There are two types of people: the kind that care about sunglasses and the kind that don’t. The people that don’t care about sunglasses are perfectly fine with plunking down $12 for a cheap pair every summer at the drugstore. The people that do care about sunglasses understand that there’s a pair for every occasion.
Your prized sunglasses handcrafted out of sustainable bamboo are great to wear at a music festival, but not so great for the beach (try dropping those things in the ocean and see how that works out for you). Sunglass aficionados get this and invest accordingly in multiple pairs for different types of scenarios. And one scenario that is perhaps the most important when it comes to needing to keep the sun out of your eyes is when you’re driving.
Driving into the horizon with the sun in your eyes? No fun, and also potentially dangerous. But you don’t have to be tooling around in an Italian sports car or channeling Steve McQueen to pull off a proper pair of driving sunglasses. They’re not like driving gloves—a good pair of driving sunglasses just needs to have the following qualities: polarized lenses to reduce glare, curved lenses for better coverage, and a thin frame that won’t get in the way of your peripheral vision. Too much for you to absorb? That’s fine—we’ve rounded up 10 of the best driving sunglasses. Snatch up a pair and hit the road.
American Optical Original Pilot Sunglasses
If you’ve been looking for a pair of badass shades, look to a company that makes sunglasses for the military. American Optical sunglasses have been issued to the enlisted since the late 1960s and were even worn by Neil Armstrong on the moon landing mission. Pretty legit, right? Take that history and pair it with thin frames and distortion-free polished glass lenses, you’ve got the perfect sunglasses for driving, for under 50 bucks.
Carrera Flat-Top Sunglasses
Since the 1950s, Carrera has been producing high-quality performance glasses and goggles for athletes (the company was named after the Carrera Panamericana, the most dangerous race in the world at the time), so if you’re in the market for driving glasses, this is a good brand to go with. These Flat-Top sunglasses in particular won’t cost you a lot but look like they do, with a lightweight brown frame, brown gradient lenses, and gold accents on the arms and bridge.
Oakley Plaintiff Squared Sunglasses
While other sunglass brands are known for crafting lifestyle pairs, Oakley boasts a reputation of making sunglasses worn by people who are in motion—driving, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, and much more. These Plaintiff Squared sunglasses are made specifically with drivers in mind—the titanium mono-shock hinges are inspired by the leaf springs of racecars, and the curved lenses will provide full coverage, even as you’re careening around a mountain road.
Ray-Ban Highstreet Aviator Sunglasses
You can rarely go wrong with Ray-Bans, and while we all love the classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers, the thick frames and non-polarized lenses make them pretty awful driving sunglasses. Instead, opt for the brand’s Highstreet Aviators—you’ll get all the classic style while still maintaining your visibility when you’re on the road.
Warby Parker Halford Sunglasses
You might think of Warby Parker only for the prescription glasses you wear in the office, but these Halford sunglasses are the perfect pair to wear during your next road trip. The frames are made with the strongest, lightest ion-plated titanium, and the lenses are crafted from polycarbonate (the most impact-resistant material out there), so these glasses will feel barely-there, even on hour five of your trip.
Smith Optics Rockford Sunglasses
Based in Idaho since the 1960s, Smith Optics has been creating high-performance glasses and goggles for people who live uber-active lifestyles. Drawing on the classic aviator shape, Smith’s Rockford sunglasses feature curved, polarized lenses, and adjustable nose pads that will provide a personalized fit.
Persol Folding Sunglasses
Persol is a luxury Italian brand that has been crafting quality eyewear since 1917, when it specifically catered to pilots and sports car drivers. Persol’s signature folding sunglasses are actually referred to as the “Steve McQueen sunglasses,” and the lightweight frames and polarized lenses are available in a variety of color combinations. Wear ‘em when you’re motoring around town, and fold them in half and slip them into your shirt pocket when you head inside. Convenient!
Autodromo Stelvio Sunglasses
There’s no better place to buy a quality pair of driving sunglasses from than Autodromo, which specializes in creating products and accessories that reflect the lifestyle of motorheads the world over. Named after the Stelvio Pass—one of the greatest, most storied driving roads in Europe—the Stelvio sunglasses are made in Japan out of green acetate, have polarized UV lenses, and will surely make you want to grab a little sports car and motor around Europe.
Tom Ford Marlon Square Sunglasses
While most polarized lenses either come in black or a goofy rainbow of colors—these Italian-made Tom Ford Marlons bring brown into the mix. They manage to look classic yet unique, with a shiny gunmetal frame, tortoise shell brow bar, and gradient brown polarized lenses.
Garrett Leight Wilson M Sunglasses
You’ll have to shell out more than a few bills for any Garrett Leight glasses, but once you put them on, you’ll never regret the expenditure. The Wilson M sunglasses sport a low-profile stainless steel frame reminiscent of the ones that were popular with hippies in the 1960s (very John Lennon). Add purple-blue polarized lenses, and you’ll be the most unique-looking guy at the Hertz counter when picking up your rental car.
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