How to choose the best sunglasses for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
sunglasses for climbing Kilimanjaro

Sunglasses for climbing Kilimanjaro are often overlooked when packing your gear for your trek in Tanzania but in one way or the other, they play an important role. to protect your precious eyes against snow blindness. For this sole reason and many others, the earliest types of eye protection were developed. To shield their eyes from the sun’s glare off the snow, early northerners constructed a variety of goggles out of wood or bone. Thankfully, modern eyeglasses offer better eye protection than a piece of wood. They are an essential component of hiking and climbing gear.

Reasons why you should wear sunglasses on Mount Kilimanjaro

Sunglasses’ main function, as its name suggests, is to shield your eyes from the sun. At higher elevations, where ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun’s beams is more potent than at sea level, this is especially crucial. The sun’s intense brightness may short-term induce eye strain and weariness and below is why you should consider wearing sunglasses on your trek to Uhuru Peak, summit.

ALTITUDE: Every 3,300 feet/1,000 meters of elevation gain causes the UV radiation at altitude to increase by 10–12%. Therefore, the sun is 60–72% more powerful at Uhuru Peak than it is at sea level.

LATITUDE: The levels of UV radiation increase with distance from the equator. 3.03 degrees are south of the equator on Kilimanjaro.

GROUND REFLECTION: Snow is a reflector of UV rays. As a result, trekking on snow, which is commonly above 15,000 feet/4,572 meters, can reflect up to 80% of UV light.

But on the mountain, your requirements won’t be met by the fashionable sunglasses you wear while driving or walking down the street. So what qualities should you seek for in sunglasses before your hike? Let’s think of the lenses and frames as separate components of sunglasses.

The lenses of sunglasses are crucial since they are what deflect the sun’s harmful rays. Glass, plastic, polyurethane, and polycarbonate are all acceptable materials for lenses. Glass is a bad choice since it weighs a lot and might feel awkward on the nose. Glass is also readily breakable and scratchable. Make sure the glass lenses on your sunglasses are scratch- and shatter-proof if they have glass lenses. The least costly material, plastic, is also the easiest to scratch.

The most lightweight and resilient material is polyurethane, but it also costs the most. I think polycarbonate lenses with a scratch-resistant coating are the best middle-ground choice.

The lenses should offer complete UV protection in all UVA, UVB, and UVC wavelengths. On the labels, look for the statement “100% UV protection.” Some sunglasses have polarized lenses. While polarized lenses are not required for regular trekking, they are crucial while on snow. This maintains your field of vision so you can see where you’re going and take in the breathtaking vistas. A number of tints are also available for lenses, but they offer no added protection.

Metal, plastic, nylon, or a mixture of plastic and nylon can be used to make frames.

On the mountain, metal frames are not a wise choice since they can become heated when exposed to the sun and might burn your skin. A nylon/plastic combination will be durable enough to not shatter when dropped and pleasant enough to wear. Fit and coverage are the two most crucial qualities to seek for in eyewear. Sunglasses should be snug enough to stay on your face even while you perspire. Additionally, the frames should keep the lenses on your face so that very little light may enter from the top, bottom, or sides to reach the eyes. Many sunglasses made specifically for climbing contain retractable leather or plastic blinders at the temples or large temple arms.

While on the mountain, they protect the eyes from wind and filter out as much sunlight as possible. The sunglasses are not only recommended for climbing Kilimanjaro, they can also be used to climb Mount Kenya, Mount Meru in Northern Tanzania, Mount Ol Doinyo Lengai, and Mount Rwenzori in Uganda.

Best Kilimanjaro Sunglasses

For years, Julbo was the sole option for professional mountaineers, ice climbers, and glacier visitors looking for sunglasses. With the release of the iconic Glacier collection from Vuarnet and the new Traverse line from upscale Italian company Revo, this has changed. As a result of increased competition, Julbo has upgraded its well-liked Explorer.

The following suggestions all include polarized glasses that provide 100% UV protection, are composed of scratch-resistant polycarbonate materials, and are suitable for hiking Mount Kilimanjaro:

1. Julbo Explorer REACTIV

The best climbing sunglasses are the Julbo Explorer REACTIV. The extra features of these sunglasses can be worthwhile if you frequently visit icy areas. They feature lifetime warranties and shatterproof lenses. With moveable side shields and adjustable temple arms, they are also adaptable.

With the introduction of the first Explorer, Julbo responded to the growing desire for a contemporary, high-performance choice for alpinists operating in difficult settings.

The Explorer became popular right away thanks to its huge extraterrestrial lenses, wraparound frame, and detachable plastic side shields. Today, there is a good probability that at least some of the party will be wearing a pair when climbing any mountain, yes not only Kilimanjaro but also Mount Kenya, Mount Meru, and Ol Doinyo Lengai, even Ruwenzori in Uganda.

The tight, safe fit is the first thing you notice when wearing them. Arms that are angled inward at the temples are used to accomplish this. Rubberized grips are included on the nose as well as the full length of the arms to keep the frame in place.

coverage is excellent. Complete peripheral vision is provided by the huge lenses, and nearly all glare is kept out of your eyes by the large side shields. Additionally, there is venting around the temples and on the nose.

2. Spy MC3 polarized & Native Eyewear Endura XP sunglasses

Both the Native Eyewear Endura XP and the Spy MC3 polarized sunglasses lack side shields. For your Kilimanjaro journey, something like these sunglasses will work if you consider yourself to be more of a hiker than a mountaineer.

Both of them have incredibly broad temple arms that will adequately shield your eyes from the sun’s lateral infiltration. Additionally, they cost a lot less than the Julbo Explorer REACTIV. Additionally, a lifetime guarantee is included with the Native Eyewear Endura XP.

3. Vuarnet Glacier

These French-made pieces are well-known from James Bond’s Skyfall, Everest, when Jake Gyllenhaal wore them while relaxing naked at base camp (Daniel Craig donned a pair for alpine scenes).

Every time you put them on, you’ll feel like a rock star since these are some of the coolest-looking sunglasses you have ever seen. And, believe it or not, the quality of the materials truly seems like it is worth the price. But the truth is that Mount Kilimanjaro’s glaciers aren’t all that impressive.

While the scratch-proof, uncoated glass lenses from Vuarnet are unquestionably the best money can buy—offering the highest level of UV protection, unmatched durability, incredible clarity, and lovely color hues—they are also rather weighty. especially when combined with the necessary leather side shields for glare reduction.

They weigh two ounces, which is twice as much as the Julbos.

The weight of the spectacles actually weighing on the wearer’s nose and ears is enough to cause pain over time. The weight of climbing performance glasses can make them more challenging since they may fall off when you glance down. To keep the glasses where you want them, tie the retention string that is supplied snugly behind your head.

4. Revo Traverse

The majority of climbers are not aware of this Italian brand, but it is attempting to alter that by recruiting Jimmy Chin to serve as an ambassador and art director.

The Traverse is Revo’s first entry into the market for glacier glasses even though the company has been manufacturing high-end performance glasses in Italy since 1985. You might not even be aware they were designed with alpinism in mind at first sight. The lenses are a traditional aviator shape and are available in bright red or blue. The frame is matte plastic. The sides are adorned with chic perforated-leather shields. However, these Revos operate just as well as they appear, unlike the Vuarnets. While climbing, the rubberized nose pads and temple grips keep them in position. As much sun protection from the huge lenses and leather shields as from the Julbos.
They won’t slip off, they’re comfy, and they’ll keep the sun and glare out of your eyes, that much is certain.

What type of sunglasses is recommended for climbing Kilimanjaro?

Since Mount Kilimanjaro is located at the equator, the Equatorial sun rays are quite powerful. Even while it is always a good idea to shield your eyes from the sun’s UV rays, having the proper eyewear is especially crucial when climbing Kilimanjaro. A decent pair of sunglasses can help avoid eye diseases like cataracts and growths like cancer in the eye. Additionally, they improve your eyes’ natural capacity to filter light, improving your eyesight.

Sunglasses must fit properly in order to give protection, therefore it’s crucial to either try them on in person or buy them from an online retailer with a fair return policy. What eyewear you pack on your climb of Kilimanjaro will depend on your own demands and budget, just as with all other equipment. Ultimately, ensure sure they are strong enough to last the duration of your journey, have the appropriate level of eye protection, and are a comfortable fit. Your eyes will appreciate it and you’ll be ready to go on lengthy hiking days in the wind, snow, or sun.

These five qualities are what we search for in sunglasses:

  1. They offer complete protection against UV radiation for the eyes.
  2. They are the right shade to effectively block light.
  3. They adequately protect the region around the eyes.
  4. Even when worn for several hours on successive days, they are pleasant.
  5. They are robust and won’t crack if dropped or jostled within your pack.

Beyond the range of light that is visible to humans is ultraviolet, or UV. UV rays can damage your eyes. It is believed that excessive exposure to bright light contributes to eye issues such as cataracts and damaged retinas. Sunglasses must provide 100% UV protection; this is the current industry requirement.

The quantity of visible light transmission is another element that must be taken into consideration (VLT). Darker tints and lenses with a lower VLT % will block more light. The VLT of typical eyewear ranges from 15% to 25%. Because of the thinner atmosphere at high altitudes, mountain climbers will wear sunglasses with a VKT of 5 to 10%.

What sunglasses do you need for Kilimanjaro?

When compared to non-polarized lenses, polarized lenses filter out reflected light and minimize glare considerably. Since there is just a little amount of snow on Kilimanjaro, it is not especially significant. Polarized lenses do, however, improve the appearance of objects, and we believe they are priceless.

In the section below, we’ll examine several sunglasses and talk about the finest ones for climbing Kilimanjaro.

Casual sunglasses

These sunglasses are designed for casual occasions rather than outdoor activities. As a result, these sunglasses frequently aren’t as comfy, could be heavier, have less coverage, and don’t stay on as well.

They are deficient in a number of features and shouldn’t be brought up the mountain. They’ll cause issues. A few examples include aviator, wayfarer, and browline sunglasses. In general, anything worn for style, comfort, or novelty is generally not the ideal option for a high-altitude mountain hike. Don’t bring these along.

Shield Sunglasses

The lens of shield sunglasses is distinctive in that it spans from temple to temple in one continuous piece.

These glasses are amazing because, unlike conventional frames, they provide a great field of view because there is no restriction in the middle. These sunglasses often weigh relatively little and are quite comfortable. The arms are tight enough to stay on the face but do not hook around the ears. Most feature lenses can be changed.

For the Kilimanjaro climb, shield sunglasses are acceptable. However, we consider the absence of side covering to be a weakness. Through this opening, the sun, sand, wind, rain, and everything else would be able to freely enter your sight.

Sporting eyewear

The most popular option for practically all outdoor activities, including hiking and mountaineering, are sport sunglasses.

Sport sunglasses come in a seemingly limitless variety of brands and styles.

Sport sunglasses are advised for your Kilimanjaro ascent. Choose a pair that complements your face, style, and price range. The finest sport sunglasses for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro include wraparound coverage, as seen above, to shield the wearer from the side winds and rain. Ski sunglasses are excellent since they cover more of the face. By resting on your nose or pressing on your head and ears, the frame shouldn’t hurt or irritate you. Comfort is crucial.

Ski Goggles

Ski goggles are made to offer the finest field of view and the utmost protection from the wind and cold.

Your face and the goggles work together to create a barrier that keeps snow, ice, and wind from getting in your eyes. Additionally, it keeps your eyes warm and moist. However, wearing ski goggles is quite uncommon in Kilimanjaro. They are large, heavy, and all but worthless for hiking in warm weather. Goggles are not advised since they are much more constrained than sunglasses.

Glacier Goggles

For mountaineering in icy regions, glacier goggles are created. These glasses have severe covering around the eyes and dark lenses with less than 10% VLT because snow reflects light, creating a dazzling glare. Typically, they have spherical lenses that cover up to 100% of the frame, along with detachable leather blinders.

Because there is no light leaking in from the sides or the top of the sunglasses, they function so effectively.

You have all you need in a pair of glacier goggles to climb Africa’s tallest mountain. Get them if you enjoy the way they look, as we do.

Where can I rent sunglasses in Tanzania?

Sunglasses just like any gear can be rented easily from Tanzania. If you forget your pair at home by chance, we can organize sunglasses for hire right here in Tanzania. Be it in Moshi or Arusha, just contact us for more details.

Learn where you can rent gear and trekking equipment in Tanzania

Where can I buy sunglasses for the Kilimanjaro trek?

It’s time to go shopping now that you know what to look for. You may choose from a broad assortment of sunglasses online and here are the stores we recommend if you are making a purchase online or by physical pickup as the have several stores and branches worldwide.

Since you are looking for sunglasses to climb Kilimanjaro, here are some helpful 50 tips on how to climb Kilimanjaro.


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