Goggles or Sunglasses: Which Should Skiers Buy?

Goggles or Sunglasses: Which Should Skiers Buy?
Posted in: Winter Sports
By Richard Delaney - Avid Skiier & Snowboarder
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Goggles or Sunglasses: Which Should Skiers Buy?

Goggles or Sunglasses: Which Should Skiers Buy?


Eye protection is often overlooked in winter sports. Although many correctly realise that the mountains will be cold, they often don’t appreciate that their eyes will feel it too. Somewhat counterintuitively, they also forget that mountains are brilliant white playgrounds, several thousand feet closer to the sun than we live the rest of our lives. The UV rays are stronger up there, and when the sun’s out, it reflects off every inch of snow around you.

Ski eye protection comes in two main flavours – sunglasses and goggles. A skier can enjoy a day on the slopes in either but some conditions lend themselves better to one or the other. To help you understand when you need goggles and when you need shades, ask yourself the following three questions:


When Will You Ski?

The weather you’re likely to encounter on your ski trip is all important. If you’re planning a trip in January, you’re much more likely to experience high winds, overcast days and full whiteouts. In these conditions a high-quality set of goggles is crucial.

Meanwhile, skiing in late March and early April will mean more clear days. Depending on your ambitions on the mountain, you might prefer a pair of stylish shades instead of bulkier goggles.  

As the name suggests, sunglasses are great when the sun is shining. Their darkened lenses block out light, protecting your eyes from strain and eventual damage. Cruising groomers on a warmer, clear day will likely only demand UV protection. Therefore, your sunglasses will perform well enough.

Sunglasses aren’t so good when visibility is poor. When both the sky and slope blend into one mass of white, any available light is very much appreciated. This is when a set of anti-fog goggles with a yellow or clear lens can make the difference between an early après ski hot chocolate and some of the dreamiest fresh powder lines of your life.


Where Will You Ski?

Also related to the weather is the actual location of your ski trip. You’ll encounter wildly different minimum and maximum temperatures at different mountain ranges, as well as varied weather patterns.

Once again, sunglasses are going to favour better weather. Meanwhile, goggles will make even extreme conditions much more tolerable. If you’re skiing in Andorra in late March for example, you might never get your goggles out of your suitcase. On the other hand, if it’s a January trip to Alaska, for the love of god, take some goggles!

Being fitted and strapped to the skier’s face, goggles protect against the cold, or particles of snow in the air, as well as the sun’s UV. Whereas sunglasses provide enough wind protection to enjoy some gingerly fair-weather turns, if it’s cold out and you’re a bit of a speed demon, you’ll certainly wish you brought your goggles along.


What Will You Ski?

Finally, it’s important to consider what it is you want to ski. This can (and should) vary on a day-to-day basis. When you’re getting ready for another day on the slopes, check the weather forecast first. Then, think about what your own plans are. Will you take lunch at the top station bar, descend once, then grab a coffee before taking a late chair for the last run down? If the weather is clear, you might be just fine with sunglasses.

On the other hand, if conditions look dicey or you plan to head off into some fresh powder, you should definitely consider goggles. It’s worth remembering that conditions can change quickly in the mountains and what seemed pretty warm when the sun was out can soon drop well below zero. For this reason, many skiers like to take both sunglasses and goggles with them whatever the current weather looks like.


Which to Buy?

Ultimately, purpose-built ski goggles are going to provide the most all-round comfort on the mountain. With a semi-tinted lens, you can enjoy both perfect and poorer visibility skiing with the same equipment, and you won’t have to contend with any icy blasts of wind to your eyes and surrounding face. If you only have the budget for one or the other, you should definitely opt for quality goggles over sunglasses.

That said, sunglasses do certainly make a ski trip more comfortable. Even during the worst months of the year at resorts renowned for overcast weather, you’ll still get the odd blast of brilliant sunshine.

When you’ve been accustomed to the relative darkness of a perpetual January whiteout, a chance to bust out your stylish shades might make a nice change. For the ultimate piste-side vintage chic, we can’t fault a pair of Pembys by Ryders Eyewear. Available with the firm’s antiFOG lenses, you don’t have to sacrifice any amount of style for performance!


January 17, 2020
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