Should You Wear Your Goggles Under Your Helmet?

Published on 04/21/2023 · 8 min readShould ski or snowboard goggles go under or over your helmet? Snowboard Expert Noah Todd explains the benefits and reasoning of under the helmet!
Noah Todd, Snowboarding Expert
By Snowboarding Expert Noah Todd

Photo by Anna Shvets

To the casual skier or snowboarder, wearing goggles underneath a helmet seems weird. Most winter sports helmets were designed for goggles to be worn around the helmet, so why do people go against the design? Isn’t it uncomfortable? Isn’t it hard to remove the goggles? Are these darn kids ruining skiing?

Most people are surprised to hear that this trend was actually born out of practically and not a rebellion against helmets or a weird new style. In this article, I’ll break down why people wear their helmets under their goggles, which people should consider wearing goggles this way, and how to set up gear to wear goggles under the helmet.

The Origin

It’s a warm, spring day on the summit of Mount Hood. A snowboarder hikes up the park for the tenth time that day in an attempt to master a trick. There’s snow, but the hiking, spring warmth, and sun are all working together to heat this determined snowboarder until they start sweating. To combat this, the snowboarder takes off their helmet and wears a thin beanie instead. To prevent the sun from scorching their face, they keep their goggles on; this also protects their eyes like sunglasses would. When they reach the top of the park section, they throw on their helmet, strap in, and attempt their trick.

In short, people wear goggles under their helmets so they can take off their helmets to cool down. This helps them stay cool during warmer months, intense training sessions, and hikes.

Today, this style has proliferated into general snow culture, and many people now just wear goggles under their helmets to look cool. However, a few years ago, only dedicated park rats did this out of practicality, so this style helped people find other snowboarders who were passionate about progressing their abilities. Initially, only snowboarders who were training hard would wear their goggles like this, so the style caught on because people wanted to look like those talented snowboarders! Soon, many pro snowboarders were wearing their goggles under their helmets, and they spread the trend to the masses who were tuning into the X Games and Olympics.

Who It’s For

From a practical perspective, there’s a simple question to ask when considering how to wear goggles: Do I remove my goggles or my helmet more? For people that take off their goggles frequently, wearing goggles over their helmet makes more sense. Meanwhile, people who often take off their helmet probably benefit from wearing goggles under their helmet. In addition, switching between the styles is easy, so there’s no need to commit to one method.

In regards to safety, there is not a significant difference in protection, and wearing a helmet over goggles will not increase the chance of a head injury.

In terms of style, I’ll admit that people are weirdly opinionated about this trend. However, for the most part, people don’t care how others wear their goggles or how others look. In general, people who are good at skiing and snowboarding care more about how they ride than what they wear, so everyone should wear what they want, how they want.

How to Wear Goggles Under a Helmet

Goggles under helmet vs. over helmet. Photo by Noah Todd

There is no special equipment required to wear goggles under a helmet, but most people do a few things to wear their goggles beneath their helmet.

  1. Acquire and wear a beanie or skull cap. Most beanies will work, but beanies that don’t have to fold up are preferred. This is worn under the goggles to create a cushion between the goggle clips and the head. It also keeps the head extra warm. Extra style points are given if the beanie has a fun brand or graphic.
  2. Remove as much padding in the helmet as necessary. For many people, wearing a beanie will make their helmet too tight. To fix this, most people remove the foam padding in the helmet, as the beanie will do the job of helmet padding during crashes. It’s also a good idea to remove the ear pads. This is usually easy because most padding is attached with velcro.
  3. Put on goggles.
  4. Don the helmet.

As an example, here’s how I set up my helmet to wear goggles both over and under my helmet. For reference, here’s what I wear:

  • Helmet: Smith Maze MIPS (Large) - This is a good helmet, but there are many other good helmets. Most helmets will work, and I’ve even seen skating helmets on the slopes. However, skate helmets will not provide the same protection as ski/snowboarding helmets because they’re designed to absorb impacts under different conditions.
  • Goggles: Oakley Line Miners (Large) - These are my favorite ski goggles. I prefer them over magnetic lenses because the lens won’t pop off. I also like the frame because it reduces the chance of scratching. Oakley lenses are also fantastic.
  • Beanie: Icebreaker Pocket Beanie - Icebreaker’s merino wool is soft and it cuddles my head. It’s also slim, so it doesn’t add much girth to my already disproportionately large cranium. Most people will get a beanie or warm hat from one of their favorite snow companies and wear it.
  • Face Cover: 686 Deluxe Hinged Merino Balaclava - This is what covers my face and protects my cheeks from those vicious, racoon-esque goggle tans.

Gear used to wear goggles under helmet. Photo by Noah Todd

For those hoping to order a helmet online, my advice is to measure their head both with and without their preferred beanie and goggles if they plan to wear goggles under their helmet. This will ensure that the helmet is a better fit over all the stuff they might pack underneath their helmet. The biggest potential discomfort is the buckles on the goggle strap that push into the back of the head. However, if the helmet is big enough, this won’t be a problem. Many ski helmets also have a system for adjusting the tightness of the goggles to get a snug fit.

In terms of goggle compatibility, people are surprised to find that most ski helmets fit with most ski goggles. It’s hard to see in product pictures, but for most goggles, the top of the goggles are flat, and the part of the helmet that meshes with those goggles is also usually flat. This means that people can usually mix and match their favorite brands without issues. Giro, Smith, Oakley, Salomon, Spy, Dragon, and Zeal all mesh together. Therefore, people looking to purchase a new helmet or new goggles shouldn’t worry too much about goggle compatibility between the above brands.

Common Mistakes

Photo by Nathanael Desmeules

Traditionally, the biggest faux pas is having a small gap between the helmet and goggles. This exposes the forehead to the cold (and generally makes people look silly). However, there has been a recent counter-trend of people intentionally having a massive gap or helmet lean to almost push back at conventional style. This was most prominently displayed by Zeb Powell at the X games and Ayumu Hirano at the Olympics.

The other mistake that beginners make is only having a single mirrored lens. Anyone that has sent it into the trees on a snowy or overcast day knows that mirrored goggles are useless in low light conditions. People who ride seriously have different lenses for sunny days and darker days.

Other Options to Consider

While I’m talking about goggle preferences, I want to point out that sunglasses are sometimes the best option for a sunny day. While most people wear goggles by default, veteran spring and summer skiers know that a good pair of sunglasses are much better for keeping cool on a hot day. In addition, it’s easy to take off sunglasses while wearing a helmet, and it’s easy to take off a helmet while still wearing sunglasses! However, sunglasses aren’t as warm as goggles and face shots (of snow) will often get through sunglasses, so they aren’t always the best.

My favorite snowboarding sunglasses include my Oakley EVZero Blades, Jeremy Jones’s favorites: POC Nivalis/POC Glacial, and Zeb’s heart-shaped glasses from the X Games. Really, any fun sunglasses will earn you points with the lifties who see the same outfits over and over throughout the day.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, people care more about how much fun you're having and the show you’re putting on with your riding, than the clothes you’re wearing. Although Redditors and TikTok commenters might bash one style or another, people will always gravitate toward the riders who are having the most fun on the mountain. For anyone still wondering how to set up your gear, Curated Experts are happy to help answer even the most obscure or seemingly random questions. Our community includes snowboarders and skiers from all around the country, and we work in many industries. Even if one Expert doesn’t know the answer to your specific question, we have hundreds of Experts who will chip in to help you out! Reach out to an Expert today and check out this list of our Experts' favorite goggles.

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