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Related to this question: need cycling eyewear, but fogging is a big problem but that is more focused on the eyewear itself, whereas I'm interested in the face covering material.

I cycle to and from the train station every day. Only about 20 minutes each way but in the cold that's still quite a time to have a freezing cold nose / cheeks. So I have experimented with scarves, snoods, balaclavas etc when it's cold. However all of them cause my glasses to fog up due to the hot air of my breath condensing inside the glasses. Contacts aren't an option for my type of vision; it's glasses or nothing.

I don't want to go for some separate cycling glasses or big goggles. I have enough stuff to carry with me as it is. But I am open to an alternative way of keeping my face warm.

What should I be looking for in a product that allows me to wear glasses and still keep my face warm?

I'm not necessarily after specific product recommendations, more about materials / equipment or a specific feature to look for that can solve this issue. Because currently my options are:

  • a) see where I'm going, but have a freezing cold face. Or
  • b) Be all warm, but not be able to see so well.

Should I look for woollen scarves? balaclavas with breathing valves? A different breathable material I am currently unaware of?

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    Mainly you have to keep your breath away from the glasses. I've not found any sort of practical face covering which does not create a problem here. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 3 '16 at 13:19
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    @ChrisH the answer by Dafew below lead me on a voyage of discovery, and there are some facemasks like this that may work. Provided you don't mind looking like a platypus while you're cycling along. – JonW Oct 3 '16 at 15:30
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    I wear a buff myself around the neck and generally find if I don't cover my nose with it and just my mouth, my glasses don't fog unless I'm stopped at some lights. May cause a cold nose, but I don't mind that since the rest of the face is warm! – Draken Oct 3 '16 at 16:03
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    @Draken Yes, I do the same. But if there's a way to have a warm nose too, then even better! – JonW Oct 3 '16 at 16:19
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    I use a coldavenger balaclava , it directs breath downward and warms my breath. I modified mine a bit for cycling by punching a few additional holes in the bottom of the silicone mask to improve airflow when climbing. It still pushes some hot air upwards since it's slightly restrictive, so It only really works well with goggles. Even then I sometimes have to use some tape on the bottom goggle vents. Sunglasses would fog quickly when I stop moving since some hot air moves upwards between the mask and my face during stops. – Benzo Oct 4 '16 at 18:35
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What you are looking for is a product that covers your face (to keep it warm) seals along the upper edge to your face (to keep breath from leaking up under your glasses) and uses a design to direct your exhalations away from your face (so your exhaled moist breath doesn't fog your lenses).

There are actually several products on the market designed to do these things. Many people do cold weather outdoor activities (fat biking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc) have these issues and they are attempted solutions in various manners. Chemical lens treatments, electric heat and or air movement, and design directed airflow are all out there. I'd suggest checking with a local sports store and seeing what they support/use/recommend.

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  • This answer is great. One additional point that can cause issues is a helmet visor, which tends to create a "wind shadow" and hot moist air from your forehead spools there. So try removing your visor if possible, or tilting it back fractionally. A headsock under the helmet helps keep the sweaty forehead from moistening the air there too. – Criggie Oct 3 '16 at 19:06
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    I find that I fog up more and quicker when I stop at traffic lights, Lack of airflow again is the root cause. So as soon as you stop, use one hand on each temple (hinge) and pull your glasses forward 10mm. So the nosepads rest in front of the nose bridge, not on it. You can still see through the lenses, but they will unfog pretty quickly. When the light changes to green, its a quick poke in the middle to push them back into place. Works for me. – Criggie Oct 3 '16 at 19:09
  • @Criggie good advice. Maybe I should post a new question about different techniques to employ when cycling with glasses! Sounds like you've got a whole routine down! – JonW Oct 4 '16 at 12:40
  • Glasses are a weak point (unfortunately) in the cold. Contacts are the great solution if you can use them (the OP stated he couldn't). – Deleted User Oct 4 '16 at 14:41
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Glasses fogging is constant problem in cold weather... the good news we are in the midst of a trend towards more cold weather riding and products are starting to come to market to reflect that trend.. google fat-biking.

With that in mind I think there are a few different ways to attack the fogging problem

  1. Lens coatings. There are coatings you can apply to your glasses lens' to minimize the fogging. Think rainX for your eyeware. I have not used these products so I dont know their effectiveness other than they exists
  2. Glasses themselves... are your glasses cycling specific? Cycling specific glasses are designed to airflow around the lens to mitigate fogging... you can get prescription based cycling frames and lenses but it may be a bit expensive compared to other options
  3. Balaclava... this is where fatbiking specific contributions are making headway in keeping your face warm... What I look for in a balaclava is the ability to raise and lower the face protection on-the-fly so I can regulate the heat/moisture that is generated. Rather than specify a brand or make a suggestion just perform online searches for cycling specific balaclavas.
  4. Helmets... Winter specific cycling helmets are starting to hit the market as a result of the increased fat-bike market. These helmets keep your head toasty and may reduce the need for a head/face wrapping that contributes to the fogging problem

As far as materials go.. I always prefer wool but any moisture wicking material should do...

Good Luck.

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  • Ah Fatbiking. Not a term I'd heard of before, and not what I expected either (I was expecting some overweight fitness thing!) But there does seem to be some specific clothing designed for this activity, such as this so thanks! – JonW Oct 3 '16 at 15:31
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I had the same problem when I was skiing: I needed to keep that part of my face warm, without the glasses or goggles fogging, when the weather was very cold and I was sweating. Eyeglasses inside goggles is a poor solution; the glasses tend to fog very quickly.

My solution for skiing was to get contact lenses, and wear them under ski goggles. I have astigmatism, but to keep the expense of the contact lenses down I chose contact lenses that correct the near-sightedness, but not the astigmatism. That solution isn't perfect, but I can focus well enough in the middle distance that is so important for bicycling and skiing. Most importantly, the ski goggles stay mostly free of condensation, even with a balaclava.

I suggest that you get ski goggles with prescription (vision-correcting) lenses, or wear contact lenses underneath ordinary ski goggles. Keep in mind that preventing condensation is more important than perfect vision correction.

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