A lot of skiers prefer to wear goggles to sunglasses whether it’s for comfort or for looks. If you have been looking into buying a pair of ski goggles you may have found yourself asking if an expensive one is worth it. After all they seem the same as those which are more affordable.
There are several brands of affordable ski goggles on the market that will perform just as well as the expensive ones. The only real draw for expensive goggles would be specialist features such as helmet compatibility, prescription, and proprietary features like lens technology.
Below, we will not only explore if you need goggles and how much they will roughly cost you but also why they can be so expensive and what are the main features you should be looking for. Read on to learn if expensive ski goggles are worth it or if you can buy a good pair on budget.
Do You Need Ski Goggles?
When sunlight hits snow it can be extremely bright. In fact, it is not uncommon to get affected by a condition known as snow blindness. This is why wearing goggles or sunglasses is strongly recommended while skiing.
Unlike sunglasses, ski goggles have a couple of other positives.
Firstly, goggles are actually far safer than sunglasses. This mostly stems from their design being a lot sturdier and stronger. In falls and crashes, they are far less likely to fall off or break.
As goggles attach to your head using a band, they are usually a better fit than sunglasses. Not to mention the fact that they will prevent things from slipping behind your lens. This means they will also keep secure when zooming down the hill.
Goggles will also sit better when wearing a helmet and you can even buy goggles designed for specific such as some Ruroc and Oakley models (but it wouldn’t be recommended to buy a helmet with goggles permanently screwed on).
Another reason why you should wear goggles is that they are less likely to get foggy either due to your breath or just the temperature in general. This is because they restrict the airflow. Just make sure that when you’re wearing goggles you don’t have your scarf tucked over your goggles as this can cause the opposite to happen as it forces hot air into the goggles.
You Can Wear Your Normal Glasses Underneath
Prescription sunglasses are expensive and if you are not a fan of contact lenses then you are to be going looking at dropping at least $50 over the regular price for a decent pair. With goggles, this doesn’t have to be the case as you can buy over the glasses (or OTG for short) goggles. These are usually no more than non OTG models so you may find them a better buy than sunglasses.
Usually, you should change the color of your lenses depending on the light conditions. On bright sunny days, you get the best performance with a dark-colored/mirrored lens while on cloudy or snowy days you will get better visibility with an amber or yellow tinted lens.
This can be an issue with sunglasses as you will need multiple pairs if you want to swap out if the weather changes. However, many goggles on the market have the ability to quickly change lens. This means that if you start out with a dark lens for bright light and the weather changes impact your visibility, you don’t need to head home.
You can swap out the lenses on your goggles to a more suitable color by simply popping out one and slipping in the other. Often, the lens change systems are magnetic so they are easy to change even with gloves.
How Much Do Ski Goggles Normally Cost?
As a specialist sport, ski equipment, including goggles, can be very expensive. The well-known brands such as Oakley, Anon, and Smith mostly have models starting at $100, with their most expensive models going for over $250.
On the other end of the spectrum, some stores, like Aldi and Decathalon, now sell own-brand basic goggles, with prices starting as low as $40. In European stores, these goggles will normally sit around $20 in these stores
If you are buying unbranded make you sure are getting them from a reputable source as poorly made goggles and lenses can actually end up damaging your eyes. Make sure that the goggles are 100% UVA and UVB as it is more important to protect your eyes than your wallet.
If you are wanting to buy prescription goggles you will be looking at them being around $160-250 if you are looking to buy branded.
Why Are Ski Goggles So Expensive?
Like many things available on the consumer market brand recognition is a big reason why goggles can end up being so expensive. A lot of this is tied to the reliability, reputation, and warranties being a lot better in products from such places.
It is also because the manufacturers know that you are going to use them for a while so the best way for them to increase their base costs for something like the changeable lens models mentioned before and then charge a lower price for a new lens. Often the base can be over $180 but the hot-swappable lenses will more often than not be less than $80.
A lot of ski goggle models also have proprietary technologies which will also increase the price due to the fact that they would need to fund research and development in order to make their products stand out as the best. Later we will look at some of these but examples of lens technology include Oakley’s Prism snow, Anons Perceive, and Smiths Tapered lens technology.
What To Look For In A Pair Of Ski Goggles
There are a lot of sunglasses available on the market each with a plethora of features designed to give you the best experience. Below find nine of the top things you should be looking out for when making your ski goggle choice.
Check The UV Rating
Due to the reflectiveness of snow, you are going to have a lot of light directed into your eyes which is the reason that you need goggles in the first place. This is why it is very important to make sure that your goggles are UVA and UVB-rated. Eye damage is no joke and many unnamed brands simply copy the styles but hold none of the actual benefits.
Make sure that you buy your ski goggles either from a reputable source or get them tested before going hitting the slope.
On the subject of lenses, a really good feature to look out for is polarized lenses. They will reduce the glare from the snow, improve colors, help clarity, and reduce the strain on your eyes. A few known brands have their own extra technology in the lens to help increase the clarity of colors but this isn’t as important as getting a polarized pair.
It is always recommended that you wear a helmet while you are skiing. But they can cause some problems when it comes to buying goggles as they all come in different shapes and sizes. And nobody wants to have a “Jerry gap” on their forehead. If you haven’t bought a helmet yet then you won’t have too much to worry about as it will probably be easier to buy both at the same time.
However, if you already have your helmet, it may be worth trying the compatibility before you risk bringing them on the slopes. Some brands that have specifically shaped helmets are Ruroc and certain Oakley models.
Check The Fit On Your Face
Some ski goggles are huge, so if you have a small face, you are definitely going to want to make sure that they fit nicely to the shape of your face. You don’t need to worry too much about the strap as most of the time this is adjustable anyway, but the main body can be quite stiff so you are going to want to make sure you are comfortable before committing to something you will be wearing all day.
Get Swappable Lenses
As noted before swappable lenses are a big deal when it comes to selecting goggles over glasses, and while they can be more expensive than fixed lenses goggles, the utility more than makes up for the tag. Weather can change in an instant when on a mountain, and it can be really difficult to see using dark lenses when the conditions turn snowy.
Ideally, you are going to want a dark lens for bluebird, a rose lens for snow or cloud, and maybe a clear lens for night skiing to protect your eyes from the wind as you rip down the hill.
Goggles can easily end up scratched if you do not care full as they will sit on the top of your helmet when you’re not wearing them and it can be all too easy to bump into something without realizing you have something sticking out two and a half inches off your head. Fortunately, some brands of ski goggle snow come with an anti-scratch coating.
So, if you are a person that likes to fling it and forget it then you are going to want to look for a pair of goggles with an anti-scratch coating to keep your visibility clear and increase their life of them.
Multiple Lens layers
Most goggles available today will have multiple lens layers to help prevent fog. Ideally, this is something that you are going to want as ski goggles are not exactly easy things to clear due to the effort it will take to remove them.
This tip is only if you wear glasses and don’t want to buy a prescription pair. Make sure that whatever goggles you buy state that they are OTG and try them on while wearing your glasses. It’s worth noting though this combination can be a little uncomfortable as it will sometimes pinch where the frames are at the ears.
With most goods, a long warranty is usually a good thing to look for. There are a couple of brands, such as Sungod, which will cover the usual manufacturer defects along with accidental damage. This is well worth it for a product that is going to cost over $100.
Are Expensive Ski Goggles Really Worth It?
In the current market, no expensive goggles aren’t worth it. There are plenty of affordable options on the market to prevent you from ever needing to pay over $100 on a pair of goggles. However, if there are some features that you are very keen on having or a specific brand that you want to use then go for it.
As long as you treat your goggle right by either keeping them in a case or using a lens protector then barring any unfortunate accidents, they will last you a while. The biggest issues when replacing your goggles will come from the lenses getting damaged and a swappable pair of goggles will reduce the cost of getting a new pair almost instantly as you can just buy a $60 lens to pop in rather than buying a new $200 set.
In conclusion, unless you want some super-specific features you shouldn’t need to spend over $200. In fact, if you just want some basic ones that will be fine too. Just make sure that the UV rating is appropriate. However, if you have the money to spend, we will always recommend getting a pair with swappable lenses due to the versatility no matter the weather and to save you on replacements.