Cold Weather Face Gear

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    Hey guys… Although I have plenty of Ice time, I have a very FNG type question. I’ve always lived at warm coastal summer McMurdo, so I’m sorta a softie when it comes to cold weather. I spent a month at the Pole last summer, and am now preparing for a full season at the Pole this time around. My cold weather clothing concern is my face. It was between -40F and -20F when I was there, and I expect plenty more of the same. I want to have all the skin on my face covered up. I find that if my nose is covered by something, that then that something causes my goggles to fog up. I tried one of those fancy face masks that has a nose breathing hole, but I found that face mask to be a pain to put on, and my goggles still fogged up. If I used my neck gator, and pulled it up over my nose, I had to tuck it into my goggles to keep it from falling down, and then my goggles would fog up. In the end I found the best solution was to pull my neck gator up to the goggles, but leave the nose sticking out. The only bare thing on my face was the tip of my nose, but everything else was covered and my goggles didn’t fog up. I’ve scene people put duck tape on their goggles, that hangs down and covers up their nose, but haven’t been able to make that system work for me yet. Maybe if I put a fleece liner on the inside of the duct tape? I’ve looked into buying goggles that have a built in nose cover, but haven’t been able to find anything (the problems of shopping in the summer time in the US), and figured I’d just modify whatever I got from the CDC.

    Any seasoned Polies or OAE’s feel like sharing what your system is for keeping your face (especially nose) covered, without getting fogged up goggles?

    I just don’t want to have this happen to me again: goggles get fogged up, and then of course the fog freezes and now they’re iced up… so I put them up on top of my head while riding a snowmobile across station, squinting into the sun, with a really cold face.

    Thanks – Zondra


    The trick to not fogging up your goggles/sunglasses when your neck gaiter is pulled up is to breath carefully and downwards, mostly out of your mouth. It takes some practice, but once you get it down it becomes natural. It’s the worst at the beginning of the season, and by the time you get used to it the weather warms up and it doesn’t matter much any more.


    IMHO the best way to see and stay warm at Pole, summer and winter, is to forget goggles entirely and use the slit method: a fleece head covering or balaclava pulled down below the eyebrows and a gator pulled up to leave a slit about 1/8 inch wide across the eyes. This leaves only a small area on the bridge of the nose that is susceptible to frostbite, but it is usually ok because your nose is recessed in that area.

    When I wintered at Pole I found that after the temps drop below -50 there was no way I could keep glasses or goggles from frosting over, and I tried EVERYTHING. In the summer goggles don’t fog as much in the first place, careful breathing helps, and it is possible to keep your hood further back on your head so your exhaled breath is not caught in front of your face. But in the winter none of this works because you cannot leave your mouth or nose uncovered (so it is impossible to “breath down”), and you need your hood all the way forward. Plus your goggle surfaces are much colder and every molecule of water sticks to them.

    I came to realize that the frost comes from both exhaled breath hanging around inside the hood and from moisture evaporating directly from the skin. So goggles and glasses frost-up on the inside and outside surface from two different moisture sources. You can’t block it. I tried duct tape, hand-warmers stuffed inside goggles, different types of goggles, blocking vent holes, opening up vent holes, exhalation tubes, a duct tape tunnel extending outside my hood, face masks, etc. I experimented all winter and found nothing that allowed me to wear goggles or glasses outside. Some people seemed to have success keeping their goggles clear with the Darth Vader masks from the Ice Cube supplies, but I did not have access to one to try out. Frankly I suspect the slit method is better.

    I do have a fantasy about a low-light camera mounted on my shoulder with a small video screen on my sleeve, but then the LCDs would probably freeze solid. I also fantasize about battery-powered heated goggles like the back window defroster of a car.

    I strongly recommend contacts or corrective surgery for Pole winter-overs who need glasses. I am heading back for the 2012 winter and I will be taking contacts. My eyesight is poor enough that I had difficulty following flag lines in the dark without my glasses, but if I wore glasses they were solid frost instantly.

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