice is just to keep them as dry as possible.