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I'm commuting in temperatures ranging from -10 to -25C without windchill factored in. I have a typical pair of interchangeable lens wrap around cycling glasses. I find that they, without fail, immediately fog up when I ride due to the moisture in my exhalation. Wearing a balaclava as I sometimes must doesn't help.

I'm considering trying to find a cheap pair of ski goggles...

Given the poor road conditions, eye protection from debris and dust is imperative. How do other very cold weather commuters deal with this?

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cheap ski goggles will probably also fog up, especially if you are wearing a balaclava. +10 for being so committed to cycling –  robthewolf Jan 20 '13 at 7:23
@robthewolf - I live in NE China. The elderly Chinese ride in all four seasons, they just ride slower in the cold. In fact, the only people who seem to give up are the guys with nice bikes! :-) –  Andrew Heath Jan 20 '13 at 22:59
I've had this problem with ordinary prescription eyeglasses, too, when I wear a balaclava in winter. For me, the glasses clear up when I start moving, and I have to pinch the balaclava to my nose each time I come to a stop. –  amcnabb Mar 7 '13 at 21:51

8 Answers 8

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I suffered from foggy glasses a lot, I prefer to wear clear lenses since I tend to ride after dark frequently. I tried a few of different cycling glasses with clear lenses, eyeglasses with anti-fog coating, motorcycle goggles, and several pairs of safety glasses with no luck.

I finally found a pair of $9 MSA Safety Works safety goggles with anti fog coating that work well, don't fog easily, and have good peripheral coverage without obscuring my vision. They sit far enough off my face that they prevent fog when I'm stopped. So far this has been the best alternative to bulky ski goggles that I've used.

One of the biggest things you can do for any glasses to prevent fog is to keep them clean and free of sweat, oil, and residue. I don't know if this is the best method, but i tend to just clean my glasses with a touch of dish soap and rinse well. Don't use harsh cleaners like windex or alcohol which may strip the anti-scratch and anti-fog coatings.

Also, do your best to avoid scratching your glasses, as this will make it harder to see and often can causes refraction when looking at light sources. I keep a glasses case in my bag for storage when not in use.

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I use safety glasses too, all year round and as a matter of course. They're Bolle, so are good quality, but cost a lot less than their dedicated cycling glasses. I prefer to get the "high contrast" lens which is essentially clear. I get them off eBay and they are sufficiently cheap that I consider them disposable, go through 2 or 3 pairs per year. There are a variety of models - my preferred is Axis which sits quite close. I only ever have trouble in the rain, and am fine in the cold. But where I am the worst we ever get is a few degrees below. –  PeteH Jan 20 '13 at 20:14
If you are finding ski goggles too bulky get some downhill mountain bike goggles. They work great when you are wearing a helmet and they are much easier to find in clear than ski goggles. They also help to keep your face a bit warmer. –  sixtyfootersdude Jan 25 '13 at 11:55
I finally got a pair of these and am extremely satisfied. Thank you for the recommendation, Benzo. –  Andrew Heath Oct 7 '13 at 8:44
I have a new favorite set of safety glasses. These are similar, but with more adjustability with temple length adjustment and angle adjustment, which allow you to adjust to best fit your face and gear (balaclava / helmet / hat). amazon.com/gp/product/B009YNX9Q6/… –  Benzo Nov 20 '14 at 14:15
@PeteH try using a baseball hat with a brim for when it rains/snows. These can be found for cheap as well. It will keep the falling wet off the glasses. I even wear one while not cycling in the weather for that reason. –  BPugh Nov 20 '14 at 19:14

When wearing a balaclava I've found that I really have to concentrate on breathing through the fabric as opposed to letting my breath travel up and out around the eye opening, especially when stopped. If you're still having significant issues with fogging without the balaclava it may be that the glasses actually fit too snugly to your face and perspiration is not venting adequately. Many frames with interchangeable lenses have optional vented lenses which may help, or you might try a different pair if glasses that sit a little further off of your face. I also find that when stopped it helps to pull my glasses down on my nose to let them breathe. There are also a handful of purpose made anti fog applications for glasses which you could try. Finally, if you're willing to try some rather strange sounding stuff, this eHow article lists several solutions that use household cleaners.

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Coatings are fairly useless on their own. Condensation happens because warm wet air is hitting a surface below a certain temperature (condensation point). Coatings tend to just encourage beading and run off.

I'd look for a pair of double-lens ski goggles. It's as it sounds and works in a similar way to double glazing. Two sets of "glass" separated by some dry air. The front glass gets the worst of the cold but there's nothing to condense on it. The inner glass is allowed to warm up nearer to your breath's temperature, above the condensing point.

And the best thing is none of this is that expensive. You can spend a lot of money but most double-lens goggles work pretty well. Just make sure you try a few on to make sure you've still got good peripheral vision.

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Coatings go a long way. They give the surface upon which they're applied a more hydrophobic quality which reduces fogging. Same basic concept as RainX products. The difference between treated and untreated glasses is impressive. –  joelmdev Jan 22 '13 at 2:56

If you go to your optometrist Essilor make anti fog lenses called opit fog which work. check out http://www.optifog.com/EN/Pages/default.aspx

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In that temperature I run clear downhill (mtb) goggles. They have plastic on the straps so they stick to the back of your helmet. Works great. Bonus of keeping your face a bit warmer. Never had any fogging issues with them, except occasionally when stopped at a light.

I ran ski goggles for a couple winters but have since switched to MTB goggles. Advantages:

  • Sticky strap to stick to your helmet.
  • Smaller frame to fit with a standard helmet. I found ski goggles were a bit too tall and rode too low on my face because my helmet was pushing them down.
  • Easier to find clear goggles for night riding.

I got mine of Kijiji but If I broke or lost them I would rebuy in an instant.

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I confronted this problem when temps dropped into the single digits here in Maryland, USA. My face-protector covers the bottom half of my face, channeling exhalations up around my nose and onto my goggles. I tried different eyewear, spit, and sewing a fabric barrier across the top of the protector. But the best solution was the simplest. Taping the top of the face protector to my face forced my breath downward and solved the problem completely. Yes, I did in fact do this with duct tape, but then remembered that I had some medical tape, the tearable kind used with IVs.

And lacking ski-goggles, I donned an old pair of Speedo swim goggles that worked swimmingly.

Hope this helps others.

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Any snorkeler will tell you... Saliva is a great anti-fog coating for the inside of your goggles.

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Welcome to Bicycles! While what you say is true about snorkeling goggles, it's not so useful for cycling, where the spit dries out quickly. And at -n°C I would expect it to freeze. Perhaps you could expand your answer to explain more fully. Meanwhile, when you have enough rep such a short post should be made as a comment. –  andy256 Nov 20 '14 at 23:57

I stopped trying to use glasses/goggles long ago and have gotten away with it because we rarely have wind here when it gets cold. However, I have started using a Cold Avenger when the temperature drops below 0F. I find that it saves my lungs on long rides. After looking at their advertising, it is supposed to keep goggles/glasses from fogging as well (directs your exhalations away). I've tried my sunglasses a few times with my mask and had no fogging with it.

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