There are times when you need to wear ski goggles and a balaclava that provides full-face protection on winter hikes, especially above treeline when there’s wind and blowing snow. While it sounds simple, it takes some practice to make sure that your ski goggles don’t fog up and make it impossible to see, let alone hike. If it’s cold and the wind is blowing hard, you can’t really take your ski goggles or face mask off without risking frostbite on the exposed portion of your face.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a standard ski mask and balaclava combo that you can buy that solves this problem. Learning how to prevent your goggles from fogging is a skill that requires a fair amount of experimentation with different ski goggles and balaclava combinations to perfect. It’s even more difficult to master if you wear corrective glasses inside your ski mask.
Here are a few best practices that I’ve picked up over the years to keep your ski googles from fogging up above treeline. Prevention is the key because if they do fog up, your options become extremely limited.
- Don’t ever put your ski goggles on your forehead or over your hat. If you’re climbing a mountain, the sweat from your brow or the moist air from your breath will freeze on the lenses.
- Don’t put your ski goggles in a backpack pocket with wet or damp gloves, hats, or crampons because the moisture will freeze on them. Keep them in a ‘dry’ pocket, and wrap them up in a fleece balaclava to avoid scratching them before they’re needed.
- Don’t put your ski goggles in the pocket of a breathable jacket because the moisture permeating through your coat will freeze on them. Need I say more?
- Don’t let any snow fall inside your ski goggles when you take them out of your pack and put them on.
- Once you put your ski goggles on, leave them on.
- Zip up your hard shell/soft shell all the way up around your neck to limit the amount of moist air from inside your clothing that might vent up your neck and into your ski goggles.
- Don’t overdress or overexert yourself because you’ll generate more perspiration and water vapor that can fog or freeze on the inside of your ski goggles.
- Get a balaclava with an extended snout and lots of air holes, like the Serius Combo Clava (worn in photo above), so that moist air from your breath vents up well beyond the outer surface of your ski goggles and not up inside them.
- Buy ski goggles that have a double lens. These act like storm windows and help prevent fogging.
- Get ski goggles that have a lot of vents along the top and bottom to release moisture that can fog and freeze on your lenses.
- Make sure that your ski goggles fit correctly over your face and form a good seal on your forehead and cheeks without any air gaps around the edges.
- If you wear glasses underneath your ski goggles, coat them with Cat Crap anti-fogger. Don’t do this to your goggles, which probably already have an anti-fog coating on the inside. Another alternative is heavily diluted Johnsons & Johnsons baby shampoo. Swimmers use this to prevent swimming goggles from fogging up.
- Carry a second set of ski goggles, just in case the first pair still fogs up! This has saved a couple of summit attempts for me.
- Delay putting your ski goggles on for as long as possible. For example, you don’t need to have them out before you reach the treeline.
Out of all of these ‘tips’, the most important one is the first. Most of the people I know who’ve gotten had fogged-up or frozen ski goggles on winter hikes, including myself, did so because they wore their ski goggles on their forehead before it was needed. Don’t do it.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.