Our Goggles For Mountaineering advice offers some useful ideas to aid selection and use of this wild weather mountain essential. We hope you find it useful.
When the wind whips snow across the Cairngorm Plateau and you are navigating your way to safety, you need to be able to see. Eye protection is an essential for winter mountaineers and goggles offer a great option. Here are some ideas on what to choose and how to use them.
Choosing Goggles For Mountaineering
Ski goggles are a great option. They offer good protection and are comfortable and lightweight. However, there are a number of things to consider. Goggles are prone to misting up and a key way to reduce this is by choosing double layer lenses. These allow a flow of air and can really help keep the lenses clear.
Double lens goggles are made of two separate layers sandwiched together. Between the lenses there is a foam divider to create an air gap. This insulates your face more while stopping the inside lens becoming as cold. This makes them more resistant to misting up.
Another good thing about ski goggles is that they are designed to fit over a ski helmet. However, the way they fit with your climbing helmet might be different. Make sure you check compatibility and when they are in your pack it helps to store them readily adjusted for your helmet.
It also helps to use the rear head torch attachment clips on your helmet to keep them in place. Making sure the googles have a broad strap with grippy inner side will help with positioning and security too.
The fit of your goggles is very important. They need to seal well around the face while being comfortable enough to wear for long periods. Some models are larger and others have varied shapes. The trick is to try them on if you can.
In Scottish winters it isn’t usually sun protection we are looking for. It’s eye protection from wind and wind blown rain and snow that’s key. So, coloured lenses often aren’t the best option. Clear lenses work best in low visibility and at night. These are a bit harder to find, but they are available if you search around. They are also usually quite cheap. An example are these Julbo ones or these 100% ones should work well.
It also pays to store them carefully. You can get hard cases but these are usually quite bulky. A soft cloth type case will often be enough if you store them well. We stash them inside our helmet to protect them when we can.
However, a goggles bag won’t fend off moisture (and you will get moisture inside your rucksack on a wild winter day). We store our goggles inside the soft case and then inside a small dry bag. This helps keep them dry and ready for action.
A lighter and cheaper variant to goggles is ‘spoggles’. These are a combination between glasses and goggles and can make a very compact and lightweight alternative. They are typically single lens and so you need to be careful with misting, but we’ve found they work really well in most conditions. They are also cheap. They aren’t the option we would choose on the very wildest of days, but they do work well. We use this model from Bolle.
Just to note that some Spoggles have arms like glasses along with an elastic head strap. Sometimes these arms are removable. Others just have the elastic. We prefer the elastic only version as we find they seal better in wild weather.
Using Goggles For Mountaineering
Using goggles is simple enough, but the following tips will aid efficiency. One initial before you leave home tip to reduce misting is to rub a thin layer of washing up liquid on the inside of the lenses before storage. We find this really helps.
Warm Your Goggles
It also helps if they aren’t very cold when you put them on. Plan ahead and put them inside your insulation layers for a few minutes before wearing them. This definitely reduces misting and condensation build up. Similarly, if you have to remove them at any point it still pays to store them in a warm place.
Goggles need a flow of air to remain fog free. To maximize flow try to keep the vents clear of snow. This can be tricky as you will usually be using them in very challenging conditions, but it will certainly help if you can.
Your goggles need a good seal around the face. Make sure any hats, balaclavas or buffs aren’t preventing an effective seal. It also pays to pull long hair out of the way. Similarly, in wild conditions you will want to cinch your hardshell hood around your face and this can also reduce airflow. Try and leave a gap between hood brim and goggles vents if possible.
There is also a temptation to think that having the goggles tightened as much as possible will ensure a better seal. This isn’t the case. If they are over tight the flexible frame may become distorted and the seal is compromised. When your goggles fit is correct then your straps won’t need to be too tight.
Put Them On & Leave Them On
If your goggles start off with snow or moisture inside then it will be hard to clear them. This is also quite likely as you will probably be putting them on in very challenging conditions. The trick is to keep them clear from the start. When putting them on it helps to push them onto your face straight away. Then, while holding the goggles to your face with one hand, use the other to position the strap over your helmet or head.
Hopefully, they are now in position and sealed. Our final tip is now to keep them sealed. If you pull them on and off they will get snow or moisture inside. Similarly, if you lift the goggles and rest them on your damp or snowy helmet the foam will pick up moisture. You want to avoid this at all costs. So, put them on and leave them on.
Goggle Care Tips
Make sure you dry your goggles after a mountain day. Leave them somewhere warm, but avoid excessive heat.
Many types of goggles have an anti-fog coating on the inside. Try to protect the coating by cleaning them gently and with a lint free cloth. You should also avoid touching the lens with your hands. Similarly, when cleaning it pays to use a dabbing action rather than rubbing them. The anti-fog coating will rub off over time, but you can at least make it last as long as possible.
If your goggles get snow or moisture inside during use it is best to avoid wiping them with something like your glove. This will easily cause scratches. Similarly, store them in their bag or case to avoid scratching.
We hope you found our Goggles For Mountaineering advice useful. We have other articles available that might also be of interest. Please check out the one about Emergency Food here and Keeping Your Hands Warm here.