If you’re looking for some serious glacier glasses with premium lenses, then Vuarnet have your back. With top-level build quality and excellent materials, they are tailor-made for proper mountain adventures.
Premium mineral glass lenses
Removable side shield and bridge
May not fit people with smaller faces
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Vuarnet ICE Round sunglasses: first impressions
From the moment you open the box, these Vuarnet ICE Round sunnies feel like a premium product, and they certainly rank among the very best sunglasses out there for high-level hiking and mountaineering.
• List price: $279-$360 (US) / £230–£296 (UK)
• Weight: 41g / 1.4oz
• Category: 4
• Frame colors: Amber / Matt Black / Matt Blue / Crystal / Blue / Tortoise
• Lens colors: Blue Flash / Blue Polarlynx / Skilynx / Blue Polar / Pure Gray / Eclipse / Gray Polar / Gold / Pure Brown Bronze Flash / Silver Flash
• Lens options: Non-polarized / Polarized
• UV protection: 100%
• VLT: 5%-11%
• Extras: Leather case, cleaning cloth
• Suitability: Extreme light conditions such as those encountered when mountaineering
Like a classic watch, these sunglasses are clearly designed to last a long time and to be used year upon year as the only pair of sunglasses you’ll ever need in the snow or at altitude. (Obviously you wouldn’t go for a Cat 4 lens for everyday use, as they're too dark – our comprehensive guide to VLT levels explains the different VLT categories.)
The frames are made of high-strength bio nylon with adjustable sleeves that can be bent into place to fit your head. The sun protection is excellent: there are removable side shields that are easy to slide in and out. The bridge has an insert piece that can be taken out too, allowing the Vuarnet ICE Round sunglasses to be converted into a more everyday look for off the mountains.
The lenses are a natural mineral lens that provide the sharpest vision possible in extreme light conditions. They feel like a very strong material compared to other sunglasses I’ve tested. There is a choice of 11 color and lens combinations, including both Cat 3 and Cat 4 options. My test pair are Matt Black Eclipse.
They come in a stylish white leather protective case with attachment loop, which includes a microfiber cleaning cloth, and there’s a two-year warranty, too.
Vuarnet ICE Round sunglasses: on the trails
These sunglasses feel expensive. They are noticeably heavier than any other pair I've tried, and the weight is all in the lenses. You know they mean serious business as soon as you put them on your face, and they can certainly perform at the highest level at the pointy end of mountain terrain.
The Vuarnet ICE Round sunglasses are marketed as being sized medium. As someone with a smaller face, I found that the bendable area on the arms meant that they didn’t fall off when I leaned forwards – but only just.
On test I found that a tiny spot of daylight did sneak in through the frame, in the T-shaped indent at the top of the nose (and if you don’t know why this is a bad thing, read our feature on sunglasses for hiking: why you need to protect your eyes on the trails). Again, the pair I tested are designed for a medium fit.
Despite this slight annoyance, overall I was very impressed with the clarity and quality of these sunglasses, especially the mineral glass lenses.
An adventure writer based on Dartmoor, England, Emily is an active member of Mountain Rescue and a summer Mountain Leader, but loves all things adventure – before her third birthday she had lived on three continents. Founder of Intrepid magazine, she works to help break stereotypes about women in the outdoors. Her expeditions have included walking all Dartmoor’s 119 tors in a single two-week outing, cycling to Switzerland and back, and riding the Rhine from source to sea.