Skiing is just as much about gear as it is about skill or experience. That is not to say you can’t ski with no or moderate equipment, but that the right equipment makes it much, much easier. There are certain accessories that all skiers bring with them to the slopes. That includes jackets, boots, helmets, goggles, and, of course, the skis themselves.
However, while goggles have become a mainstay of modern skiing, they are not always necessary out on the slopes. Though rare, there are certain times you can get by without them. This guide will explore some of the reasons you would choose, and not choose, to wear goggles while you ski.
Reasons to Wear Goggles
Before getting into details on whether or not you can wear goggles while you ski, we must first break down the purpose of ski goggles. As with so many different items, goggles keep you safe. They shield your eyes from the elements and offer an extra layer of protection from the snow. They also help you in the case of a fall or an accident.
In addition, goggles help you see. Not only do different lenses allow you to ski in different types of light, but they also reduce glare and give you excellent peripheral vision. That combination enables you to easily navigate the slopes and gives you extra visibility no matter where you ski.
On top of those bonuses, goggles provide you extra warmth by creating a seal against your face that locks out the cold. Trapping in heat is key on extremely frigid days, especially when it comes to your face. When temperatures get low, every single bit of comfort helps.
Goggles also come with straps, which helps them stay on your face in the event of a fall. This one feature is also quite nice because it means you can easily slip them on and off without having to set them down. That might not seem like much, but it does make your life a little easier.
Reasons to Not Wear Goggles
As great as goggles are when it comes to protecting your face, they do come with a few small setbacks that are worth mentioning. One of the biggest is that they can be a bit bulky, which leads them to be uncomfortable. Certain models can also be incompatible with your ski helmet, which ruins your entire ensemble.
Both of those can be large issues for speed skiers or people who want as little weight on them as possible while they ride down the mountain. A couple of extra ounces may not seem like a lot, but it can be problematic in the long run.
Goggles can also be prone to fogging. Though many premium brands come with anti-fog technology, that does not necessarily mean they work at full capacity all of the time. In fact, many brands fog up on frigid days, which can impede your vision and make it hard to see.
Those issues, while problematic, rarely affect skiers to the point where they choose not to wear the items. In fact, almost all skiers wear goggles out on the mountain no matter what conditions they experience. Those that don’t, wear glasses.
Sunglasses: A Safe Alternative?
If you don’t want to wear goggles for one of the above reasons, you can get away with wearing ski glasses on the slopes. Not only do glasses tend to be lighter than goggles, but they are also more comfortable and easy to take on and off as you need. They are also much easier to get with a prescription.
However, that comfort does come with a cost. Sunglasses don’t offer the same protection as goggles, nor do they offer the same wide field of view. The items are best-suited for calm, sunny days as opposed to tough weather conditions. If the snow dumps down or if the wind picks up, sunglasses won’t be able to stand against them in the way goggles do. Sunglasses also do not give you a good seal, which lets in snow, and they don’t fasten around your head.
For those reasons, while you can ski with sunglasses instead of goggles, that only applies to pleasant, sunny days. Trying to brave snowy slopes with just sunglasses is going to lead to a bad time. Always dress for the weather and never try to ski without goggles if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Even if you manage, one bad fall can lead to lasting injuries.
Sunglasses allow you to ski without goggles, but you can also combine the two if you so wish. Some goggles are OTG (over the glasses) options that enable you to wear your glasses under them. Those are for people who want to get the best of both worlds.
It is also important to ask, what if you don’t want to wear goggles or sunglasses? Is it possible to brave the slopes without any protection at all? The answer is yes, but that’s not as simple as it first might seem.
Goggles and glasses, even thin ones, both protect your eyes in an extremely important way. As such, while you can hit the mountain without any protection, that’s most likely going to lead to damage or injury in one way or another. Even if you don’t sustain any long-lasting problems, you might be cold or extremely uncomfortable in your gear.
In that way, you can technically ski without any eyewear. However, almost any seasoned skier will tell you that it’s not recommended.
Goggles are a key part of modern skiing. Though they are not technically needed to ride around the mountain, it is important to wear eye gear. You never know what’s going to come your way, and you never know what obstacles you might encounter. Having the proper gear keeps you ready for any situation.
Do you wear goggles or glasses while skiing? Why do you prefer one over the other? Let us know in the comments below!
Joseph Scalise is an avid writer, editor, and snow sports enthusiast who loves to spend his time outdoors. He began his love of writing early on in life and continued to pursue it as he grew older. While his time behind the computer doesn’t get him into the wild unknown as much as he would like, he never misses a chance to head up (or down) a mountain, across a river, or through a lush forest. When he’s not planning new trips, you can always find him typing away on his next project.