5 Best Alternatives to Ski Goggles

Last Updated on 22/11/2022

Alternatives to Ski Goggles

In this article, we share the practical alternatives to ski goggles you can use. You will learn why eye protection is so important when skiing and what the best ski goggle alternative is.

Ski goggles and sunglasses aren’t just for looking cool, they are almost a necessity when skiing. Two of the main reasons why you will find yourself needing eye protection when skiing or snowboarding are to block out direct sunlight and glare off the snow.

You might have heard of snowblindness before. This is a form of photokeratitis that occurs from sunlight bouncing off snow or light causing eye damage that can be severe in bad cases.

Not only is it very hard to see where you are going when the sun is in your eyes but when it bounces off the surface in front of you as well, don’t be surprised if you fall without ski goggles on. But snow goggles aren’t the only way to protect your eyes when skiing or snowboarding. There are a few other alternatives you can use as well…

Why You Should Consider Ski Goggles

Ski goggles are purpose-built for the task and so offer the best protection from sun, wind, and harsh weather as well as offering the best field of vision. Steaming up used to be a problem for ski goggles 20 years ago but now they have things like aerodynamic vents and chemical finishes which prevent condensation. Modern ski goggles are in my opinion the best eye protection for skiing and snowboarding.

sunglasses with strap vs ski goggles

5 Practical Alternatives to Ski Goggles

Ski goggles can be uncomfortable for some people who might find they pinch their noses, steam up too easily, or rub on their ears. The most obvious alternative to ski goggles is a pair of sunglasses and there isn’t much else out there that is suitable. Here are the 5 best alternative options to wearing ski goggles:

1. Sunglasses


Sunglasses are the best alternative to ski goggles as they provide the same (or better) sun protection and most people already own a pair of sunglasses. The benefits of sunglasses vs ski goggles are that they are lightweight, breathable, easy to store, and more practical if you need prescription lenses.

One feature that goggles do have that most sunglasses don’t is a headband to keep them on your face in the event of a tumble. Fortunately, this problem has been solved and you can get sunglasses for cross-country skiing that use an armless design much like a pair of goggles. You can also get aftermarket cords that attach to the arms of regular shades.

2. Polarized Saftey Goggles

3M Safety Glasses, Virtua CCS, ANSI Z87, Anti-Fog, Gray Lens, Black Frame, Corded Ear Plug Control System, Removable Foam Gasket

There is a wide variety of different safety glasses designed for different activities or sports that can all be used for skiing. Most safety glasses will have clear lenses and have the sole purpose of protecting things from going into your eye. Ballistic goggles used by the military and hunters for example make excellent snow goggles so long as they have one feature…

They need to have tinted UV protection at the very least and ideally, you want them to be polarized so that you can see where you are going even more clearly. The color of the lens does make a slight difference with snow but in general; yellow, orange, green, or blue all work well to block snow glare.

The downside of using safety goggles for skiing is that they are not typically ventilated very well and don’t have a very wide field of vision. They are an acceptable alternative to ski goggles but not ideal – sunglasses would be a better option.

3. Hat

Outdoor Research Pub Cap Black

If you don’t have any sunglasses and don’t want to wear ski goggles then a hat can be used as an alternative. A hat will keep the sun out of your eyes as well as provide some protection against wind, rain, and snow.

What a hat won’t do though is block any sun glare bouncing off the surface of the snow and ice. So it is better than nothing but still nowhere near as effective as a pair of ski goggles or sunglasses.

Peaked winter hats are a good idea to help keep your ears warm as well as keep the sun out of your eyes. You can get beanies with visors or go for more of a trapper hat like the Barbour Stanhope.

4. Helmet with Visor

Savor Visor Stereo Black

Helmets with visors for skiing are a specialist piece of kit and so there aren’t many people that make them. Winter Olympians use them for their streamlined design which can help shave seconds off a run. They work like motorbike helmets in that you can flip the visor up when you aren’t skiing and down when you are.

Single-lense visors, whether on a helmet or your sunglasses, always provide the best field of vision. And because the helmet has an open chin, you never have to worry about condensation build-up because of how far off your face it sits – allowing for lots of air movement.


The Atomic Powersports Helmet above is a good example of a snow helmet with a visor that you can use as an alternative for ski goggles and sunglasses. The reason it works so well is that you don’t have to worry about any elastic straps or rigid arms digging into your ears underneath your helmet.

5. Face Paint Under Eyes

Easton | PRO EYE BLACK | Baseball/Softball

You may have seen baseball and football players with black face paint under their eyes in a game – known as eye black. The idea is that dark face paint reflects less light than your skin and so when the sun is in your eyes you don’t have to squint so hard.

Skiers could use eye black as an alternative to snow goggles as a last resort however it will work better when used along with a hat to block the sun from above. The combination of the two will block the sun from above and help to prevent glare from the snow but it will still only be mildly effective compared to ski goggles.

Side note: Many animals that are active during the day have dark patches under their eyes for this same reason whereas nocturnal animals have the opposite – light patches under their eyes to improve the amount of light that reflects into the eye. 

ski goggle alternatives

Can You Ski Without Ski Goggles?

You can ski in shorts and a t-shirt but we wouldn’t advise it. Similarly, you can ski without ski goggles or sunglasses but we wouldn’t recommend it. On sunny days you want sun protection and glare defense but on bad weather days, goggles help keep the snow, wind, and rain out of your eyes. In both cases, ski goggles help you see better when you are flying down a mountain at speed.

Can You Wear Regular Glasses for Skiing?

You can wear a pair of spectacles to ski in if that is all you have but that won’t stop the sun and snow glare from giving you a hard time. The better alternative is to get a pair of prescription sunglasses or prescription ski goggles.

I often used to wear my prescription lenses underneath my snow goggles but I prefer to wear prescription lenses to avoid steaming up. I even used to wear my prescription glasses underneath a pair of sunglasses but that isn’t ideal or practical.

Could You Wear Swimming Goggles or a Snorkel Mask For Skiing?

When I was researching this article and thinking about all the different things you could use as an alternative to skiing goggles, I did consider swim goggles and scuba masks. I tried wearing one of my snorkel masks outside in 35-degree Fahrenheit temperatures and it was less than a minute before it started to steam up. Any goggles or masks that are air-tight without ventilation are not suitable for cold temperatures or skiing.


We hope you found these 5 alternatives to ski goggles useful but ultimately go away knowing that you should wear either ski goggles or sunglasses most of the time.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

Gear Assistant