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 our list of the best goggles.
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.
Quick buy: Don’t want to learn about ski goggles but want the best on the market at any price? Check out the Bolle Tsar with Phantom+ Lense. Looking for a goggle with the best venting on the market that you can even wear while climbing uphill and sweating? Grab the Julbo Aerospace.
And if good quality at an affordable price is your top concern, the Blenders Gemini II Snow Goggles are hard to beat.
The Best Ski Goggles of 2021
Best Overall: Bolle Tsar With Phantom+ Lens
While we tested a ton of great goggles, the Bolle Tsar with Phantom+ lenses ($179) stood out in the packed field. I tested this goggle for just a couple of days so far in 2021, 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.
Runner-Up: SHRED Optics Simplify Goggles
If the Bolle Tsar just isn’t your style, check out the SHRED Simplify Goggles ($200). 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.
Best Ski Goggle Field of View: Smith 4D MAG ChromaPop Goggles
With the 4D MAG ($300), 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 and the fact that the bottom of the lens can gather snow.
Best Interchangeable-Lens Goggle: Bolle Nevada Neo
Our tester loved the Bolle Nevada Neo ($200-$260) thanks to its extremely easy-to-use lens-interchange system. The Bolle EyeLatch system uses seven neodymium magnet points to guide and hold the lens in place. This makes it easy to switch lenses with just one hand. Further, you can get the Nevada Neo with Bolle’s exceptional Pantom+ lens. This is the same lens technology as our top choice, the Bolle Tsar. It’s one of the best overall lenses on the market for snow goggles.
The only real downside to the Nevada Neo is the price, as this is one of the most expensive models in the Bolle lineup. With the Phantom+ lens, it pushes close to $300. You can buy it with less expensive, non-photochromatic lenses, but the Phantom+ is so good we’d say it’s worth the splurge if you have the cash.
Read an in-depth review of the interchangeable-lens system here.
Another Great Lens-Interchange System: Sweet Protection Interstellar Goggles
Sweet Protection uses a very smart lens-interchange system in its Interstellar Goggles ($250-$300) 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.
Best Budget Ski Goggles: Blenders Gemini II Nebula Snow Goggles
Blenders is my pick for a solid, affordable goggle. Originally a San Diego surf brand, Blenders launched its first snow line last year at a competitive price point. The magnetic frame on the Gemini II Nebula Snow Goggles ($120) 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 five other flashy colors.
Note: The Gemini II Nebula is discontinued, but we’ve linked to some other Blenders goggles below.
Best Women’s-Specific Goggles: Anon WM3 Women’s Goggles
New for the 2020-2021 season, the Anon WM3 ($216-$230) has a traditional cylindrical lens style with Anon’s PERCEIVE Lens technology, which is the brand’s new technology that increases contrast and provides crisper and clearer optics. (We tried lenses with a 34% VLT, plus a bonus lens with a 6% VLT for brighter days.)
But that’s not all. The goggles have anti-fogging, hydrophobic, and oleophobic coatings. And Anon added high-tech magnetics for its quick interchangeable-lens component, plus its MFI technology along the bottom rim of the goggles.
This allows users to take advantage of Anon’s face mask integration. No more cold noses, gaiters slipping down, or ice in your fleece collar or beard. The magnetic face mask attaches directly to the bottom rim of the goggles for a seamless fit and full coverage. We tried the lightweight MFI face mask, but even the lightest layer made a nice difference in blocking out cold.
We wore this goggle-and-mask combo skiing for a full weekend (in partially sunny then mixed conditions) and love the optics, good venting (vents on the top and sides), and magnet quality (the lenses stay in and the mask stays secure). The goggle is an OK price at $230, but it also comes with a bonus lens to sweeten the deal. The fit is women’s-specific and definitely better for smaller faces.
Note: We did experience a little bit of fogging, but that’s because our tester was following her local resort’s COVID protocol and wearing a two-layer face mask under the gaiter (there are breathing holes in Anon’s face mask, so it won’t help prevent the spread of COVID). When we weren’t doubling up on face masks, the Anon gaiter worked great to prevent fogging.
Best Budget Women’s-Specific Goggles: Smith Drift
These goggles offer a great women’s-specific fit and are unbeatable for the combined quality and price. The Drift goggles ($33-$75) 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.
Great Photochromatic Goggles: Julbo Cyrius Photochromic Goggles
If you’re an expert skier or rider and want a goggle that can stand up to changing weather on the mountain, a photochromic lens is the way to go. The Julbo First Class Cyrius ($154-$230) 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.
Best Goggles for Backcountry Touring: Julbo Aerospace
If you backcountry ski, you have two options for eyewear on the uptrack: a pair of sunglasses or the Julbo Aerospace goggle ($260). 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.
Best for Big Faces: Oakley Airbrake XL
The Oakley Airbrake XL ($135-$230) is a great goggle for big faces with two good-quality lenses. In testing, I really enjoyed the dark Prizm Snow Iridium lens for bright sunlight. I also liked the large fit, which allowed great peripheral vision.
But on the downside, I found Oakley’s Switchlock Technology interchange system fiddly and difficult to operate, even without wearing gloves. So for a high-quality goggle, it would be nice to see the lens interchange work a little more smoothly.
Coming Soon: adidas TERREX SP0039 w/ Toric Lens
For 2021-2022, adidas launches the TERREX SP0039 with its new Toric lens. We got our hands on a pair of pre-production goggles and took them skiing for a couple of days so far this year. The verdict is that the lenses provide great contrast and sharpness while quickly adapting to changing light conditions. The lens, which varies from VLT 70% to 12%, adapts within 40 seconds, according to the brand.
I tested it during a cold, blustery day with variable light at Loveland Ski Resort and was impressed with the lenses and ventilation. I had no problems with fog, and the lenses remained crystal-clear even though I was wearing a COVID-dictated face mask most of the time. I believe that’s due in part to 15 small aerodynamic vents that allow for hot air to flow outside the goggles, keeping the inside dry and preventing moisture buildup and fogging. The model that I tested was great in lower light, but I wished they’d get a little darker during full sun conditions.
While the brand claims the 3D inner foam’s three layers of varying density allow them to adjust to any face shape, I felt that these were a little small and snug for my larger face. We’ll continue testing these this spring and hope to render a verdict before they hit the market, but so far, so good — especially for those with smaller faces. They hit the market at $205 to $250, so they’re a mid-to-high-end option.
Buyer’s Guide: 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.
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.
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!
Many lenses come in categories 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.
But wait, what does “VLT” mean? Some goggles use another measure, called “visible light transmission,” instead of categorization. These goggles denote the percentage of visible light the lenses allow to pass through as their VLT. The higher the number, the more light gets through the lens.
The best lenses for sunny days have a VLT of between about 5% and 20%. For low-light conditions, look for lenses with a VLT of between 60% and 90%.
When evaluating lenses, consider the shape. 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 cross-section of a sphere. They cost more to manufacture and therefore 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.
What Color Lens Is Best for Ski Goggles?
There is no “best” color for ski goggles because different colors work better in different conditions. In low or flat light conditions (like cloudy days and snowstorms), goggles with rose or amber lenses will help increase contrast the best.
For bright, sunny days, most skiers choose a darker lens and may opt for a gray color, although many will still retain a rose or amber tint. Night skiing requires extreme light transmission, so most skiers will choose a nearly clear lens, possibly with a yellow or rose tint.
What Are the Best Ski Goggles for Low Light?
Choose lenses with a high VLT for low light. For low-contrast situations, snow goggles with yellow, amber, or rose lenses will help enhance contrast.
Are Photochromic Ski Goggles Worth It?
For those who want a lens for varied conditions, photochromatic lenses are a great choice. They allow one pair of goggles to meet most needs without having to change lenses.
What Is the Best Lens Shape for Ski Goggles?
Spherical and four-dimensional lenses give skiers the biggest field of view, which equates to better vision to the edges of the goggles. They also give the least distortion compared with cheaper cylindrical lenses. Look for goggles that give you the widest field of view while still fitting your helmet well.
How Long Do Ski Goggles Last?
A good pair of ski goggles can last for several years with proper care. But as with most optics, the biggest risk is scratching the lens. To avoid scratching, only touch the lens with soft, clean microfiber or cotton material, and be careful when brushing off snow with rough gloves or jackets.
One benefit of interchangeable lenses is that you can often buy lenses separately, so you can get replacements if you scratch your lens at a fraction of the cost of a new pair of goggles. Quality frames and foam should last for many days on the mountain!
Have a favorite pair of ski or snow goggles? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll check them out for future updates to the article.