Do I Need Ski Goggles? | Why You Should Wear Them

It may be tempting to go skiing or snowboarding without goggles. Perhaps you feel that your ride will be more comfortable and your view clearer. But, snow or ski goggles will work more in your favor than against it.

If you’re asking yourself, “Do I need goggles to ski and snowboard?” you’re in the right place. To answer your question in short, yes, you do need goggles. You’ll likely thank yourself for wearing them once you get hit by the first branch in your way.

A fun bonus of wearing ski goggles is that you’ll come back from your ski holiday with a distinct ski goggle tan – that way, everyone can know you’ve had a fun holiday on the slopes!

Do You Need Goggles to Ski?

Not wearing good ski goggles can pose significant safety risks when skiing or snowboarding. There are plenty of reasons why you’re better off with ski goggles than without.

group of snowboarders


1.   Protect Your Eyes From the Sun

Considering that most skiing locations are higher up on the mountains, you’re much closer to the sun. Not only that, but you’re also surrounded by tons of snow which reflects the bright sunlight every which way.

The lenses in ski goggles are specifically made to protect your eyes from the intense brightness and increased UV exposure while you spend hours on the snow. If you hit the slopes without ski goggles, you increase your chances of short and long-term eye damage.

Overexposure to UV light can lead to a condition called snow blindness or photokeratitis. To put it simply, your corneas get sunburnt – which can lead to headaches, blurred vision, and eye pain. While the condition is temporary, it can be easily avoided by buying or renting ski goggles.

2.   Improved Visibility

While it may be obvious that you’ll need goggles to protect your eyes from the sun glare, there is another surprisingly necessary reason to wear goggles.

The light is less harsh on cloudier days as the clouds diffuse the sunlight. This leads to there being less visible contrast, making it hard to see certain dips and bumps in the snow.

snowboarder wearing tinted ski goggles

Specific tinted lenses help increase the contrast of what you’re seeing while still protecting your eyes from UV exposure. Lenses with pink, yellow, brown, or amber lenses are best for low-contrast or low-light situations. While reflective, black, brown, or red lenses are ideal for bright and sunny days.

Many ski goggle brands make goggles with interchangeable tinted lenses, so you can change them as the conditions change.

3.   Keep Your Eyes Warm & Reduce Fog

Speeding downhill means the wind is hitting you at quite a high speed. This cold wind will cause your eyes to water and cause snow or icicles to build upon your eyelashes. This can obstruct your view and make for an uncomfortable trip down the slope.

Ski goggles act as insulators for your eyes and protect them from the harsh cold. Many ski goggles are also designed to prevent or reduce fog that builds up in your goggles. This is achieved by either having specially treated lenses or built-in venting systems.

4.   Guard Your Eyes Against Harmful Objects

When you’re speeding down the mountain, snow and ice particles can easily find their way up to your face. These are not only cold but can cause painful obstructions to your view, making your ski ride way less enjoyable.

Ski goggles are also usually made of materials that can withstand impact. So if ever you have any sort of collision (with a fellow skier or tree), your eyes will be safe. This is also something that sets wearing goggles aside from wearing ski sunglasses.

man skiing down slope


Skiing Sunglasses vs. Goggles

Wearing sunglasses for snow may sound like a more comfortable option as they are less bulky, but sunglasses fall short when it comes to protecting your eyes. There are a few cons to wearing sunglasses instead of a pair of goggles.

  • Cold air and particles can still make their way into your eyes, as sunglasses are not sealed around the eye area.
  • You’re more likely to lose your sunglasses as they do not strap and clip onto your ski helmet. It’s also much smaller and more likely to vanish in the snow if it were to fall.
  • Your view might be obstructed due to the sides of the sunglasses not adequately curving around your head. Sunglasses might also prove inadequate on days when the light is diffused, and you need tinted lenses to increase the contrast of your view.
  • On the slopes where light is reflected from every side, including below you, sunglasses won’t provide adequate UV protection.
  • Sunglasses are not as impact-resistant as ski goggles and can pose a huge risk to your eyes if they were to shatter.

woman wearing pink tinted ski goggles


Can You Wear Ski Goggles Over Glasses?

If you’re considering skipping the goggles because you wear glasses, hold up! Many brands now offer ski goggles with prescription lenses, so you can enjoy skiing without risking the safety of your eyes.

Alternatively, you can purchase OTG (Over-the-glasses) goggles that have extra space to wear your glasses comfortably underneath. Or, you can consider single-use contact lenses to wear with your goggles on your ski holiday.

So, Do You Need Ski Goggles?

For the sake of safety and comfort, ski goggles are 100% recommended. The goggles will provide much-needed protection against the elements while helping you see better. It’s also a great barrier between you and any objects that may come flying at you or that you may bump into.

You may notice other people ski without goggles or only with sunglasses – and that may work for them. But, if you’re still asking “are ski goggles necessary”, you now have the information to decide what will work best for you.

While you consider whether to bring your ski goggles along on your next ski holiday, have a look at this handy guide to packing for a ski trip.