Ski Goggles vs Sunglasses – Which Is Best For Snowsports?

by Fraser

It’s time to settle an age-old debate! Ski goggles vs sunglasses… which is better for skiing or snowboarding? 

Ski goggles are better as they’re specifically designed for snow sports activities such as skiing and snowboarding. They protect the wearer’s eyes from the sun, snow, and debris. Wearing sunglasses still offers some protection, but they don’t offer full coverage and are liable to falling off. 

If you have a choice, I’d nearly always opt for ski goggles! These budget-friendly options are perfect!

But are there some exceptions? The rest of this article will give a detailed comparison between the two and help you make the best pick.

Ski Goggles Vs Sunglasses

When choosing between goggles or sunglasses, it’s easier to break it down into the key points. 

Ski goggles and sunglasses both protect your eyes from harmful sun rays and flying snow and debris, but they have structural and design differences. Ski goggles have a tighter fit, a wider field of view, and offer better protection.

To help you understand the differences between ski goggles and sunglasses, here’s a handy table!

Sunglasses Ski goggles
Frame obstructs your view Wide field of view
Great protection from UV rays Great protection for UV rays
Protects you from minor debris Protects you from all debris
Lenses can shatter easily Lenses are resistant to impact
Can fall of easily Won’t fall off
Affordable Costly
Comfortable Can be slightly uncomfortable

The Pros and Cons Of Ski Goggles.

As the name suggests, ski goggles are eyewear tailored to protect your eyes when engaged in snow sports.

These goggles are made with plastic and have a rubber strap designed to wrap around your head to prevent them from falling.

Their design and material protect your eyes from sunlight, snow, and particles that may harm your eyes.

Ski Goggle Pros
  • Complete protection from harmful sun rays, snow, and other flying debris.
  • Close-fitting and hard to fall off.
  • Straps provide extra warmth.
  • Won’t break easily.
  • Look stylish (mostly).
Ski Goggle Cons
  • Heavy and sometimes uncomfortable to wear.
  • Some models fog up quickly in cold weather.
  • Can be costly.

The Pros and Cons Of Sunglasses.

Sunglasses are technically eye protective gear, though most people use them as fashion accessories.

The lenses are meant to offer protection from harmful UV sun rays and reduce glare to enhance visibility. They also offer some protection from tiny flying debris.

Sunglasses Pros
  • Light and comfortable.
  • Don’t fog up easily.
  • Affordable.
  • Very versatile - use them in different settings.
  • It’s easy to get prescription sunglasses.
Sunglasses Cons
  • Can fall off easily while snowboarding or skiing.
  • They offer minimal protection from flying debris.
  • Incomplete cover as most don't cover the sides.

Can I Still Use Sunglasses As A Substitute For Ski Goggles?

Of course!

Sunglasses have similar features to ski goggles, such as dark and photochromic lenses. On a dry, sunny day of gentle riding they might be just the ticket. However…

Sunglasses can’t substitute ski goggles. But wearing sunglasses is better than having no protection at all. If you’ve gone out skiing or snowboarding and only happen to have a pair of sunglasses on you, they can still offer some protection.

They’ll still likely prevent snow blindness and protect against light snow or rain. However unlike ski goggles, sunglasses are not sealed, and cannot offer complete protection against adverse snow conditions, flying debris, and the cold.

Sunglasses can break on impact. A circumstance that I unfortunately have experience with!

Learn more in my excellently written article Do You Need Goggles To Snowboard?

Why Are Ski Goggles Safer Than Sunglasses?

Ski goggles are safer than sunglasses. Their unique features offer complete protection from harmful sun rays, flying debris, and cold. They also don’t easily shatter on impact, which is essential in preventing eye injury.

If you want to ensure a safe skiing or snowboarding experience, here’s several reasons you should consider getting ski goggles over sunglasses.

1. Greater Field Of View.

Sunglass lenses are relatively small, with the side frames covering the corner of your eyes and limiting your field of vision. However, ski goggles have wide lenses that wrap around your face, giving a full panoramic view of your surroundings.

The increased field of view you get when wearing ski goggles enables you to better dodge obstacles around you!

2. A Tight Fit.

The main safety issue of sunglasses is that they can fall off easily while skiing or snowboarding. This exposes your precious eyes to various dangers. This can easily be avoided by using ski goggles with adjustable straps.

3. More Coverage and Protection.

Ski goggles are fitted with large lenses that cover a larger portion of your face when compared to sunglasses.

The larger coverage area means your face and eyes are offered more protection from snow, ice, and other debris you may encounter as you ski or snowboard.


Ski goggles and sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful sun rays and other materials. However, ski goggles are much better suited for skiing and snowboarding.

If you’re simply looking to protect your eyes from harmful sun rays, you can go for sunglasses.

However, ski goggles will give you much better protection while speeding down a slope.

You should also check out my eyewear recommendation for night skiing. 

Happy riding!

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