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We're searching for a pair of sunglasses with a protective nose shield for a friend who has reoccurring skin cancer. Can you help us out? Tmy Tarentum, Pennsylvania

With all the high-tech lenses out there, I'm looking for a pair or two that will provide good protection in a variety of situations. I would be using them for downhill skiing, water sports, motorcycle riding, driving, hiking, mountain biking, roller blading, etc. The three brands I considering are Revo, Oakley, and Serengeti. I was also told by someone a long time ago, that it is not a good idea to wear polarized lenses when riding a motorcycle, as they will hide oil spots on the road, causing a potential slide. Can you tell me if there is any truth to that? Tom Player Toronto, Ontario

On extended backpacking trips, does it make sense to pack both a soft shell and a waterproof jacket? Or just take along the rain jacket? Also, since I come from Europe, I'm a little bit confused about what exactly cross-country skiing is. I know what telemarking is (those graceful people on the piste) and also langlauf (with the thin skis), but what is cross-country? Karl Cottenie Leuven, Belgium

Are there any objective tests comparing the hard- and soft-shell products of different gear manufacturers? Yes, there's a huge ount of marketing hype easily available, but beyond XCR's assertion that it's "25 percent more breathable than standard Gore-Tex," there doesn't seem to be any hard numbers comparing materials. This is surprising when you consider how much consumers are prepared to pay for the latest and greatest. Jeff London, United Kingdom

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