Best Ski Goggles Under $100

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best ski goggles under $100

It’s ski season somewhere on the globe virtually all year long, and both experienced skiers and beginners alike are picking out their cold-weather gear and preparing to head to the mountains. Ski goggles are one of the most important pieces of personal protective gear you can buy, and the great news is there are many good-quality pairs available for under $100.

Goggles protect your eyes from stinging snow, dangerous branches, chunks of ice, and other hazards as you make your way down the slopes. Depending on the type of lenses, ski goggles can improve visibility and protect your eyes from UV rays. But beginners might not know what features separate a good-quality yet inexpensive pair of goggles from those that could be uncomfortable or downright unsafe.

If you ski on a budget, you can still find great ski goggles under $100 if you know what to look for, from frame to visibility to ventilation. So, hop on the chairlift, bar down, and let’s go!

ski googles
Don’t settle for an okay fit. Even in the budget price range, there are great-fitting ski goggles for you. Try on several different pairs before you buy.

Key considerations

Parts of ski goggles

Let’s get familiar with what makes up ski goggles and why they are superior to sunglasses when carving the slopes.

Frame: This molded silicone piece holds the lenses in place. It can be of varying flexibility depending on design and quality. The structure is essential to your comfort, regardless of the amount of padding attached to it.

Vents: These gaps around the edges of the frame allow air to flow through to equalize temperature and reduce fogging.

Lining and padding: Foam lining covers ventilation holes to let air in but keep snow out, while foam padding helps the frame conform more comfortably and precisely to your face.

Lenses: Two layers of polycarbonate lenses (one clear, one filtered) are fitted to the front of the frame. (Trivex plastic is another material used in lenses, but it’s found more in ski goggles that cost more than $100.)

Lens coatings: A thin antifog coating on the inside of the lens minimizes surface tension, preventing moisture from clinging to the lens. A very thin, durable plastic film on the outside of the lens resists scratches. There’s no such thing as scratch-proof lenses, however. Over time, the lenses will get scratched.

Strap: A stretchy elastic strap holds the ski goggles on your head (or helmet). It should be at least 1 inch wide, hold the goggles snugly against your face, and be easy to adjust.

Fit and feel of ski goggles

Field of view: The frame on ski goggles restricts your peripheral vision, and how much it does depends on the shape of the frame. Spherical goggles curve around the face, shifting the sides of the frame to your temples and improving peripheral visibility.

Optical distortion: Budget ski goggles can have a slight horizontal distortion in the lens. Some skiers aren’t bothered by this, but others find it annoying.

Flexibility: While rigid frames tend to last longer, they may not conform to the face as well as more flexible frames.

Strap: The adjustable strap that holds the ski goggles on your head should feel snug but not uncomfortable.

Pros of ski goggles under $100

Safety: Gone are the days when a pair of sunglasses alone would suffice for a run down the slopes. Ski goggles at all price points stay in place on the choppiest terrain, protect your eyes from all sides, and protect your skin from windburn and frostbite.

Visibility: Ski goggles can drastically improve your vision depending on the light conditions. On cloudy days with low contrast, the right lens can help the features of the terrain stand out, so you’re prepared for those moguls ahead.

Style: Frames, straps, and lenses can all be customized with eye-popping designs to suit your style.

Cons of ski goggles under $100

Distortion: Poorly shaped lenses can distort your view.

Breakage: Poor quality lens material could shatter when struck with debris like ice or small stones.

No replacements: You can’t easily switch lenses on most ski goggles under $100.

Delamination: The foam lining can delaminate over time, causing air and water to leak into the frame and between the lenses.

Fragile coatings: Antifog and scratch-resistant coatings tend to break down faster in ski goggles under $100.

Unlined strap: An unlined nylon strap can slip around on your ski helmet, which means you’ll have to stop and adjust the strap frequently.

ski googles
DID YOU KNOW?
Those cool graphic designs on the silicone frames of ski goggles are made using a hydrographic process. The frame is dipped through a design suspended in a tray of water.
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Ski goggles under $100 features

Ski goggles have similar features across all brands and product lines. They’re lightweight (some more than others), they have a silicone frame that contours to the face and scratch-resistant polycarbonate lenses that keep the wind and snow out of your eyes. That said, each brand and price point may offer additional features that make your skiing experience more comfortable while keeping you safe.

Look for these features when shopping for ski goggles under $100. Some are a bit extra, but other features are necessary for regular skiers and snowboarders:

Frame

A clip or arms can provide a better fit when you’re wearing ski goggles and a ski helmet together, though neither is a necessity.

Antifog fan

Installed in the top of the goggles, this miniature fan is meant to pull warm air and moisture out of the space between your eyes and the lenses. How well this works is debatable.

Foam

Lower-priced goggles may have just one layer of foam between your face and the frame, reducing comfort and making it harder to get a good seal. Look for multilayer foam with a comfort layer on the face side and a dense, durable layer on the frame side.

Lenses

Interchangeable lenses: Pricier goggles have quick-release tabs so that the lenses can be swapped out to address changing conditions and visibility.

Prescription lenses or OTGs: Ski goggles advertised as “over-the-glasses” (OTG) should fit comfortably over your prescription glasses. Pricier ski goggles may offer the option of prescription inserts, but you won’t find these in many budget versions.

Cylindrical (flat): Most common on ski goggles under $100, “flat” lenses have a slight horizontal curve to fit the contours of the frame.

Spherical: You’ll need to look for goggles close to the $100 mark to start seeing decent quality spherical lenses, but this shape gives skiers much better peripheral vision. Avoid any lenses that distort your vision.

Polarization: While polarized lenses are great for sunny days and powder conditions, they make it harder to spot icy patches due to reduced contrast.

UV protection: Your eyes don’t get a break from the sun’s damaging rays just because it’s winter. Look for lenses with UVA, UVB, and, ideally, UVC protection. The level of protection varies between lighter and darker lenses.

Colors: The color of the lenses in ski goggles is important. It can make the difference between a great day of skiing and a frustrating hunt for the right downhill track. Here’s a rough guide to lens colors to use in specific situations.

  • Rose, yellow: These are best for snowy or overcast days.
  • Gold, orange, blue, gray: These work well on sunny days, but the quality of the sunlight may determine the color choice. A strong, bright sun might require dark blue or gray lenses; a weak, pale sun due to high cloud cover might require gold or orange lenses to increase contrast.
  • Amber, rose: These are good all-around colors.
  • Clear: These are not truly “clear”; there is a little polarized tinting to increase contrast, but you have a near-true view of the slopes. This is good for low-light or nighttime skiing.
  • Gold: This tint increases the contrast of the terrain, which is very helpful in flat light situations (such as a cloudy or foggy day). It’s dark enough to provide some sun protection as well, so it’s good for variable weather days.
  • Dark: For painfully bright days on the slopes, a dark gray or blue lens will keep you from being dazzled while negotiating moguls and icy patches.

Save even more money on ski goggles by purchasing them at the end of the season or before you get to the ski resort, where gear prices tend to be marked up significantly.

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Accessories

Goggle case: Smith Optics Goggle Carrier
Avoid having to rummage through your gear bag for spare goggles and avoid lens scratches by using this hardshell carrying case that holds up to four pairs of ski goggles plus replacement lenses.

Replacement strap: WildHorn Outfitters Roca Goggle Strap
The elastic and helmet grip eventually wear out on even the best ski goggles. Keep an extra strap or two in your bag so you can swap it out quickly.

Eyeglass insert: spiid Inner Frame for Ski Goggles
This universal-fit transparent insert attaches to the inside of your ski goggles to stabilize your prescription eyeglasses.

Strap and pole carrier: Volk Ski Strap and Pole Carrier
Leave the bulky ski carrier in the car and pull this pair of handy straps from your pocket to carry your skis and poles between runs. It keeps the skis together when they’re propped against the lodge wall too.

Pricing

Inexpensive: For $11 to $25, beginners can get fairly comfortable eye protection that’s very easy on the budget. Performance issues and durability can be problems at this price point.

Mid-range: Skiers can find goggles with static or interchangeable lenses, as well as a greater variety of styles and colors, in the $26 to $68 price range.

Expensive: True spherical lenses and top brand names, as well as better comfort, fit, and durability, begin to appear in the $69 to $100 price range.

ski googles
DID YOU KNOW?
Double lenses were developed for ski goggles in the 1960s to reduce fogging.
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Tips

  • Try on ski goggles with your helmet. You want to make sure they work well together. Look for goggles with a strap that has a nonslip coating or pads so it won’t slip on your helmet.
  • Don’t leave ski goggles in direct sunlight for long periods of time. Also keep them away from sources of heat like radiators and vents to prevent damage to the padding and lenses.
  • Place ski goggles on your helmet or around your neck when taking a break. Lifting them up to your forehead will make them fog up.
  • Clean your goggles. After a day spent skiing, clean the outside of the lenses with a lint-free cloth. Dab (don’t wipe) the inside of the lenses with a lint-free cloth. Don’t use cleaning fluid; the antifog coating will last much longer. Hang up your goggles in a warm, well-ventilated space (not next to a heat source) to dry the foam lining, then store them in their case.
ski googles
Optical distortion is a common complaint about ski goggles that cost less than $100. Try on the goggles outdoors and look at objects far and near. If the distortion is very noticeable, try a different pair.

FAQ

Q. I tend to sweat when I ski, and my goggles fog up. What kind of goggles will fix this?

A. This might sound counterintuitive, but you might want to try budget ski goggles that have thinner foam cushioning. Thick foam can trap sweat and create a foggy microclimate between your face and the lens that’s better for cultivating orchids than helping you shred a black diamond run. Also, don’t put your ski mask underneath the frame of the goggles, because this can trap even more moisture. Other features to consider: ski goggles with an antifog lens coating, extra vents, and spherical rather than cylindrical lenses to create a little more air space.

Q. My ski goggles rarely fogged up when new, but after two seasons they fog up right away. What can I do?

A. The interior antifog lens coating may have worn away, which can happen over time and with multiple cleanings. Or the foam lining over the air vents could be deteriorating or dirty. You can try swapping out the lens for a new one, if possible, but in the under $100 range, it might be more economical to just replace your goggles.

Q. I ski mainly at East Coast resorts. Is there a preferred lens type to use in this region?

A. As with any other ski region, the visibility varies based on the weather conditions. (As a Vermonter, though, I can confidently say it’s cloudy most of the time except when it’s not.) You can opt to use goggles with an all-around lens (rose or amber) or bring a couple of pairs, such as all-around plus darker lenses for very sunny days. East Coast slopes tend to be icy with lots of interesting terrain to navigate. Lenses with little to no polarization are a safer bet because you can pick out details more clearly.

 

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