smith 4d mag review

The Best Ski Goggles of 2020

Looking for the best ski goggles or a pair of snow goggles for snowmobiling, hiking, or exploring winter storms? We’ve got you covered with the best goggles of 2020.

Modern ski goggles are wonders of technology. Unlike years past, there’s no reason to suffer through fogged goggles or obscured vision. And with advanced features like photochromic lenses, contrast-enhancing light filtration, and easy lens interchange, you no longer have to squint or strain to see.

Our team has tested dozens of pairs of goggles over the past two winters to bring you our favorites. We break these down into multiple categories to help you choose the best snow goggles for your needs and budget.

A brief note on testing: While we try to test as many goggles as possible, we’ll invariably miss some. Let us know in the comments about your favorites, and we’ll get them into testing for future updates.

Also, even the best goggles will suck if they don’t fit your face. Be sure to check out the tips on how to buy goggles at the end of this article.

Best Overall: Bolle Tsar With Phantom+ Lens ($180)

bolle tsar phantom+

While we tested a ton of great goggles, the Bolle Tsar with Phantom+ lenses stood out in the packed field. I tested this goggle for just a couple of days so far in 2020, and the clarity and contrast of this photochromatic lens blew my mind.

The gray-pink photochromic lens with a blue mirror finish adapts instantly to changing light. It’s also polarized to reduce glare. In changing light conditions, these lenses impressed me on every run.

Beyond the absolutely stunning 1-3 category lens suitable for a wide range of weather, from sunshine to cloudy storms, the goggle delivers good ventilation, comfort, coverage, and peripheral vision. And as a bonus, it’s fairly priced.

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Runner-Up: SHRED Optics Simplify Goggles ($220)

SHRED Simplify Goggles

If the Bolle Tsar just isn’t your style, check out the SHRED Simplify Goggles. Created by Olympic gold medalist Ted Liggity’s brand, these goggles have some of the best light-enhancing technology we’ve tested.

And in 2 years of testing, the Simplify has held up at a lot of abuse while still looking almost brand new. These are top snow goggles and come in various sizes for a perfect fit.

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Best Ski Goggle Field of View: Smith 4D Mag Chromapop Goggles ($280)

Smith 4d MAG Chromapop Goggles

With the 4D Mag, Smith gives us the best field of view we’ve experienced in a ski goggle. And it does this in a medium-fit design that should work on most faces. The 4D Mag puts a fourth dimension on its spherical lens, with a bend at the bottom that allows a better downward view.

Couple that with exceptional optics, an easy magnetic lens-change system, and a comfortable fit, and this goggle is a winner. The only downsides are price ($280) and the fact that the bottom of the lens can gather snow in odd circumstances.

Read our full Smith 4D Mag review here.

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Best Lens-Interchange System: Sweet Protection Interstellar Goggles ($160 on Sale)

Sweet Protection Interstellar goggles

Sweet Protection uses a very smart lens-interchange system in its Interstellar Goggles that allows you to swap lenses while only touching their edges. This keeps fingerprints off the goggles and reduces the chance of scratching the lens.

Simply flip open two levers hidden under the goggle strap arms and grab the exposed edge of the lens. It pops off easily thanks to the magnetic connection. Beyond this, the Interstellar goggles with RIG lenses have excellent clarity and contrast while protecting eyes from impact and UV light.

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Best Budget Ski Goggles: Blenders Gemini II Snow Goggles ($95)

Blenders Snow Goggles

Blenders is my pick for a solid, affordable goggle. Originally a San Diego surf brand, Blenders launched its first snow line this year at a competitive price point of $95. The magnetic frame makes switching between low-light and regular lenses a breeze.

They did well in most mountain conditions, although their contrast isn’t as high as some of their higher-priced competitors. Their style game is also on point — we tested the classic Smoke Black Gemini II, but these budget-friendly goggles come in seven other flashy colors.

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Best Budget Women’s-Specific Goggles: Smith Drift ($75)

smith drift

These goggles offer a great women’s-specific fit and are unbeatable for the combined quality and price. The Drift goggles have cylindrical lenses with lots of venting, an anti-fog coating, and 100% UV protection. These goggles gave us great visibility in almost all conditions during testing.

You can get a choice of CR36 or Ignitor Mirror lenses in the frame; we prefer the latter tint on this goggle. Bottom line: These goggles are comfortable on the face, and they perform well all day. They’re also a great choice if you’re looking for a budget-friendly pair.

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Great Photochromatic Goggles: Julbo Cyrius Photochromatic Goggles ($176 on Sale)

Julbo Cyrius

If you’re an expert skier or rider and want a goggle that can stand up to changing weather on the mountains, a photochromic lens is the way to go. The Julbo First Class Cyrius has a red-based color tint with 17-75% light transmission depending on conditions.

We found the goggles work especially nicely in cloudy, low-visibility conditions. These are bigger goggles, so they’re better suited to those with a fairly large face. One of our editors had issues with them being too large to work well with her helmet, but she still loved the goggles’ performance on the slopes.

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Best Goggles for Backcountry Touring: Julbo Aerospace ($210 on Sale)

Julbo Aerospace Backcountry Goggles

If you backcountry ski, you have two options for eyewear on the uptrack: a pair of sunglasses or the Julbo Aerospace goggle. While almost all goggles will get foggy while you move slowly and sweat on the uphill, the Aerospace allows users to pull the frame away from the lens. This gives a large space for venting all the way around the lens.

It works great, as do the Aerospace’s photochromic and anti-glare lens (category 2 to 3) for all-mountain riders. We’ve tested the Snow Tiger model for 2 years and have loved them.

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How to Choose Ski Goggles

With so many goggles on the market, how’s a skier, rider, or sledder to choose? Hold on tight as we run through a few key elements of snow goggle selection.

Fit

This should be a top consideration for ski goggles. If you wear a helmet, definitely try on the goggles with your helmet on. You don’t want a significant gap between the helmet and goggles, or you’ll get cold air blasting your forehead. The helmet should form a close fit with the goggles all the way across the face with no gaps.

Also, make sure the goggles fit your face well and aren’t too big or small for comfort. It’s really best to try on a few models to make sure you’re happy with the fit, both to your face and your helmet.

Finally, ensure the strap is long enough to fit around your helmet and face without too much pressure.

Lens

The lens is the most critical piece of your goggles. They protect your eyes from harsh sun, stinging wind, and flying objects. I once planted a pole into a tree and then skied into the other end of my pole right between the eyes. My Julbo Aerospace goggles (above) protected my head and eyes. It hurt, nearly knocking me out, but it would have been a lot worse without them!

Lenses come in category 1-4, with 1 being nearly clear for very low light and 4 being super dark for very bright sunshine. Most goggles fall in the 2-3 category, with many photochromatic models offering a range from 1 to 3. Very few models come in 4, which is intended for only the brightest snow conditions.

Shape

When evaluating lenses, consider the shape type. Most are cylindrical or spherical.

Cylindrical lenses curve in a flat plane across your face. This means the lens is flat in the vertical plane. These lenses work well but offer less field of view than most spherical lenses and tend to have slightly more glare. They’re usually the less expensive choice.

Spherical lenses have three dimensions of curve and look a bit like a piece of a sphere. They cost more to manufacture, so will have a higher price on the shelves. But for the money, you get a better field of view, less glare, and less distortion.

Finally, you get to choose the color of your lens. Most goggles will have lens colors appropriate for their category, with lighter lenses colored yellow or rose, and darker lenses angling toward brown, gray, or copper. Try a few on and see what you like, and try to look into daylight when evaluating the color.

Venting & Features

Many modern goggles have interchangeable lenses, which allow you to switch lenses depending on light conditions. Consider if a brand sells replacement lenses, which could be a cheap way to replace goggles that get scratched (which they all do eventually). Also, consider if the goggles come with a second or third set of lenses for varying light conditions.

All goggles have some type of venting, and most work pretty well. Consider the foam over vents and if it will ice up or hold moisture on a powder day, as that’s a likely way to get fogged goggles. Higher-priced goggles tend to have better foam around the face and over vents.


Have a favorite ski or snow goggle we missed? Let us know in the comments for future updates to the article.


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Sean McCoy
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Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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