It used to be you'd wear goggles only in the foulest weather. You knew you'd be skiing blind thanks to fogged-over, scratched, or blurry lenses, but at least your eyes were protected from driving snow and wind.
Things have clearly changed. Goggles are now little fog-battling machines with more features than the newest TV-VCR combination. And since the lenses are for more than just protecting your eye sockets from frostbite, goggle companies are paying much more attention to optics and visual clarity. Most goggles offer 100 percent UV protection and have scratch-resistant lenses and advanced venting systems that fight sweat even on warm spring days. Also, a sign of the times: Most are now helmet compatible. Oh, and they look cool. Check these out:
SPY SCOOP $65, $95 with chrome lens
Nutshell: A comfy pair of snow goggles, the Scoop's pliable, face-hugging frame is lined with cushy foam that wicks away sweat.
Coolest feature: The Trident double-lens system uses a polarization filter bonded between two thin polycarbonate layers to diffuse the glare that reflects off snow and ice. It all adds up to clear vision through a lightweight, shatterproof lens.
Note: To keep away fog, a patented venting system forces dry air in through vents and draws out moist air. Comes in 22 frame colors.
Info: 760-734-6779; www.spyeyes.com
CARRERA IVAN $75, $90 with silicone strap
Nutshell: A versatile, helmet-compatible goggle for all light conditions with a freeridish rounded frame shape.
Coolest feature: The Carbonflex system sandwiches a polarizing filter between a scratch-resistant outer lens and a fog-resistant inner lens. The sealed construction prevents water and atmospheric humidity from getting between the lenses. The yellow-tinted outer lens enhances vision in flat-light conditions, and the coated inner lens with the polarized filter combats glare from snow and ice.
Note: Available with a rubbery silicone strap that fits over helmets without slippage.
Info: 800-526-0327; www.carrerasport.com
UVEX SUPER SONIC $80
Nutshell: A sleek, compact goggle featuring antifog, antiscratch lenses available in three gold-tint options.
Coolest feature: Uvex's Climazone venting system draws dry air in through top and bottom vents and forces wet air out through the sides-hence, no draft. In addition to the vents, a two-stage coating inside the lens resists fogging, and when moisture does accumulate, forms a transparent water film instead of the cloudy fogging effect.
Note: Compatible with most helmets (and all Uvex helmets).
Info: 888-616-8839; www.uvexsports.com
OAKLEY A FRAME $86-$120
Nutshell: The A Frame is designed for maximum visual clarity, which you'll get-if you don't mind looking like an extraterrestrial invader in a low-budget sci-fi flick.
Coolest feature: Okay, there's two: Oakley's new "ellipsoid" lens geometry minimizes distortion at all angles from which light hits your eyes; strategically placed "surge ports" allow for circular ventilation, reducing fog and condensation.
Note: The scratch-resistant lenses are treated to reduce glare and sheet moisture that would normally bead up and cause distortion. Available in eight frame colors, including one called "carbon fiber."
Info: 800-403-7449; www.oakley.com
SCOTT VOLTAGE DVS $89, $110 with chrome lens
Nutshell: It's all about seeing better: The Voltage features a new, vision-optimizing lens system.
Coolest feature: DVS-which stands for Digital Vision System because it enhances optics in a way similar to how music is digitally refined-consists of an optical-quality lens with a high-contrast tint. It's said to increase depth perception and definition in flat-light conditions while minimizing distortion.
Note: The frame is compact enough to fit most helmets, bbut the lens is wide enough to preserve peripheral vision.
Info: 800-292-5874; www.scottusa.com
BOLLE CHRONO 2000 $90
Nutshell: A futuristic goggle created to solve the distortion problem commonly linked to double-lens systems; turns out it reduces fogging, too.
Coolest feature: The Equalizer system utilizes a Gore fabric patch between the lenses that serves as a vent, allowing air-but not moisture-to pass through. The high-tech ventilation prevents the lens from flexing or buckling with changes in altitude and therefore minimizes visual distortion. And since it breathes like its cousin, Gore-Tex, it helps eradicate fog.
Note: Available with polarized lenses at the same price.
Info: 800-628-2740; www.bolle.com
BRIKO Z.A.R. PRO $109-119
Nutshell: Briko's top-of-the-line racing model, worn by World Cuppers and various other fast, racy types.
Coolest feature: The Thrama Plus 50 antidistortion double-lens system creates a thermal layer between the outer and inner shields, preventing fog and condensation buildup. Forward-facing vents on the top of the frame allow for constant air circulation even at slow speeds.
Note: The frame is made from variable-density foam that's crash-proof tough on the outside and face-hugging soft on the inside.
Info: 800-462-7456; www.brikousa.com
SMITH CASCADE TURBO C.A.M. $170
Nutshell: Windshield fogged up? The Turbo C.A.M. has a built-in defroster much like the one in a VW Beetle.
Coolest feature: A tiny, not-quite-silent electronic fan (which runs on two AAA batteries) is attached to the strap and can be switched on or off with a gloved hand. Combined with strategically placed vents, the fan provides upward airflow through the goggles' interior to help eliminate fog and moisture.
Note: Compatible with most helmets, buy try 'em on to make sure the fan doesn't get in the way.
Info: 800-635-4410; www.smithsport.com