Vallon, a new brand for me, focuses on making sunglasses merging classic style and modern performance. The Vallon Heron Glacier has a vintage round shape and is equipped with leather side shields for protection. These glasses come with a removable centre piece and mirrored lenses that provide Category 4 protection for your eyes. Read more about them in the review below.
Vallon has released its initial range of sunglasses, which includes three different versions of the Heron Glacier. The Glacier model is intended for use on glaciers and features cat. 4 lenses to safeguard your eyes during skiing or mountaineering. The Heron Mountain variant is more geared towards overall mountain living and comes with cat. 3 lenses that are ideal for activities such as trekking and via Ferrata’s. Finally, the Heron Ocean version has polarized cat. 3 lenses to support oceanic activities.
The Heron Glacier and ski touring on the Bishorn
In late April, my two companions and I embarked on a trip to Switzerland with the goal of ascending the Bishorn peak. As we were aware that it was not yet appropriate to climb the mountain using an alpine style, we opted for a ski tour instead. The Bishorn mountain stands at an elevation of 4153 meters and belongs to the Valais Alps range. It straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy.
A ski tour involves walking up a specific distance while wearing skis on your feet, which in this scenario is 1600m, followed by skiing back down. It’s crucial to regulate your body temperature effectively during this activity. Typically, you ascend while wearing only a shirt and then put on a thick down jacket when you reach the top before skiing down.
It is essential to wear sunglasses while skiing or mountaineering. They provide protection for your eyes against bright sunlight and harmful UV radiation. Category 4 sunglasses are recommended for extreme weather conditions and the brightest sun, but they can retain a lot of heat, so it’s important to keep this in mind.
Despite the fact that the sun was shining intensely on the glacier for a whole day, the sunglasses did not become foggy. I found it surprising that there was no mention of this feature on Vallon’s website, given that the glasses are intended to block as much sunlight as possible and this can cause fogging due to lack of heat dissipation. However, I discovered that the ventilated perforated leather caps used to block out light also provided sufficient ventilation, preventing fogging from occurring.
As an instance, while skiing down from Cabane Tracuit in foggy weather, my ski goggles became completely covered in mist. However, when I changed to sunglasses, my vision improved and I was able to see where I needed to ski while also protecting my eyes.
These are the best category 4 sunglasses I have ever worn for sun protection. The lenses are very dark but still have a natural tint. Unlike most category 4 sunglasses, which make everything look orange at first, these glasses don’t have that effect.
It is essential to have lenses that offer both clear vision and safeguard against reflective and side light. This is particularly important when facing the bright sun shining on glaciers, as lack of protection can result in snow blindness. Even with category 4 glasses, a friend of mine suffered from this during an alpine climb at 4000m, which was quite challenging.
The Vallon Heron Glacier has opted for a conventional approach to prevent sunlight by utilizing straight lenses on their glasses. They have implemented soft leather caps that fit snugly on the face, which effectively blocks light from the sides while providing a comfortable touch on the skin.
Although my other category 4 glasses are not wrong, I still sometimes suffer headaches. I am prone to headaches at high altitudes and in bright light. Even the tiniest residual light that falls into my eyes between the frame and my face can cause discomfort. However, I experienced no complaints with the Heron Glacier goggles while ski touring all week.
The glasses are comfortable due to the possibility of adequately adjusting the temples. A handy feature is that the temples can be fully extended, making wearing sunglasses while wearing a helmet or cap easy.
In addition to stretching the legs, you can shorten them by curving them further. This way, the glasses fit on practically every face. Another advantage of the curved temples is that the glasses stay on your face during exercise. You can also remove the leather nosepiece to let in more light on dark days.
The design is fantastic and has proven its functionality since the beginning of alpinism. The only drawback is that the design is mainly suitable for outdoor sports. However, by removing the nosepiece, the glasses can also serve as a trendy accessory.
The protective leather caps intended to block side lights cannot be removed. Combined with the flat plastic glass, this can lead to a limited field of view for other tasks. To look at the surroundings or see danger approaching in time, you often have to twist your neck. Therefore, wearing these glasses while cycling is not recommended, even for short distances.
If the leather covers of the glasses were removable, this would increase their functionality. This real improvement can also be applied to other variants of these glasses. The glasses come with a stylish leather case and a cleaning cloth.
The Vallon Heron Glacier glasses have a modern design with an old-school look and have proven to be very functional since the beginning of mountaineering. The goggles offer good ventilation and let little residual light through. The Heron Glacier is ideal for mountaineering and ski touring, but design adjustments are needed to make the goggles suitable for other activities. I will include the Heron Glacier again on my next ski touring trip!