View Full Version : Glasses or Contacts on a thru-hike?

The Wicked Lobstah
11-12-2003, 11:30
I've never had contacts. Should I get them for a thru-hike?

11-12-2003, 11:55
If you have never had contacts, then don't start while on the trail. If you can get them now and see if they work for you then great. I wore contacts the whole way. Wouldn't take them out at night since it is not a very sanitary environment. Would wait till I got to town and after a shower. Did develop an eye infection in NY-CT last year, but that occured during a heatwave and constant sweat dropping into my eye. Glasses give me a headache when I am active, also don't have to deal with them fogging up or losing them. Carried extra pair of contacts as well.

11-12-2003, 12:15
I am a weekend hiker and a long time contact lense wearer. I agree with ganj if you haven't been wearing them don't start on a thru hike. Cleanliness is essential with contact lense wear. That said I hike with my contacts because they are more comfortable and I can see better. But I have yet to go out for more than a long weekend so it is much easier to keep my hands real clean. I carry soap, hand sanitizer, an extra clean bandanna, solution, contact case and glasses--these are not ultralight. I also have the experience of a routine of caring for my contacts for many years.

Please carefully consider this question. Your vision will probably be better with contacts. However, an eye infection could interupt your hike at the least or damage your eyes.

11-12-2003, 12:40
Starting contacts just before you leave for the trail is not a good decision, but if you start with contacts now, you should be familar enough with them come March. I hiked the entire trail with contacts, and never did more than rince my hands with a little bit of water. I took them out every night and put them in every morning. If my hands were especially dirty, I might leave them in for one night, but no more.

As for weight, its negligable. I carried a small plastic case, and a small bottle of solution. I sent myself a new bottle every maildrop. Granted, you have to ration the amount of solution that you use to make a small bottle last up to 8 days, but it can be done with some pratice.

So either head out now and get some contacts and start getting comfortable with them, or scratch it and go with glasses.

11-12-2003, 13:36
Definitely get used to contacts before you have to rely on them full time.

I'm generally more comfortable with glasses, but I've considered taking my contacts along as a backup (I generally only wear them for sports). Contacts are definitely preferred on rainy or muggy days, although I haven't had too many problems wearing a baseball cap with the hood of my Frogg Toggs pulled over.

11-12-2003, 17:12
I've never had contacts. Should I get them for a thru-hike?

You could easily get used to contacts before you leave for thru-hike in March. Get them now and get used to them before you leave. Make sure to practice putting them in and taking them out without a mirror, unless you plan to carry one. I used contacts my entire hike, and I wore my glasses at night, it was part of my nightly ritual to take out my contacts and get in my glasses to read before I went to bed. I also didn't do much more than try to wipe my hands clean with a wet bandana, and I only carried a tiny amount of saline in the contact case that I would replace in town from my bounce box. My eyes stayed healthy the entire trip.

11-12-2003, 23:09
I've had contacts for a long time, but I cannot wear the extended wear type lenses. I'll be bringing daily disposables with me (a fresh lens every day) and dealing with getting resupplied every few weeks. The weight is negligible and all I need to carry is a bottle of rewetting drops. Yes, the glasses will go with me too.

11-12-2003, 23:51
One word of caution. I kept the saline in the same bag as my rolls of film and just about everything else. Anyways, saline container came open and there went my whole roll of the Whites. Doesn't matter, the weather was pretty crappy walking across anyways. It was just for posterity.

yogi clyde
11-13-2003, 14:49
Do the other wearers of glasses carry a spare pair with them on the trail?

Jack Tarlin
11-13-2003, 15:19
Yogi--I don't carry a spare, but I do carry my prescription on me at all times in case I need to get a new pair made; it might make more sense to have a back-up pair pre-made and ready back home that can then be sent to you via express mail if you need them in a hurry.

warren doyle
11-13-2003, 18:42
I've worn glasses. Bifocals make night hiking harder.

11-13-2003, 22:30
Glasses fog up, won't stay put, and are just a pain to deal with. The extended wear disposable contacts work well for me. I put in a new pair every week to 10 days--perfect for hikers who visit a town about this often, and there are no sterilizing accessories to carry. You should keep a tiny bottle of rewetting solution with you tho.

Taking out/sterilizing/putting in contacts on the Trail is not easy, and hard to be as sanitary as you'd prefer. Therefore, if you can tolerate extended wear disposables you might want to look into that.

I also carry an extra pair, as well as glasses just in case I'd develop an eye infection between towns (never did). The latter could be left behind for weight consideration unless you're almost legally blind without 'em. Like me.

Agree with the comments that you should get accustomed to contacts long before starting your hike.

Mr. Clean
11-14-2003, 08:52
Does anyone wear their glasses while hiking? Mine would fog up or have sweat running down the lens' if I did.

11-15-2003, 18:32
contacts dont fog
contacts are lightweight
contacts dont slide off your nose
contacts dont get rain on them

i did carry a pair of glasses too. and a few extra pairs on contacts. at hostels or towns, sometimes id wear the glasses to let my eyes air out.
to clean contacts in the field, i carried a small bottle of purell and a little bottle of contacts cleaner. never got an infection.

11-16-2003, 00:41
Does anyone wear their glasses while hiking? Mine would fog up or have sweat running down the lens' if I did.

I've always worn glasses while hiking. I have never done a thru-hike, but I have completed backpacking trips of 5 days or so. Personally, I can't imagine dealing with the cleanliness that contacts would require on a long backpacking trip. Then again, I don't even wear contacts at home---I'm not a big fan of sticking my finger in my eyes. :jump

The Wicked Lobstah
11-17-2003, 11:47
What about athletic glasses like Rec-Specs? Has anyone ever used them on a thru-hike? They don't fog, they're durable, scratch-resistant and don't slip. Whaddya think?

11-19-2003, 01:04
What about athletic glasses like Rec-Specs? Has anyone ever used them on a thru-hike? They don't fog, they're durable, scratch-resistant and don't slip. Whaddya think?

That's a good point. I knew this kid named Awesome Dumbass growing up, and he always wore rec specs. He seemed happier than a pig in mud. It makes a lot of sense to me. Has anyone tried it who can offer an opinion?

Matt Pincham
11-19-2003, 09:37
You American chappies must have these 30 day lenses.
I've tried 'regular' lenses (taken out each night), daily disposables (speak for themselves) and 'all day all night' lenses.
The 'all day all night' or 30 day lenses can be left in your eyes for 30 nights consecutively (helps to take them out once each week for a clean and to air your eyes). I have to say that these lenses are incredibly comfortable and they must be the most practical lense for the trail. I'm definitely taking mine with me and a pair of glasses too, sometimes I get days where lenses (of any type) just seem to hurt :(