Winter Cycling: A Study in Fog Management

So far, my winter cycling experience has been a study in fog management. I wear glasses every day, so on the bike, fogging becomes somewhat of a problem. As soon as the temperature started dropping to the low single-digits (4°C or less) my eyes started to really sting and hurt when I got to work or got home at night. They were red for hours afterward. I decided it should be pretty simple to put on a pair of ski goggles and I would be set for the rest of winter.

Not so simple. At first it was good, but soon my right-side of my glasses started fogging up. I would take the goggles off and my glasses would clear up, but then my eyes would start hurting. Putting the goggles back on only made it worse because now the glasses were colder and the air condensed even more. So I ended up riding to work alternating with and without goggles, and riding home with none (and very sore eyes). One day, my glasses had significant ice buildup inside the goggles and another day I nearly ran into someone walking down the middle of the road because it was so foggy that day (that one was more the weather than the glasses). P.S. Don’t walk down the middle of an unlit street in the fog.

Next, I used my wife’s swimming anti-fog coating, which is also good for winter sports. If you’ve never used anti-fog, it creates a film on the surface of the lens (goggles, glasses, etc.) that does not allow water to condense (or it makes it harder to do so). Again, this worked for a while and I even had a couple good days with no fog. The problem was, the film is hard to see through when it’s on your regular glasses during the day. I was rinsing them when I got to work, then re-applying anti-fog at the end of the day. Also, I took a ride to the park on the weekend when it was -13°C or so. After riding around for a while, the glasses completely fogged up! I had to ride home with no goggles, so I practically froze my eyeballs! This was not working, so I needed something better.

I started shopping around for better ski goggles, especially those that would fit over my glasses and I found out that many companies make one or two OTG (over the glasses) models for this. There are also goggles with little fans that keep air moving, but these were prohibitively expensive for me. I ended up trying out a pair of Scott Heli OTGs for $60 that had little tint, so great visibility in low light. Morning and evening riding in winter is all about low light, so these worked even better than the orange-tint goggles I was wearing. I put them on and ran around the store’s parking lot and in the alley. I must have looked like a dork running around with ski goggles on, but hey, I had to know they would work!

So far, these goggles have been working great for me, although I had to turn back once due to fogging when it was around -23°C out. I suppose it may just be too cold to have glasses inside goggles, even if they are meant for it. The wind direction does have a lot to do with it as well. Some days, even with the new goggles, I have fogging problems with the right eye and have to ride with my face turned to the right so the air goes through the goggles more.

I recently had an eye exam and got a trial pair of contacts, which I wore the next day cycling to work. Absolutely no fogging, so this may just be the answer! Also, strangely it hasn’t hit below -13 in a long while, so I haven’t had any more cold weather problems yet. We’ll see what happens in the new year when it does get colder.

Merry Christmas!

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About Kurt (Lightning) Bredeson

I am a married man, a follower of Jesus, a Mechanical Engineer, and a lover of cars, cycling and music. Things haven't always been easy; things haven't always been hard. I'm just trying my best in this life to enjoy what's been given to me by God and make the most of it.
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2 Responses to Winter Cycling: A Study in Fog Management

  1. Pingback: Minus 25 And Still Alive | Kurt's Blog

  2. Pingback: My Winter Cycling Gear | Kurt's Blog

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