Magnifying Glass

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-known member
May 13, 2013
Reaction score
I've been wearing reading glasses for 2-3 years now and find it thoroughly annoying for hiking purposes - reading a map, taking a compass bearing, how to put them on with goggles in Winter, wear to carry them for easy access , etc. etc. etc. I thought I'd be "clever" and just carry a small magnifying "glass" or plastic card to use but after several different purchase I've found them to basically be useless. They either don't work well enough, the plastic card types break quite easily, there is severe distortion so only a tiny portion of the viewing area is usable, etc.

Is there such a thing as a "high end" magnifying glass for such a purpose? In a perfect world I'd want something maybe 3x5, like an index card, and actually glass versus plastic, with a single magnification of 2-3x, maybe a rubber edging or some sort of protector so I could hold it like a cell phone as opposed to having a long handle on it like many models. This way I could store it in same pocket as my compass, take it out at same time for whatever I'm doing and use it regardless of situation (wearing goggles, sunglasses, hat that makes putting glasses on/off a pain, etc).

Any reading glass people out there try this? Maybe someone has come across "high end" magnifying glasses for some work related function (which would be a benefit for me as well). There seems to be an endless supply of magnifying glasses online and other than buying and trying dozens of models (my efforts so far have not gone well) I'm not sure what definitive buying guide or website is out there. If anyone has thoughts on the idea it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
I have a set of magnifiers that my daughter bought me for embroidery, they are 2X, 4X AND 6X and are designed to work with a light that you hang around your neck. Certainly not high end, but cheap enough that I wouldn't hesitate to throw them in a backpack. I always used them with my glasses, so I tried to look at map without my glasses, and found that the 4X was OK, but the 6X was much better. The vewing area of the magnifier is around 3X4.5 without much distortion. the overall size is about 4X5 with tabs on two sides to hold it in the light. They come in plastic sleeves. No idea if they would fog up in the weather or not. THey are made by a company called Beam and Read. I would imagine you could get just the magnifiers, instead of buying the whole set with the light. Sorry the picture is not that great but you get the idea.

I got old and I was always thorough so I avoided having to read a map out on the trail in the winter. That meant going to the Northern Presidentials in November and then going back just a couple of months later. It also meant no winter first ascents over 4,000 feet. I'll have to check later on what my highest winter first is actually, (and will edit this post then) it may be Martha in NH and overall, I think it's the peaks of the Blackhead Range in the Catskills. 3980 is the highest in that range.)

Pre-panning means knowing what my options are for bad weather exits before the trip and certainly before I get in the bad weather. That means reading the trails descriptions several times, even if I've been on it several times before. If I'm going up the Ammo trail and then south over Monroe, Ike and Pierce, I am reading the C-Path description, how far it is from Monroe to Franklin to Edmands Path. Distance and elevation for going over or around Ike. How far to Webster Cliff and then treeline?

How am I (or the group) doing on time, how is the weather, is it as expected? Before leaving Monroe, I'm confident I can get to Edmands before any change in the weather, otherwise, I'm back down the Ammo.

If I'm wearing googles, I'm in weather conditions where i don't want to now be looking at the map to figure out where I am and where I am going. IMO, if I'm wearing eye protection *likely with my wind-bloc balaclava & or neoprene face mask because of the wind or very cold temps, map and compass should have been decided before needing those items and where I am going and all escape options are in memory. I've also likely changed my destination from a wide open summit to something either wooded or just barely in the open. (Pierce, Liberty, Garfield, pop your head out, get blown around a bit and get back in the trees you barely left,)

Oddly my vision is such that I can read without glasses or contacts. If wearing contacts, I need the readers. Depending on weather and destination, I might skip the contacts although I prefer them to glasses. (What I need to go out and buy is a cheap pair of small sunglasses so I can wear with a medical or cloth mask and they don't fog up. All the big wrap sunglasses I have fog right up because they are too close to the mask. I hade a pair 10-15 years ago to look cool. it didn't work)

Yes, my initials are MAP so I'm not getting lost because I would not let myself live that down
Last edited:
Flip focals. They go on the brim of your cap. Flip down to read or tie on a small fly. Cost about $20 and work fine for me.
As with many things, "there's an app for that", on your phone.

Hah! Yes I've done the "zoom" thing on occasion to read restaurant receipts, etc in a pinch when I've forgotten my glasses. :0
Flip focals. They go on the brim of your cap. Flip down to read or tie on a small fly. Cost about $20 and work fine for me.

I had looked at that awhile back but that doesn't help out in Winter when I don't wear a cap. The reading glass "thing" is much more of a pain in the Winter versus warmer weather.