Goggle fog...we've all been there.
It's one of the biggest "little" problems in skiing, and if you've spent more than a day or two out on the hill in your life, you've probably had to deal with it. While typically nothing more than a minor annoyance, foggy goggles CAN get completely out of hand, which can lead to very real safety concerns if you can't see where you're going as you barrel down the mountain at 50+MPH. Plus, let's be serious, what fun is it being out in nature and enjoying a ski day with your friends if you can't fully experience it visually?
Simply put, even though goggle fog can seem like nothing more than a minor issue at first, it has the potential to ruin your day if it gets out of control.
Thankfully, the vast majority of goggle fogging issues are avoidable, and we're here to help you learn how! We've been doing this skiing thing for years and years, and we've learned a thing or two along the way about how to avoid little problems like this in order to keep the fun levels high, regardless of the weather.
Below are our 7 RULES for keeping your goggles clear and maximizing your visibility all day long. If you would rather watch/listen, scroll to the bottom and fire up our video with most of the same info and a bit more explanation!
DISCLAIMER: This list is geared toward more modern (and generally higher end, $75+ MSRP) goggle designs from the past 10 or so years, most of which take advantage of enhanced venting and other anti-fog elements such as multi-layer lenses. The rules will work to some degree with ALL goggles out there, but they'll be much more effective and efficient with modern designs.
RULE #1: ALWAYS KEEP YOUR GOGGLES AS DRY AS POSSIBLE!!!
This is the most important thing, and several of the other rules are just variations of this. Most goggle fog is caused by moisture that is trapped somewhere in your goggles, which then gets vaporized by your body heat and condenses on your lenses. If there's no trapped moisture in the first place, you're probably not going to have a fog problem.
If you take a fall and get a bunch of snow in your goggles, or maybe you're skiing on a really stormy (or possibly even rainy) day, occasionally go inside and shake your goggles out, then let them dry on the table for 5-10 minutes. The worse the weather is, the more regularly you need to take steps like this, but if you stay on top of it and don't let the problem get out of control, they should dry pretty fast every time and you're less likely to have a fog problem that won't go away.
Obviously sweat and your own breath contribute to the moisture element, but those are also things that can be mitigated. We'll address them further down the list!
RULE #2: DON'T LET SNOW ACCUMULATE OR STICK ANYWHERE ON YOUR GOGGLES!!
Your goggles' primary anti-fog element is ventilation, which won't work properly if your vents are clogged or obstructed! Keep snow off your vents as much as you can. If you've been crashing a lot, or it's a really snowy day, periodically take your goggles off and shake as much snow off as possible.
Your top vent is the most important here, and also the most prone to accumulation. If you're skiing in a heavy storm, regularly brush this vent off with your gloves at the very least. If snow is allowed to sit up there, your body heat will eventually cause it to melt and drip down inside of your goggles, which will start to cause REAL fog problems very quickly. So keep ALL your vents clear, but ESPECIALLY that top one!
RULE #3: USE A HELMET WITH A VISOR
Sort've an extension from the last rule, but a helmet with a visor that has a nice fit with your goggles will shield your top goggle vent from most snow accumulation, while still leaving enough of a gap for the vent to get enough airflow to do its job.
For an example of the fitment we're talking about, see the embedded video below, which shows a Bern Baker helmet paired with a Smith I/O goggle.
RULE #4: DON'T COMPLETELY COVER YOUR FACE AND HEAD ALL THE TIME
Even if you're doing everything else right and your goggles are completely dry, your own breath and sweat can create enough moisture to cause fogging. Typically this won't be nearly as bad as the fog caused by outside water getting into your goggles, but it can still be very annoying, and it CAN get out of control if you let it.
If it's not too cold, pull down your facemask a little so you can breathe better. This will help you direct your breath outward instead of upward. When you breathe directly into your facemask, some of that warm air is always going to want to travel straight up into the lower vents of your goggles, so the objective should always be to get as much of it away from you as possible.
If you wear a helmet and that helmet has vents that can be opened and closed, always make sure the vents are OPEN if you begin to have fogging problems. Part of the issue could be that humidity from your sweaty head is forced to escape through/around your goggle vents!
RULE #5: STAY COOL
Or, said another way, just regulate your body temperature and the air around your core as best you can. If you're too warm, you'll start sweating, and that will help create a better environment for fog to form as warm, humid air creeps up through your jacket and escapes around your head.
If you're not worried about freezing, open your jacket vents a little bit and cool off! Or if you don't want to do that, maybe unzip your jacket every other lift ride and reset the environment inside there a little bit.
RULE #6: ALWAYS PROPERLY STORE YOUR GOGGLES BETWEEN SKI DAYS SO THAT THEY CAN DRY!!!
This is a REALLY big one that a lot of people screw up, and it can be a major day-ruiner.
DO NOT leave your wet goggles in your car, or in a bag, or in your jacket overnight! DON'T DO IT!!
They need to be out where they can dry naturally. Don't put them in front of the fire or in the dryer or anything like that, as extreme heat can easily damage them. But DO put them in a well-ventilated, dry place...maybe a windowsill, or even just out on any table at room temperature overnight.
What happens if you store wet goggles improperly is not only will they not be completely dry when you put them on again tomorrow (effectively starting you at a disadvantage in your fight against fog) but parts of your goggle that absorb and shed water more slowly will begin to soak some up, and that can cause problems you won't be able to fix when you're out on the hill.
Specifically, if you have a more dense foam membrane anywhere in your goggle, like sandwiched between a 2-layer lens, that foam will gradually absorb water overnight and will be IMPOSSIBLE to dry during the day. Meanwhile it will leech water into the sealed air pocket between your two lenses (which is meant to be an insulating air pocket) that will cause fog and ice crystals to form INSIDE your lens. There is no way to dry this quickly, and the only way to fix it is to take the goggles home and let them dry properly overnight.
RULE #7: GET MOVING!
One of the biggest things you can do to help your goggles vent moisture and humidity is by increasing airflow around them as much as possible. The easiest way to do this is by moving faster in general, but you can also stand on a windy ridge for a bit longer before you drop in, or pull your goggles away from your face when you're on the lift in order to help them breathe better (see video below for demonstration). It doesn't matter HOW you do it, just find ways to increase airflow around your body and, therefore, around your goggles. Those vents are there for a reason, so give them all the help you can!
These rules probably aren't COMPLETELY comprehensive, but they're the ones we stick to on a regular basis and they work for us. There are some extreme weather conditions where your goggles' anti-fog system is likely to get overwhelmed no matter what you do, and when this happens it's just time to pack it in. Skiing in heavy, wet blizzards or in rain storms are two situations that come to mind where even the best anti-fog goggles are going to eventually start fogging no matter what. If you're diligent about following the above rules, though, you shouldn't have much trouble the rest of the time.
So just follow these rules, enjoy your next day out on the hill, and stay dry!