Ski goggles or sunglasses?

Ski goggles or sunglasses - which is better to wear whilst skiing? This is one of those topics people get very passionate about – should your facial furniture of choice be goggles or sunglasses? There are pros and cons to both of course, so here’s the lowdown.

James in his goggles, posing at the bar

  • There’s no doubt that goggles keep half of your face warm. On one of those biting winter days, on an exposed chairlift, you’ll be very glad of the coverage
  • In goggles, there’s no risk of snow blindness from light coming around glasses that don’t fit close enough
  • Goggles stay on better if you are going to be in the park, off-piste or just generally doing lots of falling over
  • Goggles are much cooler – snowboarders and freeskiers stick to goggles all the time! This is probably because they want to look like they are about to go off-piste, or do something really dramatic in the park though
  • Some goggles reduce peripheral vision, but good ones don’t. When you’re trying them on get someone to dance about by your side and check how far you can comfortably see
  • If you wear contacts, goggles let less of those irritating, contact-drying breezes in
  • Sunnies are good for beginner skiers who aren’t going so fast, and might find goggles a bit off-putting, but beginner snowboarders might find themselves walking back to retrieve their kit more often after those impressive ragdolls, so goggles will stay on better
  • Goggles often fit better with a helmet, but if you wear a helmet make sure you check out the comfort of whatever eyewear you use, to avoid all sorts of pressures and pains
  • If you intend to do long lunches on sunny terraces, wear sunglasses or at least take them in your pocket – wearing goggles at the table feels silly and hot

So the reasons seem to stack up in favour of goggles, but the main reason that sunglasses fans stick to sunnies remains – they just don’t like having goggles strapped to their faces. And fair enough. Try out both if you can, and if sunglasses win for you just make sure – whatever you do – that they are very close-fitting and have the highest UV ratings. It’s bright up there, and your eyes are one of the most precious things you’ve got!

Polarised or not?

Polarisation is a terrifyingly technical process, but for our purposes it is essentially a filter over the lens of goggles or sunglasses that inhibits the bright, direct rays that would otherwise cause you to see glare. If your eyewear of choice is polarised you’ll see more definition in the snow ahead of you, and be less likely to be suddenly dazzled by a ray bouncing off a window or mountainside.

Most brands will do polarised or non-polarised options, on their most popular models at least, with the polarised version coming in a bit pricier.


Read more gear advice here...