Casco Eyewear Shields


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Casco Eyeshields

Casco Eyeshields, essential diaper change gear and good for backcountry skiing as well.

“Expensive, dorky, effective,” read the email subject header from my local co-conspirator in skiing and biking forays. A partner who clearly knows how to pique my interest!

“You might be into these. I saw them on an Olympic xc skier and googled them out of curiosity. They’ve got some funky flip-up feature that could shave your transition times…”

Anything to save precious seconds on my transitions! Okay, seriously though (although the walk-ski switch on my DyNA boots is a wonder to behold), I really like to be able to use the same eyewear for both the up and the down. Plus for all my nordic skate skiing, the ups and downs are constantly trading places.

For late spring and early summer backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering, I’ve always just been, ahh, “borrowing” my wife’s glacier glasses from our 2001 Chamonix honeymoon. But for the winter, as of last fall my regular sunglasses collection was getting desperate: my trusty sunglasses that I got back in 1993 had finally broken, ditto for a pair of sunglasses I’d noticed lying by the side of a trail while skinning up a closed ski resort a few years ago, my wife’s sunglasses from college (she graduated in . . . 1992) had poor contrast in low-light conditions, and ditto for that pair of sunglasses I found while xc skiing on the local bike path.

I bought the Rudy Sportmask in part because of their strong support of the National Ski Patrol, and the shields have been great even for fairly cold and long backcountry ski days (with my goggles stowed away all day), but even light snow often is too much for them to handle. (Or as my previously referenced partner inquired at the very beginning of a gloppy day, “Umm, can you, ahh, see?”)

Enter the Casco shield. I was enticed by an old review I found, so I contacted the the distributor to order a pair.

The shield arrived almost immediately. The current version now comes with only one single lens, which indoors looks almost perfectly clear, but out in the sun they became very dark and provided the perfect amount of lens transmission. Skinning and skiing with them was perfect: the goggle-type elastic band kept them in place, and the field of vision was expansive. Although I haven’t used them yet in demanding weather conditions, fogging resistance must be superb, given the unrestricted airflow, yet their shape should also keep snow from getting on the inside of the lens. Plus you can easily just flip up the shield out of the way.

Just one problem: the fit with my Giro Fuse helmet wasn’t very good, and the fit with the Kong Scarab helmet . . . well, it essentially didn’t fit. I emailed my impressions to Joe. Turns out that model isn’t designed to work with a helmet. Oh, I guess I should have told him that when backcountry skiing (as opposed to nordic skiing) I wear a helmet. But, ah hah, he also has the Casco Spirit Competition model. This arrived with the same photochromatic lens, along with a nearly clear lens.

And indeed, the fit with helmets turns out to be just fine. The performance in difficult weather conditions? Well, we finally came through with a massive storm system, eventually over four feet as measured at a resort near where I was backcountry skiing partway through the storm. About two feet had already fallen when I left my car in the morning, and I returned to find my car covered in about 10 inches of snow, the same snow that had been pounding me in the woods all day. I completely soaked through my Marmot Glide softshell gloves in the first three hours, then did the same thing to my backup pair over the next three hours. My Patagonia Traverse softshell jacket wetted out, causing me to add a MontBell vest and then a MontBell jacket in addition to that — so much layering is very rare for me. My Schoeller Dryskin pants were just barely hanging in there.

Sounds like goggle weather, right? Nope — I wore the Casco shield the entire time, with absolutely no fogging, and absolutely no snow/water getting underneath the lens. Sunglasses (even more typical shield styles) would have been worthless after the very first skin of the day (up an open slope at a nearby resort), and goggles would have fogged up on every subsequent ascent. But the Casco shield stayed clear.

Downside? All I can think of is that the shield is a bit bulky if for some reason you need to put it away in your pack. (The included case is great for travel, but way too massive for use in the field.) And the neat-o flip-up feature is negated by helmet use.

Otherwise, for winter and early spring use, from now it’s the Casco shield, while the sunglasses and goggles stay at home.

(WildSnow guest blogger Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts, where he is a member of the Northfield Mountain and Thunderbolt / Mt Greylock ski patrols. Formerly an NCAA alpine race coach, he has broken free from his prior dependence on mechanized ascension to become far more enamored of self-propelled forms of skiing. He is an AIARE-qualified instructor, NSP avalanche instructor, and contributor to the American Avalanche Association’s The Avalanche Review. When he is not searching out elusive freshies in Southern New England or promoting the NE Rando Race Series, he works as a financial economics consultant.)

Comments

17 Responses to “Casco Eyewear Shields”

  1. ScottP March 17th, 2010 2:25 pm

    Looks about the same as the Rudy Racing Visor (http://tinyurl.com/yda2bfn). Doesn’t look like the Rudy has interchangeable lenses, though, and the stock lens isn’t photochromatic.

  2. Jeff March 18th, 2010 1:30 pm

    Jonathan, my ski budget can’t keep up with all the neat products you find :biggrin: fortunately I have a few more months to save for the tlt 5 now that I am filled with gear lust after your dyna race boot post. On a serious note, thanks for all the great posts.

  3. Jonathan Shefftz March 19th, 2010 7:10 pm

    That Rudy shield does look interesting. The shape looks kind of confusing though — might just be the stock photo without seeing it being worn.
    By contrast, the Casco has a fairly normal goggle-type shape — this picture provides a better view:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/jshefftz/CascoShield#5444545225788104114
    Okay, now let’s all get back to earning a living so that we can save up our pennies (and more) for the TLT5!

  4. ScottP March 22nd, 2010 1:35 pm

    I never had much interest in the Rudy visor specifically because like you, I couldn’t figure out just how the thing was supposed to work. Picture in action would help. I do love Rudy the company, though; they’re very supportive of a lot of different causes (collegiate cycling being the one I’m on at the moment).

  5. Madisonian March 23rd, 2010 3:14 pm

    Wow, Jonathan, that is a seriously geeky photo. And yes, I have a boy baby too.

  6. Jason March 25th, 2010 9:58 am

    Has anyone tried bicycling with the Casco shields?

  7. Jonathan Shefftz March 25th, 2010 6:17 pm

    As hard to believe as it may be, that photo is actually not staged — I was getting ready to leave for deciding upon the final routing of a rando race I was organizing, and my wife asked me to change a diaper…

    I haven’t tried biking with the Casco shields yet (temps have been hitting the 60s here often, and even the low 70s, but I keep skinning up local ski areas instead of acknowledging that winter has lost its great), but that will be interesting to try.

  8. Madisonian March 25th, 2010 8:46 pm

    When your wife asks that, you can’t say no…although “please put down the camera, honey” sometimes works.

    Josh

  9. Jeff Hunt September 12th, 2010 10:51 am

    Jonathan — could you say a little bit more about compatibility with helmets. I tried the Casco Nordic Competition with the Camp Pulse helmet and the Petzl Meteor III and neither felt particularly good. Even the Giro Fuse was adequate at best, but not really comfortable for the downhill. Does the shape of the Kong Scarab helmet work better with the eyesheilds? I love the idea of using the eyeshields for the down as well as the up, but I am having a hard time finding the right fit with the helmet. Thanks for the advice.

  10. Jonathan Shefftz September 14th, 2010 9:05 am

    I used the Casco shield last season with both the Kong Scarab and Giro 9/Nine — I just realized the the Giro Fuse reference is a mistake. (And I have no idea why I switched up the models like that — my brother has the Fuse, but I’ve never owned one, whoops!)
    Anyway, right now I tried on the Giro 9/Nine again w/ the Casco shield, and it fit me fine.
    In general though, I think that both eyewear fit and helmet fit are a matter of personal preferences, and combining the two even more so. But overall, the Casco shield is helmet compatible, although individual fit preferences will vary widely.

  11. Ben November 3rd, 2010 7:34 am

    Did the Casco shields give you enough coverage to prevent your eyes from tearing up when skiing fast on the downs?

  12. Jonathan Shefftz November 3rd, 2010 7:58 am

    Yes, definitely sufficient coverage for me to prevent eye tearing-up while backcountry skiing. For true GS speeds though (i.e., what anyone lacking a USSA/FIS/NCAA background would incorrectly call “Super G” speeds), would still need regular goggles.

  13. frank joyce August 19th, 2011 7:05 pm

    has anyone tried wearing the Casco shields over spectacles? I believe they are not designed to do so but my spectacles are fairly small. Problem over here in England its difficult to find anyone who stocks them. Cheers, Frank.

  14. Jonathan Shefftz August 19th, 2011 8:05 pm

    I can try mine with glasses once I return home from this ski trip, but I really doubt they’d work well: over-the-glasses ski goggles are usually really bulky, far more so than the Casco shield. In general, I always wear contacts for skiing. Pretty much the only time I wear my contacts actually. Glasses + goggles or shields is just a fogging disaster in progress. (I remember all the problems my father had w/ his bifocals skiing in some weather conditions…)

  15. Pavel Sova August 19th, 2011 9:25 pm

    Frank – I wear mine with glasses. The glasses’ outside edges (around hinges; mine are metal) can scratch the shields, so I put a coating of Seam Grip on the protruding parts which solved the problem.

  16. Scottie Mac January 20th, 2012 3:41 pm

    We think good goggles are crucial these days, we’re all boarding harder and faster, and if you can’t see – it’s not safe. There’s goggles around now with build in fans and heated lenses – these can prevent accidents from occurring, the helmets can prevent injury.

    We’ve got a motto around here that nothing is more important than vision. If your goggles fog up on you, your day is shot. Nothing stops a day faster than fog – if you can’t see, there’s no way you can ride. We’ve developed some that are the safest in the business – check them out at elk-sport.com

  17. frank joyce January 21st, 2012 2:44 am

    Thanks for the comments guys. Actually I ended up getting the Julbo Nordic Sniper Shield, same idea as the Casco being photochromic but changes from Category 2 to 4 (I believe the Casco maximum is 3). Yes Pavel similar problems to what you found with the spectacle hinges rubbing the shields but as I am overdue for an opticians appointment will take the shields along and see if I can get a really small frame to fit under the shields.
    I take your point Jonathan but my experience with shields was wearing an ancient Swans Ski Visor over spectacles, very little misting and easy to get rid of if it did occur. However the reason for minimal fogging was probably the fact that there was much greater clearance between face/spectacles and visor shield (looked a bit like a welding visor!). The price you paid was that there was a gap at the lower edge of the shield which allowed in a lot of reflected light from the snow. Anyway hope to test the Snipers on snow in March. All the best, Frank.









     


     
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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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