What Is VLT in Ski Goggles?

Ski expert Hannah Bibbo answers the most pressing questions about ski and snowboard goggles, ensuring their perfect fit, best uses, and longevity.

Three people on a chair lift wear ski goggles and helmets and smile at each other.

Photo by Curt Nichols

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There are so many types of ski and snowboard goggles out there that picking the right ones for you can seem overwhelming. Between the different shapes, sizes, types of lenses, and colors, how do you know where to start? When it comes to picking the right pair of goggles for you, you want to make sure you’re picking the right lens color, the right VLT (which we’ll get into), the features you want, and very importantly, you want to make sure that they fit correctly.

What is VLT in ski goggles?

When referring to ski and snowboard goggles, VLT stands for “visible light transmission,” which means how much light passes through the lens to your eyes. Lighter tinted lenses have a higher VLT, which is great for cloudy days, while darker tinted lenses have a lower VLT, great for sunny days.

What VLT is best for all conditions?

A VLT of 25-60% is the best option if you want to own just one pair of lenses for all conditions, like the Smith Rock Salt/Tanin/Rose Gold lens (36%).

For bright, sunny days, you’ll want to look for VLT of 5-20%, like the Smith ChromaPop Sun Platinum Mirror (13%). For cloudy, snowy days, you’ll want to look for VLT of 65-90%, like the Dragon Photochromatic Yellow lens (73%).

How to clean ski goggles

You don’t have to buy anything special to clean your ski goggles. Instead, use the microfiber protective pouch that the goggles came with to only wipe the outside. Do not wipe the inside of the goggle with anything; you will risk scratching them or removing the anti-fog coating.

A pair of skis have ski googles balanced on them, one blue and one yellow tinted.

Photo by Karsten Winegeart

How do you know if ski goggles fit?

You will know your goggles fit correctly if they are snug across your cheekbones, forehead, and nose without leaving any gaps on your face. Be sure that they are not too tight that they are painful. There also should not be a gap between your helmet and the top of the goggles where cold air could get in.

How to keep ski goggles from fogging

Here are a few things you can do to keep your goggles from fogging: 1. Make sure not to touch the inside of the goggles with your fingers. 2. Lift your goggles up on the lifts to let air in. 3. Make sure there is ventilation between your ski mask and goggles. 4. If none of those tricks work, you can use anti-fog spray by spraying a little on both sides of the goggles.

What do different color goggle lenses do?

Different color goggle lenses allow different amounts of light, or a different amount of visible light transmission (VLT), through. A lighter-colored goggle, like yellow, gold, or amber, will have a higher VLT and be better for cloudy or snowy days. On the other hand, darker colored goggles, like blue, red, or mirrored will have a lower VLT and perform better on bright and sunny days.

What is the best color lens for ski goggles?

The best color lens for ski goggles depends on the conditions that you are skiing in. The most versatile color lens is a rose or amber because they have an average amount of visible light transmission (VLT). A lens color with a higher VLT, such as a yellow, would be best for cloudy days, while a lens color with a lower VLT, like a red or blue, would be best for sunny days.

Are polarized ski goggles worth it?

Four reasons why I believe that polarized ski goggles are worth the price: 1. Polarized ski goggles will prevent headaches and tired eyes from the sun. 2. Polarized ski goggles will better contrast so you’ll be able to ski objects easier, especially in bright conditions. 3. Polarized ski goggles will decrease glare from the sun. 4. Some polarized goggles even come with UV protection. These are typically the higher-end ones!

How long should my ski goggles last?

Ideally, your ski goggles could last 5-8 years. Realistically, though, they’ll probably last closer to 4 or 5 years. You can increase their life expectancy by keeping them in their case or goggle bag when you aren’t wearing them and not touching the inside of the lenses.

If you’re looking for goggles and want to make sure they’re the right ones for you, chat with me or one of my fellow Winter Sports experts here on Curated.

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Written By
Hannah Bibbo
Hannah Bibbo
Ski Expert
I started skiing before I could walk, or shortly there after. I grew up skiing on the east coast, mainly at Killington. I went to college in Denver, and a main reason was to be closer to the mountains. My first job was in a local ski shop, where I learned the ins and outs of the gear, what to look f...
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