Ski & Snowboard Goggles Lens Guide - CYLINDRICAL VS. SPHERICAL

Let's Solve the Great Goggles Debate

When it comes to skiing, boarding, sledding, or just shredding - visibility is priority numero UNO and that, my friends, is where your snow goggles come in. With a wide array of goggle shapes and lens types on the market, choosing the right pair can feel a tad overwhelming. Two of the most popular lens designs you'll encounter are spherical and cylindrical, each offering it's own pros and cons. We are here to help - so let's get down to the nitty gritty!

Goggles Lens - Spherical vs. Cylindrical


CYLINDRICAL Lenses: El Clásico

A cylindrical lens curves horizontally across your handsome (or gorgeous) face, but the lens surface is vertically flat. Imagine removing a section from the front of your Coke can - that's the general idea. Check out the picture above, illustrating our BLITZ goggle as one example. This traditional design has stood the test of time and remains popular for several reasons:

Cylindrical: What you'll love   Cylindrical: Limitations
  • Price - The simpler construction usually means it costs less to make than a spherical lens.
  • Style - Style is subjective, but many riders prefer the streamlined aesthetic of a cylindrical lens over a more bulky or bulge-y spherical lens.
  • Good Peripheral - While not quite as expansive as spherical lenses, cylindrical still offer a great field of view, especially in wider goggle designs like the ones offered by EO.
  • Potential Distortion - in theory,  cylindrical lenses can have some distortion and glare around their edges because of the flatness along the vertical axis. But in our professional experience, this is usually super minimal and usually not worth worrying about.
  • Style - Again, subjective. Some shredders just prefer the "bubble" rounded look of a spherical lens design.
  • Fogging? Some experts may smugly explain that the smaller internal volume of a goggle with a cylindrical lens will be more prone to fogging. The idea is that the bulbous spherical design positions the lens farther from your face, and therefore is the superior anti-fog choice. In reality, the more important anti-fog considerations are ventilation design and ensuring your goggles are dual lens constructed with anti-fog coating. Do all our models check these boxes? Thanks for asking. And yes, yes they do.


SPHERICAL Lenses: A Curvy Contender

Like a cylindrical lens, a spherical lens curves horizontally across your eyes and face. But it goes one step further and also curves vertically. Imagine a section removed from a ball, or sphere, that there's your general shape. This is a popular choice for many skiers and boarders.

Spherical: What you'll love    Spherical: Limitations
  • Superior Optics - Spherical lenses have a slightly more accurate and natural perception of depth and distance. The round shape means zero flat spots where light can hit to create glare.
  • Style - The rounded shape of a spherical lens is often the primary reason someone opts for this design vs. cylindrical.
  • Big Air - Generally, a spherical lens will have a larger volume of air between your attractive mug and the lens when compared to cylindrical, but as noted above, there are much more important anti-fog features of a google than lens shape.
  • Price - Manufacturing a spherical lens is more complex, which usually translates into a higher price tag for the buyer.
  • Style - Steeze is subjective. Some lovers of snow sports just prefer the classic flat shape of a cylindrical goggle. A spherical goggle can sometimes appear more bulky than the traditional cylindrical designs.
  • So which do the pros wear? If the optics and anti-fog features of a spherical design were notably and consistently better than cylindrical, we'd likely see the pros mostly wearing spherical snow goggles. This stuff is their job, after all. But this is not the case. Our informal study came back with results showing professional skiers and boarders alike are just as likely to rock the classic cylindrical goggles design as the spherical.


    The Verdict: It's All About You

    Our Pro Tip: Don't get too caught up in the spherical vs. cylindrical debate. We have multiple pairs of each and have zero concerns about the possibilities of glare, distortion or fogging. Most people probably couldn't point out any distortion in their cylindrical-lens goggles. We've learned to prioritize fit, helmet compatibility and lens tints and colors significantly over lens shape.


    A Few More Considerations

    Beyond the lens shape, there are more important factors to consider when choosing snow goggles. We'll go into these in more detail later, so stay tuned!

    • VLT (Visible Light Transmission): You'll see this acronym along with a numerical value to show the amount of light that reaches your eyes through the lens. A high number (like over 60%) means it's an excellent choice for low-light conditions. The tint of your lens affects how much light passes through, impacting visibility in different conditions. Choose a lighter tint for sunny days and a darker tint for low-light conditions. Our get the best of both worlds with photochromic light-adaptive goggles.
    • Anti-Fog Coating: Look for goggles with an anti-fog coating to prevent moisture buildup and ensure clear vision. We expect most goggles over $60 would offer this.
    • Helmet Compatibility: Make sure the goggles you choose fit comfortably and seamlessly with your noggin protector.
    • Prescription Goggles: Contact lenses don't work well for you, but still kinda want to see stuff while riding? Consider opting for goggles with over-the-glass (OTG) compatibility. Our Frameless Goggles and MACH SCHNELL goggles can by worn over eyeglasses for most people. Score!

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