Studies have shown that shoulder, elbow, knee, and finger injuries are the most recorded in extreme outdoor sports, and most of these injuries are due to falls.
As such, most athletes tend to get equipment that protects these areas should any accident occur.
Gears like helmets, gloves/mitts, jackets, crampons, boots, and ice axes are synonymous with mountaineering, but there’s something we’re likely to forget — glacier glasses.
As stated earlier, we tend to remember gears that protect the hands, legs, head and keep us warm, neglecting the eyes. However, glacier glasses are equally as essential as the other equipment mentioned.
What are the essential features a pair of glacier glasses should have? What brands are likely to give you value for money? We’ll consider these questions and many other points regarding glacier glasses in this article.
Best Glacier Glasses Buyer’s Guide
Before reviewing the best glacier glasses brands, examine the following buyer’s guide.
Glacier glasses aren’t fashionable eyewear. They are meant for mountaineering due to their above-average rating regarding functionality and protection.
A pair of glacier glasses should offer protection from UV rays, cold, and strong winds that can harm your eyes.
The following aspects should be considered before you purchase a pair of glacier glasses.
1. UV Protection
A crucial feature of glacier glasses is that they offer 100% protection from harmful UltraViolet rays, which are categorized into two — UVA and UVB.
The UVA radiation can pass through the eye’s cornea to damage the retina and lens, causing impairments like cataracts, vision loss, and macular degeneration. UVB is high-altitude radiation capable of reflecting off surfaces and damaging the eyes.
Note that snow reflects UV radiation from the sky and the ground at high altitudes, implying that your eyes receive more than double of the rays they receive at sea level.
2. Light Protection
Sunglasses’ Visible Light Transmission (VLT) is usually rated on a Spectron scale of 0-4. Glacier glasses are usually between Spectron 3 CF and Spectron 4.
The earlier offers a high amount of UV protection, blocking around 80% of visible light, while the latter offers maximum glare protection and blocks 90% or more visible light rays.
As such, both VLT ratings meet mountaineering requirements for glacier glasses.
You want your lenses to be as scratch-resistant as possible. Lenses cannot guarantee 100% scratch resistance, but you can apply an anti-scratch treatment to them.
Luckily, most glacier glasses have polycarbonate lenses because of their durability and scratch-resistant ability. You can practice keeping your glasses in a case or bag when you aren’t using them.
Shock resistance is another thing you need to consider. Outdoor sports have their fair share of accidents, and gadgets are usually built to resist the impacts of falls and other accidents, offering protection to the athlete.
Your glasses should be able to bear up against impact and shouldn’t be prone to damage if they should be dropped.
4. Frame Material
Frames determine the weight, style, durability, and fit of any eyewear, including your glacier glasses.
Plastic and metal are the two primary types of material used for frames, and some glasses are exclusively or a combination of both materials.
The choice of which to use depends on the user as both materials have their pros and cons. While metal frames are more flexible and durable, they’re heavier and more expensive than their plastic counterparts.
5. Side Shields
Side shields are plastic or leather covers located at the sidearms and the lens joints. As the name suggests, they protect the eyes from rays entering from the side.
However, they might become a disturbance during humid or foggy conditions, especially if they aren’t coated with anti-fog treatment or lack adequate ventilation.
You may consider getting glasses with removable side shields or those with anti-fog treatment.
6. Nose guards
Nose guards are not compulsory but are pretty important because of the extra light blockage they offer. Rubber nose guards are preferable over plastic because of their fit and comfort.
Glacier glasses are usually light, weighing no more than 55 grams at most. Any brand weighing above that number is a red flag.
However, the sizes and materials used for frames, lenses, temple grips, and side shields determine the weight per model. Weight should be considered explicitly because increased weight results in less comfort and fit.
Sidearms determine fit and grip; that’s why some are extendable, have flexible temples, rubber pads on the inside, or are made from rubber to improve grip.
Whichever your choice is, make sure the material doesn’t stick to and pull your hair.
The functions and durability of your glasses should be prioritized, but they should be attractive as well.
Glacier glasses come in retro or sporty styles, which depends on your preference. However, make sure your choice guarantees a close and secure fit, offering overall protection.
Top 15 Best Glacier Glasses
1. Julbo Vermont Classic
Style, comfort, efficiency — the Julbo Vermont Classic! The Vermont Classic is a retro-styled pair of glacier glasses available in Spectron 3 and 4 mirrored finish.
The latter offers 100% protection from UV rays and 95% protection from visible light. It is equipped with vented, removable side shields and a leather nose piece, preventing light from entering from the sides and between the eyes.
The Vermont Classic is metal-framed and is fitted with flexible temples to improve grip.
- Metal frame
- Removable side shields
- 100% UV Protection from Spectron 4 lens
- Flexible temples
2. Julbo Explorer 2.0
Packed with exceptional features and a modern-day sporty design, the Julbo Explorer 2.0 is one of the best models you can get for yourself.
The polycarbonate lenses are scratch-resistant, offering Spectron 4 VLT protection, while the removable side shields are well vented to mitigate the fog effect, blocking light from entering through the sides.
The lenses are coated on both sides, reducing glare and providing a mirrored effect that filters visible light.
The Julbo Explorer 2 also offers fit and optimum comfort, equipped with soft-grip temples and adjustable sidearms. It’s made of composite material, making it ultra-light at 44 grams.
- Composite frame
- Removable side shields
- Polarized lenses
- Shock-absorbent nose piece with an insert to maintain comfort during high-impact activity.
- Reactive technology lens
3. Julbo Cham
Julbo Cham is a comfort-renowned, remodeled version of an old-favorite alpine classic.
It offers a round and retro look with updated mountaineering features, including high-performance polycarbonate mirror lenses available in Spectron 3 and Spectron 4.
The temples can be adjusted up to 360° and feature grip technology that offers extensive fit without sticking to the hair. The Julbo Cham is lightweight regardless of its tested and trusted durable metal frame.
You have complete protection from light rays with removable leather side and nose shields.
- Polarized, polycarbonate mirror lenses for improved light filtering
- Moldable nose pieces
- Metal frame
- Removable side shields
- Grip tech temples
4. Oakley Clifden
Oakley is one of the most reputable glacier glasses brands, and the Clifden nameplate is the brand’s first. From style to functionality, Oakley Clifden oozes pure class and optimum quality.
Spectron 4 lenses offer UV400 protection and feature a Prizm snow technology designed to enhance contrast on mountains in bright conditions. Lenses are plutonite, making them lightweight and impact-resistant.
Nose pieces are adjustable, and side shields offer fit with engineering capable of keeping the glass in place regardless of snow, sweat, or wind.
The Oakley Clifden comes with a flexible steel neck leash that holds your glasses in place for a more secure fit. The model is available in polarized and non-polarized options.
- Plastic frame
- Adjustable nose pads for comfort and grip
- Prizm snow technology to enhance contrast on mountains in sunny conditions
- Spectron 4 lenses offer maximum protection from Ultraviolet rays
- Available in polarized and non-polarized lenses
5. Sunski Treeline
Want a pair of glacier glasses that you can also use for other outdoor activities? Sunski is up with the Treeline, one of the most versatile models in the market, even regarding style and design.
Large polarized lenses are available in four tint colors with VLT levels ranging from 10-15%. These lenses protect your eyes from dust, dirt, and the damage caused by the sun’s reflection on fresh snow.
The Sunski Treeline might look less sophisticated than most pairs of glacier glasses but offer premium fit and comfort. It’s lightweight, with frames made of recycled plastic, and fits perfectly due to non-slip rubber nose pads.
Side shields provide better visibility but are removable and vented in case of high humidity.
- Recycled plastic frame, which makes it lightweight
- Non-slip rubber nose pads increase grip
- Removable side shields
- Polarized lenses
- Available in four tint colors with VLT levels ranging from 10-15%
6. Revo Traverse
Cool as you like! The Revo Traverse is a sleek glacier glasses model that packs a mighty punch.
They have a flat lens design that provides maximum eye protection from the sun’s harmful rays reflecting on mountains.
The Traverse bears a resemblance to regular sunglasses but has the same essential features as any decent pair of glacier glasses, including removable, vented side shields, non-slip nose pads and sidearms, and blue polarized lenses that enhance contrast and color.
The frame is thick but light, offering more comfort and durability.
- Modern-styled flat lens and overall design
- Removable, vented side shields
- Non-slip nose pads improve grip
- Blue polarized lenses that enhance contrast and color and offer protection from harmful Ultraviolet rays
7. Vuarnet VL1315
There must be a couple of reasons why this model featured in two James Bond movies: Tile to Die (2021) and Spectre (2015). What could they be? Design, status, and versatility.
It has a state-of-the-art design and could feature as functional sports gear or a regular pair of sunglasses.
Above all, Vuarnet has been in the eyewear industry since the 1950s, blending a history of progressive technology and style of protective sunglasses.
Vuarnet is best known for its quality construction. The VL1315 adds its quota to that reputation with its oil and water-resistance, steel and acetate frame material, and anti-scratch coating.
It doesn’t feature a Category four lens, but its Category 3 anti-reflective mineral lenses are enough to keep out 93% of harmful visible light rays and 90% of infra-red rays.
Removable leather side shields offer added protection by keeping out light from entering through the sides.
- Removable leather side-shields
- Steel and acetate frame
- Lenses have a raised bumper for impact-resistance
8. Bertoni ALPS
Flexible and impressively lightweight, the Bertoni ALPS are made from durable plastic frames that offer comfort and a secure fit.
Polarized anti-reflective lenses are available in blue, brown, green and photochromic options, with VLT percentages of 11%, 14.1%, 11%, and 32% – 12%, respectively.
Side shields are flexible, and the nose-bridge is detachable, while sidearms are non-removable but have leather anti-fog aerators to reduce the mist effect when the weather is humid.
Luckily, the Bertoni ALPS comes with a soft microfiber pouch and a strong case to protect the glasses when not in use.
- Impressively lightweight (less than 30 grams)
- Detachable nose-bridge
- Flexible arms for a secure fit
- Polarized anti-reflective lenses are available in blue, brown, green, and photochromic options.
9. Julbo Sherpa
One of the cheapest models held on an expensive-looking scale due to its quality. The Julbo Sherpa has an elegant, lightweight plastic frame with 360° moldable temples for a perfect fit.
Category 3 lenses are polycarbonate, ensuring scratch-resistance and offering detailed vision through glare reduction and UV protection with a 12% Visible Light Transmission.
Sherpa’s removable side shields provide total cover, protecting your eyes from light entering through the sides. You don’t need to worry about mist effects either; your lenses have an anti-fog coating that secures your vision when the weather is humid.
Interestingly, Julbo offers a lifetime warranty for the initial buyer of any of its products, guaranteeing the durability of this model.
- Plastic frame
- Removable side shields
- Polycarbonate Category 3 lenses are scratch-resistant and offer detailed vision through glare reduction and UV protection
- Anti-fog coating on lenses
- 360° moldable temples for a perfect fit
10. Julbo Shield
As the name implies, this model protects your eyes from destructive UVs and visible lights.
It is renowned for its modern style and versatility, owing to its use in other outdoor sports like trail running, skiing, and climbing.
Polycarbonate Spectron 4 lenses are scratch-resistant and block up to 95% of visible light. With the removable fabric side shields, your eyes are protected from peripheral light through lateral positions.
The lenses are available in reactive photochromic: performance 2-4, high mountain 2-4, and Spectron 4 options. The Julbo Shield excels regarding comfort and fit, featuring grip technology on the nose and temples.
Temples feature holes for cord attachment to keep your glasses in place.
- Plastic frame
- Removable, fabric side shields
- Spectron 4 lenses deliver 5% VLT
- Grip technology in nose and temples
- Lenses are available in reactive photochromic: performance 2-4, high mountain 2-4, and Spectron 4 options.
11. Julbo Camino
The Camino’s remarkable design would hardly fail to complement Julbo’s reputation regarding high-performance glacier glasses.
It has Spectron 4 polycarbonate lenses that offer 100% protection from UV and blocks 95% of visible light. These lenses are engineered with an anti-reflective coating and mirror finish to reduce stray reflections and increase light filtration.
Removable side shields are included, offering side protection from harmful light rays.
Julbo Camino boasts a simple design with a sporty look and feel; it’s an essential lightweight frame with curved temples that keeps it fit on your face.
The most notable downside of this model is that it lacks suitable grip features.
- Lightweight plastic frame
- Removable side shields
- Spectron 4 polycarbonate lenses
- Anti-reflective coating and mirror finish to reduce stray reflections and increase light filtration.
12. Julbo Montebianco
Julbo Montebianco is everything you need for eye protection in a rugged, stylish piece. It features wide, high-altitude lenses for optimum protection against harmful UV rays.
The lenses are polarized REACTIVE High Mountain 2-4 – Photochromic, adjusting from medium to dark tint within a short period regardless of air temperature.
The Julbo Montebianco has curved temples to enhance grip on the face and head and is engineered with grip tech, providing a non-stick rubber material for perfect grip and comfort.
If you’re looking for a model that offers a full-coverage frame design with removable side shields and optimum comfort, Julbo Montebianco is a perfect choice.
- Plastic frame
- Total coverage frame design
- REACTIVE High Mountain 2-4 – Photochromic lenses
- Anti-fog coating on the lenses’ interior
- Grip technology offers premium fit and comfort
13. Northern Lights 6 Glacier Glasses
Cool for retro, suitable for now, the NL6 is a tested and trusted model for every outdoor adventure, featuring an attractive design and protective functions.
Category 3 lenses feature high-quality optic Aurora™ CR39 lenses that offer detailed vision through glare reduction and UV protection.
It’s handmade from top-notch wireframe suitable for men and women. Removable leather side shields protect the eyes from light penetrating through the sides, while an adjustable nose pad offers better grip and comfort.
- Handmade from top-notch wireframe
- High-quality optic Aurora™ CR39 lenses
- Removable, leather side shields
- Gift box, hard case, soft microfiber pouch, and lens cloth included.
14. Ronsou Steampunk Style Round Vintage Polarized Sunglasses
This model was deemed to make a list given its vintage steampunk style. UV400-rated lenses offer absolute protection from UVA and UVB radiation.
It’s made of scratch-resistant, durable metal fit for any weather conditions. Side shields are vented and removable.
- Fashionable vintage steampunk style
- Metal, scratch-resistant frames
- UV400-rated lenses offer absolute protection from UVA and UVB radiation
- Vented and removable side shields
15. Tifosi Dolomite 2.0
Dolomite’s design features a traditional sporty look with unique features we haven’t come across in any of the reviewed brands.
It comes with vented lenses, which have pros and cons. On the positive side, the lenses are less affected by fog, but light rays can penetrate through the vents, which is quite an issue.
However, this model is very reliable due to its technologically advanced features like the chemical-resistant Grilamid TR-90 nylon frame.
Lenses are polycarbonate, guaranteeing impact and scratch resistance as they offer 100% UVA/UVB protection. It has extended side arms towards the hinges that serve as side shields to block a substantial amount of light.
Nose pieces are made of hydrophilic rubber to enhance grip regardless of sweat. The Tifosi Dolomite 2.0 might not be the best option for light protection, but its other features make it one of the best in the market.
- Chemical-resistant Grilamid TR-90 nylon frame
- Vented lenses for fog reduction
- Hydrophilic rubber nose pieces to enhance grip
Glacier Glasses Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Are Glacier Glasses?
The closest comparison to glacier glasses is sunglasses. Glacier glasses just offer more protection from harmful rays that increase with altitude.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated a 5% increase in UV levels for every 1,000 feet of elevation above sea level.
Sunlight also reflects on snow-covered mountains, causing temporary or permanent damages to a mountaineer’s eyes. Therefore, mountaineers must protect themselves from these harmful rays by using glacier glasses.
What are the Differences between Glacier Glasses and Regular Sunglasses?
While both protect the eyes from excess light, regular sunglasses cannot replace glacier glasses on mountains or any landscape of high altitudes.
Glacier glasses have higher Visible Light Transmission (VLT) measurement, which shows the amount of light transmitted through a lens.
Regular sunglasses usually transmit 40-60% of visible light, while glacier glasses transmit about 4-7%.
Glacier glasses also have high-tech features that enhance grip, resistance, and comfort. Some glacier glasses have polycarbonate lenses that improve scratch and impact resistance.
Some have side shields that protect the eyes from peripheral light and have coatings that reduce fog effects.
Grip technology, curved or moldable temples, and lightweight frames are usual features that characterize glacier glasses.
Should Glacier Glasses Be Polarized?
Polarization isn’t a crucial feature of glacier glasses, but it has pros and cons. Polarization reduces glare, sensitivity and enhances contrast.
However, it also causes distortion, which can be unsafe as you find it challenging to judge landscapes.
Glacier glasses are amongst the essential climbing gears. Hopefully, you’ve gained insight into some of the best glacier glasses in the market with the varieties listed above.
Well, decide on your preferred choice and get climbing. Please let us know your thoughts on our best glacier glasses in the comments section below.
See Rock Climbing Diet & Nutrition, 30 Special Climbing Gifts for Rock Climbers, and 10 Best Beginner Rock Climbing Shoes: Rock Climbing Shoes.