There are many things you need to consider when getting a new pair of ski goggles. You want good ventilation, strong materials, and a sleek build. However, VLT, also known as visible light transmission, may well be the most important aspect of them all. Even so, very few people fully know or understand what that term means.
In this guide we will break down VLT to understand what it is, how it operates, and why it matters. Getting the wrong light transmission may not seem like a big deal, especially if you’ve never heard of it, but it can lead to real problems if you aren’t careful.
Visual Light Transmission: The Basics
VLT is a rating system that ranges from zero to one hundred. Goggles or lenses on the higher end of the scale let more light into your eyes, while goggles or lenses on the lower end block it out. Both help you see in different types of conditions, which is why understanding that difference is so important.
However, while the system works as general guidelines, it is not as concrete as you first may think. VLT varies wildly. Most goggles have a small range, typically four to five percent, such as 9 to 13 or 90 to 95. However, other models can have a range of ten or more, such as 50 to 60 or 60 to 75.
The VLT you end up going with will depend on your preferences, where you like to ski, and the time of day you’re on the slopes. Some people may need a wider range to handle different types of light, while others may want a much more focused goggle.
Why Rating Matters
When picking out a VLT rating, it is important to know what each one does. Lower numbers that block out light are good for sunny or extremely bright days. They not only reduce extra glare, but they make sure you can see through a lot of sun or blinding snow.
On the other hand, higher VLT goggles are best suited for those who ski in dark or low-light conditions because they let in as much light as possible. In fact, night skiers typically need goggles with a VLT of 90 to 100 so that they can see as much as possible under the light of the moon. Higher numbers are also great for those who ski at sunrise or sunset.
If you’re someone who skis on neutral or milder days, you want a middle-of-the-road VLT. Such goggles are perfect for light conditions that aren’t too bright or too dark.
A Goggle of a Different Color
VLT also has a direct relationship with color. Goggles come in a wide range of lenses, and they tend to give you the ability to see through different types of light.
Brighter lens tints are made to let in more light, which means they tend to have a high VLT rating. If you tend to ski in dark or low-light conditions you should look for goggles with yellow, green, amber, blue-green, red-orange, or rose-colored lenses.
In contrast, darker tints are typically correlated with low VLT. That includes copper, brown, silver, dark grey, red, and grey models. If you’re someone who likes to ski under the bright sun or in warmer weather, that is usually the best way to go.
If you want to night ski, you have the option of getting completely clear lenses. These options are not going to be useful for any other type of skiing, but they are incredibly handy when the lights go out.
Lens color does not always directly correlate to VLT, but there is enough of a relationship that you want to pay attention to the tint when picking up your eyewear. However, never assume that goggles have a certain VLT because of their color. Always do your own research.
The Power to Change
When getting goggles, you have a clear choice in both lens tint and VLT rating. However, what happens when conditions change? In such scenarios, you have two choices, get multiple pairs of goggles or buy ones with photochromic lenses.
The easiest way to handle different types of weather is to get multiple pairs of goggles and switch them out on different days. However, while that is effective (especially with a good backpack to hold extra items) it can be a bit of a hassle.
If you want to avoid constantly switching out your eyewear, you can get photochromic goggles. Such models have a wide VLT range that enables you to see in both low and bright light conditions. While typically much more expensive than normal lenses, they can be worth it if you find yourself constantly needing to change eyewear out on the mountain.
A solid pair of ski goggles is a crucial part of a good skiing experience. Not only do they protect your eyes, but they also allow you to see everything that might come your way. Of course, that’s only if you can properly see.
VLT is an important factor, and it is something you always want to be aware of when purchasing eyewear for the snow. Getting the wrong range can make it hard to see, which is always dangerous no matter what time of day you’re on the slopes. Know what time of day you ski, what the weather is commonly like, and buy the goggles that match those conditions.
Do you have a favorite pair of goggles? What VLT rating do you usually use? Why? 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.