Ski Goggle Lens Colours – How To Choose | The Ski Workshop

Choosing the right ski goggle lens colour, based on the weather conditions, can make or break your day in the mountains. Here's our guide

All ski goggles will have a choice of lens types. Getting this right will be the key to seeing the whole mountain plus protecting your eyes for the long run. Going for the darkest of tints will be great for the bluebird days but useless in the cloud, conversely the high vis lenses will let you see all the details but put your eyes at risk from snow burn if the sun appears. The key choices to make are the levels of Visible Light Transmission and the lens colour or tint.

Visible Light Transmission

Visible Light Transmission (VLT) is how much light is transferred through the goggles to your eyes. VLT is often displayed as a percentage or placed within the standard categories from 0 – 4.

The range goes from Cat 0 (80 – 100% of the light), which is rarely needed unless night skiing, through to Cat 4 which only lets in 3 – 8% of light, perfect for days on the glacier but not much else. In the middle and most common is Category 1 (46 – 79%) – great for low light and cloudy conditions, Category 2 (18 – 45%) is another good allrounder for partly sunny or cloudy days and Category 3 (8 – 17%) is most suitable for bright sunny days.

Lens Colour and Technology

The second factor will be the lens colour and contrast enhancing technology that the manufacturer uses. You will see many names for this such as the Smith Chromapop, Spy Happylens, or Oakley Prizm technology. This is the colouring put into the lens that will highlight features and bumps, ultimately enhancing what your eyes and brain can process making it easier to shred the mountain.

Broadly speaking, lenses for sunny days in Cat 3 or 4 tend to come with a darker black tint, Cat 2, the all rounder lens tend to have red or blue tints while the Cat 1 low light lens will often be an orange or rose colour. As well as being condition dependent this choice is also personal depending on your style, what suits your eyes and what rosy colour you want to see or not.

Obviously most people will not get the choice of what conditions they ski in. Even day to day conditions change quickly leading to the impossible task of choosing the right lens in the morning. A solution to this is to have multiple lenses and a quick click or magnetic system for the ability of doing swaps on the lift without too much effort.

The other option is to go for a photochromic lens. This is a lens that adapts its tint or protection as you move between brighter and darker conditions, this is done automatically via a chemical reaction in the lens material. As the cloud breaks up and you head higher up the mountain to score afternoon powder turns you won’t need to think about changing your lens.


Ready to buy? Check out the latest ski goggles at Surfdome

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