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Best Snowboard Goggles

The Dragon RVX Mag does not disappoint. Photo: Steve Andrews

The Inertia

When assembling your snowboarding gear, one of the most underrated and overlooked parts of the kit is often goggles. But really, it’s one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll own. The ability to see properly in all weather conditions is critical to a safe and enjoyable time on the hill.

As someone who first hit the slopes in the ’80s on hand-me-downs and bargain bins, I’ve literally seen it all. While surviving my dirtbag 20s, I’ve foolishly endured fogged-up messes, scratched-up relics that the dog claimed, and cheapo Amazon specials that fell apart after a few sessions.

Now I’ve seen the light. Not only that, but the light has a pretty tint that bumps the contrast on those foggy storm days and helps prevent snow blindness when the sun’s shining. Yes, it’s true — good goggles truly do make a difference. So I took the liberty to try out some of the latest and greatest sets of goggles and share the results with you.

The Best Snowboard Goggles

Best Lens Changing System: Dragon RVX Mag ($270)

Most Innovative New Features: Anon M4 ($320)

Time-Tested Quality: Smith I/O Mag ($270)

Most Comfortable: Sweet Protection Durden RIG ($150)

Best Lens Quality: Oakley Line Miner ($161)

Best Way to Work the System: Whitespace RVX Mag ($289)

Best Snowboard Goggles for Women and Smaller Faces

1. Dragon X2S ($229)
2. Oakley Flight Deck M ($216)

Testing Notes:

Pow Slash Steve Andrews Snowboard Goggles

Heavy, wet snow and humid conditions are par for the course in coastal BC. Photo: Steve Andrews

The Conditions
Being based in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia (home to Whistler/Blackcomb), I took the goggles out in the toughest of conditions for a classic “wet coast” storm cycle. The humidity was at a minimum of 96%, and the temperatures hovered around freezing, meaning the snow coming down barely qualified as snow. These are the perfect conditions for goggles to fog up, so I was putting the gear through the ultimate test. Additionally, the alpine environment of Whistler peak during the storm was whiteout conditions, so any help from the lenses would be most welcome.

Goggle tints for best snowboard goggles

Left to Right: Oakley, Anon, Dragon, Sweet Protection. Photo: Steve Andrews

The Criteria
There are a number of factors that go into good goggles. For these reviews, I looked at:
Lens quality in the aforementioned conditions
Ability to change the lens with ease
Adjusting the size from hat to helmet
Did the goggles fog up when swimming in the powders?
Overall look and feel — A subjective category, but important nonetheless!

The Tester
I’ve been snowboarding since ’95 and skiing for 10 years before that. I cut my teeth at the pow mecca of Mount Baker and lived in the ultimate ski town of Whistler for 16 years after college. I’ve been a guide, a photographer and videographer, and also a coach over that time. So when testing the gear, I feel that I know what to look for in what makes a good riding experience.

Steve Andrews best snowboard goggles

Hi! I’m Steve. Photo: Steve Andrews

I also hold no allegiance to a certain brand. I’m not sponsored and proud of it — meaning I have the freedom to say what I like and not hold anything back when I don’t like things. However, this review is to help you find the best goggles, not the worst.

So what you see here is the cream of the crop — the ones I liked. You really can’t go wrong with anything listed, but each has something different to offer, and depending on what you need, it might suit you a bit better than the next person. Here’s what I found:

Dragon Goggles

Best Lens Changing System: Dragon RVX Mag ($270)

Large Frame
Easy Change
Clear Optics
Cylindrical shape

There are many ways to change a lens, but I think the fine folks at Dragon have it nailed. They combine magnetics with a locking system to ensure security as well as ease of transition. As great as the magnetic lens systems are, they always gave me a bit of concern about losing them if I have a huge wipeout. Plus, I have some clumsy tendencies and have popped a lens off simply by trying to move it off my face and onto my helmet.

The Dragon RVX system addresses this once and for all. The magnetics allow for a quick change, and with a flick of a switch, they are locked to the frame, allowing one to go huge without fear of a lens being lost in the snow should you take an unfortunate tumble.

Additionally, these goggles have a larger frame, allowing those of us with glasses to wear them underneath. These are definitely a solid choice for those who want to keep all lenses close to themselves, especially for those of us who aren’t afraid to take a tumble but might be afraid of the walk of shame to the shop needing to replace a lost lens.

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Anon Snowboard Goggles

Most Innovative New Features: Anon M4 ($320)

Comes with bonus lens and magnetic facemask
Stylish design
Easy magnetic change system
Huge variety of lenses
Both cylindrical and new toric shapes

The Anon M4 is a sweet setup all around, and you can’t go wrong with their optics and comfort. But what sets them apart is their bonus accessories. The goggles come with a facemask that attaches magnetically to the bottom of the goggles, giving a seamless fit and keeping more snow out of your schnoz. And while most goggles come with a bonus lens, the Anon M4 has its own protective case for the extra lens that will keep it safe in your pocket while shredding around. When the time does come to change, the spare lens will be well cared for in its second home and on your face in seconds, thanks to the magnetics.

Even more innovative is the new toric shape of the lenses. Basically a hybrid between a cylindrical and spherical shape, the toric is apparently the most similar to our field of vision. While it’s not directly noticeable, it’s more of a subtle difference where you don’t notice a flaw in the vision rather than seeing something you normally don’t see. Plus, it doesn’t bulge out like spherical lenses, meaning less chance of scratching.

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Smith I/O Mag best Snowboard Goggles

Time-Tested Quality: Smith I/O Mag ($270)

Multiple sizes and fits
Incredible ChromaPop tint
Great lens-change system

You can’t go wrong with a classic. Smith has been the leading brand in snowsports goggles for a while now, and with good reason. Their lens tech, called ChromaPop, is some of the best (neck-and-neck with Oakley’s Prizm, below), as is their lens-changing system, durability, and fit.

Smith’s I/O Mag has seen a number of updates over the years, and this year it’s available in three different sizes (Small, Regular, and XL) and two different fits (Low-Bridge and Regular) for a grand total of six different combos. The magnetic lenses are easy to change but also have a secure locking mechanism at the temple to ensure you don’t lose that fancy lens in the powder.

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sweet protection snowboard goggles

Most Comfortable: Sweet Protection Durden RIG ($150)

Great Contrast
Wide Field of View – Cylindrical Shape
The Comfort is Real

Norwegian company Sweet Protection started out making helmets for kayakers, which could be a clue to their innovations in comfort. There was just something really nice about the way that these goggles fit my head. Maybe it’s the foam, maybe it’s the shape … It was a certain je ne sais quoi (or however you say that in Norwegian) that can only be summed up with the notion that when it feels right, it feels right. Even in the wet coastal conditions, the foam did a great job of wicking away moisture (either from the humidity or my sweaty face), and they felt dry to the touch all day.

I also found their lens technology (called RIG) to have some of the best contrast in flat light conditions. It’s a darker lens, but it still lets the highlights in, allowing for plenty of definition to come through.

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Oakley Line Miner for Best Snowboard Goggles

Best Lens Quality: Oakley Line Miner ($161)

Superior lenses
Solid construction
Decades-long reputation for quality

Let’s face it — Oakley has been around for a while, so it’s probably no surprise if you’ve ever tried a pair of their goggles. They seem to have clarity and color both on lock. Looking through their Prizm lens is like an extra layer of definition. I don’t know what they did to get there, but it seems to work. Sure, Oakley will have a story as to what sets it apart, but all I can say is that it works and works well. Isn’t that all you need?

The Line Miner brings back the classic cylindrical lens for a lower profile fit and to reduce that “bug-eyed” look that comes with spherical lenses. These are the goggles of choice for pro snowboarders like Mark McMorris and Ståle Sandbech, and that’s because they look good, have a great field of vision, and Oakley’s Prizm tech delivers in spades when scoping lines and landings. And for a premium goggle, while I hesitate to call this a “budget option,” $161 is not too shabby. The Line Miner doesn’t have the same quick-change system as others on this list (the lens can be swapped out if needed) and only comes with one lens, but I can certainly appreciate the simplicity of the design.

The Line Miner comes in a few different sizes for different faces, I went with the Line Miner L, but smaller faces will appreciate the scaled-down Line Miner M.

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Whitespace Goggles

Best Way to Work the System: Whitespace RVX Mag ($289)

Sleek Design
Dragon-Quality Lens

When I first took Shaun White’s new brand-name goggles out of the box, my first thought was, “Haven’t I seen you somewhere?” And upon further look, I realized that I had. The Whitespace Goggles are the Dragon RVX. Finkle is Einhorn!

So it really comes down to if you dig the black-and-white motif of Shaun’s brand over the more colorful Dragon line. And if you really do like the RVX goggles, there’s a very good chance that you can play smart consumer and find a deal on Backcountry.com, where the Whitespace brand is listed exclusively. They often have huge sales, especially if you’re spending a bit of cash there. Otherwise, just realize that the Whitespace goggles are the same thing as the RVX — which, as I stated before, is a great goggle both in their swiftlock system and the fact that you can wear your glasses underneath.

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Best Snowboard Goggles for Women and Smaller Faces

Not everyone has a large face, and that’s okay. Luckily goggles come in all shapes in sizes. I had my lovely partner, who is also a snowboarder, give some models a run-through, and her verdict came back with two models:

dragon x2s

Dragon X2S ($229)

She chose these due to both comfort and field of view. “The thick foam was like a warm hug,” she says. Comfort is key. The spherical lens also stood out, as well as the previously mentioned swiftlock lens changing system that allows for quick lens changing on the fly without missing a beat, even in a snowstorm. Plus, the purple straps and purple lenses look great — not that that’s everything, but who are we kidding … it’s important to both men and women and should be with the type of coin you’re dropping! So get these if you value comfort above all else yet don’t want to sacrifice your peripheral vision or the ability to change lenses in a matter of seconds.

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Oakley Flight Deck

Oakley Flight Deck M ($216)

The Flight Deck is a smaller sized frame than the Line Miner, yet the spherical shape allows for a huge field of view. This means great vision without swallowing your face. The Flight Deck M is what I’d recommend for smaller faces, but they also make a size L for those who want the same ridiculous field of vision in a larger frame. Both styles have Oakley’s famous Prizm lens tech, the same as the Line Miner, above, which ranked highest for clarity and sharpness. These are the goggles that ski race champion Mikaela Shiffrin uses, so if you have the need for speed, these just might be the pair for you.

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What Matters When Choosing Snowboard Goggles?

Lens Quality
It’s easy to get sucked into the cheap goggle trap — after all, it’s just a piece of plastic in front of your face, right? Wrong. That lens is probably packed with as much tech as the snowboard under your feet — or at least it should be. Good goggles make use of double-layer constructions and anti-fog coatings to keep the mist at bay and a wide array of tints to help you adjust to different lighting conditions. These tints are the most useful for bringing out the contrast in terrain for low-light conditions, but they also are great at reducing glare and, as a matter of course, protecting your eyes from UV rays.

Lens Swapping
For some, simple is better. No lens change, no BS, just snowboarding. For others (myself included), it is a huge plus to have interchangeable lenses for tackling goggle-fog and adapting to different light conditions.

Anon M4

Features like Anon’s magnetic facemask can elevate a pair of goggles above the competition. Photo: Steve Andrews

Other Features
A good case can also make a big difference in ensuring your goggles will stand the test of time, especially during travel and storage. Big ups to the Anon M4 here, as they also include a slimmer-profile lens case to protect your extra lens while on the mountain. This means you can shove that extra lens in a pocket worry-free and swap out as needed.

Comfort also matters, as there’s nothing worse than having to deal with the annoyance of an uncomfortable piece of plastic on your face while you’re trying to have fun. A big consideration for comfort is whether you’ll be wearing a helmet and if the curve of your helmet matches up with the curve of your goggles. Nobody wants a gaper gap, both for the discomfort it will cause and the sideways glances.

Most Innovative Features
Most Innovative Features

Anon’s M4 goggles are packed with impressive features and extras, like a magnetic facemask, toric lens shape, and a carrying case to keep your extra lens protected while shredding.
Price: $320
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Taking Care of Your Snow Goggles

Regardless of what goggles you end up with, make sure you take care of them. Here are a few tips to make sure your investment lasts a long time. Following these guidelines will ensure that they last for many seasons to come, no matter what you or Mother Nature throws at them.

Don’t put them on your forehead when not in use. Our head is usually damp, so the moisture will get into the foam and cause the goggles to fog up and, over time, smell pretty bad.

Don’t rub the inside of the lens when it’s wet/fogged. Most of the good lenses have an anti-fog coating on the inside. Try to fight the urge to wipe away any fog and let it dissipate naturally. The best way to do this is inside your jacket. Most jackets these days have a large pocket for that reason. Or, try to keep a spare lens on you so that you can easily change them if they do fog up.

If the goggles aren’t covering your eyes, try to stash them in a pocket in their protective sleeve. If you have a helmet, it’s OK to rest them on your helmet, but make sure you loosen the straps, so they don’t stretch out.

When finished riding, make sure they have ample time to air out before storing them. The worst thing you can do is trap moisture inside for an extended period of time. Not only will they start to smell bad, but they will fog up more easily if you do so. It’s also a good idea to separate the lenses from the frame to ensure full drying.

Steve snowboarding

Goggles should work with both a helmet and a hat – especially for snowboarding. Photo: Steve Andrews

Final Thoughts

These days you can’t really go wrong with the top brands. They have all been doing it for quite some time and have had plenty of opportunities to learn and improve their products over the years. So it often comes down to the subtle differences that are most important to the individual. Hopefully, I have distilled that down a bit more for you here. So go out, have fun, be safe, and look good while doing so!

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.


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