What is VLT in Ski Goggles?

Cori Gramms
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One essential consideration skiers need to make before hitting the slopes is what type of goggles they need. The shape, weight, and ventilation of the goggles are all important. However, arguably the most important deciding factor should be the type of lenses your goggles have. Lenses are described in terms of their visible light transmission, which sounds technical, but will be explained in the article.

Visible Light Transmission: The Basics

Visible Light Transmission refers to the amount of light that a goggle lens allows through. When purchasing a pair of ski goggles, the VLT of the lens is an important consideration. VLT is expressed as a percentage of light allowed through from 0-100%.

Lower VLT percentages are recommended for sunny days, as skiers don't want a lot of light to shine into their eyes. These lenses will have a darker tint. Conversely, on dark and overcast days, skiers require as much light through their goggle lenses as possible, so the VLT will be high. The tint of the goggle lens is therefore lighter.

The best ski goggles for you personally will depend on factors like your own preference, where you ski, and what time of day you are most likely to go skiing. If you ski during different times of the day, for example, you may need goggles with a wider VLT rating; however, others may benefit more from focused lenses.

More details about purchasing the correct ski goggles will be discussed below.

Why Rating Matters

VLT ratings vary greatly on the goggle lens. The most common ranges are between 4 to 5%, for example, 11-15% or 15-20%. However, some people ski in varying light conditions, so they will have a broader VLT range, like 10% or more.

According to expert ski goggle supplier Evo, the optimal VLT for cloudy days is between 60 and 90%. For bright, sunny days, it is recommended that your goggles have a VLT rating of 5-20%.

The reason for these specific VLT ratings is to optimize your skiing experience. Allowing less light through your goggles on sunny days will also lessen the glare of the white snow that is reflected in your eyes. Too much exposure to glare can temporarily and even permanently damage your eyes. If you are skiing in low-light conditions with goggles with a low VLT rating, your visibility will be impaired, leading to collisions with obstacles or other skiers.

VLT ranges for different weather conditions
VLT ranges for different weather conditions

A Goggle of a Different Color

The ability of goggles to have different VLT ratings largely depends on the tint or color of the goggle's lens. In essence, the lighter the tint, the more light that can come in; the darker the lens or tint, the less light can reach your eyes.

Lenses that will allow more light through are colors like yellow, orange, and green. Lenses that are copper, brown, and grey provide a darker tint for sunny days.

Ultimately, you need to see the terrain ahead of you clearly, and the color of your goggles should be one that doesn’t distract you from the on-snow experience.

Supplement the chart below with other ski goggles reviews to choose the best goggle for you.

VLT guide
VLT guide

The Power to Change

If you find yourself having difficulty choosing one type of lens – most likely because you ski in varying light conditions – there is a solution for you.

The obvious answer is to purchase two or three pairs of goggles with different tints and VLT ratings. Although this option will meet your needs, it can be an inconvenience to carry extra pairs of goggles with you.

The second solution is to invest in a pair of photochromic ski goggles. I use the word "invest" because they are an expensive alternative. However, you get what you pay for. This technology adjusts the lens tint from light (low VLT) in dark conditions to a dark tint (high VLT) when conditions are bright. Some of the top photochromic lenses can adjust the VLT by as much as 60%!

Final Words

Do you want your eyes to stay protected either from extremely bright sunlight during summer or extremely low light in the winter? Then, you need to make sure that you find yourself a pair of comfortable goggles with the right color tint and optimal VLT rating.

For many, this may seem like a daunting idea at first. However, once you examine it more closely, you will find that VLT is a logical concept. Taking the time to consider the correct lens tint for your ski goggles will definitely pay off the next time you ski.