Best Color Sunglasses for Snow | Lens Color Explained

Last Updated on 27/09/2022

Best Color Sunglasses for Snow

In this guide to the best color sunglasses for snow, you will learn which color lenses you should use when skiing, snowboarding, or out in the snow. We share some snow sunglasses features that are arguably more important than the lens color and take a look at some advanced finishes to help improve vision and clarity.

We tried to find out which color sunglasses are best for snow and found lots of contradicting answers. One place said green was best and orange was worst while another place stated the opposite. I also asked over 20 people in my skiing group with no clear answer. So why is there so much debate?

The truth is that all sunglass lens colors are good for different types of snow conditions and so it is very hard to pinpoint which color is the best overall. Also, there was a certain level of personal preference that came into play when we asked a bunch of skiers and snowboarders which lens color they preferred. For example, cross-country skiing sunglasses are often better in lighter colors to account for times when you will be on forest paths, whereas heliskiers may prefer mirrored blue lenses for maximum protection at altitude.

More Important Than Sunglasses Lens Color

It is more important that your sunglasses are 100% UV protective and only let through a certain amount of visible light than it is the color of the lenses.

The amount of Visible Light Transmission or VLT is often listed with higher-end sunglasses that have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they are 100% UV protective. Most sunglasses for snow will have a VLT percentage of anywhere between 6% and 20% which is how much light they will let through. So long as your sunglasses have a VLT percentage between this range then the color of the lenses will be an afterthought.

Best Color Sunglasses for Snow

Blue Sunglasses Lenses

Oakley Men's OO9102 Holbrook Square Sunglasses, Hi Res Blue Camo/Prizm Sapphire, 57 mm

BEST FOR: Bright sunlight at high altitudes

Blue Sunglasses are perhaps the best color for skiing in very bright light. They help to reduce the intense yellow glare from the sun and improve the contrast of other colors which can get drowned out. Because light reflected off the surface of the snow can also contain some blues, blue sunglasses might not be the best pick for snow although they certainly aren’t the worst.

Green Sunglasses Lenses

Suncloud Milestone Polarized Sunglasses

BEST FOR: Sunny days in the snow

Green sunglasses are really good at filtering out harsh yellow and blue light which are two of the most predominant when out in the snow on a sunny day. They are slightly better than blue lenses in low light but work best in bright sunlight. By reducing harsh blues and yellows, green polarized sunglasses help enhance more beneficial colors and shadows. This makes green a good choice for snow goggles or sunglasses lenses so that you can react to the snow ahead.

Red and Orange Sunglasses Lenses

Maui Jim Alenuihaha w/Patented PolarizedPlus2 Lenses Wrap Sunglasses, Burgundy Stripe/Hawaii Lava Polarized, Large

BEST FOR: Mixed light conditions

Red and orange sunglasses are good at adapting to different levels of light like on overcast or cloudy days. Orange and red sunglasses are often a personal preference, but when trying on multiple different pairs, we found it harder to adjust when switching from an orange lens color to a blue or green than the other way around. So we actually preferred using an orange lens even though green and blue lenses are supposedly better.

Once your eyes adjust to an amber color lens you can really start to see the shadows and contours of the snow and slope ahead.

Brown and Yellow Sunglasses Lenses

Costa Del Mar Men's Jose Rectangular Sunglasses, Blackout/Sunrise Silver Mirrored Polarized 580G, 62 mm

BEST FOR: Low light conditions like snow and fog

brown and yellow sunglasses tend to let more light in than other colors and so they work best on days where the weather isn’t great. Yellow lensed sunglasses can handle direct sunlight too however on snow we prefer a slightly darker tint. brown lenses may seem a little old-fashioned today but they offer an excellent balance between yellow and amber.

Gray Sunglasses Lenses

Ray-Ban RB3647N Double Bridge Round Sunglasses, Gold/G-15 Green, 51 mm

BEST FOR: All light levels

Gray sunglasses lenses are arguably the best all-rounders because they block all colors equally and can be used in direct sun or on overcast days. While grey lenses look good and block out sunlight, they don’t improve color contrast as well as green, blue, or orange sunglasses. On really dull days though, gray lenses may be too dark in which case you should look at yellow or brown lenses. 

Mirrored Sunglasses Lenses

HUK, Polarized Lens Eyewear with Performance Frames, Fishing, Sports & Outdoors Sunglasses Oval, (Spearpoint) Blue Mirror/Matte Black, Medium/Large

BEST FOR: Direct sunlight and snow glare

Mirrored lenses come in all colors but even in plain silver, they help block harmful UV rays and bright reflections off the snow’s glassy surface. I like mirrored sunglasses when skiing or snowboarding because they stop the sun from ever getting in your eyes and I like the way they look. Most mirrored sunglasses use a reflective film and so a scratch-resistant coating is absolutely necessary.

Photochromic Sunglasses Lenses

Smith Reverb Sunglasses Black/Photochromic Clear To Gray

BEST FOR: Prescription Lenses

Photochromic sunglasses (aka transition lenses) are light sensitive and darken in bright sunlight while softening in low light. They are ideal for prescription lenses so that you don’t have to carry two pairs around with you when you ski. They allow you to wear your snow sunglasses all day on the slopes and keep them on while having lunch in a mountain resort or inside a ski lift.

Polarized Sunglasses Lenses

Ombraz Teton Armless Rowing Sunglasses


We recommend you use polarized sunglasses wherever possible but especially on the snow where glare is a real problem. You may have heard of snow blindness before. Polarized sunglasses not only reduce glare and harsh types of UV light significantly, but they also enhance more beneficial colors so that you can discern the snow ahead. This is crucial when traveling down a snowy mountain at speed.


It is more important to have polarized lenses that block 100% of UV rays and only allow between 6% and 20% of visible light through than it is to find the best color sunglasses for snow. That being said we think that either blue sunglasses are the most effective in bright light and orange being the most well rounded. Given the choice I would get orange for my next pair.

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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.

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