Best Safety Glasses of 2021
We think that the NoCry Clear Anti Fog glasses are the bee's knees for daily driver eye protection. They're lightweight with an adjustable fit and quality lenses and comfortable enough that, at moments, we even forgot that we were wearing them — an uncommon feat in a world of protective glasses. The low profile of the NoCry glasses worked well with hats, respirators, masks, and ear protection. They also performed surprisingly well on our impact tests and didn't get too scratched up, even after all the abuse we laid on them. The highly transparent lens didn't distort our testers' vision, so there were no tired eyes at the end of the day. We can't complain about the price either.
Although there are a few features that make the NoCry spectacles adjustable, and we like that they have holes to attach straps to, they are a pretty standard design. Unlike some of the others we tested, they lack any kind of a gasket, and they don't come with a strap for the provided holes. Some dust can creep up between the cheeks, too, so we do wish they hugged the cheeks a bit closer. This is a tradeoff, though, because that same gap also made them ventilate better with a respirator. All in all, we loved the NoCry product for those who need a well-rounded daily pair of eye protection for anything from tree trimming to chemistry to carpentry.
For serious eye protection, you have to bring out the big guns, and this means switching from glasses to goggles. We found the SolidWork Safety Goggles to provide the most protection while remaining quite comfortable. The thick rubber gasket provides coverage from nearly all fumes and dust and provides surprisingly good impact protection. While goggles often get foggy, even with a respirator and in a high humidity environment, the anti-fog coating SolidWork put on their lens worked quite well.
Although the rubber gasket seals out dust and is pretty comfortable, our testers found that it got quite sweaty under there because the rubber has a broad contact with skin. While dealing with the sweat issue, we also realized that it's hard to adjust the strap for tightness while you have these on, and removing them isn't very convenient when you're also wearing a hat, mask, or gloves possibly covered in something like a concrete stain. Still, these were our favorite when we needed heavy-duty protection. We recommend the SolidWork Safety Goggles for people who need serious protection from fumes, dust, and impact.
If you don't wear safety glasses every day, or if you tend to break or lose them a lot, sometimes you don't want to invest in something more expensive. Enter the Radians Mirage. They offer adequate side and bottom coverage for simple tasks, and they only cost a few bucks. They're also so lightweight our testers didn't find they pressed on the top of their nose or ears, even after hours of wear.
You do get what you pay for, and the Mirage lacks durability to an extent. They can shield eyes from direct contact with sawdust or shards, but might not survive long in your toolbox. The hinges and nose bridge flex easily, so much so that a heavy wrench on top of them could snap them, so you do need to take care with how you store them. We also found that they scratch easier than other models we tested. We think these are the best choice for smaller projects and if you won't need to wear them regularly, or if you just want to keep a backup pair on hand.
For how inexpensive and small the 3M Virtua are, they bring a lot to the table. For sport-style glasses, the Virtua hugs the face closely, providing excellent coverage. They also feature a removable foam gasket that helps prevent stray debris or dust from flying into one's eyes. A nice feature is their attachment system for corded earplugs (not included), which also makes for a good keeper loop. The Virtua glasses were easy to use with a hat and a respirator mask, and while going about our work, we barely noticed them.
On the flip side, these are so lightweight that they're a bit flimsier than many other pairs we tested. Although we didn't experience this in our tests, these glasses could be more prone to breaking if they accidentally got crushed under tools or in a bag. They also don't have the greatest fog protection for high humidity environments, but they do ventilate adequately with a respirator. The nose bridge felt somewhat harsh for our taste without the foam gasket, and our testers ended up with deep indentations in their noses at the end of a day of wearing these. Overall, they are a versatile and excellent product — one of our favorites — and come in at an unbeatable price. We would recommend them if you use eye protection regularly and tend to go through them quickly.
If you are looking for eye protection with adaptability for everything from spraying muriatic acid to running a wood chipper, look no further than the Pyramex I-Force glasses. This pair of spectacles can go from full-protection goggles with a foam gasket and full strap to a stripped-down pair of standard glasses with regular temples. In either mode, they provided excellent durability and protection. To keep track of all the parts, we'd recommend a full-on glasses case with these, but we loved how versatile one pair could be.
Like many jacks-of-all-trades, these are often masters of none. They were a bit chunky as a regular pair of safety specs compared to some of the more low-profile models, and they were less comfortable in goggle mode than the dedicated safety goggles. Also, the vertical articulation at the hinge initially seemed nifty but just ended up with the glasses always being a bit awkward on our testers' faces. Still, we think this is a quality pair of glasses that could work in nearly any situation where you'd need eye protection, and we'd recommend them for the person who wants just one pair of eye protection to do just about any job.
When you have to go big on personal protective equipment, the Dewalt Concealer is for you. With a low-profile elastic headband and full rubber gasket, these goggles are one of our top choices to protect our eyes when the work gets dirty. The full gasket and small vent holes prevent fumes, dust, sprays, and almost anything else that might come your way during nasty work. When it comes to dust and fumes, we found these goggles to integrate well with a dual filter half mask, which most think of when they hear the word "respirator." The goggle gasket fits well over the respirator's rubber mask providing complete face protection without needing a full filter mask.
Although the Dewalt goggles provide tons of protection, it wasn't as comfy as the other goggles we tested. The thinner gasket creates pressure points that got uncomfortable after hours of use, particularly on testers' foreheads. We also think a clear or less bright frame would have been a better choice as we found the yellow frames were a bit annoying to have at the edge of our vision. Still, the Dewalt Concealer is a quality pair of goggles with a high level of protection and works well with other PPE.
The Pyramex Fortress has a few things going for it. We liked the low-profile sport style that worked well under a hat, mask, or both. The nose bridge was also nicely adjustable and comfortable, and the rubberized bridge and temples kept the glasses tight to our face. The Fortress was nicely durable and took both dull and sharp impacts well. The price is especially appreciated.
We did frequently notice the huge gap between our testers' cheeks and the bottom of the lens. Our lead tester was able to almost slip his thumb completely under it, leaving plenty of room for dust or an errant splinter to fly into one's eyes. However, if you need a cheap pair of glasses to beat up, these are a decent choice.
As far as safety glasses go, the Kleenguard Maverick comes as a pretty standard package. The clear fins provide the side protection of the Maverick, which helps maintain peripheral vision, something many of the others we tested didn't. The temples also fit snugly under a hat or mask, whereas some of the other models were awkwardly pushed up when our testers tried to wear them with a ball cap. They also provided adequate impact protection, although the flatter profile takes impacts more squarely than the sport style glasses, which allow impacts more likely to deflect away.
We wish the Maverick had a little more going for it, and while it is a serviceable pair of safety glasses, it didn't have the small features that many of the other models we tested did. Still, they protected our eyes and fit well with other PPE, making them a solid pair of glasses, especially under a hat.
The Magid Iconic Y50 is a traditionally styled pair of glasses with clear side protection and integrated bifocal reading lenses. If you frequently find yourself wearing clunky wear-over glasses while switching between heavy-duty work and reading, these might be a good choice. Our testers liked the clear side protection, and the solid frames held up well to the abuses of work and casual storage.
However, we didn't find these overly comfortable, and during our impact tests, the nose bridge took a literal chunk out of our test dummy. The temples were comfy enough, but the frames felt heavy on our faces over an hour of use. It also lacked some features that other models in our test line-up include. Still, we could see these being useful for anyone farsighted who needs reading glasses and eye protection at the same time but doesn't want to deal with bulky over-glasses or goggles.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead tester, Ethan Newman, has been wearing tons of personal protective equipment for all sorts of jobs for years. He's worn eye protection for everything from half a decade of professional tree trimming to wildland firefighting for Zion National Park to carpentry and masonry. He's also worked on sustainable building projects, like building Florida's first Earthship, and with Patagonia Waste Management, installing sustainable composting toilets in the Argentinian backcountry. As a search and rescue volunteer, he's also seen the result of what happens when protective equipment fails. He's been saved by his PPE more than he'd care to admit, and in doing so, has become more and more discerning about quality equipment.
We spent dozens of hours researching and testing these glasses hands-on, considering everything from UV protection to real-world scratch and impact testing. We used grinders, jigsaws, falling knives and rocks, and other real-world tests to evaluate each product. Our lead tester even repeatedly took shots of dust to the face to provide you the best, most thorough review.
Analysis and Test Results
To test all these safety glasses and goggles, we used a mix of daily and varied use, coupled with focused tests. To ensure we have a broadly useful review, we tested various eye protection styles in many different situations. Through these tests, we were able to determine each pair of glasses' strengths and weaknesses.
With this type of equipment, if the protection isn't effective, it's worthless. In evaluating the protection that each pair of glasses provides, we considered all kinds of harm that the glasses might prevent. We tested dull and sharp impacts via drop tests and also performed dust and fume tests both by using them during dusty work and by doing a "flour blow" test.
One surprising thing about the impact tests is that depending on the glasses' shape, each product would either take the impact squarely, transferring the energy straight to our test dummy's head, or deflect away if the glasses were rounded. Some of the smaller, sport-style models flew off the test dummy as a way of transferring energy. Oddly enough, some other PPE, like hardhats, are designed to do the same thing; absorb energy safely rather than push the shockwave into the user.
We found that both the SolidWork Safety Goggles and the Dewalt Concealer performed the best when it comes to dust and fumes, but they also did quite well with impact, as the rubber gaskets collapsed, absorbing the impact energy. The Pyramex I-Force did well in this regard, as did the 3M Virtua, as they have removable gaskets for both dust control and helped absorb the shock. Surprisingly, the NoCry and Radians Mirage models did quite well because they fit so close to our testers' faces.
It not only matters how well a product works; if they aren't comfortable, you won't want to wear them. To test for comfort, we wore each pair of glasses and goggles for at least three hours and up to a full workday. We also tested them integrated with ball caps and masks, something we tend to be wearing when it comes to the kind of work you need PPE for.
A big design feature that made a difference in comfort was the nose bridge and the spot where the temples of the glasses contact the ears. Harder, less adjustable nose bridges tended to create pressure points after a while, and some left marks after a few hours of wearing them. Low-profile temples and straps also tended to be more comfortable with masks (both dust and fabric COVID-19 versions) and hats.
Some of the highest performers are the NoCry Safety Glasses and the 3M Virtua CCS, as we nearly forgot we were wearing them. While it's harder to forget that you're wearing goggles, we found the SolidWork Goggles to be fairly comfortable, as the rubber gasket is broad and soft enough not to create pressure points during extended wear. The Radians glasses were also decently comfortable because they are so lightweight, even though the bridge isn't padded.
We tested these again by extended use and wear, as well as our "toolbox test." Plenty of folks, our lead tester included, tend to abuse their eye protection by leaving them with their tools, uncovered, to rattle around in a toolbox or bag. This tends to scratch and crunch lenses and frames over time, so we accelerated the process by throwing each pair in a toolbox full of tools and shaking it for a few minutes to see how scratched up they could get. We also evaluated how sturdy the construction is for each and how likely they would be to break if accidentally twisted or crushed in a bag or pocket. As we expect these glasses to be used for a while, durability was significant in our assessment process.
As one might expect, as far as sturdy construction, the SolidWork and Dewalt Concealer goggles did well, but so did the Pyramex I-Force, whose large sturdy hinges stood up to some aggressive twisting. We were also surprised by how little the NoCry model got scratched up after rattling around with screwdrivers, files, and other tools and parts in a toolbox.
Although this seems fairly straightforward, some of the small details stood out in this category. We looked at what each product comes with (extra straps, lenses, removable features), as well as the nifty little tricks designed into each pair of eye protection. Some of the smallest design details ended up making a big difference when it came to actual use.
Without a doubt, the pair of glasses with the most features is the Pyramex I-Force. The I-Force comes with an extra strap so it can convert from looking like a pair of lightly tinted sunglasses, all the way to almost full-on goggles and a few hybrid mixes in between. We also really liked the removable gasket and ear protection holders on the 3M Virtua CCS pair.
While seemingly mundane, the difference between quality and poor eye protection can be significant. We are always serious when it comes to safety equipment. We hope this review helped you narrow down the best pair of safety glasses for you and your next job or home project. The right tool can mean all the difference in the world. Be safe, and always wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
— Ethan Newman