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Balaclava and glasses

so, on this cold snowy day, i want to relate my balaclava conundrum and see if anyone has a solution. so..if i wear a balaclava over my nose, my glasses fog up. ive tried things like putting the glasses on top of the balaclava, but it feels weird and i can't see very well. i also have one with a hole in the bottom of the nose, but it's too warm for all but the coldest days, and the glasses still fog up some. i don't feel super comfortable taking the glasses off, and i'm not gettng contacts or sport glasses.

what do you other four-eyes do on the coldest days? do you just let your nose suffer?
2006-12-07 12:21:38

top for the poor visioned newbies. us fish must swim together.

2008-11-17 15:34:00

interesting trivia from larry walsh's PG article on winter riding:

Balaclava is named after the Crimean town of Balaklava in eastern Europe. During the Crimean War, many of the British troops weren't used to the extremely cold winter conditions. The residents of the town hand knitted what they called "ski masks" and sent them to the soldiers.

2008-11-17 18:52:22

Saliva works very well as an anti-fog solution.

2008-11-17 20:07:03

I have a neoprene face mask with holes in it. I purse my lips and blow through the holes so my breath doesn't get in behind the mask to fog up my glasses. The only problem I have is that when I stop, the heat naturally rises up and fogs the glasses then. I just need to keep moving.

2008-11-17 23:39:38

I just ordered ka_jun's baklava. Looks pretty good. I might cut out a big hole for my mouth instead of breathing through the small holes. I had been using a scarf before and only bringing it up long enough to keep my nose from freezing. I also wear glasses, but just for protection.

2008-11-18 15:31:27

i rode with the cat crap for the first time today. seems to work pretty great, and i think it cleaned up my lenses some as well. of course there was still a little fogging, especially when i stopped. i'm not really sure of the frequency of application yet.

they have it over at REI for $5. I also picked up some sweet smart wool glove liners. wow!

2008-11-18 15:48:32

Man, that catcrap stuff seems sweet! I'm gonna get some this weekend. I gave away my balaclava because I just gave up trying to get it to work well. I did try my ski goggles for a while, but I don't like seeing things in all orange. Now I just have to think of a way to get my balaclava back...

2008-11-19 22:34:20

I think a beard is the best way to go, assuming that, like me, you're a little on the hirsute side and don't mind looking kinda ugly all winter.

2008-11-28 06:31:49

i'm down with cat crap and saliva all the way!

2008-12-02 03:18:39

I've tried a couple things...depending on how cold it is. If it's below 10F, honestly I wear my ski helmet and goggles, with a helmet mirror to see behind. It does take some getting used to but it keeps my head warm, my eyes warm and doesn't fog up the goggles.

For normal winter riding, I will use either of the following combinations: 1) a seirus full balaclava and normal sunglasses (with interchangeable lenses) - it does fog up when I have to stop 2) Sunglasses with a buff headgear that I can pull down easily, or up, to let the heat escape or stay in.

I just received a set of Choppers motorcycle goggles with transition lenses, very cheap on eBay. These have foam liners like ski goggles but are the size of regular sunglasses. However these still didn't it cut it too well...they kept out the cold but still fogged up.

My next step will be a set of Casco glasses, made for nordic skiing ( I tried the Choppers first as they were quite a bit less expensive (and I'm sure they work fine when not working up a sweat). I'm not sure if I'll go with the Profile's or the Nordic shield. The Shield will look dorky but honestly I think is really the only way to go for winter riding when working up a sweat (cat crap just never cut it).

I'll try and remember to post what happens...thanks!

2008-12-09 18:07:27

Last winter I wore a semi-think balaclava and I had problems with fogging too. Mine is the kind with the one big hole for the eyes. I just put my nose out through the same hole and that solved the fogging probles.

2008-12-10 18:40:42

i've had this problem before snowboarding.

one fix i thought of was to get one of those dust masks that have the metal band on the nose, take the metal band out and sew it to the nose ridge of your balaclava. then ideally you'd be able to get a "tighter seal" above your nose and below your eyes, directing your hot breath (which caused most of my fogging problems) down and out the bottom/vents rather than up and out into the back of your glasses. you could also try to improvise a draw string or something extra like that, anything to force the exhaled vapor down rather than up.

edit because we're talking about winter wear, balaclava, not greek desserts.

alternatively- scroll down to the bottom of this page for a "vapor shield"

2008-12-10 19:07:43

Topping this to see if anyone has new advice to add.

I think i need some catcrap.

[edit] Also, I ride with cheap safety glasses. Can I put Rain-X on the outside and Cat crap on the inside without the lenses exploding?

2010-12-02 23:13:45

Scuba divers all use baby hair conditioner misted on the inside of their masks. I assume that would work and be cheeeep

2010-12-02 23:18:51

Beards are the way to go. Failing that, just breathe out of your mouth an exhale down. Kind of a reverse pout expression. You would look like a fool doing it it you weren't wearing a mask. Also I traded my balaclava for a turtlefur buff. Basically a tube of stretchy fleece. Can be a hat or neck warmer or can cover face neck and ears. If it gets too hot just pull it down and it's a neck warmer again. Best simple winter gear ever.

2010-12-02 23:22:57

Someone read my mind today! This morning I had problems with my glasses fogging-up and was just contemplating a winter with frozen cheeks, but I'll give Cat-Crap a test! Thanks!

2010-12-02 23:24:19

I would need hormone injections in order to grow a beard.

2010-12-02 23:24:25

Maybe you can wear a toupee.

2010-12-03 00:45:11

But I would need all-weather double stick tape to wear a toupee on my face.

2010-12-03 02:30:24

Now you're making excuses.

I followed cburch's advice and grew a beard but once again, I don't think I'm going to make it past the itchy stage, no matter how warm it's supposed to be. Plus there's dry patches, red spots, and ingrown hairs under there. It's pretty gross.

At least with a toupee you can take it off and exfoliate your face.

Yeah, I think I'm talking myself into shaving my head and wearing a wig, the better to get my scalp nice and clean. And maybe getting dentures. Think of all the time I could save by having multiple sets and just tossing them in the dishwasher.

On topic, maybe the way to deal with the balaclava problem is some kind of breathing apparatus. A mask, with a good-sized hose that you could run across your torso as a heat exchanger, to pre-warm that frigid fresh air and capture a bit of the heat from your exhalations.

2010-12-03 02:49:50

I will be a very happy cyclist if I ever pass someone biking with a snorkel.

2010-12-03 02:53:54

scott - my contacts always dry out on cold, windy days even when i'm not riding. however, i do agree that it is much better than foggy glasses. even when I'm in the OR wearing a mask, my glasses fog up even with the "antifog" masks that have a little bit of adhesive around the top.

2010-12-03 03:16:00

I do the flip up flip down action...when it gets too foggy, flip it down. When my nose feels like it's going to fall off it's so cold, flip it up.

I'll have to check out that cat crap schtuff.

2010-12-03 04:43:09

a contractor I know has these masks (he gave me one to use while I sanded my cabinets) that have a little one way valve to avoid fogging up and it actually worked. I'm sure they're sold at home depot, and could be inserted into any balaclava (though it was white/offwhite, and would look freakish in a black one).

I have to admit, solving these winter problems has kept me off my bike lately. I hope to have them pretty well solved by the end of winter, but in the mean time I'm feeling very caged.

Tell me the second winter is easier?

2010-12-03 15:04:52

the second winter is when you sit there wondering why you ever thought riding in winter was such a big deal. it's not nearly as difficult or uncomfortable as people tell themselves it is.

2010-12-03 15:08:11

I don't think it is really winter yet- no snow, and I have not even put my reflective lemet cover on yet.

I did wear my warm pants twice this past week, but as it was only in the hight 20's, I was unzipping my goretex by the time I got to work. I did wear 2 long sleeved shirts rather than 1 short, but only yesterday as I expected it to be colder.

If your attitude is to ride no matter what, you will. Getting out the door is the hardest, nothing to fear but fear itself. What is the worst that can happen on a 30 minute ride? We are not talking frostbite yet, just feeling chilly for a little while.

If it gets into the single digits, tell yourself you will dress silly warm and go for a short ride around the block - then those 15 degree days will not be so bad.

2010-12-03 15:22:01

helen - unfortunately, most of my rides are an hour in the sunshine, with crazy stupid hills I still have to walk even unloaded. It's my own stupid fault for living so far from my activities, I know that and own that responsibility. It's also my own stupid fault for living both on a bluff above a cliff and under a bluff on a cliff, so it really is uphill both ways. I'll even take responsibility for living in a temperate climate, but I think there's more to it.

I'm wondering why, in addition to the cold, all of a sudden darkness and crazy suburban drivers (together) bother me way more than they used to. This summer I also just about killed myself trying to ride 2 hours a day, and wonder if maybe it's fear of exhaustion again too. I'm sure the cold (or perhaps more the unknown of riding in the cold) is a huge part of it, but not all of it.

Sigh. Think less. Ride more.

2010-12-03 16:17:11


Sigh. Think less. Ride more.

You've already given yourself the best advice. :-)

Practical advice:

-Plan to be cold for the first couple of miles. If you're comfortable when you start, you'll likely be soaked in sweat by the time you're done.

-You don't need high-tech or fancy fabrics (although they can help, and shouldn't be dismissed). Feet cold? Slip on a fashionable pair of newspaper bags over your socks and inside your shoes.

-Think easily adjusted layers...and open/unzip/take off layers before you get too warm, not after.

-If you want to spend a few bucks on winter cycling clothing, it's hard to go wrong with merino wool garments for a base layer...they'll keep you warm even if soaked, and wick moisture away almost as well as the tech fabrics.

Winter riding can be loads of fun.

2010-12-03 16:35:20

I have a neoprene half face mask. It has a nose flap and small breathing holes around the mouth.

With that, I had to expand the mouth holes to keep my glasses from fogging. Amd sometimes they still do.

2010-12-03 16:41:57

I used to wear contacts, and they were much worse for me in cold weather than glasses. I just poke my nose out and let it get cold. (I use the one-big-hole style.) I typically switch from vandyke to full-beard in the coldest weather, which helps as well.

2010-12-03 18:24:35

@lyle, the pro tip is to shave with clippers a couple times before growing it out and rubbing it alot. Beards get scratchy because regular razors cut the har at the angle of a syringe.

Clippers cut it pretty much straight across so when the hairs fold back around it doesn't feel like hundreds of needles poking into your face.

(shameless beard pic):

EDIT: wont work, here is the link:

2010-12-03 18:30:44

I tried a little experiment this morning after reading on the interwebs that Cat Crap is basically soap.

I rubbed a very thin coat of DR. BRONNER'S MAGIC ALL-ONE SOAP on the inside of the lenses.

It definitely cut down on the fog! Without perfecting the technique, I would give it a B grade.

I put rain X on the other side of the lens, and nothing melted or exploded.

2010-12-03 18:52:56

i don't even own a razor. on the rare times i do shave i use hair clippers. i got a nice head start on winter this year though:

and spak:

go team ginger!

2010-12-03 18:58:20

dr. bronner's is the shiznit. Sold in bulk at EEFC!

2010-12-03 19:05:43

has anyone found a winter eyewear solution that they swear by? I'm thinking motorcycle goggles with the balaclava. Everything I currently have fogs up big time with the bala and I'm not sold on ski goggles.

2012-01-05 19:29:25

Ski goggles work great. I tried cat crap etc and found nothing else that worked well below about 25. Also, with ski goggles and a balaclava you're completely protected against the cold, so it doesn't feel like your eyes freeze up in a downhill run.

2012-01-06 21:20:48


2012-09-23 13:10:26
If I have to cover my face, I have to use ski goggles to avoid fogging. I don't see why the cheap, boxy safety goggles wouldn't work as well though. I use a pair of cheap scott ski goggles and a smartwool balaclava with serius combodana (softshell bandana / neoprene facemask) or coldavenger expedition balaclava (for really cold days). I need a mask over my mouth to keep the cold air from hurting my lungs nowadays. Bern helmets (esp the allston) work very well with the ski goggles. I don't bother with the winter kit and just wear the summer liner, tape up some of the vents, and wear a blaclava of some sort.
2015-02-06 09:42:17
@Benzo serious question. do ski-specific goggles have a substantial tactical improvement over saftey goggles re: fogging, due to design specific vents or lens treatments? sometimes my commute is through the dark and I am wondering about if the tinting on ski goggles would limit visibilty in low light conditions. I would probably have to look at getting a pair of those "over the glasses" type.
2015-02-06 11:08:18
The ski goggles are definitely better for fogging, but the tinting hurts at night. It is better if you keep the goggles indoor until you use them so you don't have to spend body heat warming them up. If there are ski goggles out there without tinting that would be an ideal solution.
2015-02-06 11:24:56
" do ski-specific goggles have a substantial tactical improvement over saftey goggles re: fogging, due to design specific vents or lens treatments?" Most likely, yes, ski goggles would have a coatings stack designed to be scratch resistant and hydrophobic (and possibly anti-reflective and/or polarizing). Since most safety goggles are meant to be cheap, they probably lack any type of coating. Also, just an FYI, if you put Rain-X (or a similar product) onto a pair of safety goggles, it can actually make the fogging worse due to the chemistry behind Rain-X. It's not true for all safety goggles, but it is true for most.
2015-02-06 11:28:40
I have interchangeable lenses on my ski goggles and use a clear lens for bicycling and at night. The only time they ice up is if I have my balaclava over my nose and hence tucked underneath the nose bridge of the goggles to stay in place. Even then it takes a while before they start to ice up. (But once they do start to develop ice, it's all over.) The solution to this is a face mask - I'd probably get one if skiing in the northeast but the mid-atlantic just doesn't get cold enough to warrant it.
2015-02-06 11:48:30
I've got a pair of clear ski goggles (roughly like these:, and they are definitely an improvement over any safety goggles I've tried. The main thing about them is that they actually have double lenses, and something about the air barrier between the lenses prevents them from fogging up as much. Even with a balaclava, as long as it's actually tucked in under the goggles, they don't fog. They also keep my face so much warmer than anything else I've used, and they also don't obstruct my vision much at all.
2015-02-06 12:02:13
Does anyone have experience with snowboard goggles with spherical lenses (those ones where the lens goes all the way to the side of the goggle and has improved peripheral vision? I'm wondering how well they work with bike helmets (or bern specifically since that's what I use in winter)?
2015-02-06 13:33:26
Also, FWIW. I've found little issue riding with my tinted ski goggles at night, at least in the city. It's actually not that bad in the woods if you've got bright lights (I use a bar light and helmet light together for night MTB riding), especially when there is snow on the ground, since it reflects the light very nicely.
2015-02-06 13:36:38
The bern helmet that I have fits properly with my goggles (Smith I/O) so that there is no gap between the top of the goggles and the brim of the helmet. I don't think that it's standardized though so you would have to test it different fits by trial and error.
2015-02-06 13:49:30
I tend not to have this problem; I'm not sure I can offer foolproof advice but of course this is the message board so, hey, I will offer some anyway: 1. grow a beard (or get one of those rubbery things). 2. pull your bonnet/tuque/cap/hat/whatever-the-right-word-is-and-by-the-way-I-really-hate-dyslexia down to your eyebrows. 3. If your glasses fog, pull them down your nose. They will clear up pretty fast (per air flow). Then push them back up again. 4. (I don't really know for sure that I do this, but) Shape your mouth to direct exhales down or to the side.
2015-02-06 19:47:18
@andyc - those smith I/O goggles, do they have decent peripheral vision? I have a hard time with my existing goggles due to a limited Field of view sometimes. Do you find it hard to turn around and see traffic behind you?
2015-02-13 13:14:40
Try a balaclava with one hole that opens/stretches over your eyes and nose, then put on ski goggles. This set up requires you to breathe in through your mouth and exhale through your nose, keeping your nose warm due the body-temp air, while at the same time not fogging up your goggles because your nose is outside of the Balaklava. To answer the original posters concerns, I bought ski goggles that are big enough to allow for glasses to go underneath.
2015-02-13 15:03:13
I like the peripheral vision on the smith goggles a little better than some other goggles that I've tried. There's a little less frame on the sides. Even still, I've got to turn my head a good amount to look behind me.
2015-02-13 17:15:08
I do fog up my glasses most of the time when it is cold enough to pull a balaclava over my nose, and most of the time I just stuff the glasses up in my helmet and deal.
2015-02-13 17:37:46
does anyone ride with a clear visor ? my helmet is tapped for one Petzl meteor 3
2015-02-15 19:43:40
I kind of do a similar thing to kooklie. My balaclava goes just below my lower lip, leaving my mouth and nose expose. Maybe my mustache helps, but my nose never feels cold. Sometimes on a long descent, I will get a little bit of a brain freeze where my safety glasses rest on my nose, but outside of that, no problem.
2015-02-16 13:11:14
Okay. Ski goggles > work goggles by a long shot. Well worth it.
2015-02-18 18:43:26
got most of the way home with glasses on but after second hard work section the fog sort of froze so I stuck them in my helmet.
2015-02-18 20:42:05
OT - anyone have any hands-on experience with these? HotPod USB Rechargeable Pocket Hand Warmer I used the standard chemical handwarmers today in my shoes and trigger gloves, which was fine, but I like the idea of something reusable and the reviews I've read about the "reusable" handwarmers with the disk that snaps and that you boil to recharge have been less than stellar.
2015-02-20 09:17:36
^ I have a neck warmer that's essentially a cloth bag filled with dried corn that you heat it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. It stays warm for 15 to 20 minutes sitting in front of the TV. So if your commute is short enough, you could make a similar small cloth bag and fill it with dried corn or beans. It might last longer in well insulated mittens, and if it doesnt you have something to feed the birds on the way home. At any rate it would be something cheap to try.
2015-02-20 10:07:15
It's not really as small as handwarmer packs, but the zippo catalytic handwarmer is reusable and goes all day. It takes lighter fluid and some fire to get going, but it will stay warm for over 12 hours. There are some reviews for other good hand warmers on the wirecutter.
2015-02-20 11:58:33
I may have to try those microwavable bean/corn packs. Good read on wirecutter, I like the price point on the Zippos (considering they'd likely only get around 10-15 days of use a year)and they seem a good size, the thing holding me back was that there were some reports that you should try to keep in upright as much as possible or it could affect performance. I'd have them slotted inside mittens and they'd likely be oriented resting across the backs of my hands.
2015-02-20 16:02:22
There aren't too many drawbacks to using the disposable heat packets, they're cheap and convenient. All that's in there is iron powder and some inert ingredients, the heat is produced by basically accelerated rusting, if chemicals are your concern. By the time you mess around with some other system, you'll have more invested. And the materials in the Zippo's (lighter fluid) and rechargeable batteries are probably more harmful than rust.
2015-02-21 10:29:13
The heat packets are hit and miss for me, depending on the batch, sometimes it takes a long time for them to heat up, or they don't heat up adequately (after a lot of shaking, etc.). I like the idea of having something reusable, too, for say, sledding/snowshoeing/skiing but that's probably just me rationalizing.
2015-02-23 09:17:28