Congratulations! You’ve got your tickets to Burning Man!
Now you’re making your list and you’re checking it twice for everything you’ll need to survive in Black Rock Desert. After all, radical self-reliance is one of the founding principles of Burning Man. And any Burning Man veteran will tell you being well prepared is critical to having a great burn.
Goggles are one of the most important things you can bring with you to Burning Man, and you should never leave your camp without them no matter how pleasant the weather appears. One common mistake that first time Burners make is to underestimate the severity of the weather in the playa and how quickly it can change without warning.
The flat, desolate landscape of Black Rock Desert lends itself to massive wind storms, especially as the giant dry lake bed heats up in the afternoon sun. As the wind swirls across the dusty playa it picks up truckloads of tiny sand particles, creating whiteout conditions and lowering visibility to just inches in front of your eyes.
A total whiteout makes it nearly impossible to walk or bike back to your Burning Man camp until the storm subsides. Getting caught miles away from camp in the deep playa when a big dust storm rolls through is not only a miserable experience, but without goggles (and a bandanna), it’s can actually be dangerous.
Everyone that goes to Burning Man will experience at least one major dust storm during their time in Black Rock City. But you’ll also find that it is sunny and clear for most of the week. So your goggles will wind up being a Burning Man fashion statement as much as they are a piece of desert survival gear.
Choosing the the best Burning Man goggles is a delicate balance of form and function. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite goggles for Burning Man along with the pros and cons of each style so you can find the right pair for yourself!
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Best Goggles for Burning Man
A pair of retro-looking motorcycle goggles is a very popular choice for Burning Man. They tend to be both comfortable and functional, plus the post-apocalyptic Mad Max look is very popular on the playa. In our opinion this style is one of the best choices for funky goggles at Burning Man!
You can find plenty of inexpensive options for motorcycle goggles on Amazon:
Steampunk style goggles are another fun addition to your Burning Man bag-of-tricks. However, be aware that most steampunk-style goggles that are available online are costume accessories made of cheap plastic. So while they look cool, they’re not particularly comfortable or durable.
These goggles will work in a pinch if you get caught in a surprise sandstorm and don’t have any other eye protection available. But you’re better off purchasing them purely as a costume accessory rather than as your primary set of Burning Man goggles.
In our opinion, ski goggles are the best functional option for Burning Man as they are comfortable and provide good protection for your eyes.
You can pick up a cheap pair of old ski goggles at your neighborhood Goodwill or second hand sporting goods store (such as Play it Again Sports). However, if you don’t want to look like a time traveler from the 1980’s who got lost on their way to the ski slopes, better check online for some trendier options.
For less than $30 you can have your pick of black, mirrored, or rainbow-colored lenses that will give you a futuristic look while you’re out in the deep playa of Burning Man. And all the while shielding your eyes from both the sun and any unexpected sand storms.
Other Burning Man Eye Protection Options
One of the core tenets of Burning Man is radical self-expression and finding a unique (but still functional) set of goggles is one simple way to express yourself. Why stick to the basics when you could be wandering around the deep playa in welding goggles, cat goggles, a bizarre-looking set of arctic exploration goggles or a creepy leather bird mask?
Don’t Forget Your Sunglasses
While you’ll need a pair of goggles to survive the dust storms of Burning Man, you’ll probably enjoy clear, sunny weather for most of your time in Black Rock City. And while most goggles have tinted lenses, they tend to be hot and uncomfortable to wear all day.
You’ll most likely wind up wearing sunglasses most of the time with you goggles either hanging around your neck or tucked into your backpack for when you need them. So you should take a least a few pairs of sunglasses with you to Burning Man.
It’s best not to take sunglasses that are expensive or irreplaceable as they’re likely to get lost, broken, or scratched at the festival. And when you’re out making new friends you may just decide to gift your favorite sunglasses to someone on the playa who loves them even more than you do!
Here are a few of our favorite choices for Burning Man sunglasses:
Keep the Party Going All Night Long
Burning Man is an around-the-clock-affair. The best DJ’s spin at the biggest parties that rage well into the wee hours of the morning. Make sure your eyewear night-game is just as strong as your day-game. There are countless options available online for LED sunglasses and goggles or you can create your own with El wire.
Keep in mind that dust storms can happen at any time, day or night. If you’re planning on being out on the deep playa at night you should take at least 2 pairs of goggles with you to Burning Man: one pair with tinted lenses for the bright sun during the day and one pair with clear lenses to be able to see at night. Luckily some goggles also offer interchangeable lenses so you can simply change the lenses depending on the time of day.
Have you been caught in a dust storm at Burning Man before? What kind of goggles do you prefer on the playa? Let us know in the comments below!
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