No matter your experience level or budget, there is a great ski goggle waiting to be found. Interchangeable lenses dominate the high end of the market with systems that are getting quicker and easier by the year. In particular, Anon upped their game with the magnetic system on the M4, although Dragon's Swiftlock isn't far behind. Smith continues to innovate with its ChromaPop lenses, and Oakley and Giro are right in the mix with their Prizm and Vivid designs. And intermediate, beginning, or casual skiers can still pick up a great goggle for $100 or less. Below are the best ski goggles for 2019-2020. For more background, see our goggle comparison table and buying advice below the picks. To complete your kit, check out our articles on the best ski helmets and ski gloves.
 

Best Overall Ski Goggle

1. Smith I/O Mag ChromaPop ($240)

Smith IO Mag ski goggle_0Frame size: Medium 
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Spherical
What we like: ChromaPop is the real deal; sizing and fit are excellent.  
What we don’t: Good but not great quick-change system.

If Smith dominates one area, it’s snow goggles. There are a number of models to choose from at varying price points, but the I/O Mag is our favorite. Released last year as a quick-change variation of the classic I/O, the goggle features superb optics, comes with two lenses, has an extremely comfortable fit, and is one of the best ventilators we’ve tested. Its interchange system is not the fastest to use—it’s outdone by the magnetic Anon M4 below—but the I/O Mag earns its title as the best all-around ski goggle with its excellent ChromaPop lenses.

Popular on Smith’s sunglasses, ChromaPop offers HD-like color quality that translates to the slopes with fantastic clarity in a wide range of conditions (depending on the lens). What really stands out is the lens's ability to highlight small details—bumps, crud, or debris—in low light. For hard chargers or those that hit the slopes without regard to the weather report, this adaptability is a big upside. Made in three different frame sizes, almost everyone fits an I/O Mag: the I/O Mag S is for small faces, the I/O Mag X has the largest fit, and the standard I/O fits a medium-sized face perfectly. A final model to consider is the all-new 4D Mag, which has an innovative lens shape that greatly increases downward visibility.
See the Smith I/O Mag ChromaPop  See the Women's Smith I/O Mag S

 

Best Budget Ski Goggle

2. Giro Blok Goggle ($100)

Giro Blok ski gogglesFrame size: Medium/large
Number of lenses included: 1
Lens shape: Cylindrical
What we like: Good all-around performance and a great value.
What we don’t: Step down in optics from the top pick; one lens included.

Just about everything involved with skiing is expensive—from the equipment to lift tickets—so we love finding a good value. At less than half the price of our top pick, the Giro Blok is just that. This goggle features a medium/large frame with impressive edge-to-edge visibility that minimizes the tunnel effect you find on many cheap designs, and even includes premium touches like triple foam cushioning that’s nearly as plush as the options above and below. The Blok also has a refreshingly classic look with a full frame encompassing the low-profile cylindrical lens.

What are you giving up at the Blok’s budget-friendly price? To start, you only get one lens, which means that you can’t swap between tints based on the weather (extra lenses can be purchased separately, however). And if you do change out the lenses, the process feels old school and can be a pain to get right without leaving fingerprints all over the lens. But the Blok is priced right, has pretty impressive optics, and fits well with a range of helmets—that makes it a winner in our book. If you like the Blok’s look but need a smaller frame size, check out Giro’s Semi goggle.
See the Giro Blok Goggle

 

Best Interchangeable-Lens System

3. Anon M4 Toric MFI ($300)

Anon M4 Toric MFI ski gogglesFrame size: Large
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Toric (cylindrical available)
What we like: The fastest lens change on the market and excellent field of vision. 
What we don’t: Expensive; not everyone needs the quick-change system.

Smith may have pioneered the interchangeable-lens system, but Anon is mastering it. Much like its predecessors, the M2 and M3, the M4’s magnetic lens swapping is best-in-class. It’s as easy as giving a slight twist to the frame to expose the lens and pulling it away from your face. Anon honed things in even further with the latest model thanks to a very sturdy frame that protects the lens and holds it securely in place (ours has survived multiple faceplants without issue). Further, the M4’s versatile construction allows you to swap between cylindrical and toric lenses (additional lenses cost extra) depending on preferences in style and performance. We still give the slight optical edge to ChromaPop due to its more vibrant and natural colors, but Anon has the top quick-change system on the market.

The MFI in the M4’s name is for the included magnetic clip-in facemask, which combines with the goggle to create a blocker system against driving wind and snow without fogging the lens. Our one nitpick with the facemask is that it’s so thin that it lacks a strong structure, so if you’re breathing heavily while hiking, the material can be sucked into your mouth. But all of the other key components are there with the M4 MFI, including triple-layer foam and a variety of lens options to cover you from bright to cloudy. It’s a hearty investment at $300, but we haven’t found fault with the goggle’s ease of use and all-around top-end performance.
See the Anon M4 Toric MFI

 

Best Large-Frame Ski Goggle

4. Oakley Flight Deck Prizm ($170-$210)

Oakley Flight Deck Prizm ski gogglesFrame size: Large
Number of lenses included: 1
Lens shape: Spherical
What we like: Massive field of view, quality optics.
What we don’t: Only comes with one lens, old lens change system.

From an optical perspective, the Oakley Flight Deck Prizm stands out. This rimless goggle has one of the largest fields of view on the market and flat out ridiculous peripheral vision. Compared with the Smith I/O Mag above, you see more of the mountain in all directions—up, down, and side-to-side. Combine this with Oakley’s Prizm technology, which is neck and neck with Smith’s ChromaPop, and this is one impressive ski goggle.

The most notable downside is that the Flight Deck only comes with one lens, which is disappointing considering its price (Flight Deck Prizm lenses start at $75). And should you invest in a second lens, the quick-change isn’t exactly quick by most people’s standards and less intuitive than the I/O (we’ll admit to turning to YouTube for a tutorial). But this doesn’t detract from the awesome visibility and what we consider to be the best overall large-frame goggle on the market. And despite the size, we found that the Flight Deck still fits most helmets well, including top Smith, Giro, and POC helmets that we tried.
See the Oakley Flight Deck Prizm

 

Best of the Rest

5. Smith I/O ChromaPop ($200)

Smith IO GogglesFrame size: Medium 
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Spherical
What we like: Good value for a premium build.  
What we don’t: Simplified I/O line only includes a medium-fit option.

Smith has reduced the legendary I/O line for 2019-2020 to a single frame size, but it remains a standard-bearer in the medium-fit goggle market. No longer made in “S” and “XL” variations, the goggle doesn’t have the versatility of the I/O Mag above, but it is nonetheless a fantastic design. As with the Mag, the clarity of the optics is phenomenal, the triple-layer foam offers all-day comfort, and it ventilates very well on warm days and for short sidecountry hikes. Priced at $200, the I/O undercuts the Mag by $40 and is arguably the better value if you prefer a medium fit. 

The legendary I/O held our top spot for a number of years, but it’s finally starting to show its age. The reduced sizing options certainly hurt its overall appeal, and alternatives like the I/O Mag and Anon’s M4 provide superior field of vision and much faster lens-change systems. For dedicated skiers, these are functional upgrades that are likely worth the added costs. Another Smith goggle to have on your radar is the Skyline series, which offers a frameless look and two sizing options (standard and XL). But we prefer the regular I/O in this case as it includes a second lens for only $30 more.
See the Smith I/O ChromaPop

 

6. Spy Ace Goggle ($130)

Spy Ace ski gogglesFrame size: Medium/large
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Cylindrical
What we like: Retro looks and a good all-around value.
What we don’t: Decent optics but not a standout.  

Retro-inspired cylindrical lens goggles are growing in popularity, and Spy’s Ace is a quality mid-range option. For $70 less than the Smith I/O above, you get a very similar feature set: two lenses included, a triple-layer foam design, and a medium fit. Further, the tall and relatively low-profile shape pairs well with most ski helmets and doesn’t have the tunnel-like feel that you get with the pricier Dragon NFX2 below. All told, we think Spy has hit a nice balance of performance and value that should appeal to a wide range of resort skiers. 

What are the downsides of the Spy Ace goggles? Their proprietary Happy Lens design is a pretty strong performer, but the flat lens shape is not as versatile or sharp in low-light situations compared with the high-end Prizm and ChromaPop options above. Additionally, the goggle’s interchange system can be temperamental and it’s easy to leave fingerprint smudges on the lens while making the swap. But these are easy nitpicks to overlook given the Ace’s competitive $130 price. For a similar design but with spherical lenses, check out Spy’s $140 Marshall goggles.
See the Spy Ace Goggle

 

7. Oakley Airbrake XL Prizm ($240-$280)

Oakley Airbrake ski gogglesFrame size: Large
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Spherical
What we like: Oakley quality and big field of vision.
What we don’t: Pricier than the competition.

Along with the Smith I/O, Oakley’s Airbrake is a long-time favorite. Updated to the larger Airbrake XL, the design trades the wild Stormtrooper look of the original for a more traditional, large spherical lens and low-key frame. As with the Flight Deck above, you get a great selection of Prizm lenses, but the XL comes with a second lens for changing conditions (and a higher price). Through a season of skiing in the Pacific Northwest, we've found the Airbrake is a strong performer in terms of fog resistance and all-day comfort with the soft-touch interior.

Where the Airbrake XL falls a little short is value. For about the same price, the M4 MFI above is similar in comfort and size, and the Anon includes a faster lens-swapping system and detachable facemask. Further, the Smith I/O Mag also has a better interchange system and undercuts it by up to $40 (depending on the lens). But the Airbrake XL fits a large face better, has a moderately wider field of vision, and its Prizm lenses are among the best on the market... Read in-depth review
See the Oakley Airbrake XL Prizm

 

8. POC Retina Clarity ($150)

POC Retina Clarity ski gogglesFrame size: Medium/large
Number of lenses included: 1
Lens shape: Spherical
What we like: Good field of vision.
What we don’t: One lens and average ventilation.

With sharp Zeiss lenses and a classic, framed look, the Retina gives a nod to the past while using thoroughly modern technology. POC has done a nice job with this goggle, which has a sturdy feel and hits a competitive $150 price point. It has excellent field of vision—even edging the Smith I/O at the sides—and we’ve found its triple-layer foam is comparable in comfort to the more expensive goggles above from Smith and Oakley.

Where the POC Retina falls short for performance-oriented skiers or snowboarders is ventilation. With fewer openings around the goggle, not enough air moves through to dissipate fog quickly if you’re hiking or sweating on the downhill. Its other challenge is competition in this price range: the Retina is within arms reach of the $130 Spy Ace, which includes 2 lenses to better adapt to changing conditions. But that’s not to take anything away from the Retina: its strong lineup of Zeiss lenses, variety of frame colors, and good looks are plenty to earn a spot on our list as a mid-range resort option.
See the POC Retina Clarity

 

9. Giro Roam ($60)

Giro Roam ski gogglesFrame size: Medium
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Cylindrical
What we like: Includes two lenses at a great price.
What we don’t: Cheap construction overall.

Giro’s Blok and Axis will get most of the press, but their Roam goggle packs a nice surprise: two lenses for $60. For reference, the next cheapest goggle on this list to include a second lens is the $120 Anon Relapse. If you ski in areas with conditions that demand a second lens or like the flexibility and want to stay within a strict budget, the Roam is as good as it gets.

As expected at this price, the Roam is a lower quality snow goggle. The foam is a simple two-layer design and the optics fall well short of the Zeiss-equipped Giro options above and below. Further, you don’t have as wide of a selection of lens types, although each model comes with one for bright or mixed conditions and a low light back-up. In addition, the change-out process is significantly slower than the more expensive models above, but it’s something that can be done back at the lodge in a couple of minutes. Skiers that get out a lot may want to upgrade to a nicer goggle, but we like that Giro has the Roam in their lineup and hope it’s a sign of things to come in the sub-$100 category.
See the Giro Roam  See the Women's Giro Moxie

 

10. Dragon X2 Goggle ($220-$270)

Dragon X2 ski gogglesFrame size: Large
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Spherical
What we like: Superb interchange system, large fit.
What we don’t: Surprisingly limited field of vision.

Dragon’s X2 is among the most expensive goggles to make our list but absolutely packed with features. In a nice upgrade from the Oakley Flight Deck above, you get two lenses and a hard-sided case—which easily accounts for the difference in cost—and a superior lens changing system. In fact, outside of the magnetic Anon’s above, this is one of our favorite lens interchange designs. Similar to the Oakley Switchlock, it works by pushing a lever on each side of the frame up to release (just be sure to have your hands in front of you when you open the levers or the lens will just pop out). Re-installing the lens is just as easy and can be accomplished without removing the goggles from your face.

Why aren’t the Dragon X2s ranked higher? The large size is similar to the Flight Deck, but the goggle has a surprising amount of tunnel vision. The thick foam and substantial nose cushioning limit the field of view while looking down, even more so than smaller goggles like the Giro Axis. The plastic frame also feels cheaper than the price tag, but the X2’s still are fairly durable with a thin frame protecting the edges of the lenses.
See the Dragon X2 Goggle

 

11. Smith Squad XL ChromaPop ($130)

Smith Squad XL ski gogglesFrame size: Large
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Cylindrical
What we like: Huge visibility and ChromaPop lenses.
What we don’t: Overkill in terms of size for most skiers/snowboarders.

Smith’s Squad was an instant hit, and they’ve expanded the line (literally) with the Squad XL. To start, this is a massive goggle—comparable to the Oakley Flight Deck above in lens height. At the same time, it’s surprisingly low profile because of its budget-friendly cylindrical lens shape and simple feature set. The net result is a massive field of vision and pretty darn good clarity thanks to the two ChromaPop lenses.

Many large goggles work well with a variety of head sizes, but we think the Squad XL’s shape is more limiting. The super tall dimensions and flat profile give it an odd look on medium-size faces (we didn’t, however, have issues fitting the goggle under most helmets). And the build quality also fell short of what we’re used to from the I/O line—there was a noticeable gap between the lens and frame in one corner. That could be chalked up to a one-off issue, however, and the Squad XL does get you two massive lenses at a very good price of $130.
See the Smith Squad XL ChromaPop

 

12. Giro Axis ($180)

Giro Axis ski gogglesFrame size: Medium
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Cylindrical
What we like: Complete feature set at a great price.
What we don’t: Prone to fogging up.

Giro’s Axis takes direct aim at the I/O series. Like the legendary line from Smith, you get a medium fit, two high-quality lenses, plush three-layer foam, and great all-around visibility. The Axis also features Giro’s updated quick-change system, which works as follows: twist the goggle slightly, grab the exposed section of the lens, and pop the four pins out of each corner. Removing the lens and reinstalling it requires a little force, and we don’t love that you have to press directly on the lens to push the pins in place, but it’s certainly faster to swap than the standard I/O. To sweeten the deal, the Axis undercuts the Smith goggle by $20.

Unfortunately, the Axis was a letdown in terms of fog prevention. It’s hard to pinpoint the culprit, but the reinforced vents along the top and bottom of the frame seem to limit airflow more than the open design that you get with the I/O. Further, we found the Zeiss lenses to be a bit duller overall than ChromaPop, although we certainly appreciate the natural colors and feel. All in all, if Giro is able to fix the fogging issues, the Axis would make a big jump up our list.
See the Giro Axis  See the Women's Giro Ella

 

13. Electric Electron Goggle ($350)

Electric Electron ski gogglesFrame size: Large
Number of lenses included: 1
Lens shape: Cylindrical
What we like: Innovative lens allows you to swap between three tints by pushing a button.
What we don’t: Expensive and bulky.

Easily the most interesting new ski goggle tech is electrochromism, which allows you to swap between lens tints with a push of a button. Rather than having to carry a separate lens and swap it out depending on conditions, an electric pulse adjusts the amount of VLT (visible light transmission) nearly instantaneously. Among the current options on the market—Oakley’s much-anticipated Prizm React still isn’t available at time of publishing—we think Electric’s Electron is the leader thanks to its general ease of use and large, comfortable fit. Pressing the substantial button on the right side of the strap quickly and seamlessly changes the Electron’s tint between low light (46% VLT), mixed conditions (31%), and full sun (15%).   

The main downsides of being an early adopter of this technology are price and bulk. Simply put, at $350, you’re paying a pretty penny for a relatively small increase in convenience. In addition, the battery pack along the side of the strap adds a noticeable amount of heft and size (Oakley’s React integrates the battery into the frame, which should help in this regard). Finally, the lens itself lacks the clarity and premium optics of the traditional designs above. For now, it’s best to consider electrochromism as a niche concept, but we fully expect that to change over the next few years.
See the Electric Electron Goggle

 

14. Oakley Fall Line Prizm XM ($190-$200)

Oakley Fall Line XM ski goggleFrame size: Medium
Number of lenses included: 1
Lens shape: Cylindrical
What we like: Toned down size but not quality from the Flight Deck.
What we don’t: The Fall Line’s main competition include two lenses.  

Oakley’s Fall Line XM goggle packs their premium lens technology into a trimmed-down shape. With similar coverage to the Smith I/O and Giro Axis above, the goggle fits easily under most ski helmets but still makes a pretty big statement with its bold frameless style. As expected from Oakley, the goggle is very well-made, and the Prizm lenses are strong all-around performers. The Fall Line XM does buck the quick-change trend and sticks to their somewhat clunky Ridgelock lens-swapping system, but we do appreciate that it provides a very solid seal with no room for wind to sneak through.

We like the XM, and the medium-size fit is a nice way to get a toned-down version of the Flight Deck above, but we still prefer the I/O and Axis at this price point. Most importantly, the Fall Line only comes with a single lens while nearly every other competitor includes two. If you’re an Oakley devotee and like the smaller shape, the Fall Line certainly won’t be a letdown, but we think there are better options out there. And for a similar design but with a larger fit, check out the new Fall Line XL.
See the Oakley Fall Line Prizm XM

 

15. Dragon NFX2 Goggle ($180-$200)

Dragon Alliance NFX2 ski goggleFrame size: Medium
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Cylindrical
What we like: Quick changing lenses at a good price.
What we don’t: Cheaper plastics, inferior optics.

Take the fantastic lens interchange technology of the Dragon X2 above, add it to the mid-level NFX goggles, and you get the NFX2. Just as with the X2, it’s easy to swap between lenses without taking off the goggle, and the NFX2 comes with a handy second lens for use on low visibility days. It all adds up really well on paper.

In testing the NFX2, however, we found ourselves torn. The interchange system is without a doubt a great feature and the fleece backer makes the goggle quite comfortable, but it’s hard to justify the rest of the package at $180. The taller profile and cylindrical lens give it a touch of tunnel vision, which isn’t ideal for hard chargers, and the plastics have a lower quality feel. If the ability to swap lenses is a top priority and you want to keep it under $200, the NFX2 is a good choice. But taking the factors mentioned above into consideration, we’d be inclined to spend the extra cash to get the Dragon X2 or magnetic Anon M3 or M2.
See the Dragon NFX2 Goggle

 

16. Anon Relapse Goggle ($120)

Anon Relapse ski goggles (2017-2018)Frame size: Medium/large 
Number of lenses included: 2
Lens shape: Cylindrical 
What we like: A good goggle with interchangeable lenses at a good price. 
What we don’t: Nothing really stands out. 

When you get to around the $100 price range, most goggles include a modestly-sized, cheaper cylindrical lens. This results in a smaller field of view and some occasional distortion around the edges. Premium ChromaPop, Prizm, or Vivid lenses are great for skiers that tackle the hill at speed or are out in all conditions, but basic cylindrical goggles like the Anon Relapse will do just fine for beginner to intermediate skiers and those on a budget.

Notably, the Relapse has interchangeable lenses with a number of packages to choose from and is over-the-glasses compatible (although fogging can be an issue). If you're not wearing glasses, ventilation is solidly middle of the pack, and you get three-layer foam around the face for comfort. It's not a standout, but we like the simple yet stylish design, bang for your buck, and reasonable size that doesn’t protrude as much as some other brands. Anon also offers the Relapse MFI for an additional $40, which comes with a facemask that attaches to the bottom of the frame for additional protection in nasty weather.
See the Anon Relapse Goggle

 

17. Smith Project Goggle ($60)

Smith Project ski goggleFrame size: Medium
Number of lenses included: 1
Lens shape: Cylindrical
What we like: A great starter goggle.
What we don't: Entry-level optics and durability.

We all don’t need $200 ski goggles, or even $100 ski goggles for that matter, and most of us remember getting started with something cheap. For beginners and those who tend to lose or break goggles faster than they wear out, the Smith Project is a favorite budget option. A flexible urethane frame conforms well to just about any face and the Project is compatible with a range of helmet styles. The dual, ventilated lens will keep fog clear most of the time and is mirrored with a tint that is good for most conditions.

What are the downsides of the Project? If you plan on skiing all day every day, the single-layer foam will wear out faster than the options above, although it’s much softer than the truly entry-level Bolle Mojo below. And the Project isn't as good a value as the Giro Roam above, which comes with two lenses (the Project only includes one). For weekend warriors who need a pair of inexpensive goggles for occasional trips to the mountain, however, the Smith Project is a solid choice.
See the Smith Project Goggle

 

18. Bolle Mojo Goggle ($25)

Bolle Mojo ski gogglesFrame size: Medium/large
Number of lenses included: 1
Lens shape: Cylindrical
What we like: Cheap.
What we don’t: Everything about them is cheap.

Bolle’s Mojo is the kind of cheapo goggle that’s perfect for a first-time skier or to keep in your bag as a backup. We should know—one of our testers hit the ski shop for the Mojo at Washington’s Crystal Mountain after accidentally leaving his regular goggles at home. These goggles are very basic with a thick frame, small field of vision, and dull visibility. They aren’t all that comfortable either, and the straps have to stretch to fit over a bulky helmet.

But we’re talking about a $25 goggle here, and all of those complaints about the Mojo are to be expected. For someone that skis frequently but still is on a tight budget, we recommend springing for the slightly more expensive Smith Project above—they are more comfortable and have a much better lens. If you’re eyeing the Mojo, however, we have one piece of advice: buy them ahead of time to avoid the markup at the resort.
See the Bolle Mojo Goggle

 

Ski Goggle Comparison Table

Goggle Price Size Lenses Shape Style OTG
Smith I/O Mag ChromaPop $240 Medium 2 Spherical Frameless Yes (I/O X)
Giro Blok $100 Medium/large 1 Cylindrical Framed Yes
Anon M4 MFI Toric $300 Large 2 Toric Framed Yes
Oakley Flight Deck Prizm $170-$210 Large 1 Spherical Frameless Yes
Smith I/O ChromaPop $200 Medium 2 Spherical Frameless No
Spy Ace $130 Medium/large 2 Cylindrical Framed No
Oakley Airbrake XL Prizm $240-$280 Large 2 Spherical Framed Yes
POC Retina Clarity $150 Medium/large 1 Cyclindrical Framed No
Giro Roam $60 Medium 2 Cylindrical Framed Yes
Dragon X2 $220-$270 Large 2 Spherical Frameless No
Smith Squad XL ChromaPop $130 Large 2 Cylindrical Framed No
Giro Axis $180 Medium 2 Cylindrical Frameless Yes
Electric Electron $350 Large 1 Cylindrical Framed No
Oakley Fall Line XM $190-$200 Medium 1 Cylindrical Frameless Yes
Dragon NFX2 $180-$200 Medium 2 Cylindrical Framed No
Anon Relapse $120 Medium/large 2 Cylindrical Framed Yes
Smith Project $60 Medium 1 Cylindrical Framed Yes
Bolle Mojo $25 Medium/large 1 Cylindrical Framed No

 

Ski Goggle Buying Advice 

Lens Shapes: Cylindrical, Spherical, and Toric

Cylindrical
Most entry-level ski goggles are cylindrical, meaning they curve across your face horizontally but are flat vertically. This shape is easier and cheaper to manufacture but can result in less peripheral vision, minor distortion at the top and bottom of the lens, and more glare. The primary reason to opt for a cylindrical lens is cost, but some just prefer the look, which avoids the bug-eye style on many modern spherical models. Notably, there has been a shift in the market over the past couple years, with a number of mid-range and premium goggles released with cylindrical lenses. Advances in lens technology (covered below) are decreasing the negative impacts of the cylindrical shape, and many of our top models have this lens type including the Giro Blok. Its large lens is competitive in field of view and clarity with pricier spherical options from Smith and Oakley.

Ski goggles (all)
Our goggle lineup includes a range of cylindrical and spherical lens options

Spherical
Even with the recent shift towards cylindrical designs, many premium goggles are spherical, meaning the lens curves both horizontally and vertically. The curve is intended to mimic the shape of your eyeball to give a natural, superior field of view and optics. In use, we’ve found this to be largely true, although as mentioned above, the differences between lens types aren't as noticeable as they once were. Spherical lenses do give the goggle a taller profile with its bubble-like shape, and while it’s a matter of personal preference, we like the look most of the time when it’s paired with a ski helmet.

Toric
A third shape that is gaining traction is the toric-style lens. This design splits the difference between cylindrical and spherical: it’s curved both vertically and horizontally to mimic the shape of the eye like a spherical lens, but is less pronounced and bulbous looking. The advantage of a toric lens is largely aesthetic, and it will appeal to folks that don’t like the bug-eye look of a spherical lens but still want the rounded shape. From an optical perspective, it’s becoming more and more difficult to parse out the differences, but it should perform similarly to a spherical lens by minimizing distortion at the edges. Top toric-shape goggles for the 2019-2020 season fall on the premium end of the spectrum, including Anon’s M4 MFI and Giro’s Contact.

Ski Goggles (Anon M4 Toric)
Testing the Anon M4 Toric

Optical Quality: ChromaPop, Prizm, Vivid, and More

Advancements in quick-change technology are exciting, but we prioritize optical quality above all else. It’s the reason we rank the Smith I/O ChromaPop towards the top of our list even if it takes a little longer to swap from a low light to bright light lens. Smith’s ChromaPop is that good. It’s the best we’ve used for richness of color and contrast and we're happy to see the lens offerings have increased to include most styles in the Smith lineup.

Ski Goggle (mountain)
Smith's ChromaPop gives HD quality views

ChromaPop surely is not alone in high quality optics. Oakley’s premium competitor is their Prizm lens and it does a great job in making details stand out, although it can look a little more artificial than ChromaPop in certain tints (some are overly pink, for example). Giro turned to Zeiss, a proven camera lens manufacturer for help with their lenses, and we’ve been impressed with the clarity of the Vivid lens line including the Giro Axis. Anon and Dragon keep most of their lens development in-house and offer competitive detailing (Anon does partner with Zeiss for some top-end Sonar lenses), although in general they fall a little short in overall quality. It's important to note these upgraded lenses are most valuable in difficult lighting and aren't a necessary feature, but the difference is noticeable and can be worth the extra investment for the committed skier and snowboarder.

Oakley Prizm (goggle views)
The view out of Oakley's Prizm lens

Mirrored, Polarized, and Photochromic Lenses

Moving beyond families of lenses like Prizm, Vivid, or ChromaPop, there are specific lens technologies designed for harsh or variable conditions. For bright, sunny days, mirrored lenses work really well. The lens has a reflective coating on the outermost layer that softens the glare by allowing less light to enter. You’ll find mirrored lens options across the board designed for use in the brightest conditions. Another lens technology is polarized, which was originally intended for use on the water, but it also reduces eye fatigue on a bright day by blocking strong bursts of horizontal light. The technology doesn’t translate perfectly to snow when you may want to see the glare of an icy patch, and their biggest downside is cost—the Anon M3 Polarized is $290, which is $30 more than a Sonar option.

Ski Goggles (descending)
Mirrored and polarized lenses perform well in bright conditions

The final technology is photochromic lenses, which adjust automatically to lighting conditions based on the intensity of light. This gives them a very wide VLT range (more on that below) and they are great if you don’t want to have to swap lenses. We prefer bringing two lenses, however, which allows us to better match a lens to the conditions, rather than trying to get an all-in-one solution (although continued advances in button-based electrochromic goggles may change that opinion in the future). And it’s pretty clear based on the market that the momentum is behind quick-change systems, although there are some intriguing photochromic options from brands like Zeal Optics.
 

Visible Light Transmission (VLT) and Lens Color

VLT is the amount of light, measured from 0% to 100%, that is allowed to pass through a lens. In the brightest sun, you may want a lens with as little as 10% VLT. For night skiing, a “clear” goggle is around 90% VLT. There is some variation between manufacturers, but lenses generally are 15-40% VLT for bright to normal conditions, and 40-70% VLT for cloudy and snowy days. Other factors matter like polarization and lens color, but these are the general parameters. 

Ski goggles (light vs. dark)
A goggle with high VLT on the left vs. one with low VLT on the right

You’ll often see a product page for a popular snow goggle showing a huge range of lens color options. The choice comes down to 1) VLT; and 2) Your tint preference (i.e., how you want to see the ski world around you). At the low end of the VLT spectrum are blacks, grays, and blues, which are designed to block out the most light and therefore are the darkest. Toward the middle for partly cloudy days are purples, reds, and greens, which, as you can imagine, color how the snow and mountains look significantly. For overcast and gray days, you’ll find lenses that are much clearer than the first two categories and come in very light shades of yellow and blue.
 

Interchangeable Lenses

Nearly every goggle made has the option to change out the lenses, although the difficulty varies by manufacturer. The traditional process involved pulling (and sometimes tearing) the frame away from the old lens and sliding in the new one. Frameless lenses like Smith I/O series have become popular over the last few years, and a big emphasis has been placed on the ease of swapping out a lens.

Dragon Quick Lens Change
Dragon's Swiftlock is a strong competitor to the magnetic systems

The leader in this technology is Anon. They utilize a magnetic system on their M-series goggles, which allows you to pull the lens away from the frame and snap a new lens into place without taking the goggles off your head. It’s amazingly simple (we’ve timed ourselves swapping out the Anon M3's lens in just 5 seconds) and the powerful magnets do a great job of keeping the lenses from falling out in all but the worst crashes. Giro, Dragon, Oakley, and Smith have similar designs, although you’re required to push a button/lever to release the lenses, which we’ve found are slightly less convenient. Our least favorite quick-change designs include the original Smith I/O models. Having to fit the lens into small slats at the nose bridge is a pain and adds time to the process. That being said, we can still get them swapped out in just over a minute.

Interchangeable lenses are fantastic: they give you arguably more flexibility than photochromic lenses as long as you are willing to carry an extra lens in your pack or keep in your locker. Many gear sites sell interchangeable goggles with two lenses: one for sun and the other for cloudier conditions. You can really hone in your lens choices based on your location, and then easily swap out a low-VLT lens for a high-VLT lens or vice versa depending on the day and time of day.

Ski Goggles (Anon interchange system)
Anon's magnetic system is best in class in terms of ease of use

Field of View

With the growth of large-frame goggles came a noticeable jump in field of view (also referred to as “field of vision”). Wide and tall lenses and thin or rimless frame designs don’t impede your view, enhancing peripheral vision and avoiding the tunnel-like feeling that was inherent with older goggles. More visibility makes for a safer day on the mountain, so we’re completely on board with this trend. Premium goggles offer the best fields of view, and a large-size frame like the Oakley Flight Deck Prizm is almost as good as not wearing a goggle at all. For smaller faces, Giro’s Expansion View technology (found on the Giro Axis and others) does a nice job of retaining good visibility with a low-profile design and spherical or cylindrical lenses.
 

Ventilation and Fogging 

If your goggles are all fogged up, it doesn’t really matter what kind of lenses you are using. To start, make sure you choose a double lens. These are much less prone to fogging up than a cheap single lens. Ventilation comes from the sides, top, and bottom of snow goggles, and the more air that moves through, the less fogging will occur. The specific size and shape of the vents is goggle-specific, so make sure to inspect the pair that you are considering. If possible, try it on while wearing your ski helmet to ensure the latter doesn’t block your venting. Other tips to avoid fogging include not overdressing (this will cause your face and head to sweat more) and keeping your goggles on during your ski day. Moving goggles to your forehead will cause the heat and moisture emanating there to fog up.

Ski Goggles (Smith I OS)
We've been impressed with the Smith I/OS's ventilation 

The majority of ski goggles have an anti-fog coating on the inside of the lenses. It’s important to avoid continuously wiping fog off the inside of your goggles as this can eventually degrade the treatment. If you need to wipe them clean, make sure to use the included soft-sided carry case included with your goggles, because that material won’t scratch the lens. Air-drying is the best solution or you can bring an extra pair of goggles in your pack if you need them in a hurry. For those with persistent fogging issues, Smith has the Turbo Fan with small electric fans to help keep you fog free. Most skiers don't need to go to such extreme lengths, but the technology is there for those who want it.  
 

Going Frameless

Frameless or rimless goggles ditch the plastic around the edges of the lens on a traditional goggle, giving them a distinctive, oversized look. The most common argument in support of these designs is their improved field of vision. And a frameless goggle like the Oakley Flight Deck admittedly does have expansive views (at the compromise of a little more vulnerability to damage at the edges). However, the majority of the credit should be given to its large spherical lens and low-profile design. Frameless goggles also can make it easier to remove the lenses, although again, the more important factor is its interchange technology. For example, the difference between the frameless Anon M2 and framed Anon M3 and M4 is basically nil—with the M3 and M4, the extra effort required is a slight twist to expose a corner of the lens from the frame. In the end, the disparities in performance between a framed and non-framed goggle are pretty negligible. Just pick the style you like best. 

Ski goggles (framed vs. frameless)
The frameless Oakley Flight Deck (top) and the framed Anon M3 MFI (bottom)

Foam Padding and Comfort

As with many types of outdoor gear like ski helmets and backpacks, the quality of padding differs significantly on ski goggles and gets markedly better the more you spend. On basic models, the padding is simple single-layer foam that isn’t as comfortable around your face as pricier models and won’t fit as snug. It also will retain more smell and break down quicker. When the price tag gets to the $100 to $200 price range, you’ll find multi-layered foams and flexible plastic frames that are impressively contoured to the shape of the face. If you only plan on skiing a few weekends each year, going with a cheaper ski goggle is a perfectly rational choice. But those who spend a lot of time on the slopes will appreciate the comfort and fit of a higher-end goggle with superior padding.  

Ski goggle foam types
Premium goggles use 3 layers of foam (bottom), which increases comfort and durability over a single-layer design

Fit and Sizing 

Sizing is one of the most important—and sometimes confusing—parts of the goggle buying process. First and foremost, ski goggles come in three general sizes: small, medium, and large. You will find some women’s-specific models in more “feminine” colorways and with a slightly narrower frame, but goggles really are a unisex piece of gear. 

When trying on a goggle, you want the fit to be snug but not tight enough to cause discomfort. Additionally, pay attention to your field of vision. A goggle that is too small will impact your vision side to side and up and down. Common pressure points are the nose and around the eyes, which can be relieved by making adjustments either with the sliding clip or buckle system around back. If the goggle still feels tight after loosening, it’s time to move up in size. As we cover below, trying goggles on with your ski helmet (or at least a similar ski helmet in the store) will give you the most accurate picture of how everything will feel on the mountain.

Ski Goggles (Smith IO Mag Asian Fit)
It's worth taking the time to get a proper fit

OTG (Over the Glasses) Goggles

We have good news for wearers of prescription glasses: there are a number of over the glasses (OTG) goggles on the market. OTG goggles are defined by the large opening between the lens and face to fit a pair of average-sized spectacles. The extra volume also creates enough space for air to flow to keep both your eyeglasses and the goggle lenses free from fog. Smith, Giro, Bolle, and others have models that are specifically designated as OTG (it’s often called out right in their name), but a number of large-framed goggles work just as well. From our list, the Oakley Flight Deck, Anon M4, Giro Blok, and the large Smith I/O Mag X work well with most eyeglasses. If you’re in doubt about how a how a specific model might fit, it’s best to head to your local retailer and try on the goggles over your glasses. Better yet, bring your ski helmet too and test out the whole setup.
 

Helmet Compatibility

Finding a suitable helmet to pair with your ski goggles that doesn’t result in the dreaded gaper gap (a large opening between the goggle and helmet) or worse, doesn’t fit at all, used to be a challenge. Nowadays, most helmets and goggles work pretty well together. That being said, if you aren't able to try the goggles and helmets on before buying, it's safest to stick to a single brand (i.e. purchase both a Giro-brand helmet and goggle).

Oakley goggle and helmet
Wearing Oakley's Airbrake XL goggle and Mod 5 helmet 

One exception is tall, large-framed goggles like the Dragon X2 or Smith Squad XL. Those may require a helmet with an accommodating brim, such as the Giro Range MIPS. Overall, we’ve found that premium helmets are the most compatible with a wide range of goggle sizes, but keep an eye out for features like a baseball hat-like bill that could interfere with the goggles. The large, angled brim on the Bern Watts is one of the worst offenders and limits its compatibility to mostly medium-sized goggles. And if you’re somehow still not wearing a helmet, it’s time to change that: check out our article on the best ski helmets
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