Skiers, cure foggy goggles using this one weird trick

Goggle fogging a common complaint on the mountain in the mask era

VAIL – A recent scene from a lift line is slightly comical in review, but was tense at the moment:

Skiers approach the chairlift loading zone, they don’t look entirely prepared to sit down, but they’re getting ready as they move toward the terminus, so it doesn’t appear to be a problem.

But then one man begins to frantically strip off his helmet, goggles and mask.

“I can’t see,” he exclaims as the lift comes around. “My goggles are fogging.”

The liftie isn’t having it and stops the lift. He’s the judge, he quickly dismisses the case with prejudice.

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“Wear the mask, or leave,” the judgment is final.

An over-the-nose mask and goggle combination results in fogging issues for many. This season, as masks are mandatory in lift-loading zones, this issue has become more prevalent. (Special to the Daily)

Vail and Beaver Creek are taking mask rules seriously this season, and among the enforcement protocol is an effort to see guests pull their masks fully over their noses.

It’s an enforcement measure the company deems necessary in realizing its goal of keeping the ski resorts open into April of 2021.

If the lift stations turn into active outbreak zones, this season could end up looking a lot like last season. At best, mask enforcement could prevent that from happening, and at very least, the resort will avoid implication of shoddy mask enforcement contributing to spread.

Either way, you’re going to want to have that mask fully over your nose if you want to avoid a chance of confrontation – but what about the goggle fogging issues that can come with a fully covered nose?

The face masks of yesteryear leave the nostrils exposed, and neoprene facemasks meant to handle extreme cold will still have slits to allow breath to escape. Downhill ski racers cover their noses in tape to avoid frostbite, but they don’t allow that tape to cover their nostrils.

A lot of the old methods of protecting your nose from frostbite are no longer an option.

Don’t go without

At the base of Vail Mountain, longtime Vail business Eye Pieces runs an operation they call the Goggle Bar, which has long specialized in correcting the issues that frustrate goggle users.

Goggle Bar employee Tyler Moore says the fogging issue has been a hot topic this season.

“It’s definitely been a big question for us,” he said.

For those who have already had a moment or two this season where, at the bottom of a long ski run, the heavy breathing that accompanies that run also causes a goggle fogging issue when an over-the-nose mask is applied, there might be some temptation to try to go it without goggles this season.

That is not recommended by eye care professionals, Moore said.

“A goggle really is the safest and the best thing you can wear out on the slopes, from quite a lot of perspectives,” he said. “It’s both protection from UV rays but also impact protection and particles flying.”

Skiers may also be tempted to try anti-fog paste or spray products on their goggles this season, but that is not recommended either, Moore said.

“Using these types of spray-on products in the inside of your goggle can actually be damaging to the anti-fog properties that these manufacturers built into the lens,” Moore said.

Anti-fog paste and spray products are better used for prescription eyeglasses, and especially for those who wear those prescription glasses underneath their goggles.

Moore’s top suggestion for a mask and goggle combination that won’t cause fogging is to find a product specifically designed for that application.

“There’s certain goggle brands that have actually made a mask to integrate with the goggle very well,” Moore said. “One brand magnetically integrates a mask and goggle, so it lines up perfectly, and you’re not putting the mask under your goggle.”

Not going away

For those who remember the goggles with the built-in fan, those are still on the market, as well.

The Smith “Turbo Fan” goggle offers a long list of features in addition to the two-speed fan motor with water and dust resistant battery housing. Most notable, “Anti-fog and scratch resistant coating on all lenses.”

At $180 without shipping, it’s another expensive, tech-oriented solution in a sport that is increasingly laden with them.

On the other side of the equation is an old trick offered by a witness to the recent disruption in the chairlift line – you can wipe the inside of your goggle with your finger to buy yourself enough time to board the lift.

This is not recommended by eye care professionals, either, and will likely lead to more fogging issues in the long term.

But, as Moore pointed out, “there’s quite a few different ways to go about this mask issue.”

The one absolute, for now, is the mask issue is not going away anytime soon.

Moore said he’s glad to see the enforcement being taken seriously, and, himself a regular skier, helps out with social encounters when he can.

“Most people are doing well about wearing their masks, a lot of employees have been doing a good job calling it out, and there’s also been a lot of us in line that also police it,” he said. “I think the community is aware, and a lot of our visitors are aware, and employees are aware, so there’s a lot of support from a lot of areas.”

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