Lens Lessons

As you probably already know, goggles are essential gear for snowboarding. Not only do theyenhance vision, but also provide ultra-violet protection and insulate your eyes from harsh mountain elementsthat cause eyes to burn and tear. What you might not know, however, is the color of the lens you usesignificantly impacts how well goggles work. Lens color should be considered long before you pull into theresort parking lot. The correct tint will make coming down the mountain a much safer and more enjoyableexperience.

Choosing the right lens is pretty basic-being prepared is the challenge. Remember, we’re talkingabout ever-changing weather, and what you thought was the right lens in the foggy parking lot may have youcursing when it’s bright and sunny up top. Fortunately, most goggle manufacturers offer easily interchangeablelenses-buy a few different tints, keep them close to the hill (or better yet, stash ’em in a pocket), and you’ll beready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. Here are some lens-choosing guidelines: Flat Light

These common conditions occur when the sun is blocked by clouds, but the sky remains somewhat bright.Shadows are darker in flat light, and recognizing terrain features becomes difficult. A bright lens that pulls inlight is ideal in these conditions, causing flatly lit terrain to “pop.” A bright-yellow lens is a solid choice, butgold and orange lenses work well, too. Night Riding UV protection may not be a factor at night, but thedropping temperatures sure are. As long as conditions are clear, go ahead and ride with a clear lens, whichprotects you from tearing and will keep out the cold, but don’t even think about riding without goggles atnight.

Bright sunshine can be the most deceiving weather of all. Many climates experience coldertemperatures on clear, sunny days because there are no clouds to serve as an insulating layer. Put away thebright tints here, they’ll only amplify the glare. A mirrored lens works best in bright sun, cutting both glare andlight reflecting off the snow. As always, make sure any goggle or lens you buy offers elevated UV protection.Overcast/Whiteout These conditions offer minimal light, and like flat-light riding, the ability to recognizeterrain features becomes crucial. Flat-light lenses (any lens that pulls in light, usually yellow, gold, or orange incolor) will work well in foul weather, which can actually be the best conditions to ride in because everyoneelse is in the lodge waiting out the storm. -Michael Lucas