Do You Need Goggles to Ski or Snowboard?

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If you’re a newbie to skiing, then it’s normal to have a lot of questions. One of the biggest ones is “Do I need goggles to ski?” or “Do I need goggles for snowboarding?”  While you may see skiers wearing sunglasses or not anything on their face at all, it’s not recommended to go this route.

It’s not a requirement, but we highly recommend wearing them to maximize performance and to keep you safe. Not to mention, they look pretty cool! Let’s take a look at all the reasons why wearing ski goggles is, for many, an absolute necessity.

1. UV Protection

Yes, even if you’re not out on the beach or even in a season where we’d want to suntan, you can still get UV damage by skiing or snowboarding. In fact, did you know that UV rays can reflect off the snow and cause even worse damage than if you were to just go out walking on a hot summer day? High altitudes put you at a greater risk of light exposure, too.

Ski goggles help protect against this, as our faces are usually the only exposed parts of our bodies while on the mountain. They offer 100% protection against these rays, and as UV light can cause both short and long-term eye damage, you should take it seriously. Snow blindness is a real thing, and although it doesn’t happen in every case, it occurs when UV light burns the cornea!

There are many skiers who think wearing sunglasses will get the job done. While they’ll undoubtedly help, they’re typically not sealed around the edges which lets light in. Not only that, but they have a significantly smaller frame which doesn’t allow for much skin protection.

In contrast, goggles, a ski helmet, and a pull-up neck warmer, neck gaiter or mask will protect your entire face. If you want to forgo the helmet and/or neck warmer, make sure you are regularly and correctly applying sunscreen – even on overcast days.

2. Reduce Glare

Glare is a very real threat when we’re dealing with sunlight and snow. When you’re barreling down that run, you have to be able to see clearly to navigate potential hazards. Ski goggles help make glare obsolete, so you have great visibility the entire time.

For best results, we recommend using goggles that have a dark lens tint, or advanced filters like photochromic and polarized lenses. These are perfect for reflecting light and will ensure you don’t have to squint, making for a more comfortable experience.

3. Improve Contrast

Without goggles, it can be very difficult to see the details on your runs, like dips or bumps. It’s important to be able to see these so you can navigate around them or adjust accordingly to overtake them.

Ski goggles improve the contrast so you can see these ahead of time, making shadows and objects clearer. Different tint colors all help with different things, so let’s take a look at each:

  • General weather conditions: Orange, yellow, and bronze tints are the best-suited in most cases.
  • Overcast or Cloudy: If your ski resort generally experiences cloudy conditions, you may want to select rose or brown tints.
  • Sunny: If the sun is bright and there aren’t many clouds to speak of, try to get goggles with grey tints.

Tip: Blue tints not only look cool but are generally an excellent option for both dark and sunny conditions.

If you’re unsure of the type of weather conditions, then we recommend you either go with a blue, orange, yellow, or bronze tint.

sunglasses vs goggles for skiing

4. Protection from the Cold

This may be the most obvious one. If you’re never experienced your face or eyes in absolutely frigid conditions, we don’t recommend it! Speeding down the mountainside in freezing temperatures does not feel pleasant, if you didn’t already figure that one out.

Sunglasses are not going to protect you much, if at all, from the cold and wind whipping on your face. If you ski without adequate eye protection, ice can also form on your eyelashes which is not only uncomfortable but also reduces visibility.

Ski goggles, especially when worn with a helmet, protect a larger surface area, covering the entirety of your eyes and a good portion of your face. The materials and way they’re designed offer excellent insulation against extreme conditions, while still including vents to prevent them from fogging up. As the goggles offer a gap between your skin and the material, you won’t feel uncomfortable or too hot.

5. Keep You Safe

Safety is our top priority, and goggles help with that. It’s almost guaranteed that you’re going to crash at least once during an entire day on the mountain. This can cause not only snow and ice to go flying everywhere, but depending on the conditions, rocks, dirt, or even your poles or skis.

This can smack you in the face and cause cuts or even eye damage! While ski goggles may not protect you from everything (depending on the speed you’re traveling and the severity of the crash) they still offer much more protection than wearing sunglasses or nothing at all.

The foam padding that lines the perimeter of the goggles offer cushioning which helps protect your face during impacts.

6. Better Fit

This is another one of the biggest differences between sunglasses and ski goggles. You simply will never get the same kind of custom fit with sunglasses as you will with goggles. The latter has complete, all-around protection and a strap which is stretchy enough to stay in place while remaining comfortable on your head. The clip at the back further helps to secure the strap so they won’t come off, even if you crash with them on.

Preventing Your Goggles From Fogging

Why Does Fogging Occur?

Before we can treat the issue, we first have to address why it happens in the first place to help you prevent it!

Fog is created due to the warm, moist environment inside your goggles when you’re wearing them. The drastic temperature difference between your face and the cold lens surface of your goggles causes condensation to form on said lenses. It’s almost like a mini rainstorm occurring on your goggles’ lenses!

As our head produces the most heat in our body, it makes sense that it sweats a lot too. Logically then, we should try to reduce the moisture inside the goggles and keep the temperature inside similar to that outside.

If you’ve tried anti-fog sprays and substances then you’ll know that most can absorb some moisture, but not usually all of it. While we can’t have complete control over things like our body heat or how cold it is on the slopes, but we can influence some factors.

Your Actions

First, let’s discuss some actions you can take to minimize fogginess.

Stay in Motion

That shouldn’t be too hard to do, right? Well, some of us tend to take more breaks than others. While most modern models will come with some type of ventilation or powered fan systems, the most effective way to keep air from being stagnant is by you doing the movement.

For example, you may see that they fog up on the way up the lift, but once you begin heading down the slope at a nice speed, you’ll notice it clears up significantly. Of course, we don’t recommend you go bombing down a run with your goggles fogged up, so try to clear as much as you can before.

Let Air in On the Ski Lift

As you know, you aren’t getting a lot of speed on the lifts which we just said helps keep fog away. Instead, simply try lifting up off your face for a few seconds to let them air out a bit. You can also remove them and keep them in your ski jacket if you prefer, depending on the temperatures and weather conditions. Just make sure you’re not letting any snow or moisture get in the goggle vents.

Check Vents for Moisture

That takes us to our next point. If it’s snowing heavily or you’ve just taken a tumble, the goggle vents may have snow stuck in them. This understandably causes greater moisture levels inside your lenses, which will undoubtedly create a nice layer of fog and block your vision.

Instead of trying to wipe it out yourself, opt to tap the goggles against something so it falls out on its own. Wiping it out can sometimes cause the moisture to go even further into the vents. If you really have to wipe the fog off your lenses, avoid doing so with your glove. This could possibly scratch your lenses or ruin the anti-fog layer over time.

Try Using a Ski Helmet with a Visor

We recommend wearing ski helmets anyway, as your head is most susceptible to serious injury and they’re an easy way to prevent that. However, if your helmet also comes with a nicely fitted visor, you’ll notice moisture makes much less contact with the top of your goggles. Just make sure you have a little space between it and the top of your goggles so you aren’t blocking the vents.

Always Dry Your Goggles

Once you’re finished for the day, you may simply set your goggles down and let them air dry, or even use a hair dryer. We greatly recommend against the hair dryer and placing them near heating vents, as they can risk melting.

However, leaving them to naturally dry isn’t an issue aside from the fact that you probably don’t just have time to wait around until they’re no longer wet. Pay special attention to the foam padding around the perimeter as these can take a lot longer to dry.

If you have room in your pack, then we recommend bringing an extra, cheap pair along. Don’t worry – there are actually quite a few really solid options for less than 30 bucks!

Don’t Tuck Goggles

On particularly windy or frigid days, you may feel like taking your neck gaiter and tucking it into your goggles to completely block your face from the elements. While this may sound good in theory, it’s basically like breathing into your goggles. As our breath is both much hotter than the goggles and includes moisture droplets, you’re going to easily fog up your mask.

Never Place Goggles on Your Head

This is all so common that we oftentimes don’t even think about not doing it. Putting goggles on your forehead or letting them hang around your neck is a bad idea. By doing so, you’ll be trapping heat and moisture from your skin which will obviously improve the likelihood of fog forming on the goggle’s lenses.


There are also products you can buy to help minimize goggle fog.

Anti-Fog Goggles

This is kind of an obvious one. These are less susceptible to fogging up, thanks to the anti-fog coatings that are applied to the lenses. This liquid helps absorb the majority of moisture and heat, but also feature double-pane lens constructions to put distance between them. This distance helps minimize temperature changes to then lower the amount of condensation formed.

Moreover, the best models come with adequate ventilation to produce sufficient airflow and further lower temperature changes while still letting excess moisture out. As we mentioned up above, some even come with fans to increase performance in this regard.

Anti-Fog Products

Yes, you can purchase an anti-fog spray and use it on the inside of the lens. Typically, you’ll see that one of the main active ingredients in these sprays is alcohol or a type of detergent which helps absorb wetness. Microfiber lens cloths are never a bad idea as they won’t scratch the lens nor ruin the anti-fog coating but will still effectively remove condensation.


Now that you know just about all the benefits that come with wearing ski goggles, which ones will you be wearing next ski season? No matter what you get, just make sure it comes from a reputable brand. Smith, Oakley, and Spy are some of the biggest and most notable, though if you go to a ski shop, they should all be great selections. We hope that our guide has helped you a bit more in this regard. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you again soon. Have fun in the snow!

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Shayanne Weeks

Shayanne is a freelance writer and marketer based in LA, California. Describing herself as a nomad, she has lived in Boise, Idaho and Seattle, Washington as well as Guadalajara, Mexico. As an extremely active person, she loves to snowboard, skateboard, and ski. She enjoys sharing her love for active sports with others through her “how to” sports guides and sports equipment reviews. Shyanne is addicted to the adrenaline rush she experiences during her outdoor pursuits, from ziplining in Mexico to snowboarding in Idaho.

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