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Old 03-01-2014, 10:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Goggle Fogging and Scratching

We field a lot of questions about goggle fogging and scratching so I though it might be helpful to do a public post. STOKED!

Let's put this right out there. The two most common complaints about Snowboard and Ski goggles are fogging and scratching. While it is not possible to entirely eliminate either it is hugely beneficial to understand the factors and the technologies that are in place to fight each, how those technologies interact with design, and how your usage can maximize the effectiveness of both.

Goggle Fogging, Anti-fog, Condensation, Airflow - The Battle

To best understand anti-fog and airflow design it is worthwhile to consider fog. We call it fog but it is really condensation that is most vexing in the instance of snowboard and ski goggles. Fog refers to water droplets that are suspended in air. Goggle condensation forms when warm, moist air comes in contact with a cooler lens surface. The lens cools the air and water droplets form on the lens surface(s).

So, in terms of snowboard and ski goggles, how does the warm moist air get introduced to form these droplets?

1. Breath. No suggestion here that you stop breathing. It is, however, important to know that balaclavas, gaiters and facemasks all can direct breath upwards into your lower goggle venting. Breath moisture alone is typically easily dispersed by good goggle design elements, but it can become an issue when other fogging elements are also at work. More on compound effects below.

2. Sweat. It ain't pleasant to consider, but faces and heads sweat...and some sweat a lot more than others. The facial foam (even the excellent, less absorptive foams that are currently in use) will trap some of this moisture right where it is wanted the least (surrounding the free-air inner lens chamber).

3. Helmet, Beanie, and Hat Moisture. Let's keep this category separate from Snow, Rain and Ice because this one is avoidable. Put your dry goggles up on your wet helmet, beanie or hat and you have just given your facial foam a good soaking. When returned to your face the water you have introduced warms and vaporizes...you know the rest - the potential for lens condensation.

4. Snow, Rain and Ice. We can't change the elements we ride in. These factors all introduce moisture, some of which will enter your goggle system. While there is no avoiding the weather, it is worth considering on those days when extra moisture is going to be an issue.

Anti-Fog films, coatings and treatments all essentially work in the same manner. They are designed to reduce the surface tension that allows condensation to form.
It would be terrific if "Anti-Fog" could hold back all condensation that you will encounter. It cannot. This does not refer to one anti-fog vs. another. This is true of all of them. In fact, of the three common weapons that goggles have to fight condensation (peripheral venting, through-lens venting, and anti-fog films, coatings and treatments) anti-fog is by far the least potent. Also worthy to consider, as an increasing amount of warm, moist air is introduced the less effective the anti-fog becomes. At a certain point it simply becomes overwhelmed and cannot perform its function. So, while anti-fog alone may be adequate to hold back condensation introduced by breath directed upwards by a balaclava, it may later fail if newly soaked facial foam is added to the mix.

Airflow. It is your friend and is by far the most effective means of keeping goggles free of condensation. While this will vary by design, Airflow should be considered 90% of your "fog" reduction scenario with anti-fog being a mere 10%. Well designed goggles allow external air to flow through peripheral vents (and in many cases lens vents) to exhaust the moist air that has formed and and to reduce condensation that may already be in place. The more air that is circulating freely through the system, the less of a condensation issue you will have. Is this a good argument for selecting the largest goggles that will fit your face? In most instances, peripheral venting (the largest and most important venting structures) do increase proportionally with goggle size, and yes - that is great. But, a very common pitfall is to select a huge goggle, pair it with a helmet that fits too snugly to the goggle and block much of the valuable venting that you have gained. Add in a Balaclava and some wet facial foam and you will have an unpleasant day coming your way.

This brings us to compound issues. No goggle is fog proof. Any system can be overwhelmed if too much moisture / moist air is introduced without adequate venting. It should be understood that not all factors are equal. Breath for instance is relatively easy to combat, while wet facial foam is much more difficult. Combine both and your goggle will struggle. Block the venting as well and it will fail.

Goggle Depth. This is the distance from the face to the outer lens. It is important because deeper goggles will almost always increase venting and will often position a portion of the venting where it will protrude far enough outward to allow clearance over helmets and face gear. This can allow the use of a larger goggle at a size that might otherwise block venting. The downsides of such deep designs are increased noise, and a greater susceptibility to scratching and damage as the goggle becomes more of the "point of first contact".

No one goggle is correct for every rider. What remains fog free for one user may create issues for another. The specifics of your face shape and dimensions, other accessory gear, and usage preferences will all impact how well any specific design will work for you.

Scratching, Anti-Scratch, Films, Coatings and Treatments - NASA SHMASA

Snowboard and ski lenses are made of plastic. The plastics used are technically very impressive, but they remain plastic. These plastics are (relatively) very soft materials and on their own can be very easily scratched. To minimize this highly aggravating trait the goggle industry has utilized anti-scratch technologies that are largely derivative of designs that were initially developed by NASA to reduce scratching on their helmet visors (hey, they also did the early work on anti-fog for the same helmets).

NASA? That sounds awesome! These things must be scratch proof. Uhhmmmmm. Let's go back to plastic is very soft. Regardless of what it is coated with, goggle lenses are very easily scratched. Not some of them. All of them. Whew! Glad to have that out there. The newest multi-layer films and coatings are far better than untreated plastics and will serve to protect your lenses somewhat. They can also help to reduce that appearance of some small scratches that might form. That said, your goggles are far from scratch proof. To the contrary, anything harder than the lens itself will scratch them if sufficient contact is made. Even mildly abrasive surfaces such as common paper towels will degrade goggle lenses.

Bottom line: Many riders can use a current lens for 3-5 years with exceptional clarity but it does take some planning and care. A microfiber bag (once the lens is dry) in a contact free area is the best practice for transport and storage. Cleaning with light pressure and no solvents using a microfiber cloth is advised.

Last edited by Wiredsport; 03-01-2014 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 03-01-2014, 11:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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that is some great info WiredSport, this ought to be Stickied in the goggle forum imo

just want to add, i've been having good luck with scratch fixing (on Oakley yellow lenses) with a plastic polish from the autoparts store, meant for polishing car headlight lenses covers, works about 90%, and does not seem to affect fogging, as supported by your 90/10 importance of the antifog coating...
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Old 03-01-2014, 12:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info. I've been having problem with my IO/X fogging right at the middle of my sightline. I can only blame this on my Helmet and my baclava since i figured that my helmet(Smith hustle)has a brim and it seems to cover most of the upper venting on my goggles and my breathing directs it up the lower part with my baclava over my nose. It also happens more while i'm on the chairlift and it takes a while to dissipate when i'm off. It was hard to see the snow terrain once i get moving and sometimes leads to a close calls wrecking.
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Old 03-01-2014, 12:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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2 things I would add:

1: to your factors: HEAT. Body heat moving upwards out the neck of your outwear not to mention internal heat trying to exit mostly through your head. You got an equatorial rainforest on the inside of your goggles and snowboarding on the outside with some really thin plastic between.

2: don't get too attached. I collect goggles more than anything else and put little stock in them, nice ones are nice but they get fucked up.

I randomly wiped ice across my favorite lowlights a couple weeks ago and they have like 8 scratches horizontally across the whole things...wtfever! @#$%@#$!!!!

Awesome post/thread.
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowklinger View Post
2 things I would add:

1: to your factors: HEAT. Body heat moving upwards out the neck of your outwear not to mention internal heat trying to exit mostly through your head. You got an equatorial rainforest on the inside of your goggles and snowboarding on the outside with some really thin plastic between.

2: don't get too attached. I collect goggles more than anything else and put little stock in them, nice ones are nice but they get fucked up.

I randomly wiped ice across my favorite lowlights a couple weeks ago and they have like 8 scratches horizontally across the whole things...wtfever! @#$%@#$!!!!

Awesome post/thread.

Best snow invention ever. Rime killer.
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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agree with the 'don't get too attached' bit..and would add, don't spend to much..for me, i regret the $16o for these oakley, coulda saved $100 and got something that would have lasted just as long with proper care...meh
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Old 03-01-2014, 02:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Great post Wiredsport. Lots of great info
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Old 03-01-2014, 02:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have 4 pairs of Oakley Crowbars and a pair of Oakley Airwaves...

The Airwaves get abused that is for sure, and i have the added problem of heat inside the goggles from the electronics and battery...

They do fog up on a few occasions, and i wipe the arse out of the outside of the lens and never have any issues with scratching, but i would never wipe the inside...!!!

My biggest problem, is remembering not to put up on my helmet, and after 2 seasons of using them, i still do this on occasion, and they fog in seconds...!!! The crowbars never did this so quickly, they would fog, but it would take minutes...

My Stepson uses Anons, and his never fog, neither do my g/f's Crowbar and they both put there up on there helmet... Strange...
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Old 03-01-2014, 03:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CassMT View Post
agree with the 'don't get too attached' bit..and would add, don't spend to much..for me, i regret the $16o for these oakley, coulda saved $100 and got something that would have lasted just as long with proper care...meh
I always buy goggles in the offseason. You can find just about anything you want for 50% off. Planning on snagging some Anon M2s this summer.
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ridinbend View Post
Best snow invention ever. Rime killer.
Does this work ok with the highly reflective finishes, such as fire chrome on VZ's etc? As in, will that damage it in any way? I had a rainy day a week or 2 back (in fact it was a 4 seasons day, with bluebird, rain, snow and dense fog alternating hourly), and i was desperately wiping water/snow from my lens with what i thought was the soft portion of my glove, only to find i had been removing some of the reflectiveness on the lenses.
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