Speaking of survival in the modern (dating) world, there’s hardly any other item that can make you look better than a pair of cheap sunglasses. And I mean cool in a Terminator-Arnie style.
Joke aside, sunglasses are part of my everyday carry kit, both when I’m cruising around in my car, or when I’m with my bike, and especially during the summer and winter season. You can say, okay Chris, we all love sunglasses, and they definitely have their uses, but how do mix sunglasses and survival?
The answer to that question is pretty straight forward: a quality pair of sunglasses, and by that I don’t mean good looking necessarily, though being as pretty as you can while trying to stay alive it can’t hurt, can be easily life-savers in a number of situations. Even if wearing or even having a pair of sunglasses in one’s EDC as a survival-item may sound frivolous to some, I hold the opposite view.
Have you ever noticed that police and military folk seem to always wear sunglasses when on a mission or just patrolling? Have you ever wondered why? Yeah, maybe some of them have light-sensitivity, but it can’t be all of them, or most of them. The thing about wearing sunglasses is that it creates a tactical advantage over a potential foe, as in they can’t see your eyes, and this puts you in a position of power over someone who doesn’t wear sunglasses. Being capable of looking someone in the eyes means you can read their feelings and emotions, provided you have such an experienced-based skill (like law enforcement officers have), i.e. basically you can read their thoughts. Sunglasses act like a shield of sorts. Looking someone in the eyes can tell you if they’re scared, if they’re thinking about something, and, very importantly, if they’re looking at what they’re thinking about, or where they’re going next. Wearing sunglasses helps you with hiding an essential part of one’s body language, and that may come very handy in a survival situation, when you’re nervous and/or unsure, or fearful. Hiding your fear makes for a tactical advantage in a multitude of urban survival situations, and you can take that to the bank.
Just remember that old saying: the eyes are the windows to the soul. Or to use a cool quote from Scarface (the movie): The eyes, they never lie Chico. Not being capable to read one’s soul through his/her eyes makes for a clear tactical advantage, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In an urban-survival environment, i.e. a scenario in which you’ll probably have to encounter a lot of people, any tactical advantage should be exploited, to boost your survival possibilities and what not. Last but not least, a pair of bad-ass looking sunglasses would give one that “don’t mess with me look”, which may deter potential trouble from coming to you, if you know what I mean. It’s basic human nature, and deception is a powerful survival tool; you can see that in the animal reign wherever you look.
For law enforcement and military, sunglasses also act as a shield for their eyes, and I amt talking about ballistic eye-wear, which is a glorified name for high quality eyeglasses which protect one’s eyes from small projectiles/fragments that can enter one’s eyes while shooting, and things of that nature.
Truth be told, proper ballistic eye-wear has to meet or exceed a number of certifications, including high velocity impact requirements per ANSI Z87.1-2003/2010, or the ballistic fragmentation impact standard MIL-PRF-31013, Clause 184.108.40.206. And that’s why they ballistic eye-wear may cost you as much (or more) as a pair of designer sunglasses. But they come with certain benefits, i.e. they’re far tougher (superior in this regard) compared to a pair of regular eyeglasses, hence they’d make for the best option in regard to survival gear.
Speaking of survival and eyeglasses, have you ever tried to use anything, like a gun or a knife or whatever, after you’ve got blinded by the sun, or by dirt that entered your eyes due to wind, and so on and so forth? This is yet another reason for wearing sunglasses. Obviously, try to choose a pair of glasses that provide you with good peripheral vision, tough as nails and with high quality lenses. Bad lenses may give you headaches and make you dizzy. So always aim for the best quality sunglasses you can afford. The mil-spec stuff is the best, but they’re pretty expensive.
Sunglasses are also excellent for protecting one’s eyes from flying debris in a car accident, not to mention dramatic stuff that can occur when outdoors (especially if you wear contact lenses), the likes of wind, rain, dust, and obviously sun. Speaking of sun, you may feel like you have sand in your eyes even when you wear your sunglasses in a hot summer day. But do you know what’s even worse? The sun reflecting off the snow and entering your eyes. This phenomenon is called snow blindness and it’s very dangerous, as you can lose your eyesight due to too much exposure to UV rays reflected by the snow. Obviously, this is a risk-factor for outdoor enthusiasts traveling in snowy terrain without proper eye-wear protection.
Even if you’re going snowshoeing, hiking or skiing for a few days without sunglasses you’re at risk to be affected by snow blindness. Now imagine you’re in an outdoors survival scenario during winter and you have to travel on foot for long distances in the snow, and the sun is shining. The horror, the horror…
Symptoms of snow blindness may include bloodshot eyes, headache, eye pain, halos around lights, hazy vision and eyelid twitching. This is a very serious condition, so never adventure outdoors without your sunglasses, alright? Always remember that a proper pair of sunglasses must not allow light to enter the sides.
Choosing a Good Pair of Sunglasses
I’ve already told you about ballistic/military spec eye-wear, but those bad-boys are very expensive, and by that I mean a couple hundred bucks. You may find them cheaper on eBay, second-hand or at hardware military supplies, who knows? There are cheaper options though, but there are a few caveats about cheap sunglasses.
First, make sure they have adequate UV protection. Don’t choose your sunglasses with your heart, i.e. the ones that make you look like Roddy Piper in “They Live”. Good UV protection in a pair of sunglasses is not expensive at all. Before buying, do some internet research about the particular brand/model of sunglasses you’re looking for, and check out the specs thoroughly, basing your buying-decision on what kind of protection you require and where you’ll wear them the most. If you have sensitive eyes, look for polarized sunglasses with anti-glare protection, and also for OSHA and ANSI Z87.1regulations for industrial eye protection. Speaking of UV protection, it should range between 99.9 and 100%.
Impact protection is another good feature to have in a high quality pair of survival sunglasses, even if we’re not talking about military grade stuff. Just to give you an idea about what I am talking about, check out the Torege Polarized Sports Sunglasses, which are shatterproof and cost less than $30. Cycling glasses are built to be light and tough, so give them a try, as they’re not expensive.
Survival sunglasses are a must-have accessory in one’s EDC kit. Look out for impact resistance, UV protection, big lens (the more coverage, the better, as in wrap-around lenses), polarization (to cut glare), and always use your common sense before buying (expensive doesn’t always equate quality). Wearing sunglasses every day will help prevent sun-related health problems (macular degeneration, glaucoma or cataracts),because our eyes are sensitive organs and prolonged exposure to sun may lead to a variety of health issues. Sunglasses also protect your eyes from the elements (dust, dirt, wind) and the UV light reflected by snow, which is very dangerous. Also, you’ll be able to see more with a pair of quality sunglassess, hence you’ll enjoyt the great outodoors more, and that’s pretty important in my book.
Finally, wearing sunglasses means more comfort and safer driving. Last but not least, fewer migraines and headaches, which may be triggered in some folk by bright sunlight.
I hope the article helped. If you have other ideas or comments, feel free to use the dedicated section below.
Bill in Idaho | December 30, 2018
Hey, Chris. Shielding your Eyes Should Be a very high priority for Everyone – and I am Not just referring to UV Rays. Good Article – Keep it up !
ed johnson | December 30, 2018
Good column. Thank you.
Lil Squirt | December 30, 2018
Can you get any decent ones at a reasonable price with prescription lenses?
ChuckInBama | December 31, 2018
Try discountsafetyglasses.com. I’ve been buying for work from them for years, and they have brands with bifocals.
rick | December 31, 2018
good reminder and examples of polarized yet inexpensive options
Simon | December 31, 2018
I prefer construction safety glasses which I get in my prescription. Use them on job sites and for recreational use also. Great shades and super tough. Can’t agree more with you – sunglasses have a ton of uses in a survival situation. I hadn’t really thought of the emotions side that you start with – great point re: law enforcement!
Anne Smith | January 7, 2019
awesome Article For Sun glass lover. thanks for shearing.
Mustang | January 8, 2019
Good article. I was in Iraq for 14 months and saw quite a bit of combat. I can tell you that I believe I am here because of the first example you provided. While patrolling just north of Baghdad along the Tigress I noticed the barrel of an AK pointing at me from a hole in a house wall. It was less that 30 feet from me and all I could do was act like I wasn’t looking at it while telling my first Sargent to move around the wall. With the dark ballistic glasses I was able to hide what I was actually looking at and I’m confident It saved our lives. Three minutes later when the RPG hit my humvee and three of us were fragged, the glasses again saved the day. Although I was severely injured as was my gunner and driver, my eyesight was saved. The glasses were peppered with chips from small fragments that would have easily destroyed my eyes. ALWAYS wear a good pair of ballistic glasses!
Always Ready | March 20, 2019
I just use Dewalt safety glasses when I’m doing everything. They not only protect my eyes but a good part of my face.
Deadwaters | December 18, 2020
why not a pair of clip on-flip up shades over my existing eyeglasses? Any one know where to order them?