While getting your workouts in at the gym is all well and good, there’s something special about taking it outside that trumps even the most geared-out high-tech health club. Between feeling the sun on your skin and breathing in air that’s fresh (rather than from re-circulated air conditioning) you can’t beat the kind of vigor and exuberance that can be elicited from exercising in the great outdoors, especially on a sunny day. That being said, we are not immune to the negative effects of that burning ball of gas up in the sky – whether those effects be the cause of the spectrum of UV radiation or simply the brightness of the sun itself.
But we are a technological species and, though we have no raw physical evolutionary protection of which to speak, we’ve figured out ways – through invention and innovation – to give ourselves a leg-up against things like the sun. For example, we’ve created shaded glasses to protect our eyes from brightness, wind, and – eventually – radiation. And if you like to work out outdoors, you’d do right by yourself to grab a pair. The following 12 pairs of sunglasses are the best available for exercising outside, whether you’re speed-walking around the block in the fall or summiting Mt. Whitney in the spring.
Tifosi Podium Shield Sunglasses
While these are not the most pricey sports glasses, they do offer up some stellar features, like a flexible Grilamid Tr-90 construction (a transparent, flexible, lightweight, UV-resistant nylon) and hydrophilic rubber ear and nose pieces to keep them securely on your face through even the most intense of exercises. And, although the lenses are non-polarized, these shades offer up 100% UV protection, making them great for any long-form outdoor activity.
Zeal Optics Equinox
With their frame made from Z-resin bio-plastic and a pair of polarized Ellume bio-plastic lenses, these versatile and flexible shades are a superb companion for any high-energy activity and promise to weather through without fail. And their lightweight construction, strategic venting, and unobtrusive styling won’t bog you down in the middle of a workout. In fact, you might even forget you’re wearing them.
Spy Optic Screw Wrap Sunglasses
Perhaps the biggest name in action-sports eyewear – and with good reason – Spy has a long history of offering up superb products and these, their Screw Wrap Sunglasses, are no different. These non-polarized performance shades are made from a combination of a lightweight Grilamid frame and polycarbonate lenses – each of which featuring a clever ventilation cut-out in their upper corner. And the Hytrel nose and temple pads are sure to keep these retro-futuristic glasses snug on your face.
Under Armour Thief
Designed with baseball players in mind, these sleek glasses feature the ability to flip the lenses up via a hinge, so whenever the need arises you can get the shade out of your eyes without having to carry the glasses around or find a place to set them. The frames are built from a combination of super tough titanium and Grilamid, which offer up great strength and flexibility. And the lenses, made with ArmourSight technology, are 10 times stronger than ordinary polycarbonate and give the wearer 20% more undistorted peripheral vision.
Julbo Vermont Classic
Boasting the most unique styling of any of the glasses on our list, Julbo’s Vermont Classics are the ultimate throwback to the brand’s mountaineering roots. These glasses feature circular Cat. 4 lenses with flash +AR coating – excellent for protecting one’s eyes from the risks of snow-blinding – a leather nose-piece for a comfortable fit, and leather side shields to guard the wearer’s eyes from any winds that might whip around while hiking those mountaintops. And the wraparound arms ensure that these shades will stay right where you put them.
Smith PivLock Arena
Featuring an unusual frameless wraparound design, Smith has designed these glasses to perform in the most extreme conditions while still offering both protection and comfort. With a two-position adjustable nose piece and slide-on temple ends, these hydroleophobic (water, dirt, and smudge resistant) glasses feature TR90 frame accents and a carbonic TLT lens. And they come with Smith’s lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship.
If you’re not the type for wraparound lenses, you like side shields, but want a more contemporary and modern style, these Stackers from Electric might be the shades for you. The Grilamid frames feature a removable eye mask – so they can be adjusted to be worn for work or for play. The OHM polycarbonate lenses offer 100% UV protection and up to 98% blue light protection and they’re anti-reflective, hydrophobic, and smudge-resistant, as well.
Made for cyclists with the intention of creating a pair of sunglasses that are unobtrusive, yet still effective in their protection. These glasses come equipped with Thermogrip temple tips and an adjustable nose guard, hydroleophobic lens coatings, anti-fog treatment, UV protection and impact-resistance. And the photochromic lenses, which adjust their darkness to suit incoming amounts of light, make them an excellent option for any level of sun-exposure. And they come in a number of different lens and color options.
Maui Jim Waterman
Inspired by the passion, history, and tradition of all those who love and participate in water related sports, these durable nylon-framed glasses – with additionally supportive rubber inlays – are perfect for anyone who finds themselves frequently out on any body of water, be it a river, lake, ocean, or otherwise. With the brand’s proprietary Clearshell coating, the lenses are polarized, scratch resistant, and offer 100% UV protection – and even block out up to 99% of glare, so you can enjoy the clarity of the view no matter the brightness of the sun on any given day.
Oakley Jawbreaker Prizm Road
Another eyewear option that is optimized for cycling, Oakley’s Prizm Road glasses boast the brand’s 40 years of heritage and technology in their design. With their razor-sharp patented High Definition Optics, Prizm lens – a technology which fine-tunes vision based on environment – and a hassle-free Switchlock easy-change lens, these glasses offer the utmost in quality and range of vision. And the Unobtanium nose and ear grips increase their hold despite perspiration.
Rapha Pro Team Flyweight Glasses
Looking more like something you’d see in a futuristic science fiction film than on a modern-day athlete, these glasses from Rapha – which were inspired by classic aviator shades – feature a bronze mirror standard one-piece Carl Zeiss lens that reduces both glare and blinding reflections. They’re also hydroleophobic and offer 100% UV protection. And the high-strength flexible Grilamid polymer frame is sure to stand up to whatever punishment you can throw its way.
Nike Vaporwing Elite R
If you like to go fast, there’s not a better eyewear option than these Vaporwing Elite R glasses from Nike. With a Nike + Zeiss wraparound lens – which offers 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays – these glasses offer the wearer an uninterrupted view of their surroundings in both comfort and style. They also offer increased ventilation and moisture wicking channels to keep you cool and the sweat out of your eyes. And the self-adjusting nose pad makes sure you’ll get the perfect fit every time.