If you’re looking for some recommendations of the best MTB glasses to buy right now, and you’re on a budget, then you’ve come to the right place.
Are cycling glasses necessary? Yes! Glasses need to do a number of important jobs when you’re riding a mountain bike. They have to (1) help you to see the trail better in tricky light conditions, such as bright sun or dark woodland. (2) they have to protect your eyes from WMVDs (Weapons of Mass Vision Destruction) that are intent on blinding you: mud splatters, stone chippings, low-hanging tree branches, and kamikaze insects.
And (3)? That’s to (further) enhance your coolness.
That’s a lot for one pair of cycling glasses to do, so you’ve got to make sure you pick the best ones. And, when you’ve got a tight budget to stick to, then that decision is even more critical. So, I’ve done the hard work for you. I’ve tracked down some of the finest pairs of cool-enhancing, eye-protecting, light-modulating budget MTB glasses for your consideration. You’ll find these in the table below. I’ve then got a guide to some of the main factors you should think about when you’re choosing a new pair of bike glasses.
What should I look for in cycling glasses?
Choosing sunglasses is hard enough (involving much standing in front of mirrors pulling faces, turning your head from one side to the other and getting plenty of funny looks from passers-by). Choosing a great pair of MTB glasses? On a budget? Yeah, that takes it up to the next level, doesn’t it?
Let’s make this a little easier. We’ll go through a few of the main features to look out for when you’re choosing a new pair of sunglasses for mountain biking. We’ll then track down the best answers to some of the typical questions that people often have about MTB glasses. Let’s dive in head-first and cast a (sunglasses-protected) eye at the details.
The first job your glasses need to do is protect your eyeballs from all those WMVDs that I mentioned at the top of the page. Sure, your eyelids are the inbuilt first line of defense, but they can often be slow to react and, in any case, don’t offer much protection against tough opponents such as low-hanging branches. So, always look for glasses that offer impact protection. Glasses that have lenses made from, well, glass are not a good choice as this will tend to shatter on impact.
If it’s a hot day and you’re getting sweaty whilst climbing up the hills, then you might find that your glasses start to get steamed up. This can give you problems when you’re trying to see the lumps and bumps in the trail in front of you – tricky on the ascents, potentially life-threatening on the descents.
Many of the top-end mtb glasses come with a either (or both) a hydrophobic or anti-fog treatment to prevent this issue. If you find a pair of glasses with this feature that comes within your budget, then it’s worthwhile grabbing a pair. Otherwise, go with a pair of glasses that has plenty of space around the lenses and frame to let the breeze in as this will help prevent and clear any build up of condensation.
Transition or photochromic lenses can be a real bonus for mountain biking as they lighten or darken according to the amount of light that hits them. That means that they can be a great option for trails where you’re going in and out of the forest on a sunny day – one minute it’s bright sunshine and the next you’re into the darkened interior of the forest. With photochromic lenses your glasses will adjust automatically, allowing you to see the trail easily. Without them, you’ll have to take the glasses on and off, which can be a pain.
What color lenses are best for mountain biking?
If you’re struggling with trying to pick the best lens color for your glasses, then don’t worry, I’ve got a rundown of the benefits of each below. Keep in mind that many cycling glasses come in a package with up to five different lens colors included. That’s incredibly useful as it means you can have one pair to suit a wide range of trail-riding conditions.
Amber – a great color as it blocks out blue light rays, which helps to improve contrast, allowing you to see more of the trail ahead in poor light
Brown – whilst they’re not recommended for night-time riding (they’re too dark), the brown color enhances greens which can help you see better in wooded areas or on grassland
Clear – ideal color for poor light and night riding
Black – these reduce the glare of sunlight but don’t do anything to improve contrast, so there are better colors available for biking
Orange – orange sunglasses lenses are good for riding in poor light on gray and cloudy days
Red – can be good for improving contrast on cloudy days, but will hamper color perception so aren’t the ideal choice
Yellow – in foggy or misty, low light conditions, a yellow lens on your cycling glasses can be fantastic for enhancing clarity
How do I stop my eyes from watering when cycling?
There’s an easy answer to this one – where a good pair of cycling glasses! Your eyes water due to the breeze that goes into your face as you pedal along. That can make it difficult to see as your eyes well up with tears and you look like you’ve been binging on Amazon Prime’s back catalogue of tearjerkers. With a pair of bike glasses on, your eyes are protected from the wind and should stay tear-free.