The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

How We Tested Ski Goggles

Monday December 17, 2018
Goggle testing is serious business  fortunately it involves significant amounts of time in the field.
Goggle testing is serious business, fortunately it involves significant amounts of time in the field.

When we test gear, we test in as many real-world conditions as we possibly can. For our Best Ski Goggle Review, we used the expansive Sierra Nevada Mountains, mostly in and around Lake Tahoe, as our testing ground. With a wealth of ski resorts and incredible backcountry access, there's no limit to the terrain at our disposal. We also experience an incredible diversity of weather conditions, from brutal winter storms to sunny California spring days and everything in between.

80mph goggle testing on top of Stevens Peak  Carson Pass CA.
80mph goggle testing on top of Stevens Peak, Carson Pass CA.

All of our goggles were put through their paces, from cruising at the resorts to climbing and skiing backcountry peaks in every weather condition imaginable.

Lens Quality


To test lens quality we skied in every pair of goggles in a range of light and weather conditions. We often switched between models for a true side by side comparison and sat looking out the window while switching goggles back to back repeatedly. We rated each model on its optical clarity, vision enhancement, and resistance to fogging and scratching.

Taking the lens quality assessment seriously with some back to back comparisons while riding the chairlift on a cloudy flat light day.
Taking the lens quality assessment seriously with some back to back comparisons while riding the chairlift on a cloudy flat light day.

Comfort


Comfort is a more subjective metric that is closely linked to how well a pair of goggles fits your face. Goggles come in a variety of shapes and sizes and some may fit you better and more comfortably than others. To test this we had a number of different testers with different sized facial structures try on the various models and provide feedback. We also examined the construction of each model, including the frame, face foam, strap, and how well each model stays in place and fits with a helmet.

Comfort is key. The most comfortable goggles go virtually unnoticed and you may even forget that you're wearing them.
Comfort is key. The most comfortable goggles go virtually unnoticed and you may even forget that you're wearing them.

Ventilation and Breathability


We tested the ventilation and breathability of each pair of goggles in a couple of ways. During normal everyday resort skiing we took note of how well each pair resisted fogging during wet storm days and when things got heated boot packing for extra vertical or traversing out to the powder stash. We took it one step further by taking each model backcountry skiing and hiking uphill with them on to really work up a sweat and see how each model fared. This is a more extreme test of a goggle's ventilation and breathability, but it proved to be very effective for our evaluations.

Working up a sweat to test the ventilation and breathability of the goggles in our test fleet. We don't always hike uphill in goggles  but it's an effective test technique.
Working up a sweat to test the ventilation and breathability of the goggles in our test fleet. We don't always hike uphill in goggles, but it's an effective test technique.

Ease of Changing Lenses


Not all lens attachment systems are created equal, and there is a huge difference in how easy it is to change lenses between the different models. This was easily tested by simply changing the lenses numerous times and comparing how quickly and easily the task was accomplished. The most user-friendly models could be swapped out in mere seconds with little difficulty while others took much longer

Magnetic lens systems  like that found on the Smith I/O Mag  make changing lenses quick and easy.
Magnetic lens systems, like that found on the Smith I/O Mag, make changing lenses quick and easy.

Durability


To assess durability we used and abused these goggles at the resort and while backcountry skiing. They were taken on and off our helmets, lenses were changed frequently, and they were stuffed into our backcountry ski packs over and over again. At the end of our test period, we closely examined each pair, paying close attention to the lenses, face foam, vent foam, and straps to inspect for any damage or premature wear.

Inspecting the damage done to the lens of the Julbo Aeropace after a little pilot error.
Inspecting the damage done to the lens of the Julbo Aeropace after a little pilot error.

Style


There is currently no test for style, so we did our best to make an assessment of each model's style based on current trends and feedback from testers and friends. Style is a personal thing, so don't solely take our word for it, take a look and make your own decisions.

Look good  feel good  keep that helmet on your head.
Look good, feel good, keep that helmet on your head.

Conclusion


We tested all of these goggles so you don't have to. Check out our detailed reviews to see how each model performs, and how they compare to each other.