Last year wind blew the fine Playa dust everywhere. Goggles that keep dust out, but still allow airflow to keep them from fogging are the overall best option. This category of eye protection is called Sealed eyewear and is relatively new category in the eye safety pantheon. It generally refers to a style of hybrid glasses/goggles. They often have foam around the lenses to create a better face seal, and many, such as the I Force Glasses, have the option of trading out either traditional hard plastic temples, or an elastic goggle-type strap to hold them in place.
In this same style, safety glasses leader Pyramex has also come out with a couple new series including the Foam Sealed V3G models and the Carhartt Carthage safety glasses.
Generally this type of eyewear fared better, especially during the day. Friends who took the G704T Chemical Splash Goggles let us know that during the heat of the day, there were some issues with fogging. However, these goggles were also tested around smoky campfires, and as long as the temperatures were down and there wasn't a bunch of physical activity, the Chem Splash Goggles had the added benefit of turning away almost all of the smoke. So maybe you want to consider these "evening wear." Just a thought.
The new equipment page also lists respirators like the Moldex 7000 Series. The filter on this half-face respirator is rated P100 which means it's the best available for keeping dust and particulate matter out of the lungs. Is it overkill? Maybe. But it's handy and inexpensive. A box of the Moldex Particulate Respirator - 2300 N95 is likely all anyone will need. It comes in a box of 10 for $22.15. I like this model over the other on the products page. It has a valve to let your breath out without allowing particulate-laden air in. It's a small thing that adds up to a much cooler face. And something tells me heat is going to be an issue this year.
I asked my friend who was at the burn last year to answer a few questions about the dust. Here is his reply:
Was last year very dusty? It was constantly dusty with what's called Playa Dust... You must wear your goggles at all times, as the dust and sand storms sweep down the valley in a constant stream
Did the wind blow regularly? Yes... like one big ol' constant desert fart...
Do you remember what the goggles you used were like? Yes, the goggles you sent were awesome! I was better prepared than most in that department. (Pyramex V2G Safety Glasses)
Did they work? Yes...... best type were no air holes at the top, as the fine silt would find its way through any opening.
What would be the best thing in your opinion, for eye protection? The tinted goggles that you sent for the daytime, and the clear goggles for the night.. (* Note: These were two different lenses with the V2G Glasses. The V3G from Pyramex is also now available)
If it was really windy and dusty would you consider wearing a respirator or dust mask? Absolutely... I was using a fishing mask, which looks like the top of a turtle neck cut off.. but a mask of some sort is as important as the goggles. (*Editor's note - guess I should have send along some of those respirator masks too...)
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Original Post: There are a bunch of folks who look like escapees from the Mad Max set driving off to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada next week. The annual Burning Man event is expected to have over 60,000 participants this year. And when the fine alkali dust from the high desert lake bed starts blowing, it will be time for the best prepared attendees to strap on their goggles. But which ones are best for the practical radical self-expressionist?
We contacted the safety glasses and goggle experts at Pyramex for their take on the best Burning Man ocular protection, and they didn't bat an eye. "Foam padding around the eyes will help keep out the dust and provide a great seal."
They recommended several goggles, so we headed to the warehouse to try them out for ourselves and provide our Picks for the Playa. As a disclaimer, I should point out that we have never been to The Burn, but are relying on our deep knowledge of safety equipment and the individual characteristics of each pair of safety goggles to provide our best assessment.
The first pair didn't have the foam seal Pyramex recommended. But we thought they'd be worth a try because of the excellent large clear lens. The G704T Chemical Splash Goggles did provide an unobstructed view of things, but the heat was apparent in less than a minute. While these might be great for eye protection, they don't fill the bill for comfort in extreme heat conditions.
The second pair we tried were the V2G-XP Hot/Cold Resistant Goggles. Now these goggles have the best anti-fogging characteristics available. And they are used extensively by the military for hot weather ballistics training. So while Burning Man is purely for peaceful purposes, we think the conditions and desired comfort levels are probably fairly similar. The V2G-XPs provide really excellent protection from sand and wind as well as blocking more than 99% of harmful UVA and UVB rays. A nice pick, and they ship the same day you order them.
The next pair we tried were the Pyramex V2G Foam Seal Glasses. These come with either clear, grey, or mirrored indoor/outdoor lenses. The lenses are treated to prevent fogging and scratching, and while the foam doesn't form a complete seal, the V2Gs are fairly effective in blocking dust, especially the stuff coming in from the sides. Plus these are probably the lightest of the bunch.
We wore a grey-tinted lens pair of V2G glasses inside to get a sense of how dark they would be at twilight. The tint isn't that dark, so we could see fine in diminished light conditions.
One more pair that is worth noting are the Capstone Anti-Fog Goggles. These goggles have removable vent caps to allow greater air flow, and perhaps more importantly for some folks, you can wear most prescription glasses comfortably under them. I even did a separate blog post about them, and can attest that they were startlingly comfortable with my glasses underneath. Heat may be an issue, but the vents will help, and they are a good option for those who wear glasses.
Hope this helps anyone who is looking for eye protection from dust, whether it is blowing across the Burning Man playa, in your backyard, or on the job.