Should You Choose Glasses Or Contacts For Hiking?

If you are an avid hiker, backpacker, and camper, deciding on the right vision correction method to take with you into the backcountry is vital. The longer you plan to be hiking, the more important it becomes to make the right choice. The following guide can help.


Most contact wearers naturally feel like they can see better when they have lenses in as opposed to wearing glasses, but concerns with dirt on the trail and limited hygiene facilities pose a major concern when taking out or putting in the lenses.


The primary benefit is being able to hike in comfort without frames slipping down your face or fogging up in rainy weather. They also provide you with perfect peripheral vision, something that just isn't possible with glasses. Further, breakage isn't as much of a concern, since a backup pair of lenses is relatively low-weight.


The main issue is hygiene. You may not always be able to thoroughly wash your hands before handling the lenses. Alcohol hand washes also aren't ideal, since any residue left behind is an eye irritant. This means using copious amounts of saline, which is heavy to carry.

There are extended wear options that you are allowed to sleep in. These work well for solving both the hygiene and extra saline problem if you are going on a short trip or will be stopping in town or at lodges to resupply your hike every few days.


Glasses are preferred by those that normally where them; although, they aren't popular with hikers that usually depend upon contacts.


The main benefit of glasses is ease of use – simply put them on and away you go. There is no concern about hygiene.


Issues with glasses include that they tend to fog up and become hard to see through in rain, they may slip and chafe, and you need to keep them safe from breakage.

You can get anti-fog coatings, and wearing a hat can protect from some rain spots. Making sure your glasses are well fitted and equipping them with a sports band retainer can also help with slipping and chafing. As for breakage, your best bet is to pack an extra pair and to wear the right type of glasses – skip the fashionable wireframes and go for the plastic sports frames.

Whatever choice you make, talk to a vision center, such as Dixie Ophthalmic Specialists at Zion Eye Institute, first. They can provide further advice and point you to vision correction products made for active lifestyles.