Gear Guy

Is there a good night-vision lens for paddling in the dark?

I wear prescription lenses in my sunglasses and want to get a similar custom-made pair of glasses for paddling at night. I've heard that a yellow tint on the lenses helps to bring out objects. Is this true? Is there anything else I should consider when ordering this pair of glasses? Dennis Milton, Florida

Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

Paddling at night? What sort of smuggling do you do?

OK, OK, maybe you have a legitimate reason to canoe at night. Alligator snatching? Orchid rustling?

As for your glasses, the deal on yellow-tinted lenses is this: When the light is flat (i.e., on an overcast day) or if you’re in deep shadow, yellow lenses can sharpen up contrast and help you pick out more details. That’s even true in sunlight—yellow lenses are popular with baseball players and trap shooters. I find a yellow lens in sunlight a little too “hot,” though—I prefer a gray or brown lens.

I often wear yellow lenses while I’m road biking on cloudy or rainy days, or when I’m mountain biking in the forest. However, as dusk approaches and it gets dark, keep in mind that yellow lenses still block some light. So I don’t find they work well in dim light. In fact, they are somewhat worse than clear lenses or no lenses at all. So for night use, I really wouldn’t recommend them—I think you’d find they inhibit your vision. I’d just go with regular clear lenses. Whatever it is you’re looking for, you’ll see it just as well without a further filter in the way.

promo logo