Snowblind: The 12 Best Ski and Snowboarding Goggles

The release of a large set of new ski and snowboarding goggles by some of the big names in the downhill business is a reason to celebrate, then snap some up and wait for the mountain snow to fly. There has been a new design style that most companies seem to be adopting, which tends toward making frameless models that offer the ability to switch lenses on the fly. These removable lenses and sleeker designs which eliminate frames often don’t add much of anything to the goggles themselves, but since most of the best goggles now bear both, who are we to fight it?

Getting a set of goggles that will do everything is impossible. Some require a helmet to really shine, others work for daytime downhillers who need more protection for their eyes to prevent losing their sight from the glare. You can choose some that can be beat to hell without scratching while a few brave souls can just buy whatever looks sexy hanging around their neck while they chat up the snow bunnies. Whether you ski or snowboard, we’ve got you covered with the 12 best goggles for hitting the slopes.

Bolle Mojo

Bolle Mojo

Pro: Inexpensive
Con: Venting begins to suffer at high speeds

Bargain Model: Getting into the ski goggles s game for less than a C-note is difficult. Good ones are really good, and bad ones leave you flailing blindly down a hill or picking glass out of your face. Mojo are the ones to buy if you want to keep cost to a bare minimum so you can get those season passes. They don’t try to be anything but solid, with no extra flash, just a whole heap of “they don’t make ’em like they used to” substance. The vintage frame style uses air flow venting on the sides to keep your eyes dry and fight off fog. They also don’t clog easily which has long been one of the hobgoblins of cheaper frames. You’ll find they are best in high light with night missions out of the question unless you only plan on making a single run right into the trees. For weekend warriors who don’t need much more than decent vents and basic protection, you’ll find none better on the cheap. [Purchase: $20]

Giro Focus

Giro Focus

Pro: Fits multiple helmets
Con: Limited ventilation

Helmet Hardware: One of the most common complaints of boarding goggles is that they don’t work well with helmets or require that you must buy a particular brand, which leaves your head exposed for brain damage. Critical concussions are crippling and taking a tree at full speed guarantees that you’ll probably get to see the inside of the morgue. Giro’s Focus works well with all of the best helmets in the business easily and comfortably without inhibiting your range of vision. They aren’t very expensive which makes them perfect as a backup pair for those reckless runs. The ventilation can be a little touchy, so they aren’t for all day wear, just those times when protection is the order of the hour and a brain bucket is needed. [Purchase: $30]

Smith Optics Sentry

Smith Optics Sentry

Pro: Heavy protection
Con: Slightly limited range of vision

Most for the Money: Goggles are probably the most important thing on the mountain besides thermal socks, so scrimping and saving too much can end up costing you dearly in medical bills or needing a first aid kit at the ready. Since Smith specializes in protection as well as improved vision, it’s no surprise that they give you a mid-priced choice that has more than the basics, but none of the nifty tricks of the premium grade ski goggles. Their lenses are mirrored to help stop glare and reduce UV intrusion while the tilt optics give you a better sense of what you are seeing and exactly where it is. You won’t get quite as broad a sense of the hill, but being able to pinpoint location will allow you to thread the needle more effectively. The wide strap and easy adjustment is good for beginners to intermediate skiers and boarders not used to the nuances. Collision protection is excellent and has saved many eyes. [Purchase: $48]

Oakley AirBrake

Oakley AirBrake

Pro: Vents accurately in all weather
Con: Strap needs to be extremely tight

True Twofer: When conditions on the hill change you need to consider both optics and temperature. Shifts in the temp can happen quickly and make a pair snowboard goggles fog up without warning. The AirBrakes have been worked over in rain, snow, and sunshine with the only fogging occurring during user exertion, never as a result of airflow issues. Though these don’t land under the frameless category, the seam between the lenses and the frame is tight as a drum while the side vents clear away moisture. The added ability to grip the frame without fear of smudging your lenses is just icing on a very nice cake. The adjustable strap works for pinheads as well as guys with a fantastic gourd and work with most helmets. You’ll need to keep the strap snug or the extra padding around the eyes lets them slip down your face. The lenses worked in snow and shine. Hard to find fault with much, except the Oakley price tag. [Purchase: $134+]

Dragon AX2

Dragon AX2

Pro: Fleece lining prevents moisture buildup
Con: Some venting issues around lenses

Supreme Style: Dragon has never been just another pretty goggle that can impress in the lodge and then falls apart on the hill, but the AX2 is an improvement even for them. They’ve joined the bandwagon of interchangeable lenses, but just like everything else, they did it with their own flare. The two tabs on the sides of the goggles allow you to unsnap one lens and hot-swap the next into place with a little push. Finding the locks and getting them to click can feel a bit awkward, and you might notice a hint of moisture around the edges in extreme weather, but the smooth fleece lining helps keep that in check. Being able to adapt to changing light conditions in true Dragon style can quickly dispel most misgivings. If you’re one of many who has drifted away from the brand, the AX2 might be enough to bring lens-swapping fans back into the fold. [Purchase: $156+]

Spy Bravo

Spy Bravo

Pro: Extra eye protection from the sun
Con: Lens swap system is so-so

Mood Changer: The Bravo was made with the needs of snowboarders in mind since it is constructed with a medium build that hugs the lines of the face and streamlines the fit. That isn’t to say skiers can’t enjoy it, but the Bravo just feels like a boarder’s goggle. Like many others they offer a dual lens choice, but these are really intended for brighter lights and fighting glare coming off the powder. Part of the reason is they use the Happy Lens system that can be found in Spy’s sunglasses and now have been brought to their range of ski and snowboard goggles. The tint on the goggles shifts to allow beneficial light to pass through while keeping out harmful rays. The intent is to help Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers and raise the mood of anyone on the mountain. Though how you were sad and out on the hill is a mystery to us. The Bravo is a little gimmicky with the lens changing and mood lifting, but still exceptionally high quality. [Purchase: $161]

POC Lobes

POC Lobes

Pro: Fits smaller faces
Con: No interchangeable lenses

Smaller Slip-On: Most of the goggles on the market assume that you have a huge cranium or that you are snapped into a helmet. If you’re looking for something smaller that doesn’t slip and slide, but also isn’t built for a child, the Lobes are your most comfortable choice. The minimalist style is sleek and slick while the visual clarity is so good it’s easy to forget you have them on. The limited strap adjustment won’t work as well for the pumpkinheaded among us, but the petite will enjoy having a good goggle that gives them uncompromising fit and great quality. The lenses darken rather than offering other options, which is simpler than the constant snap-on, snap-off of some other goggles. The unisex body and multiple colors make this a great gift for the skiing or boarding gal in your life. [Purchase: $170]

Electric EG3

Electric EG3

Pro: Holds out moisture
Con: Lens change system is weak

Closed Circuit: These are going to wrap your face up like Thanksgiving leftovers and keep it safe and warm like only an oversized goggle can. The dual sphere polycarbonate lens offers beautiful vertical visibility, while fighting off scratches better than almost anything else you can buy. The over-the-helmet fit is right and tight with improved padding helping to flush out the area around the nose, an issue that plagued the EG2.5. The quick change lenses feel like they fit in place well with a 360 degree seal. The actual changing process isn’t nearly as smooth as some of the quicker multi-lens models, so witching and swapping is vital to your downhill experience, this won’t really help you with that. If size is your thing, or Electric is your brand, these do the company proud. They can feel constricting at first and take a little getting used to since the vent system works strangely. [Purchase: $220]

POC Lid

POC Lid

Pro: Seamless body and frame design
Con: Hard to handle without smudging

Wide Range: Skiers and boarders know that the greatest danger on a tough run isn’t ever going to come from directly in front of you, it is going to come from the side. During those reckless times when you need to go above double black and come back alive, you’ve got to have the ability to see all around you without interference. These are truly frameless and wrap around your head for maximum sight lines both peripherally and vertically. The frame fits into the goggles using a new patented system that weds the polyurethane to the gap foam to really get cuddly with your skull. Inside a silicone grip holds them in place so they won’t move over moguls or jumps. No frame means no place for snow to hide, but also limits where you can grip without smudging. You’ll never find these icing over. [Purchase: $220]

Anon M2

Anon M2

Pro: Increased optical performance
Con: Does not fit everyone

Seeing is Believing: Anon is made by the same people behind Burton snowboards and they’re serious about making gear that works. The M2 made a splash when it debuted and the heat hasn’t really died down. Burton has cut size out of the M2 wherever they dare to give what they’re calling Wall-to-Wall optics. These minimize the frames and limit the amount of padding on the periphery of your vision. You’ll be able to see clearly and easily without reaching for a pair of binoculars. To help further aid in your sight range, they inject their lenses rather than stamping them so that what you see is truly what you get. They’re curved like the human eye to avoid those optical illusions that occur on a snowy hill. On top of their impressive dedication to visual aids, Anon’s M2 is also capable of taking a tree branch without going askew, though hopefully you’ll never find that out. The unusual design makes their fit a bit strange. [Purchase: $240]

Smith I07

Smith I/07

Pro: Excellent ventilation
Con: Annoying headband clip

Hot Swap: Changing lenses to accommodate different lighting conditions creates a whole wealth of problems. Your winter gloves can make the process clumsy or you’re forced to expose your hands and your eyes to a whiteout. Smudges and streaks from your oily hands limit your visibility and your safety when all you want to do is get a rush. The I/07 solves this problem my adding in a brow bar and quick-release dial on the top so you can pop one lens out and snap another in place without fudging your vision. The easy mechanism works smoothly in any conditions, though if you plan on doing it in a blizzard or while wearing gloves, take a little time to practice before you hit the slopes. These also bear the unbeatable quality apparent in the I/OS and the I/OX with additional style. Anti-fog ventilation and no helmet wings make this a winner, though the headband clip is a little obnoxious. [Purchase: $285]

Zeal HD2

Zeal HD2

Pro: Built-in viewfinder
Con: Expensive

Camera Capable: When you want to capture all the downhill action from a true POV perspective, an action camera isn’t always your best choice. Not only are you fumbling around the woods with a tripod strapped to your head, you can easily miss your shot. Though you will pay a pretty penny for the HD2, you’ll also get good set of boarding goggles with an internal camera that tracks where your eyes are. Not only will this save you from losing a great piece of footage, you also won’t end up with nearly as many spills down the hill because you aren’t looking where you’re going. Large, glove-friendly buttons on the side allow for easier operation than the OG HD with a lens that fights fog and works with different lenses to prevent light blindness or gloom from wrecking your film. [Purchase: $499]

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