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How do I protect necessary glasses while kayaking or rafting?

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My team at work has occasional outings and one of the activities we've talked about for the future is kayaking or whitewater rafting. I've never done either and am also dependent on expensive prescription glasses. (I can't wear contacts and can't see well enough to do anything but ride along without my glasses.) I understand that common solutions to this problem are straps (which Google tells me can fail), goggles over the glasses (which can fog over), and using another pair of glasses like the backup pair (which works once). Some people also talk about buying a cheap pair, but my prescription doesn't come in "cheap".

If I were to join my coworkers in kayaking or rafting, how can I best solve my glasses problem -- both protecting the glasses I need to wear and being able to see out of them well enough to kayak/raft?

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The answer to this depends fairly heavily on the specifics of what, exactly, you're doing. "Kayaking" can mean anything from play boats in a pool to whitewater and hydraulic entrapment risks. Whitewater rafting is a little more specific in that it necessarily involves whitewater, but there's still a world of difference between Class I and Class VI rapids. See "What is the difference between Class III, Class IV, and Class V rapids?" for more details about whitewater classes.

That said, given your little experience (and presumably a similar lack of experience on your colleagues' part), I'd guess you'd end up either taking an instructed session, or something not too strenuous or risky.

If you're kayaking on relatively calm water (i.e. pools, lakes, or the seaward ends of rivers where they're calmer), once you get the hang of it, you should find the boat reasonably stable. If you're conservative about things, you may avoid falling in at all, but even if you do end up in the water, retaining your glasses shouldn't be too much of an issue. A floating glasses retainer is likely all you'll need here.

If you're whitewater rafting, expect a rougher ride. Your glasses are more likely to want to come off. However, you're likely to be given a helmet, and the chin strap of the helmet will help to retain your glasses. You can also find rubberized floating retainers that have a better grip on your glasses, which in combination with the helmet should be plenty.

Failing that, you can always resort to a good old Mark 1 length of string, and tie your glasses onto something - a helmet, a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, or (if you must) a belt.

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Oh, I hadn't considered floating devices to attach them to, thanks! Also hadn't thought about helmets. There was a previous kayaking outing (which I wasn't part of) on our local rivers. I assume instruction would be provided. Monica Cellio about 1 month ago