Goggles may not be the most glamorous part of the snowboarding kit bag, but in my opinion they are one of the most important. And certainly the most under appreciated.
Boards and bindings have the show stopping tech that ‘will’ make you ride better, boots have the all day comfort factor that ‘will’ make you ride longer, and your clothing ‘will’ make you look awesome (or ridiculous but each to their own!). But the fact remains that if you can’t see, you can’t ride. That’s why goggles are the unsung hero of snowboarding gear.
If you needed any more convincing, here are five very good reasons why investing in at least one good pair of goggles (and preferably 2) should be a high priority. In particular this is important for those new to the sport who stupidly may be tempted to save some money by wearing sunglasses.
On my first snowboarding holiday I boarded in sunglasses to save money – I was an idiot. On the 3rd day I face planted at what I then considered to be high speed. I broke my glasses and cut my face just below the eye.
Even the very best snowboarders face plant every now and then. It’s an inevitable part of riding hard. So, when you do go face first into the white stuff, you need to know your eyes are well protected.
And it’s not just face plants that hurt and can damage your pork pies. Errant ski poles, territorial disputes with trees and lift mishaps (will leave this to your imagination) can all cause significant face-to-object unpleasantness. So having a sturdy pair of goggles is essential.
Like I mentioned above, if you can’t see, you can’t board. The advantage of goggles doesn’t get any more basic than that. If you’re going to board without adequate eyewear, you might as well leave your trousers at home too.
However its not a clear case of put your googles on and you will be fine as different lenses are suitable for different conditions. Get caught in a white out with mirrored iridium lenses and you may as well ride with your eyes closed. Spend a bluebird day wearing high intensity yellow lenses and by lunchtime your eyes and head will ache worse than if you had been on the Jaeger bombs all night.
It is amazing what a difference the right lenses make to how well you can see. But then riding well is often about confidence and if you can’t see 100% you won’t be feeling it and you won’t ride 100% either.
So it is worth investing in more than one pair of goggles or a pair with interchangeable lenses. Its worth pointing out that you don’t have to go top of the range for goggles that will do the job, but then top of the range look so pretty…..
When you’re on the side of a brilliant white mountain, at high altitude, the UV becomes a serious threat. We’re not talking sticking on a pair of shades and doing your best James Dean impressions at the slightest hint of daylight, this is far more serious.
Go without goggles for a day and you risk seriously damaging your eyes from the bright conditions. At the very least you’ll get a nasty headache that will leave you at home in bed while everyone else is out enjoying the après ski fun to get headaches of their own.
Why all the tears?
If you don’t wear goggles while you’re riding, the chances are you’ll be in floods of tears by the time you hit the bottom. High speeds, windy conditions and cold air will cause your eyes to stream.
Sunglasses are no good because they don’t form a seal, meaning air rushes through and tears will be streaming down your face making you look like an X factor hopeful at the judges houses. You can only claim so often that ‘snowboarding means everything to me’ before you pick up a less than flattering nickname for the rest of the snowboarding holidays.
Looking cool with anonymity
We all know we should wear a helmet when snowboarding and lets face it googles make a helmet look cool. Without goggles, a helmet doesn’t look right and wearing one with sunglasses somehow looks ridiculous. So googles turn a boring protective bit of headwear into something that looks cool.
Also, with goggles on, people can’t see your face giving you anonymity. So in the bar later that night they will not know you were the guy that cut them up. And more importantly they won’t recognise you as the guy that face planted in front of the lift queue, that had a disagreement with a tree, that headbutted the end of their ski pole or that lifted chairlift bar into his own face.
For me, boarding without goggles is like going on a first date without a pre-planned escape route. In short, never a good idea. And I should know because I made that mistake and now I’m married with two kids. But in all seriousness, work out your budget and try to stretch it to get two pairs of goggles that cover all conditions. Then, like me, you’ll be a happy man.