I’ve always hated wearing safety goggles, even when I worked out in the field doing construction-type-things — ugh.
Luckily my eyes had no major impact that I know of from lack of wearing safety glasses. However, a couple events recently led to me start taking safety goggles seriously, and to start wearing, using, and staging them in emergency gear.
Allow me to dive in…
I am going to be skipping over the very obvious reasons here, and talk a little more about what got me thinking about these and the snowball effects this thinking had on me.
Saharan dust, wildfires, and high winds. The last couple years I spent in Washington, I spent dealing with ash and smoke coming into our house. Here in Texas we get Saharan dust storms, and are under threat of hurricanes and tornados. We are also not completely free from wildfire threats, though for the time being we are fairing better than other parts of the country. But, it seemed prudent to toss in some safety goggles to the emergency bags.
Because if we needed to leave the house it would likely be under extreme circumstances where such things would be invaluable to have on hand. Even in a driving rain storm from a hurricane, safety goggles would be a big win. So I started testing some, and I realized that there are some really nice and comfortable safety glasses out there. So the result was that I had extra pairs of stuff on hand, and from there I made a decision that I would stop being a moron and wear safety glasses any time I used tools to work on things. That’s actually been amazing, drywall dust in your eyes is miserable.
And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that safety goggles are a simple and cheap thing, which if you don’t have on hand are likely to never be found when you really need them. I need to put them in emergency kits and have them ready to go.
Which then meant: what do I pack?
What to Look For
I don’t have comprehensive thoughts or advice on this — I am new to this as well. But in what I have tested, here’s a few things which might aid you on better spending your money.
- Full protection: which really means that it is going to cover the sides of your eyes. This is a must.
- Gasket: you need to decide on this. They won’t work for smoke and fine dust if there is no gasket to seal them on to your face, but that is for sure overkill in a lot of ‘around the house uses’. That said, the only real downside to sealed goggles is moisture build up, so if you think they are something you would wear to move from a to b, then gasket is good. But if it is something you think you might need to wear all day, you might want to consider highly breathable goggles, or non-sealed — which again are not good for wildfire use.
- Glare: wear them in different lighting, some of them can produce some annoying glare which means they are not ideal as I found some of the glare extremely distracting and made it hard to see out of the goggles.
- ANSI rating: make sure they are certified to be able to withstand impacts, otherwise you’ll not be happy. Z87.1 seems to be a baseline from what I can tell.
- Decide on how you want to wear them: over your ears like glasses, or around your head like goggles. I opted for ‘like glasses’ as I knew that meant I would wear them more often and more readily, whereas I got the kids ones that go around their heads so they are more likely to stay on, and be worn properly.
- Comfort: don’t keep them if they are not comfortable. That has to do with size, but also design. Again, you want to wear these, and if they are not comfortable you will avoid wearing them.
- Price: If you wear this stuff all day, everyday, spending a lot can get you a lot of little nice to haves. But my favorites I have tried so far are $13 on Amazon. There are plenty of military and “operator” goggles which look cool as shit, but you pay for that.
I tried goggles in the sub-$40 categories, though there are some amazing ones from the likes of Smith and ESS in the $100-150 range. If I were wearing stuff day in and day out, I might spend more money. But for a pair around the house, and various ones in emergency kits, sub $30 is really nice.
Thoughts on What I Tried
The first brand I tried has stellar marketing, and really feel like they are targeted towards people who don’t want to look like nerds in glasses I guess? Those would be Stoggles, which I assume is a play on Stylish Goggles. Anyways, at $40 (each) I picked up a pair of their Square and Rectangular offerings. I found these to run on the smaller side, to have unacceptable levels of glare under many lighting situations, and generally to be uncomfortable for more than 60 minutes of wear. They are also the most expensive offering. They have a lot of styles, and can be made with prescription lenses, which is great, but overall I was left wanting on these. And in wearing them for overhead work, I have still had dust bypass the top edge and get in my eye.
Next I tried “Uvex Stealth Safety Goggles with Clear Uvextreme Anti-Fog Lens” which are $11 on Amazon with Prime shipping. These have a gasket, generous spacing, and a strap which goes all the around your head. They feel like goggles strapped to your head, but they work damn good (more comfortable than that shit you wore in chemistry class, those are like $15 for 20 pairs or something stupid). And they offer excellent visibility and ease of wear. They look like shit though, and they can tire your head in other ways, because the strap does need to be snug for these to work properly. But, $11, impressive.
Last, I tried ‘3M Safety Glasses, Virtua CCS’ which are $12 with Prime shipping. These are a really nice middle ground. They wear like standard glasses, but have a small gasket all the way around the lens, which themselves wrap really well around your face. These are very comfortable to wear. The downside with these is that they can fog a little more than the others, but not enough to worry about. They are light, and work well overall. They can slip down the bridge of your nose though, which means the foam is no longer sealing. Again a middle ground option between the two above options.
Which to Buy, Where to Use
I tossed the Stoggles in my home emergency bag, and on my work bench. Most of the time I need safety goggles around the house, the amount of wearing I do is short lived. I did use my heat gun to shape the arms a little more on the Stoggles which helps with the comfort, but overall I do not recommend buying these. They are overpriced, don’t seal well, don’t look that great, and are uncomfortable.
I bought two pairs of the 3M goggles as I really like these a lot. They are easy and convenient to use and while the seal isn’t overly aggressive, I do have faith they would be good enough in most scenarios. I should also note that the foam seal is removable, and easily so. I stock a pair in my get home bag in my car, and a pair in my wife’s emergency bag.
The Uvex Stealth Safety Goggles found their way into my kids emergency bags. With the over the head nature and better seal, they are easier to make sure the kids are wearing them well. When I looked into kid sized goggles, I was unimpressed with the offerings, and opted to use adult sized for them, so the seal won’t be perfect.
If I was primarily focused on wildfires, and that was the largest need, I would pack the Uvex. For general protection, the 3M pass the test for me. Just don’t waste money on Stoggles.
On Spending More Money
Another thing to consider is that I was needing minimum five pairs of goggles, but really I bought 6 pairs. If you are only needing a couple pairs, and are mostly worried about impact, dust/smoke, then there are some really solid military style offerings — which is what I would go for. They are on my list of future upgrades for sure. Those offerings tend to swap in larger head bands, and more breathable gaskets around the lens.