Top tips to avoid goggle issues whilst snowboarding

Goggles can be a total nightmare in the mountains. In general people pay way too much attention to their boards and not enough to their googles. It can totally ruin a day if you cannot see anything.

I witness a lot of issues from clients in the mountains as they struggle to resolve vision problems due to a number of issues. Here are a few tips to help keep your stress level low and your visibility high.

Wear a Beanie under your helmet

I find that once guys start sweating, the foam around the goggles gets saturated and then they start to fog up. Wearing a beanie will adsorb a lot of the moisture before it gets to the google. You can typically adjust the foam inserts on a helmet to accommodate a beanie quite easily.

Pick the right lens

I have guys rocking up with the all singing all flame mirror tint lens and wonder why they cannot see anything on a flat light day. Most goggle companies will produce a series of lenses for different conditions and a lot of decent goggles will come with a high and low light option. The key is to get the right balance between the two and get a goggle that allows you to easily switch between the two.

I typically use two lenses during a season from Smith Optics. I have the G looking blackout lens with lets in 10% light. Great for sunny days.

I then have a Blue Sensor Mirror for overcast or low light conditions. This lets in 60% light and is by far my favourite a most useful lens. Typically this is my port of call for most riding situations.

My primary lens selection. Blue Sensor Mirror and Blackout from Smith Optics

My primary lens selection. Blue Sensor Mirror and Blackout from Smith Optics

I’ll check the weather and decide on the best lens to start or have both with me and decide on the cable car up in the morning. The lens change over on my take around 15 seconds, but can be even quicker with some goggles.

Anon Magnetic system for ease of lens change

Anon Magnetic system for ease of lens change

Wear contact lenses

I know it can be tough for some guys to get along with contact lenses, but it really is a must for the winter. Glasses are just not up for the job of dealing with moisture. They will steam up rapidly and become a real issue as you keep having to clean them every time you fall or get hot. Plus your options for goggles will be reduced as you need something that will accommodate the glasses as well. I generally buy a box of 1 day contact lenses for the mountain and just wear my glasses in the UK.

Goggles under helmet

This is generally more of a style thing. However, it can reduce the amount of issues with the goggles popping off your face and handing off the back of your lid. If you try this you’ll want to ditch the earflaps and the goggle clip on the back of the helmet.

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Don’t have the goggles too tight

Goggle lenses and the foam surrounding them need to breathe. They need airflow to help expel moisture. If you’re getting goggle marks on your face your most likely wearing them too tight. Sure, you don’t want them slipping down or falling off when you fall over but you don’t need them to be superglued onto your face either. Having more space between your face will allow the foam to work by it not being so compacted will help maintain a clear lens.

Temperature Changes

If your goggles have been kept in a warm environment then you head out on a super cold day the warm air between the lenses could start to condense and fog. If I know it will be cold I’ll try and let my goggles air a little before I put them on so they start to match to the air temperature.

Drying them on the hill

If you face plant do not start rubbing the inside or outside too aggressively to get rid of the snow. You’ll end up damaging the lens. Pat them on your leg to remove most of the snow and chuck them in your jacket to warm them up and loosen the rest of the snow. That can be done once you make it to a chair lift or a restaurant. Once they’re a little more clear then use your google bag to dab the moisture off. Do not buff them when wet as you may remove the protective coatings.

After riding care

I’ll take them out of the goggle bag and strip the lens off the frame and let them breathe. If they’re wet and you leave them in the bag the moisture can creep in between the lenses and you’ll be stuffed for the next day.

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Don’t wear them on your head

The king of goggle rules is never chill and have your goggles on your head especially without a beanie. They will fill with moisture and you’ll be screwed.

Take care of the lens coatings

Google lens coatings are very sensitive and should be respected even more than your board. Keep them dry and be gentle when removing any snow or dirt. When you’re not using them make sure they’re in a goggle bag and try and avoid chucking around or leaving them connected to your helmet. They will most likely get knocked or stolen if you hang your helmet off the back of your backpack.

Not a great way to carry your lid or your goggles.

Not a great way to carry your lid or your goggles.

This can all seem like quite a lot to be aware of but once you’re in a routine of looking after your googles life on your board will become a lot easier when you can see way more and also help out your mates with some solid advice on goggles.


James Streater is the head coach and owner of Maverix Snow Ltd, providing year round snowboard instruction, coaching and personal development. He is part of a select group of professionals who hold the worlds highest snowsport qualification ISTD. Follow him on Instagram @maverixsnow