Our Guide to Goggles

Adult goggles (premium)

Our mission is to get people outdoors. Since most people aren't enthusiasts who venture outside regularly, you can buy or rent goggles. Specifically, about our goggles rentals:

  • We rent goggles that are higher end than those rented elsewhere, but still offer competitive pricing
  • We offer a rent-to-buy program so you don't have to worry about losing money from renting
  • Our self-service allows you to hire goggles whenever is convenient for you

Core function: Snow reflects so much sunlight that it can cause snow blindness. Sunglasses still allow light at the periphery. Moreover, when you're skiing quickly, the wind can blow snow or ice in your face (not to mention if it's actively precipitating!). Just like jogging in the rain even with glasses is pretty annoying, skiing with sunglasses can be the same

Do you really need it?

Hghly recommended for any snowsports activity. If you're not a big snow person but are planning a one-off trip, renting goggles is really important to ensure you have a good experience .

For more info, read our 'what you really need' protip

What we carry

Goggles Lower end Higher end
Entry level Mid range Best in class
Model Smith Cascade goggles Smith Daredevil goggles Smith Drift goggles Smith Squad goggles Zeal Slate goggles Zeal Forecast goggles Zeal Fargo goggles Zeal Voyager goggles Smith Vice goggles Smith I/O goggles
Smith Cascade, Electra, or Transit Smith Daredevil Smith Drift Smith Squad Zeal Slate Zeal Forecast Zeal Fargo Zeal Voyager Smith Vice Smith I/O series

Buy

MSRP with tax

$30-40
value
$54 $76 $92 $150-270
value; Zeal's pricing depends on frame & lens
$157 $260
Rent $4+ $6+ $12+
Online rental Catalog name Adult goggles (basic) Youth goggles (premium) Adult goggles (premium)
Lens shape Cylindrical Spherical
Over-The-Glasses (OTG)
I/OX model
Extra lens**
Photochromic lens**

**These features have extremely limited availability, please write-in a special request when you reserve

General Notes
  • We choose what we carry based on extensive research on what's the best value to our customers (e.g., price given performance & durability features) across all the top brands. We specifically do not carry every brand & model; for details on why we do/don't carry certain items in the following What To Use & How To Choose section
  • Buy prices a grayed out box indicates we don't sell it (we may only rent goggles of this model)
  • Rent prices are the starting prices; enter trip dates on our Catalog to get exact prices (based on total trip length, not per day!). We also don't charge sales tax, an automatic savings of almost 10%!

When you hire goggles online, you can select from available options or we'll pick out something for you. You can also write-in any preferences on the last page of checkout. This section describes the majority of our models & options, but sometimes we carry others.

Sex-specific

It is still a general convention in the industry that if not specified, an item is either unisex or designed for a male fit. But in our experience, personal preference & body type can often be much more important than generalized differences across sexes. Whenever considering sex-specific gear, compare carefully, including trying to rent goggles of different types for various trips to find the best value for you (be mindful that women-specific items may be more expensive).

For this item, we do carry women-specific inventory. When renting goggles online, please write-in on the last page of our online order form if you prefer a women-specific model, available as the Smith Drift model.


What to use & how to choose

Sometimes it's easy to get lost in all the hype of something new (over-spending often happens on features). Our guide focuses on the fundamental factors you should always keep in mind (thus, this short list is similar across all items). Then only at the end do we have some questions to get you thinking about other minor features. Also take advantage of renting goggles to try out what works for you!

We highly recommend reviewing Type or Style first, where we review what you can use to address the Core function--a regular item you have at home may work! The other factors are secondary & depend strongly on the Type or Style you've picked; in fact, for other factors data charts are generally only for a specific Type or Style that we carry (e.g., as a gear shop, would be outdoor-specific products).

We've organized the most commonly used items people use to address the Core function below, with example images, characteristics, features, etc.

Some people will want to use sunglasses, particularly on nice days with mild conditions. If you use sunglasses, at least use the wrap-style frame or sports-style. This wraps closer to your face to provide better peripheral protection than fashion sunglasses. That said, just rent a pair of ski goggles to compare with your sunglassses, there generally will be a difference!

Sunglasses Goggles
Example images Sunglasses Goggles
Secure to your face
You can get a neck strap for glasses, but that doesn't mean they'll stay on your face, a bump could jostle them off. Goggles on the other hand are by definition flush against your face. It would take a severe fall to dislocate them
Protects periphery
Insulates eyes & upper half of face
Protects wind & snow from getting in your eyes
Durable
Lens could pop out after a fall, frames are more thin & fragile
Easier to locate after a fall
Due to smaller size

Why we do/don't carry it

= we rent
= we sell
Doesn't offer the same level of protection & safety

This is the standard for snowsports

If you don't go very often, of course you're going to want to spend less money, but this often means real trade-offs in terms of the experience that you will have with the gear. Even if you do go often & are ready to invest in quality gear, having the upfront funds can be hard!

Now, it may seem like this price & quality trade-off is disappearing, because you can find a cheap version of almost anything for tens of dollars that still has good reviews (assuming the reviews are real). So you might be thinking: I'll just buy something cheap, and because the price is so low it doesn't matter if it's less featured or heavier or whatever compared to something higher end. When that breaks, I'll buy something cheap again, and so on. Just remember:

  • Many reviews are written after only a trial use or first use: We've seen entire review videos of gear done at home, which is very different than actually being outdoors! And reviews after the first use don't tell you about dudrability at all
  • You're headed outdoors to relax and enjoy life! Saving money only to have a trip ruined due to quality issues will feel terrible. Our program to rent goggles is designed to help you avoid this trade-off: you get to rent high end, quality goggles for around the same price as buying cheap ones (sometimes even for less!)

For this item specifically, the price vs. quality trade-off issues center around performance & durability.

We are one of the few shops that rent ski goggles that are best-in-class, so try out the nice ones and see how they compare!

Goggles Lower end Higher end
Entry level Mid range Best in class
Price $20-50 $50-100 $100-200 $200-300
Performance differences
We'll call out the price points at which certain features discussed in this guide are likely to appear, then persist through higher end models
N/A; baseline Fog-resistant double-layer lenses & anti-fog coating. Different color tints & mirror coatings Extra lenses. Spherical shape Anti-fog fan. Magnetic lens change
There are other features that come into play that we don't mention, and each feature gets 'more advanced'. As well there may be changes to the type of material used in production. We haven't discussed all this in detail since few people would be interested
Durability differences Less durable More durable
Can refer to how easily the lenses can scratch or the foam (that presses against your face) can deteriorate

Why we do/don't carry it

= we rent
= we sell

We rent lower end models because we do not have this on the borrow shelf; look for 'Basic' in the name on our Catalog

Our mission is to increase access to gear & we are proud to be the only company to rent as well as sell this type
Methodology notes on prices shown on this page

Refers to frame size (since straps are adjustable). Goggles do technically come in small, medium, and large for men and women (women's sizes are a little smaller across the board compared to men's sizes), and may also come in small, medium, and large for youth. But there isn't a wide range in people's face sizes, so generally a medium in any age group is the a one-size-fits-all. That's the standard size & what we carry. There are 2 specifications in size that you'll see on the market below. In all cases, remember that industry standards may not work for everyone targeted, so renting snow goggles with different fits can be useful!

Low nose bridge fit (also known as Asian fit)

Goggles need to fit flush against your face to prevent air or snow from drafting in. If your face has a lower nose bridge or you have a smaller nose, you may need this fit to ensure a flush fit. Different brands & models can fit quite differently so we do encourage trying multiple pairs on or renting goggles for a first trip, whether or not they are specifically low nose bridge fit. We do have these specific fit goggles; extremely limited availability, please write-in a special request when you reserve.

For glasses wearers

Over-the-glasses (OTG) goggles
Goggles that are designed for your regular glasses to fit inside (over-the-glasses, or OTG goggles)
Prescription lens inserts
A prescription lens is inserted just behind the goggles lens (so you don't have to wear your regular glasses)
Price Various $50-100 for an insert
Other considerations
  • May be uncomfortable (goggles are tight & can really press the glasses frame into your face)
  • Can lead to fogging issues (see Usage notes)
  • You may have to try on multiple pairs or rent a pair of goggles first to find one that is best-fit*
  • May be harder to get (e.g., need to get prescription on insert)

Why we do/don't carry it

= we rent
= we sell

Extremely limited availability, please write-in a special request when you reserve*

We are not an eye care provider & cannot offer prescriptive services

*Whether your glasses will fit in goggles depends on the shape of your glasses. Some people find that, given the shape of their glasses, a standard pair of goggles may work better than an OTG pair! You honestly won't know until you try, so please plan to do so. Generally cylindrically-shaped (see Technical Features section) goggles are roomier, and will have a better fit

The majority of users will not be concerned about these (or even notice a difference, honestly), as they're really designed to optimize for the highest levels of performance. As you determine what is best for you, remember to hire a pair of ski goggles as a great way to experiment!

Lens shape

Cylindrical Spherical
What it means Goggles curved in one dimension: around your face Goggles curved in both dimensions: around your face but also vertically
Cylindrical goggles Spherical goggles
Example images Cylindrical goggles Spherical goggles
Benefits
  • Less expensive
  • Less glare
  • Less fog
  • Less distortion
  • More peripheral vision

Why we do/don't carry it

= we rent
= we sell

This is the standard


Our mission is to increase access to gear & we are proud to be the only company to rent as well as sell this type

Lens color & light transmission

A lot of physics here, but basically, 2 important concepts:

  1. Color correlates with visible light transmission (VLT): lighter tints let in more light (higher VLT), and darker tints let in less light (lower VLT)
  2. Color also has a secondary effect: by filtering different spectrums of light, different colors can help enhance certain aspects of vision

But because each color is good for a range of conditions & many have secondary effects that are similar (e.g., enhanced contrast vs enhanced depth perception), and goggles may have different base lens colors and tints depending on the brand (to optimize for different conditions), we've highlighted a few simple guidelines:

  • Sunny, bright days: Black, gray, brown (you may also want a mirror coat, which further cuts down on VLT)
  • Partly cloudy to sunny days: Green, blue, amber/ copper/ bronze/ gold/ orange (there are a lot of lenses in this color range!)
  • Overcast, stormy days: Yellow, rose/ pink
  • Night: Clear (can also protect from UV light, but there's no protection from brightness, which is why these are only good at night or dusk!)

Given this, there are 2 other features that may be worth the additional cost:

  • Extra lenses so you always optimize for the best VLT depending on the conditions
  • Photochromic lenses that lighten or darken automatically depending on the conditions outside

We do sell & rent snow goggles with every combination of the features above, if you have a specific request, it's best to call & reserve by phone.


Usage tips

How to know if your goggles & helmet fit well together

Goggle fit
Image source here

Generally, within a given brand, helmets & goggles are designed to fit well together. If you have a mismatch, maybe our rental goggles can help you align the brands for a good fit, check the What We Carry section for an overview of our brands.

Preventing fog

Suddenly having your lenses fog up can not only be annoying but dangerous. Fogging occurs due to temperature difference, e.g., when warm air around your face hits cold lenses, causing condensation. Modern goggles, especially higher end ones, have a number of technologies to minimize fogging, up to little battery-operated fans (like a car defogger)! But it can & still does happen, so here are a few tricks, all designed to minimize the temperature differences:

  • Don't overheat by over-dressing
  • Don't tuck face protection under the goggles (e.g., facemask or balaclava, or a buff), this can channel your warm breath into the goggles directly
  • Don't take them off frequently which causes lenses to cool down such that when you put them back on there's a temperature difference
  • Don't keep goggles on your head, your head emits warm air, when you take them off your head to put them on your face, that moment of exposure to cold air will be so contrasted with the warm air from your head that goggles may fog
  • Wear goggles before going outside let your body heat warm them up first; by this logic I suppose you could also cool down your face with ice water, but that's less of a good idea!
  • Don't block the air vents clear away accumulated snow, or help vent by lifting them off just a little bit but not completely, while you're outside on a lift (when there's an air draft)
  • Be wary of using cleaners or wiping the lenses since this may affect any anti-fog coatings. Rinse gently with water & air dry. Only if needed, dab very gently with a microfiber cloth

If fog inevitably happens, it's best to go indoors, use hand dryers to dry the condensation, then take a break and allow the goggles to come back to regular temperature.


Maintenance tips

Repairing

Lens issues - some goggles allow lens-swapping; but even for the ones that don't, check with the manufacturer in case they have a way to replace lens

Foam coming off of the frame - we honestly haven't found a way to do this well. Manufacturers generally won't do this, and the DIY glues that people have tried and recommended online seem too variable in success rate for us to mention

Strap parts - if any clasps on the strap or the strap itself is damaged, check with the manufacturer as they may be able to send this to you to replace yourself. It's usually straightforward

We have a general protip on how to store & maintain gear that we highly recommend reviewing as well. If you send us video or a good photo series, we may be able to help you evaluate your repair needs.


The exact numbers (e.g., weights, dimensions, prices, etc.) used were updated as of September 2019 .