Cross country skiing involves a lot of specialist equipment, such as snowsuits, skis, and helmets, to name but a few. However, an equally important piece of equipment are sunglasses/goggles.
The reason eye protection is so important isn’t just due to the impact UV rays have on our sensitive eye area, but also because of the need to protect the eyes from extreme weather, and/or possible debris thrown up from the snow.
What to Look For
The type of lenses in either your sunglasses or goggles play a large role in how effective they are in varying environments.
As a result, it’s important to consider whereabouts you will be skiing, in addition to the type of weather you will be experiencing. This is because while one type of lens is suited to bright sunshine, another will be better for darker conditions.
In sunglasses, polarised lenses are always a wise choice, as they help reduce UV glare considerably. However, if you’re in a darker environment, they will prove less useful. This is why the photochromic lenses of goggles are sometimes the better option, as they adjust to the brightness of any environment.
Steaming up, fogging, mist — these are all ways to describe the dreaded issue of condensation on your lenses.
Anyone who is a glasses wearer will know the pain of this well, however, this pain doubles when it comes to skiing lenses. Arguably, this is due to how vital it is to see clearly while skiing. Therefore, you need to keep condensation to a minimum.
The best way to do this is get double glazed, high quality goggles, designed to withstand more challenging conditions. A cheaper pair might be gentle on your wallet, but they’ll cause more issues in the long term.
Double glazed lenses work by trapping air between the lenses, thus preventing the moisture from fogging up your goggles, sunglasses; the double layer provides insulation that single glazed lenses don’t offer.
This is likely the most obvious reason for eye protection: UV is highly damaging to our eyes, with the long term effects causing medical issues such as cataracts later in life.
By wearing sunglasses or goggles, you reduce the amount of UV you’re exposed to, which is especially important when you’re out on the slopes all day.
Furthermore, by having UV protection against the sun, you can reduce the need to squint, which can trigger additional issues like headaches, eye strain, etc, all of which you want to avoid while skiing.
Even with the best will in the world, not to mention skill, accidents can happen when skiing. As a result, having eye protection that can withstand a knock or two is incredibly vital for your safety.
Impact resistance simply refers to the sturdiness of the equipment and how likely it is to shatter/break. Should you be involved in an accident, you want to know that your eyewear won’t smash and cut your face and/or potentially blind you.
Both sunglasses and goggles come with varying degrees of impact resistance, although typically goggles are better known for their durability.
Although most would comment that safety is far more important than comfort, how comfortable a piece of equipment is plays a part in your overall experience. If you’re uncomfortable throughout your workout, you’ll likely perform poorly and become more easily irritated.
Factors that contribute to comfort levels are the fit of the eyewear, its breathability, and how ventilated they are in moist, soggy conditions.
Best Five Goggles For Nordic Skiing
1. ZIONOR Lagopus Ski Snowboard Goggles UV Protection Anti Fog Snow Goggles for Men Women Youth
Although we mentioned that more expensive choices tend to be the better option, these goggles are an exception to the rule, with the affordable brand delivering all the hallmarks of more expensive competitors, but without the hefty price tag.
These goggles come with the luxury of anti-fog technology, thus ensuring that your visibility isn’t hindered while you’re skiing. Arguably however, it’s the lens swap option that puts these goggles above the rest; skiers can swap out lenses depending on the brightness/weather, thus ensuring you get the right lens choice every time.
The only cons of these goggles is that their anti-fog technology doesn’t always prevent misting, which does mean that you’ll need to apply some helpful hacks while on the slopes.
What is more, for glasses wearers, the goggles will only comfortably fit over the top of small to medium sized frames, meaning that if you have a particularly wide pair of glasses, you’ll need to choose a different brand.
- Anti-fog technology
- Magnetic lens swap
- UV protection
- Adjustable straps for helmet compatibility
- Unisex fit/style
- Anti-fog doesn’t always work
- Only fits over certain sizes of glasses
2. OutdoorMaster OTG Ski Goggles
Despite a lot of brands offering adaptable designs, this is one pair of goggles created with glasses wearers in mind, and thus they are widely praised. Connected to this is the lightness of the goggles, meaning that while you have further eyewear over the top of your glasses, they’re not uncomfortable to wear.
As with many other brands, these lenses offer 100% UV protection, as well as coming with dual layer lenses. What this means is that they’re better at resisting condensation and the dreaded fogging up.
Naturally however, there are some cons to these goggles, such as sizing issues. The OutdoorMaster OTG have been remarked on as being better suited to smaller head sizes, and so might not be suitable for both adults and teenagers (as advertised).
- UV protection
- Specially designed to fit over glasses
- Dual lens technology
- Streamlined design
- Doesn’t fit larger head sizes
3. COOLOO Ski Goggles
Moving onto our next option, we have the COOLOO Ski Goggles, typically sold as a two pack. Immediately, one of the first positives is the value for money you’re getting. You receive two decent quality goggles, designed to be long lasting, even in harsh elements.
Moreover, these ski goggles have been created with comfort in mind and sport a cushioned frame and impact resistance lens. Despite being one of the cheaper options, they’re often credited for how comfortable they are when compared with other brands.
Unfortunately however, there are some downsides to these goggles, chiefly that they’re not as high quality as other options. In this instance, you are getting what you pay for. Although they’re comfortable, the fit of them isn’t as snug and protective as other goggles, which points to poorer materials being used.
What is more, while the lenses are said to be suited to bright situations, many customers have complained of the awful glare the lens creates if in sunny conditions. Even on the uncoloured lenses, the clarity is said to be distorted a little, creating a wavy effect that can cause eye fatigue.
Lastly, the sizing isn’t suited to adults. Granted, some adults will be able to wear them comfortably, but for the most part, the sizing of the goggles is better suited to youths and those with smaller head sizes.
- Value for money
- Two pack with two different lens options
- Small fit
- Glare issues with both lenses
- Fit is loose
- Lower quality materials used
4. SMITH Optics Squad MTB Off Road Goggles
What makes this most surprising, is that these goggles haven’t been designed with just snowboarding/skiing in mind — dirt bikers can wear them too. Due to this adaptability, it’s easy to assume they’ll be a cheap and cheerful option, but not a reliable one. This however, doesn’t seem to be the case.
The lenses have been treated with anti-fog technology and hydrophobic coating, meaning that they’re resistant to mist and wet conditions. Furthermore, there’s a sweat guard around the lenses, thus providing better protection when skiing in hotter weather conditions.
The fit of these goggles is said to be responsive, meaning that they provide a snug enough fit, however, it is stated that they’re better suited to medium sized heads. Therefore, thus with smaller or larger sizes may need to invest in goggles from elsewhere.
- Anti-fog lenses
- Hydrophobic coating
- Clear and coloured lens options
- Sweat guard
- Misleading sizing info: one size doesn’t fit all
- Seal from frames doesn’t always ventilate debris, e.g. dust
- Expensive compared other brands
5. OutdoorMaster Ski Goggles PRO
As the name suggests, these are a more professionally designed pair of goggles, meant to give you the best protection and fit. For the most part, they deliver what they promise, although it’s important to mention that they’re not too dissimilar from the OTG pair.
The most notable difference between the two is that these goggles are frameless, meaning you can see a more unhindered visual of the slopes as you ski. Nevertheless, while a sleek design feature, this does mean that heavy impacts can cause damage more easily due to the lack of frame.
Sporting polycarbonate lenses, you can be assured that clarity won’t be an issue for you, as these goggles are durable and come with a swappable lens feature. What this means is that you can change the lenses to suit the time of day, weather conditions, etc.
In addition to this, these PRO goggles are made to fit both adults and teenagers, with the additional benefit of longer strapping, thus ensuring better helmet adaptability and fit.
- Sleek design
- Anti-fog technology
- Changeable lenses
- UV protection
- Helmet compatibility
- Less impact resistant
- Doesn’t fit all head sizes
- Not a comfortable over the glasses fit
Best Five Sunglasses For Nordic Skiing
1. Julbo Vermont Classic Mountain Sunglasses w/Spectron Lens
If goggles aren’t your thing and you prefer sunglasses, this Julbo offering is a hard one to beat, and not only because of its striking design. Sporting a retro frame made of metal, these are a steampunk looking pair of glasses designed with glacial activities in mind.
You can purchase them with either a non-polarised lens or four swappable lenses, which include some polarised options. Regardless of which you prefer, you receive 100% UV protection. In addition to this, the lenses are shock resistant to give better peace of mind.
A bonus of these sunglasses is that they come with a removable leather nose bridge over, as well as leather shielding on either side of the frames. Not only does this provide better comfort, but it also offers additional eye protection, both from UV and also debris.
Sadly however, these are quite an expensive pair of sunglasses to purchase. Furthermore, they aren’t specially designed with skiing in mind, and so caution is advised
- Unique design
- Leather shielding
- UV protection
- Swappable lenses
- Shock resistant
- Not specifically made for skiing
- Prone to fogging up
2. Oakley Men’s Radar Shield Sunglasses
Striking is one of the most apt descriptions of these sunglasses; the Oakley Men’s Radar Shield Sunglasses are vivid, angular, and ultimately an acquired taste. Nevertheless, they’re one of the best options for skiing eyewear.
The extended lenses, which wrap around the eye area, provide greater coverage and protection. What is more, the lenses filter out both UV and blue light, which makes them adaptable to numerous weather conditions.
Lenses can be changed, although typically they need to be bought separately. Nonetheless, being able to swap them ensures you only need one pair of glasses for most conditions you’ll encounter.
What is more, the fit is a secure and snug one, with the frame fitted to the contours of the face. That being said, as the name of these sunglasses suggests, these shades are designed with men in mind. Therefore, they might not be suitable for women.
The frame is a lightweight, moulded option, which should provide comfort all day long. This comfort factor is enhanced by the padding on the nose bridge and the provision of earsocks.
- Lightweight design
- Swappable lenses
- UV and blue light protection
- Nose and ear padding
- Designed for men
- Less fitted than goggles
- Additional lenses sold separately
3. Smith Parallel Max 2 Carbonic Polarized Sunglasses
Although they look like they leave a lot to be desired, these lightweight glasses are a good option for those who are outdoors all the time, especially in hot weather. The lenses are polarised, secured into a TR90 frame, thus ensuring protection and durability.
What is more, they come with ignitor lenses, which enhance your depth perception when in low lighting environments, which means they are adaptable and suitable to multiple weather conditions.
To ensure comfort at all times, the nose bridge has hydrophilic padding, while the temple areas of the frame use Megol technology to provide a snug, non-slip fit. Nevertheless, while nicely fitted to the shape of your face, they don’t provide the same kind of seal that goggles do. What is more, the lenses aren’t anti-fog, and so condensation will be a problem.
- Sleek, streamlined design
- UV protection
- Ignitor lenses
- No anti-fog
- Not specifically designed for skiing
4. Julbo Explorer2 Sunglasses
Instead of a metal frame, these glasses are made with a plastic frame, thus providing greater, more softer comfort. What is more, within these frames you have large, polarised lenses, ideal for providing enhanced visibility.
The lenses also use reactive light technology to adapt to the lighting of your environment. However, please note the lenses only transition between category 2 and 4, thus meaning they’re not suited to all weather/lighting conditions.
Another downside is the expense of them — these sunglasses are over $200, and so they’re quite the costly investment when compared with both other sunglasses, and also goggles available.
What is more, some customers have complained about a less than desirable fit, which can be problematic when skiing; anything that can limit or change vision for the worse should be avoided.
- Transition/reactive lenses
- Plastic frame
- Large lenses
- Poor fitting
- No nose padding
- No mention of anti-fog technology in specs
5. TOREGE Polarized Sports Sunglasses
For a cheap and cheerful option, these polarised sports sunglasses from Torege are hard to beat. Sporting a simple design, finished with important features, such as UV protection and durability, they’re a great choice for those who need a quick fix.
They’ve also been created with comfort in mind, which is why they have larger lenses for visibility, and padding on the nose bridge for prolonged wear.
Furthermore, they come with swappable lenses, all of which offer sun protection, as well as different coating for different lighting conditions, e.g. yellow lenses for nighttime wear. Nonetheless, while they are adaptable, they’re an all rounder sports option, not glasses made just for skiing.
As a result, they aren’t as impact resistant as other brands, which is further enhanced by half rimless frame; you can take a few minor knocks but nothing major.
- Swappable lenses
- UV protection
- Not specifically for skiing
- Lower impact resistance
- Not suited to larger head shapes
There you have it, a complete rundown of the top five sunglasses and goggles for skiing, be you a recreational skier or more of an athlete.
Every budget and all features have been taken into account, with the final decision ultimately being down to you, your needs, and affordability. No matter which brand or eyewear style you opt for, make sure they provide the basic necessities of durability, UV protection, and comfort.