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Ballistic Glasses For Travel?

Maybe this seems like overkill. Maybe not.

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Maybe it seems like going a step too far, but over the years of travel and journalism I’ve often thought about getting a pair of ballistics rated sunglasses. While I’m perfectly happy with how my Faded Days Polarized Tortoise Club sunglasses look and hold up, in some situations I’ve wondered how well they would fare in the event of an impact. What if the windshield of the crappy Niva that’s going way too fast down that Kazakh road gets smashed in? What if those cops start firing rubber bullets? What if? My guess was that my current pair of shades would shatter all over my face. They sunglasses that made to look cool, not to provide protection.

Why Wear Ballistic-Rated Eyewear


As occasional situations where stuff is flying around is a standard part of the documentary profession, I decided to pick up a pair of Oakley sunglasses that meet impact resistance standards. They cost about as much as any other pair of designer sunglasses, and although they are not exactly military grade I figures they would do the job. They are some pretty heavy duty glasses, the inner frame is metal with some polycarbonate arms. They provide the standard UV protection, filtering 100% of UVA, UVB, and some blue light.

One of the things that I had a difficult time with was being able to see the screens of my cameras while wearing polarized sunglasses. While the Oakleys are polarized they somehow behave in a different way, allowing me to use my cameras and phones without having to take them off.

As far at their ballistics resistance, well, I’m not going to test this but I assume they do the job.

I have a thing for getting high quality travel gear. It may sound contradictory, but this is actually a money saving maneuver. You can either buy cheap stuff and replace it each year or buying relatively expensive, high quality gear and not have to replace it for a decade. My cameras, boots, jackets, bags, pretty much everything all cost decent amounts of money, but I use this stuff for extended periods of time without it breaking down or needing to be replaced. In the end, I have a better experience, I buy less stuff, and I save money.

So when it comes to sunglasses, why not go for overkill and get ballistics-rated glasses that should last a decade?

Oakley Sunglasses
Filed under: Travel Gear, Travel Guide

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3657 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York

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