There are a lot of reasons that make sunglasses an absolute must for mountaineers. When at high altitudes, the sun rays are a lot less hindered by vapors and gaseous layers, and the ultraviolet radiations are more potent as compared to low-lying areas. This type of ultraviolet radiation can be damaging to the eyes, and it can leave lasting harm to the lens and cornea. This damage can be aggravated in the future, leading to disorders and diseases.
Other than that, wearing sunglasses is also necessary since it helps you avoid squinting as much as possible. Without the sun beating down on your eyes, you can keep your eyes open more easily. This can improve visibility and help keep your eye/face muscles relaxed.
Sunglasses can also be an excellent protective measure against wind and air-borne dust/debris. To get the actual and best benefits from mountaineering sunglasses, you have to make sure that you pick the right ones. In this post, we’ll help you make the right choice by listing some of the sunglasses we think are worth buying in 2023.
Before that, however, let’s answer some important questions you might have about needing polarizing glasses in the first place.
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- Do You Need Polarized Glasses For Mountaineering?
- What Sunglasses Do Climbers Have to Wear?
- 1 . Julbo Explorer 2.0 – Best Overall
- 2 . Julbo Monterosa – Runner Up
- 3 . Revo Sunglasses Traverse – Premium Pick
- 4 . Tifosi Dolomite 2.0 – Budget Pick
- 5 . Julbo Sherpa
- 6 . Bertoni Polarized Sunglasses
- 7 . Julbo Shield
- Buying Guide: How To Buy The Best Mountaineering Sunglasses?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Need Polarized Glasses For Mountaineering?
Yes, polarized sunglasses are necessary for mountaineering. Polarized glasses offer protection against UV and excessive glare. As we mentioned above, one of the main reasons for wearing sunglasses in the mountains is to keep your eyes protected against dangerous UV rays. For this, having polarized glasses is necessary.
Of course, polarized glasses also have other benefits and upsides. They can protect against glare, which can be a welcome benefit in snowy areas. Since there is constant exposure to sharp sunlight in the mountains, your eyes can quickly get tired and strained if they are not protected.
Polarized lenses essentially have a special manufacturing style that involves applying a certain chemical on top. This chemical stops the horizontal light rays from reaching the wearer’s eyes. This is why everything viewed through polarized glasses is slightly dimmer and darker.
What Sunglasses Do Climbers Have to Wear?
Any type of sunglasses is usually fine for wearing in normal circumstances. Still, when it comes to mountaineering, there are some additional precautions and features that you have to be mindful of. Among others, two of the main qualities that have to exist in mountaineering sunglasses are:
- Light filtration for glare reduction and UV protection
- Frame securing mechanism, i.e., a strap or rounded temples
Other than that, additional protection against wind and debris in the form of side covers can also be helpful for mountaineers. If a particular pair of sunglasses does not have a dedicated strap or rounded temples/arms, then it should be made of such material that can grip the head and not slip off easily.
Now, let’s move on to look at some mountaineering sunglasses that you can buy in 2023.
1 . Julbo Explorer 2.0 – Best Overall
The Julbo Explorer 2.0 comes with an aesthetic design and a number of useful features, due to which we’re mentioning it here at the top of our list. According to the brand, the Julbo Explorer 2.0 is suitable for medium to large-sized faces. These sunglasses have a large blocky construction, which makes them ideal for wearing in rough mountain conditions.
Starting off with the lens, the Explorer 2.0 comes with two different options. You can either buy the version with the REACTIV Polarized lenses or the Spectron lenses. The REACTIV Polarized lenses are the more premium pick of these two. They have a VLT (visible light transmission) of 20 – 5% and have a brown mirror coating color. The REACTIV lenses change color according to the lighting conditions.
In dim lighting, the color of the lens gets light, enabling the wearer to see clearly. In harsh and bright conditions, the lens darkens, due to which the viewing ease is maintained.
The REACTIV lenses are also polarized. They can help reduce glare and protect your eyes from high UV exposure. And to top it all, they also have an anti-fog coating on the inside. This coating will keep the lenses from obscuring your vision if you somehow get some hot air inside them.
On the other hand, the Spectron lenses are more useful if you’re on a budget. They are not photochromatic, i.e., they don’t change color according to the lighting conditions. Their benefit is mainly their availability in multiple colors.
Other than the quality of the lenses, there is a lot more that you can enjoy with the Julbo Explorer 2.0. These sunglasses’ temples (arms) can be fully adjusted around a 360° angle for a customized grip. The Grip Tech material of the temples helps them to hold on firmly to the head without slipping or budging a lot. The temples of the Explorer 2.0 also come with slots at the ends that you can use for inserting a cord/string.
Another great feature of these sunglasses is the removable side shields. You can put the shields on if you happen to find yourself in usually harsh, bright, and windy conditions. When things go back to normal, you can remove them to keep your eyes nice and airy.
There are different color options available for the Explorer 2.0. If you’re looking for the REACTIV Polarized lenses, you can choose between the blue and matte black frame colors, whereas the Spectron version is available in the gray frame variant.
Why Is The Julbo Explorer 2.0 Ideal For Wearing In Harsh Sunny Conditions?
The Julbo Explorer 2.0 is ideal for wearing in harsh sunny conditions due to the photochromatic REACTIV lenses, low VLT, and removable side shields. In harsh sunlight, the REACTIV lenses change color, allowing the wearer better visibility. The VLT drops down to around 5% during the ‘dark’ mode.
The removable side shields can be great for keeping the eyes relaxed. They can block out the excess sunlight coming in from the sides and reduce eye strain.
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2 . Julbo Monterosa – Runner Up
The second place on our list also goes to a Julbo product.
The Julbo Monterosa is similar to the Explorer 2.0 in its features and lens style. One of the differences between these two is the design and construction. While the Explorer 2.0 has a thin bendable temple, the Monterosa comes with broad fixed arms. This can be a bit of a troubling factor for some wearers.
But other than that, there isn’t too much of a difference as far as the other features and perks are concerned. Like the Explorer, the Monterosa is also available with REACTIV and Spectron lenses. The temples are made using the Grip Tech material, which allows them to stay put even if your head gets wet or sweaty. The arms also feature cord attachment holes at the end. You can use this for inserting a ‘lanyard’ for added stability.
As mentioned in the product above, the REACTIV lenses have photochromatic properties and are the higher-end option, whereas the Spectron lens comes with a polycarbonate construction and is the more economical option.
If you’re thinking about buying some sunglasses for use at high altitudes and in intensely bright conditions, the REACTIV lenses can be the better choice. But if your destination is closer to the surface, the Spectron lenses can provide you with the shade that you need. Another benefit of the REACTIV lenses (the ‘All Mountain’ version, to be exact) is polarization. Polarized lenses can be great for use on mountains because of their UV-filtering and anti-glare properties.
Like the Explorer 2.0, the Julbo Monterosa also features removable side shields. These shields can keep your eyes protected from direct sunlight coming in from the sides. They can also be a great help when it gets windy. You won’t have to worry about grit and debris coming flying in.
3 . Revo Sunglasses Traverse – Premium Pick
The Revo Sunglasses Traverse comes with a hefty price tag – but the features it provides are well worth it. The exotic leather side shields, thick, durable frame, and excellent lens construction are a fair deal for the cited $269 (at the time of writing).
One of the remarkable features of the Revo Sunglasses is the 6-base technology used for the lens construction. The material of the lens itself is Serilium, but it comes with five other coatings for excellent glare reduction, durability, water resistance, and oil/fingerprint resistance.
The 6-base arrangement starts with a Revo Hydrophobic Coating that is designed to repel water and sweat. This helps to keep the inside of the sunglasses dry and airy. This coating is followed by the Revo Back-Surface Protection Coating. As the name indicates, this coating helps the glasses to reduce back-surface reflections from bothering the wearer.
After these two coatings comes the lens itself. Serilium is a lightweight and durable polycarbonate, which makes it an ideal choice for a sunglasses lens. The Serilium lens is immediately followed by the polarization film. We discussed the benefits of polarized lenses above, but to put it briefly, they can help protect against harsh sunlight as well as excessive glare.
Next comes the Exclusive Revo Mirror Coating, which is advertised by the brand simply as “3 – 6 layers based on NASA lens technology”. And last but not least is the Authentic Revo Oleophobic Coating that repels oil and fingerprint marks.
Considering this entire breakdown of the complex lens construction, there’s no conundrum behind the $269 price tag. Once you invest in these glasses, you’ll be able to use them for some time to come.
The Revo Traverse also comes with leather side shields that help prevent the eyes against sunlight and harsh wind. The nose pad and temple tips are made of rubber. This helps the glasses to fit snugly.
4 . Tifosi Dolomite 2.0 – Budget Pick
Now that we’ve seen the $250+ option above, let’s swing to the other end of the spectrum and look at an affordable option. The Tifosi Dolomite 2.0 comes in two variants, i.e., the polarized and non-polarized versions. The simple version has a price tag of around $70 (at the time of writing). But the features that it provides are pretty good considering the cost cited.
Let’s take a look at some of its features.
The frame of the Tifosi Dolomite 2.0 not only looks good, but it also has excellent UV-resistant and chemical-resistant properties. Made with Grilamid TR-90 nylon, these frames can prove to be durable in harsh mountaintop sunlight. You won’t have to worry about these glasses getting brittle or faded.
Moving on, the lenses of the Dolomite 2.0 are nothing short of impressive. They are made using polycarbonate and are advertised by the brand to be shatterproof. Not only does this material ensure durability and hardiness, but it also provides clear and distortion-free visibility.
The lenses of the Dolomite 2.0 have, unlike any other glasses we’ve looked at so far, a vented design. Owing to the two small apertures on both lenses, the inside of the glasses remains clear and airy, thus preventing fog build-up.
5 . Julbo Sherpa
The Julbo Sherpa has a different design than the other sunglasses that we’ve seen so far on this list. The Sherpa sunglasses come with Spectron 3 lenses. This is a bit of a step down from the REACTIV lenses that we saw in the first two Julbo products. But the Spectron 3 does a good job as far as basic eye protection is concerned.
According to the brand, the Spectron 3 lenses offer protection against UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. Although the REACTIV and Spectron 3 both share the UV protection ability, the latter lacks when it comes to glare reduction. The Julbo Sherpa has a VLT of 12%, which is significantly higher than the 5% provided by the REACTIV Polarized lenses featured in the Julbo Explorer 2.0.
In short, the Julbo Sherpa will suffice for normal use in the mountains, but if you’re looking for something extra protective, you’ll be better off with either the Explorer 2.0 or the Revo Traverse.
But, while the lens is a little low in quality, it’s not actually the main selling feature of the Julbo Sherpa. The main reason that you’d want to buy these is the adjustable temple design.
The temples of the Sherpa sunglasses can be adjusted around a 360° axis. You can wear the glasses and then rotate the temples around your ears for a snug, budge-free fit. Thanks to the adjustability, you also don’t have to worry much about size compatibility. If you find your head to be a little ‘unfitting’ for the glasses, you can turn the temples a little and make them sit properly.
The Julbo Sherpa sunglasses also come with removable side shields. These shields can protect your eyes from sunlight coming in from around the lenses and can also help against wind and debris. The good thing about these side shields is that they are attached to the frame with a circular loop.
They don’t just snap on, like the ones in Explorer 2.0 and Monterosa. You won’t have to worry about the side shields on the Sherpa just getting loose and dropping off while you’re trekking along.
The Bertoni Polarized Sunglasses are a lot similar to the Julbo Sherpa in their design and temple adjustability.
Like the Sherpa, these Bertoni Sunglasses have a 360° rotatable temple design. Once you slide them over the ears, you can bend the temples to make sure they don’t budge and move around.
The Bertoni Polarized Sunglasses also come with side shields to protect the eyes against wind and sunlight. Unlike the others, these sunglasses also feature aeration holes in the side shields to prevent fog build-up.
As the name indicates, the lenses are polarized and offer excellent protection against UV and glare. Considering the polarization, adjustable temples, and integrated side shields, the Bertoni sunglasses are pretty affordable (at just $59.99 during a sale at the time of writing).
7 . Julbo Shield
The Julbo Shield sunglasses are a lot similar to the ones discussed in numbers 1 & 2 of this list. Like the Explorer 2.0 and the Monterosa, the Julbo Shield comes with a large and hefty design along with removable side shields.
These sunglasses come with REACTIV Photochromatic technology, which allows the lenses to turn darker in bright conditions. The lenses are also polarized, enabling them to block UV rays and reduce glare.
One remarkable feature of the Julbo Shield is the venting system. Unlike others (such as the Dolomite 2.0 and the Bertoni), the venting perforations are not large or obstructive. Rather, they are integrated within the frame itself. This allows the lenses to say fog-free while also keeping the wearer snug and comfortable around the eyes.
The Julbo Shield glasses come with Grip Tech Temples. The temples are made of soft rubber that gives a comfortable fit and does not become sticky if you happen to sweat behind the ears.
Buying Guide: How To Buy The Best Mountaineering Sunglasses?
If you don’t find any of the sunglasses mentioned above according to your need/preference, there is no need to worry. There are a lot of other products that you can buy as well. But, if you’re not very familiar with the features and qualities that make a good pair of sunglasses, you could go wrong with your purchase. Before you start browsing, you need to make sure that you know what the criterion is for selecting the right glasses.
For the next part of this article, that is what we are going to be looking at. We’ll mention some of the main aspects you’ve to keep an eye out for.
Frame And Structure
The first thing that you have to watch out for is the frame and structure.
Arguably, it could be said that the lens is the most important thing, but what good is a pair of sunglasses if you can’t wear them? When it comes to the frame and structure, there’re a number of factors that you can check to see if your contemplated product is worth purchasing or not. We’ll list some of those below:
To start off, you first have to see whether the sunglasses will fit on your head or not. As you may have noticed above, the different products that we mentioned had varying fitness compatibilities. According to the respective brands, some were good for ‘medium’ heads, whereas others were for ‘medium’ and ‘large’ heads.
Normally, the people who can have issues with frame fitting are those who have an unusual face shape or head size. If your head is averagely sized/shaped, you don’t need to worry a lot about size compatibility. You should be good to go if the glasses in question are for ‘medium’ or ‘medium – large’ size heads. But, if they are primarily for ‘small’ or only ‘large’ heads, you should look for something else.
Once you decide on a particular product, it is a good idea to look at that particular brand’s size chart. One brand could dub as ‘large’ the same size that would be treated as ‘medium’ by another.
Rims And Nose Pads
Moving on, the next thing you have to look for is the size/style of the rim and the nose pads. The main thing that you need to check vis-à-vis the rims is their size and construction. The size of the rims should be big and ample enough to give you a decent viewing experience, whereas the construction should be hardy and durable enough to withstand the roughs of mountaineering.
Considering the above, it can be understood that the width/size of the rims should neither be too expansive nor too limited. If the rims are too narrow, i.e., with thick bezels, they will wreck the viewing experience (albeit providing serious durability). On the other hand, if the rims are too sleek, they will wreck the durability (albeit providing a good viewing experience).
The nose pads are also essential parts of the frame. Without proper nose pads, wearing glasses can be a nightmare. Before purchasing your contemplated sunglasses, always take care to check the material and style of the nose pads.
The nose pads should be soft rubber or other similar yielding material.
This is not a standard feature you can find on sunglasses, but we’re mentioning it here nonetheless. If you do find a product that provides this feature, it’s a good plus point. Temple adjustability basically refers to the ability of the arms or temples to be rotated or pivoted in order to fit better. This feature exists in the first product we mentioned in our list above.
The benefit of having adjustable temples is that you can bend them quickly for a better grip. Similarly, if you ever want to lend your glasses to someone else, they can adjust them to their own size.
The durability of the frame is also an essential factor that you have to keep in mind. If you’re going to the mountains, you’ll probably be exposed to intense sunlight. We say ‘intense’ because mountains aren’t as covered by air pollutants as compared to low-lying areas. Since the air is clean and clear, the sunlight comes in full force.
Along with what that sort of sunlight can do to your visibility, it can also adversely affect your belonging. Plastic items can get damaged if they are exposed to sunlight incessantly for long periods of time.
The purpose of mentioning the above is that since the sunglasses have to remain perched on top of your head, you have to ensure that the material they’re made from is sunlight-friendly (i.e., UV-resistant). A nylon blend in the manufacturing material (such as in the Tifosi Dolomite 2.0) aids the frame in lasting longer.
Of course, other than the UV-resistant capabilities of the frame, you also have to look at the general strength and hardiness. A polycarbonate construction is usually good enough, but if you’re buying something expensive, you have to be a bit more critical.
While side shields aren’t that essential in normal circumstances, they become necessary in extra bright conditions. The purpose of side shields is to provide protection against sunlight that comes in from the sides of the frames. While the sunlight falling on the front is filtered and dimmed down via the lens, the sides remain exposed.
In some of the products mentioned above, you may have noticed that the side shields are removable. You can put them on when needed and remove them once the light gets a little less intense. So, when buying mountaineering sunglasses, you should consider whether your contemplated product comes with side shields. The ideal choice in this regard is to go for those glasses that have removable shields.
Now that we’re done with the things that you have to look at in the frame let’s move on to the lens itself.
It is essential for the lens of the sunglasses to be durable and shatterproof. Shatterproof lenses don’t break into pieces on impact. Even if they break, they stay together and are not dispersed in the form of large dangerous shards.
So, this is the first thing that you have to see in the lenses of your contemplated sunglasses. Safety comes first. Normally, you can find this quality in lenses made from polycarbonate. Some lenses may also have additional coatings on top to help boost durability.
Again, we did talk about polarized glasses a little way back in this article. But let’s go over it briefly once again.
Polarized lenses essentially have a coating on top that blocks horizontal rays of light from reaching the wearer’s eyes. This helps in reducing glare and blocking UV rays. Polarized lenses are darker than normal, but they can significantly reduce eye strain.
Another benefit of polarized glasses is that they help everything (seen through them) more clear and sharper. Should you ever need to operate a GPS or a satellite phone on the mountains, you won’t have to squint or cup your hand over the screen if you’re wearing a pair of polarized glasses.
Sunglasses can get fogged up due to warm breath, especially if you’re wearing something that forces that air upwards, e.g., a scarf or balaclava. To get around this problem, there are two main features that sunglasses have:
- Aeration slots
- Anti-fog coating
As far as the aeration slots go, they can work well to eliminate the fog build-up, but they can get a little uncomfortable since they won’t block out the cold. However, an anti-fog coating (like one featured in the Revo Traverse) can eliminate visibility issues while keeping the inside snug.
Of course, we can’t really end this buying guide without mentioning the price.
As far as deciding the price goes, it largely depends on the purpose for which you’re looking to buy the sunglasses. If you are looking for a one-timer pair of sunglasses (or for wearing occasionally), you don’t have to break the bank. You can find a good one for around $70.
On the other hand, if you are a regular mountaineer and have to spend a lot of time in harsh sunny conditions, you should consider investing in a durable and long-lasting product. That way, you’ll get more out of your purchase and won’t have to worry about buying a replacement too quickly.
If you are looking for something affordable, the Tifosi Dolomite 2.0 is a good choice, whereas the Revo Traverse can be suitable for heavy investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are Mountaineers’ Glasses Dark?
Mountaineering glasses are usually polarized. Due to the polarization coating applied on the lens, they are darker than normal glasses.
Other than polarization, mountaineering glasses can also appear darker than usual if they have photochromatic properties. Photochromatic lenses turn dark when the light is bright, and they go back to being transparent in normal conditions.
What Are Category 3 Sunglasses?
Category 3 sunglasses are those sunglasses that are made to be worn in moderately bright conditions. They provide decent glare reduction and UV protection. They have a VLT (visible light transmission) of 19 – 43%.
What To Look For In Mountaineering Sunglasses?
When buying mountaineering sunglasses, you should look at the UV-resistant and glare-reduction properties of the lenses as well as the durability of the frame. Features such as side shields and aeration holes can also be useful for mountaineering.
Why Do I Need Polarized Sunglasses For Mountaineering?
With polarized sunglasses, you can protect your eyes from getting harmed by UV rays. You can also reduce eye strain since polarized sunglasses work to lessen the glare bouncing off reflective surfaces. This is more emphasized if you’re planning on going somewhere snowy.
Those were some mountaineering sunglasses that you can buy in 2023. Before we wind this up, let’s take a quick look at each product again.
The Julbo Explorer 2.0 is the best all-around pick. It has an excellent design along with outstanding UV + glare resistance. The Julbo Monterosa is more or less the same as the Explorer, except for the temple design.
The Revo Traverse comes packed with excellent features, but it is a bit on the expensive side. We recommend buying it if you’re looking to make a one-time significant investment. The Tifosi Dolomite 2.0 is a nice affordable option that you can buy if you’re looking for something a little less intense in terms of features. The Dolomite 2.0 is available in both the polarized and non-polarized versions.
The Julbo Sherpa has the main benefit of adjustable temples. The temples can be fully rotated around the ears for a snug fit. It also comes with removable side shields, which makes it a good choice for buyers with a medium budget.
The Bertoni Polarized Sunglasses share a lot of features with the Sherpa. It also comes with side shields and adjustable temples. There is the addition of the perforations on the shields, which is missing in the Sherpa.
Last but not least, the Julbo Shield is a lot like the first two Julbo sunglasses in terms of lens style and design. But it lacks the thin adjustable temples present in Explorer 2.0.
While all these options are worth buying, you should always consider your particular requirements when making a purchase.
Investing in a good quality pair of sunglasses is important for mountaineering adventures as they provide protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays and reduce glare, allowing for better visibility and improved safety.
When selecting a pair of sunglasses for mountaineering, it is important to consider the specific needs and challenges of the activity. Look for a brand with a reputation for durability and performance, as well as features such as polarized lenses, anti-fog coating, and adjustable nose pads.