Fight Foggy Glasses

What to Do When Your Glasses Steam Up in Cold Weather Riding

Man wearing foggy glasses

David Ryle/Getty Images

One of the biggest problems for cool weather cyclists is having your glasses fog up/freeze up when you ride. This is especially true if you wear a balaclava (ski mask) or scarf that channels your warm moist breath upwards toward your eyes. So how d​o you thwart this?

There are several recipes for fighting foggy glasses on cold days. If this is a problem for you, give one of these cures a try.

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Use a Commercial Anti-Fogging Agent

Try using a commercial anti-fogging agent such as Fogtech, Cat Crap (no, really, that's its name) or Speedo. Many of these were developed for snow skiers, but, frankly, in my experience, however, none of these solutions have been particularly effective though once you get ten or more degrees below freezing.

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Use Mountain Climber Sunglasses

You know those glasses worn by mountain climbers and people out in the desert — the ones that have the little side shades that wrap around to help block peripheral light, wind, cold and dust? Those people are dealing with the same sorts of problems that we cold-weather cyclists face: glasses fogging up, cold air making one's eyes water, and the basic need for eyewear that protects from sunlight and debris. Try a pair of these glasses with the side wraps (like the Julbo Explorer pair that we had the chance to try out) and see what happens. They sure worked for us.

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Ivory Soap Rubbed on the Lenses

Take a bit of Ivory bar soap and rub it lightly on the lenses, then buff with a dry soft cloth designed for use with the lens material. Glycerin soap also works for this purpose.  In both cases, the slightly slippery coating helps keep water molecules from clinging to the surface.

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Filter for Balaclava Mouth Opening

Another solution offered by an experienced cyclist is to take a piece of HEPA filter from a vacuum cleaner and make a sleeve for it then put it flat inside your balaclava where your mouth is. 

Available from your local hardware store in pieces about 4x10 inches, you cut it into a piece about 2x3 inches. This solves a lot of problems by suppressing the air from your glasses and face. No wet balaclava and no more fogged-up glasses.

When you are done riding, you can wash the filter piece with your clothes in the washer.  Let air dry after that.

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Use Ski Goggles

One solution you might consider is to switch to ski goggles when it is really cold. The goggles are sealed and won't have the same problems with fogging up as ordinary glasses or sunglasses.

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Consider Giving Up Your Balaclava

Most of the time, foggy/frozen glasses are caused by your hot breath hitting the cool lenses, causing the water droplets to freeze on the glass. Here's an option for you, but this is where it gets really tough. You may consider giving up your balaclava (ski mask) and solve a lot of this problem. Will a scarf wrapped around the lower part of your face work instead? It's essentially a choice between having a warm face or clear glasses.

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Positioning of Glasses and Balaclava

Many cyclists notice that their problems with foggy glasses are most significant when they slow significantly or have to stop altogether.  If you need to stop for any period of time, such as waiting at a light, try pushing your glasses down your nose or removing them completely until riding again. It is important to maintain a flow of air between your lenses and your face.  You can also try adjusting your balaclava, moving the material that covers your mouth and/or nose up or down to help channel the exhaled air away from your lenses.

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Reroute Your Exhaled Air

One final option: a cyclist I know said he experimented with exhaling through a cut-off snorkel that pointed down under his jacket. He said it worked better than the anti-fog lens treatment but I'm still not sure if he was pulling my leg or not with this "solution."