As you may know, Airsoft can be a painful sport with the possibility of BB bullets hitting sensitive areas like your face and most importantly your eyes. That’s why it is crucial to be wearing eye protection such as ballistic goggles, glasses or full face masks in order to prevent any damage when handling Airsoft weapons; also no Airsoft sites will allow you to take part in a game without eye pro. However, one of the most frustrating situations is tackling your lenses fogging up while out in the field. Even more frustrating for some, is when one’s glasses fog up underneath their goggles; (those of you who wear glasses will share my pain) – it just simply happens too often! Therefore, in this article I will go over a few tips on how to deal with the situation and what alternatives there are to standard, plastic goggles. Firstly, let’s get to the bottom of the problem, why do lenses actually get foggy?
What causes your goggles to fog?
Having your goggles fog up mid game can be extremely annoying, but once you have a better understanding of why the fogging occurs, solving the issue becomes slightly easier. Fogging happens because of the phase change of matter. Water vapour from exhaled breath and from your forehead cools down when it touches the lenses of your googles. The cold lenses cause a phase change as the warm vapour touches them and turns into liquid. Here are other factors that affect this particular issue:
- Ambient heat: The temperature of the surrounding environment.
- Snug eye-wear: Skintight goggles causes a lack of air flow.
- Increased humidity: The more moisture in the air, the more likely the lenses will fog. High levels of humidity and exercise especially on hot days can increase the fogging issue.
- Body exertion: Running from cover to cover causes the body to heat up and produce sweat. The added heat and condensation contribute the lenses fogging up.
So how do you stop goggles from fogging up?
Aside from the fog being annoying, it prevents you from getting optimal joy and use out of playing in the field; no-one wants to stop and hide behind cover whilst holding their breath in hope their goggles will defog mid skirmish. There must be another way of handling this problem!
Tip 1: What not to do!
This is often the best place to start as there are a number of things strictly not recommended when playing Airsoft- a lot of it may seem like common sense, but it is important.
In intense sports like Airsoft the easiest solution can also be the most costly to your safety. The first rule with wearing eye protection is not to break the seal, this is where accidents can happen if proper care is not taken. It only takes one stray BB to cause some serious damage.
While fog is disruptive of the game, removing your goggles while on the field to wipe them down can be extremely dangerous; this can even include simply pushing your finger under the goggles to give them a quick wipe. It seems easy enough, but on the field it can mean getting hurt and all serious Airsoft fields will give you a warning for practising any of the above.
Some extra practices to avoid would be going into a corner to wipe your goggles or hiding behind team-mates. While on the face it seems like the perfect solution, however as instinct prevails, if you are being shot at, you might instinctively turn and/or flinch and cause some damage yourself. What we do recommend is to always seek the closest marshal to give you cover as players will not shoot at them or he/she might escort you the nearest safe-zone to defog your goggles depending on the field’s policies. However, never, ever take your eye protection off during the game without Marshals’ supervision!
Tip 2: Preparing beforehand
Preparing beforehand can seriously help to avoid goggles fogging up. One way of doing this is to use pre-game anti-fog ‘sprays’. It’s as simple as putting some on the inside and outside of your goggles and gently wiping off the excess using a micro-fibre cloth or dry wipe. Try not to use your hands to wipe the spray as hands often contain oils or dirt and this can mean having smudged or unclear vision while playing.
The ‘sprays’ come in a variety of forms from bio-gels, drops, wipes and even markers that contain an anti-fog substances that prevents a build up of moisture on the inside or outside of your goggles. Pre-game sprays can be one of the best ways to prevent fogging as they are easy to use and are often effective in most weather scenarios. They can also be used more than once during the day and most importantly – they are cheap! Just a quick search on Amazon can tell you that anti-fog sprays fall between £4 to £12 in price depending on the quality, but for the price of playing a game with perfect vision, it’s not too much at all.
Dish Soap and Water
When considering hobby costs you usually want the cheapest solution – this is DIY way to prepare beforehand. It doesn’t come any cheaper than finding things in your house that you already own and use on daily bases! Similarly to the sprays, dish soap and water also prevents moisture settling on the goggles that creates the fog by creating a thin layer of soap which causes the surface tension of the water to be destroyed. All that is needed is to mix the dish soap and water and apply to the inside and outside of the goggles. Be careful to use a soft sponge or cloth as you do not want to scratch your lenses – and make sure to dry thoroughly with a cloth.
To make this simple solution more exciting, the dish soap and water dries clear which can sometimes be a negative of the sprays and gels if not wiped properly. However, don’t put them on while they are still damp though, as it is possible to still get the remaining soap in your eyes – so make sure to dry your goggles properly.
Another alternative to dish soap, used by swimmers who often face a similar problem with fogging, is baby shampoo. While you may not have baby shampoo lying about, it is still an inexpensive way of keeping your goggles fog free, not to mention getting it in your eyes will actually not hurt. Win-Win!
Finally, when you’re out in the field and you haven’t used any of the above tricks in preparation, there is still one final thing you can do. Use your own spit! As unappealing as that sounds, it is often very practical and actually works in most scenarios. The reason for this is that saliva acts as a surfactant. Surfactants are wetting agents that decrease the surface tension of a liquid, allowing easier spreading across the lens. Therefore by applying saliva on the inside of the lenses you are adding a layer of water to the lens which makes condensation harder to form. Give it a go next time you are completely out of ideas, it might just work!
Tip 3: Vented Goggles
There are many options of goggles and glasses on the market, some of those are designed with vents in the top that allow cold air to constantly pass through and regulate the temperature inside your goggles. Some of the brands that produce these types of goggles can often be pricey but are also worth the price when wanting to avoid the ‘fog frustration’. What we can recommend is a cheap alternative and although they don’t look amazing, they are very effective and only come at the price of around £12. Bolle Tracker Safety Goggles – very popular amongst Airsoft beginners and veterans alike; great when paired with fog spray and other tips. Cheap and reliable!
Tip 4: Fans
Yes, simple hand held fans; it’s a really simple solution to a common problem. Simply blowing a hand-held fan in your face, without breaking the seal off your face can defog your eye-wear almost immediately as it reduces the temperature difference between you and the plastic of the goggles. Although these come in small sizes, we can all agree this is quite an impractical solution to use during a game, surely you don’t want to be taken by surprise whilst fanning yourself behind cover.
However, some goggle producers have now introduced this technology into their products. It is now possible in the Airsoft industry to find goggles that actually have fans specifically built in the frame in order to prevent fogging or you can find sellers online who customise goggles and attach an internal fan themselves. Airsoft fan goggles can be found on Amazon and Ebay starting at around £30.
Tip 5: Magnetic Wipers
Now, these are not that commonly used possibly in fear that when in the bushes or brush area there is a likelihood that they might fall off. However, this is not really the case, you could get hit directly in the goggles and the magnetic wipes tend to stay on.
The magnets allow the wipe to move on the inside of the goggles without having to reach a finger under them. To prevent scratching they also have soft material that doesn’t scratch the lenses and are relatively small so that they do not obstruct your view and are easy to out of the way if necessary. Again, most of these magnetic wipers are no more than £5-£10.
Check out this short video to see how they work! (All credit for the video goes to MountainStealth)
Personally, my favourite of these fixes has to be the magnetic wipers – it solves the problem of not breaking the seal while being able to effectively get rid of all the fog while playing, they’re not expensive and paired with anti-fog spray, they could be the solution you are looking for! Especially when playing in extremely humid conditions.
Tip 6: Alternatives
While the goggles you have may be great, it is also good to consider some alternatives such as anti-fog goggles. These are goggles that have anti-fog substance already active on the lens and don’t require any preparation before hand to prevent them fogging. However, after wiping down your goggles regularly it is more than likely that the anti-fog won’t last very long.
One way to avoid the fog all together is by investing in a pair of mesh goggles and removing the plastic lens out of the equation (ie. fog attractor) altogether. In terms of longevity, the plastic and mesh goggles tend to last the same amount of time as the plastic goggles and are also reliable; often the go to goggles by many airsoft fields.
One of the biggest pros in terms of mesh goggles is that they don’t fog up at all! It means not having to prepare your goggles before hand or investing in any extra products to prevent fogging up. They don’t have a lens to scratch so this means less obstruction of your view in case your visor becomes damaged. However, if you get water on your goggles there is a chance of blurry spots as the water clings to the mesh and can sometimes be hard to get rid of. Also, there is a small chance that a player could be using cheap BBs that shatter on impact or shatter the paint on the mesh and cause irritation to the eye. This has happened to Kamil (AR Editor) twice, to both of his eyes, on his first day of airsoft; he swore to never use them again. However, many people find these a lot more comfortable and never had a problem as such. There are also particular mesh goggles produced by Bugz-Eye that cushion the blow of the BB bullet by having a little give, however this is not guaranteed every time.
There are a lot of options out there to tackle the problem of fogging during game-play. Consider all and try different types of goggles and solutions to find the ones that suit your climate best; most airsoft sites will lend you a pair of goggles with little to no extra charge, so you can try different types on the day. Also remember, it is not just the temperature between you and your goggles that causes the fog but also the environmental temperature and humidity – so there is never a 100% success rate in terms of preventing the lens fogging. However by combining our tips, you are giving yourself the best chance to find yourself playing all day without a hitch! Just remember, no amount of goggle fog is worth breaking the seal and risking eye damage.
Written by Georgina Saldanha
Edited by Garlen Saldanha and Kamil Turecki