Top Tips #16 Goggles

27th Feb 2015

Our Scotland winter course kit list includes goggles and some people wonder why.  If you have experience of the Alps you will know goggles are great for shielding your eyes from the strong sunlight but you'll also know that they are essential for aiding visibility when the wind whips the snow around.
In Scotland we have less problem with the strong sunshine (although it does show it's face occasionally!) and more problem with strong winds and wind blown snow.  Goggles are essential if you are trying to navigate or make safe passage in these conditions.
Many ski goggles have lenses designed to filter sunlight and the lenses can be a myriad of colours.  If you have some goggles already you can manage with any lens colour option but if you are going to be seeing plenty of action in Scotland and want to purchase some, I actually favour clear lenses (*).  Clear lenses still keep the wind blown snow out but they also cope well with any light conditions whilst still allowing you to see the snow features and undulations without any distortion.  
You can pay a lot for goggles but I choose not to pay too much because they are so prone to damage.  Having said that, buy some that are reliable because you don't want them to fall apart or the lens pop out when you need them most.  This season I am trying a pair by Bloc (see photo above) that cost about £25 and have worked really well so far.
Of course, with goggles so vulnerable to scratches and damage and most of them coming with just a simple bag to protect them (which isn't actually very protective), they need looking after.  If you want you can always buy a specially made goggle case but these are very bulky.  I prefer to just keep the goggles in their little bag and store them inside my climbing helmet.  Usually, when I am putting on my helmet I'll also be taking various other scratchy things like climbing rack and crampons out of my rucksack too.  If that's the case I can then just pop them in the hydration sleeve behind the back panel of my rucksack and they are fine until I either need to wear them or am repacking my rucksack - they then go back in my helmet.
*I took the time to read various online discussion forums before writing this and it seems everyone has a view on the right lens colour for certain conditions.  Yellow does this and red does that!  This Top Tip is only saying what I find useful on those grim Scottish days where all you want is shelter from the ball bearings hitting your face and a lens that will let as much light as possible through :)
Posted by Paul