Skiing is a sport that requires a lot of equipment. Items like your skis and boots are absolutely essential if you want to have the ability to move down the snow at all. Other items, such as your cold-weather gear, can be a personal preference in regards to how many layers you choose to wear. There are also some items that fall somewhere in the middle where you can technically ski with or without them.
So, a question many newer skiers have is, can you ski without goggles? The short answer to this is yes. Technically, you can. I wouldn’t recommend it as a general rule, but there are a few small exceptions.
Think about it like this – technically you could ski blindfolded or without any clothes on, but would you ever really want to? Ski goggles are an important element of ski equipment that help you ski. Every skier should own them.
The Importance of Goggles
Ski goggles have two major functions, both of which are highly important out on the slopes. They allow you to see better in winter conditions, and they protect your eyes from the elements. Both of those should make you consider goggles an absolutely essential aspect of skiing.
When it comes to visibility, goggles can help in a number of ways. In the winter, the lighting on a mountain can become difficult to see with rapidly changing conditions and heavy snow falling around you. That makes for exciting skiing conditions, but if you want to make the most of it, you need a good set of goggles. The proper eyewear will help you see in poor visibility thanks to the technology built into the lenses.
Googles are also important for eye safety. If you were to ski without goggles, you risk harming your eyes and even potentially forming snow blindness. The sun’s light at higher elevations is more intense, and when you combine that with the reflection off the snow, it can lead to trouble.
Goggles will protect your eyes from harmful UV rays that can have negative long-term health consequences.
Goggles can also protect your eyes from any sort of obstacle or debris you may encounter while skiing. They sit snugly on your head and will deflect a tree branch, rock, or piece of ice that may accidentally come your way. Your eyes are fragile and it doesn’t take much to cause damage, especially at high speeds. In that way, goggles are almost like helmets for your eyes.
You can get different lenses, or different goggles, to match different lighting conditions you may experience on the mountain. When conditions get extremely dark and snowy, an amber lens is ideal because it can help you see more clearly and prevent you from losing sight of what lies in front of you. If you’re skiing in bright, sunny conditions, a darker lens is better because it will block out harmful UV rays and give you the ability to see better in the snow.
Can You Ski Without Goggles?
As I said earlier, you can technically ski without goggles. However, I would only suggest it if you ski with sunglasses that have some sort of strap to keep them from being lost if you fall. Sunglasses can make an acceptable substitute for goggles if you have no other option, but I wouldn’t recommend always skiing with sunglasses on.
Sunglasses can do a decent job of protecting your eyes from UV rays and provide limited protection from debris and other obstacles on the slopes. That being said, they don’t do as good of a job as goggles. They don’t sit securely to your face, which gives them limited ability to keep the snow and cold away from your eyes. In fact, using sunglasses in snowy conditions is nearly impossible.
I’ll be honest, I have skied in sunglasses plenty of times. However, that only occurs on days when I’m teaching someone else the basics or am skiing with a child. If I plan on skiing anything technical or it’s not a clear, sunny day, I’ll always have goggles on.
Another instance where you could ski without goggles is in an emergency. Say you take a bad fall and your goggles break or get lost in deep snow. You might not have any other choice than to ski back down to the base of the hill without goggles on. If that does happen, I would suggest taking things very slow so you don’t expose your bare eyes to the elements.
Tips for Wearing Goggles
The biggest tip for wearing goggles while skiing, aside from wearing them in the first place, is to make sure they fit snugly and securely on your face. You want them to be comfortable on your head and not cause any pain and discomfort, but you also want them to be tight enough against your face so the wind and snow stay out.
When you buy a new set of goggles, that sweet spot can take a while to find. Luckily, goggles are easy to adjust. Just play around with yours until you find the strap length that works best for you in terms of comfort and function.
Another thing I would suggest is getting goggles that have interchangeable lenses. That will give you the flexibility to adjust to changing weather and lighting conditions. Many modern goggles will be available with interchangeable lenses, but you should always check before you purchase. You can own different pairs to match different conditions, but that’s the most expensive way to go.
If you ski, you should wear goggles. It’s as simple as that. You don’t want to risk the safety of your eyes, your body, or anybody else on the mountain. There are certain times when you can get by with only sunglasses, but if you plan on becoming a serious skier, you need to get sturdy eyewear made to brave the elements.
What goggles do you like to wear when you ski? Why do you prefer them over similar options? Let us know in the comments.