How to Choose Glasses for Hiking
Have you ever been on a hike with the wrong pair of glasses? Maybe they were sliding down your nose, maybe they were constantly fogging up, or maybe you had poor visibility from excessive glare. Whether you like to head out on regular day hikes or are training for an endeavor as challenging as the Continental Divide Trail, you probably want to be able to see the wilderness and natural beauty around you. As a lifelong outdoorsperson who prefers glasses to contacts, I’ll share some advice that has helped me select the perfect pair of glasses to hit the trail with me.
Polarized lenses reduce glare and drastically improve your views. I find them especially useful when I’m hiking through snow or near large bodies of water, but really I prefer to wear polarized lenses all day every day. No more squinting: I can simply take in my surroundings in full depth and rich color.
Foggy lenses block your views of the spectacular nature you’re hoping to see. Circumvent this common problem by selecting a pair of glasses with lenses specially designed to resist fog.
I can’t emphasize enough how crucial comfort is. If your frames are, for example, pressing against the sides of your head, or the nose pads are uncomfortably digging in, you’ll rush through your hike in a hurry to ditch your glasses as soon as possible. Don’t compromise on comfort. One way to help ensure a comfortable fit is to check the frame measurements before purchasing. This way, you’ll avoid obvious problems such as a pair of glasses that are way too narrow for your head.
Many hikers find that as they hike and get sweaty their glasses start to slip down their noses. Finding glasses that fit well and stay put is always important, but especially so in hiking conditions. I recommend looking for sport- or hiking-specific glasses that are designed to stay in place—features such as hydrophilic (anti-slip) nose pads, for example, give your glasses a superb grip.
Some eyewear simply isn’t suited for rugged conditions in the great outdoors. You don’t want brittle glasses that will snap at the slightest provocation. Look for frames made of durable materials and lenses that are impact- and scratch-resistant. I’ve accidentally flung my glasses a good twenty feet, dropped them, sat on them, the list goes on. Luckily, my glasses are made of a high-quality, relatively flexible material that can take a beating!
Do you plan to hike in sunny or bright conditions? Are you worried about snow blindness? Will you be spending hours and hours outdoors? Shield your eyes with glasses that provide UV protection. My favorite pair of glasses have photochromic (transition) lenses that lighten and darken based on my surroundings—no need for a separate pair of sunglasses!
Aesthetics aren’t my first priority, but it’s always nice to look cool. If you can find a pair of glasses that fit all the above criteria and they’re good-looking, that’s just an added bonus.
High-quality, comfortable eyewear can make the difference between an awesome hike full of happy memories and a so-so hike with memories of inconvenience and discomfort. Choose wisely, keep the factors I’ve listed up above in mind, and have fun out there!