SKI GOGGLES

The Wall Street Journal reports that the real purpose of better ski goggles is clarity on the slopes. They also claim that technology is improving them, but at a pretty price. Here is what they say and three examples of how you can spend more money on goggle-tech.

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Premise

  • Since snow crystals scatter light every which way, any amount of sun produces chaotic reflections on surfaces from ice to powder, making it tricky to interpret depth and surface variations.
  • Ideally, goggles minimize this visual noise while conforming perfectly to your face and never fogging. 

Example 1: Noise Cancellation for the Eyes

  • Shred has developed a specific combination of lens dye and a semi-polarizing filter. Result: improved depth and terrain perception in a white world. The contrast boosting lens (CBL) functions like noise-canceling headphones for the eye by absorbing light rays emphasizing contrast on snow, and reflecting all others to mute optical noise. Cost: $250.

Example 2: Custom Goggles Using a 3-D Printer

  • The squishy foam on traditional goggle frames forms a one-size-fits-all seal for widely varying facial structures—except when it doesn't. The Imprint model from Smith Optics, a version of its popular I/O MAG frame, is customizable to achieve optimal fit. First, you download and use a detailed facial scanning app (only on iOS for now). Smith then takes the information and uses HP 3-D printer technology to print a fully bespoke frame. In our test, the upgrade did away with drafty gaps and the nagging need to endlessly readjust goggles. The Imprint also features the company's most advanced lenses, the Chromapop Mag lens that boosts contrast and has been treated to combat fog. Cost: $450.

Example 3: Goggle Tints So Extreme You Can Ski at Night Ski

  • Julbo's latest ultra-engineered offering is a proprietary photochromic lens with the widest tint range on the market. That means the lens can change adeptly from one extreme, so clear you can night-ski, to another, dark enough you can ski in ultrabright alpine sunshine. Julbo engineers also tackled the foggy-goggle problem with a unique frame design. Cost: $280.

Our Take

The ski industry has spent a lot of money getting skiers to spend more. So maybe the next goggles will make the parking lot traffic jam disappear.