Your goggles are a vital piece of your skiing and snowboarding gear, as central to your enjoyment on the snow as warm gloves and dry socks. By protecting your eyes from precipitation and freezing air, your goggles let you keep your focus firmly on your line, potential obstacles—including other skiers and snowboarders—and that little lip you’ve been dying to huck since you spotted it from the lift.
But as your body heats up from the exertion of carving turns and banging moguls, you may start to experience the dreaded “foggy goggles” when the inside of your lens clouds with condensing moisture, thereby obscuring your vision.
Despite technological advances that help to prevent fogged goggles, clouded lenses can still be an issue for many skiers and snowboarders. Here are some best practices to help you avoid foggy goggles from dawn patrol to last chair:
- Let off some steam: Manage body heat by increasing cool air flow, shedding layers or reducing excess heat by opening vents and zippers in clothing.
- Take proper care of your goggles: In particular, avoid damaging the interior anti-fog surface.
- Let your goggles dry out thoroughly just as you do with the rest of your ski or snowboard gear.
Let Off Some Steam
When you’ve wrapped yourself in layers from head to toe (even breathable ones), there’s usually one part of your body where heat and perspiration tend to build up and escape: your face. If you’re wearing a helmet, neck gaiter and a waterproof jacket, all the hot air and moisture generated by your head and torso will be funneled directly to the exposed skin of your face. And if you’re wearing goggles, much of that heat and perspiration can wind up trapped between your face and the goggles’ lens.
Nearly all modern goggle lenses use some sort of hydrophilic (moisture-attracting) technology or coating that absorbs and disperses moisture across the entire interior surface of the lens. This coating helps to prevent fogging by enabling more efficient evaporation within your goggles via the foam barrier surrounding the lens. The existence of this coating and the risk of damaging it is why some goggle manufacturers suggest caution when cleaning the inside of your lens. But this technology has its limits, and the hotter you get overall, the more likely it is that your lenses will start to fog.
The ideal way to clear the lens is to point your skis or board downhill and start moving at a good clip; the circulation of cooler air in and around your goggles will help excess moisture evaporate and dissipate into the environment.
But if you start heading downhill and you’re still hot—and your goggles are still fogged—you need to take further steps to cool down. By shedding a layer, or by opening the pit and thigh zips on your jacket and pants, you’ll dump a large amount of the hot air and moisture that’s built up around your body, cooling yourself and reducing the amount that you’re perspiring as well as the hot air escaping near your face.
Take Proper Care of Your Goggle Lenses
Taking proper care of your lenses is another significant step that prevents fogging as you work up a sweat on the slopes.
If your goggles do fog, don’t succumb to the temptation to grab a paper towel from the bathroom or a napkin in the lodge to wipe away the moisture that’s collected on the lens. Napkins, paper towels and other paper products are made from wood, and the small particles of hard wood within these products can damage your lens. And when wet, the anti-fog coating on the inside of the lens becomes even more susceptible to scratching. Instead, it’s important to use a microfiber cloth to blot or dab the moisture away. Once the lens has completely dried, you can then lightly wipe away any smudges or streaks. Most goggle manufacturers provide a microfiber cloth along with their goggles; in many cases, the bag in which the goggles are stored doubles as the cleaning cloth.
You can also use a microfiber cloth to gently clean your lenses of dirt and grime, which naturally collect on the inside and outside of your lenses. If you’ve neglected to clean your goggles for too long, that dirt and grime can interfere with the performance of the hydrophilic coating, leading to fogged lenses. Particularly dirty lenses can even appear fogged when they’re not, simply because they’re coated in grime.
Let Your Goggles Dry Out
Whether it’s because of perspiration, precipitation or because you landed face-first in a foot of fresh snow, your goggles will get wet while you’re on the mountain. And just like your other gear—gloves, socks, etc.—they’re not going to work as they should when that happens.
Just like your ski jacket, your goggles need to dry out in order to perform at their best. If you leave your damp goggles in your cold car overnight, the moisture absorbed by the hydrophilic lens coating, the foam barrier in the lens and the foam that rests on your face will remain saturated. And when you put them on for dawn patrol the next day, not only will they be uncomfortably wet and cold, they’re likely to fog up almost instantly.
Instead of leaving your goggles hanging from your rearview mirror or buried in your ski bag, treat them as you would a wet pair of gloves, a wet jacket or a wet pair of boots; bring them inside, place them somewhere warm (but not hot) when you’re not using them, and make sure they have a chance to warm up and dry out before you put them on again.