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The 8 Best Hiking Sunglasses for the Outdoors

Best Hiking Sunglasses 0 Hero
Photo: Julbo Explorer2 Sunglasses

Every year, the hiking season brings forth a wide array of opportunities for exploring trails in your local wilderness, though, to best-enjoy hiking and backpacking routes, one needs to be outfitted with the right equipment.  Depending on the length of your trek, the necessary gear will greatly vary, though one element every hiker should be armed with, whether they’re facing a simple day trip or an extended tour along the Appalachian Trail, is a quality pair of sunglasses.

But, with literally thousands of sunglasses on the market, honing in on the pair most conducive to your hiking needs can be pretty exhausting. This issue is compounded by the vast array of styles, features, and price-points within the hiking shades sector. So, to save you the trouble, we’ve searched far and wide, reviewing the industry’s trail-ready optical offerings to bring you this guide to the best hiking sunglasses.

Best Hiking Sunglasses

What Makes A Good Set Of Hiking Glasses?

Unlike your average pair of men’s daily-wear shades, hiking sunglasses have to excel in a number of unique areas in order to benefit their wearer on the trail. Below, we’ll explore the properties that should be taken into account when shopping for a set of hiking-specific sunglasses.

Polarization: Polarized lenses afford a wearer bolstered protection from direct sunlight as well as glare from water or snow. This is an absolute must for any hiking sunglasses.

Weight: While less important for day-to-day use, a sunglass’s weight is incredibly important when said glasses are being worn for prolonged periods of time. Finding a quality pair of hiking shades should mean finding a balance between lightweight and durability.

Comfort: Just like with weight, the all-day use of hiking sunglasses makes how comfortable they are of extreme importance, especially in areas such as the bridge of the nose and behind the ears. Like a good pair of hiking boots, this area is all about finding a balance.

Frame Construction: When deep in the backwoods, the last thing you want is for your glasses to break. A robust, well-made frame is another must-have quality for any set of hiking sunglasses. Advancements in the segment have given rise to frames composed of materials like nylon alloys and high-strength plastics, in addition to traditional metal-framed items.

Price: No matter what you’re buying, price is always of importance. While one could, in theory, purchase a cheap pair of gas station glasses for hiking, investing in a quality, more high-end pair will not only serve you better on the trails, but will also ensure that they last for years to come.

Style: While purchasing hiking sunglasses should be primarily dictated by your needs and the glasses’ features, there’s nothing wrong with letting your aesthetic tastes play a guiding role in what pair you opt for. Fortunately, hiking sunglasses come in all manner of styles, making this element pretty easy to navigate.

Lens Properties & Material: Just like with the frames, lens properties are of immense importance, and because of the potential hazards posed by nature, it’s always a good call to go with a pair with strong anti-scratch qualities. Material is another crucial area, with lenses made from everything from plastic and glass to polyurethane and polycarbonate — all of which boast their own varying levels of optical clarity and impact resistance.

UV Protection: Part of the visible light spectrum, ultraviolet light from the sun is harmful — not to mention blinding – to the human eye. When spending an extended time on the trails (anything more than an hour or two), UV protection is absolutely mandatory.

Supplementary Protection: In addition to polarization and UV protection, a handful of hiking sunglasses offer additional protection in the form of pieces that redirect sweat away from the eyes, or lateral cover portions that shield the eyes from lateral rays, as well as small bits of dirt, dust, and debris — all of which are more-than-common on hiking trails.

Brand: One surefire method of obtaining a quality pair of hiking shades — or any hiking essential — is to buy from a well-established and trusted company. While brands will occasionally release a flop of a product, 95% of the time, a company’s history and reputation will be a decent indicator of what you’re getting into.

Sunski Treeline Polarized

Sunski Treeline Polarized
  • Removable sun shields on side are great during sunset
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Polarization is better on other lenses

Best Budget Shades: Constructed around a flexible and durable recycled polycarbonate plastic frame that weighs less than 1oz and features removable magnetic sun shields on the sides, Sunski’s Treeline sunglasses are an intuitive, stylish take on hiking glasses. Designed in California and sold with the brand’s trusty “Forever Warranty,” these Red Dot Design Award-winning shades offer 100% full-spectrum UV protection and are sold with a carrying case and microfiber bag.

Frame: Recycled polycarbonate
Lens: Polarized triacetate cellulose

Ray-Ban Justin Glasses

  • Tons of color options
  • Lightweight
  • Non-polarized lenses available
  • Lenses and frames aren’t super durable

Most Stylish: Offered in five different sizes and a whopping 30 different colorways, Ray-Ban’s Justin Glasses are a high-end take on a set of classically cool rectangular shades. Inspired by the brand’s iconic Wayfarer model, these driving-style glasses are built around a lightweight yet durable nylon frame that houses the pair’s equally lightweight lenses which afford 100% UV protection and help to lessen eye strain while outside.

Frames: Nylon
Lens: Polarized or non-polarized polycarbonate

Smith Parallel 2 Max Polarized

Smith Parallel 2 Max Polarized
  • Durable and non-slip
  • Lenses are water- and oil-resistant
  • Rimless construction offers good field of view
  • Not anti-fogging lenses

Best for Backpacking: Sleek yet simple, Smith’s Parallel 2 Max glasses offer a host of features making them ideal for the trails. Meeting ANSI Z80.3 standards for impact resistance, the polarized polycarbonate lenses are water- and oil-resistant, which go along with the super-durable TR90 nylon frames. They also sport Hydrophilic Megol nose pads and temple ends, auto-lock hinges, and subtle nine-base lens curvature. Likewise, the rimless lenses offer a better field of view without any obstruction.

Frame: TR90 nylon
Lens: Polarized polycarbonate

Oakley Flak 2.0 XL

  • High-def optics
  • Protects against blue light up to 400m
  • Oakley’s PRIZM lens tech offers amazing color and contrast
  • Lightweight frame
  • Hard to wear with some hats

Best Visual Clarity: Masculine and unmistakably athletic, the Flak 2.0 XL is a no-nonsense pair of hiking shades that boasts a distinctive profile and design. Made in America, these glasses boast Oakley’s Plutonite lenses with the company’s patented High Definition Optics which afford the wearer unparalleled optical clarity. Also protecting against all UV and blue light up to 400m, the lenses also use PRIZM lens technology which enhances contrast and color. Housing the lenses are Oakley’s O Matter stress-resistant and lightweight frame comprised of a thermoplastic and boasts Unobtainium earlocks and nose pads for improved comfort, even when worn all day.

Frame: O Matter Thermoplastic
Lens: Plutonite

Julbo Explorer2 Sunglasses

  • Fast-changing photochromatic lenses
  • Shatterproof lenses
  • Removable side shields
  • Adjustable temples
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Bridge is rather wide

Best for Mountaineering: As the flagship mountaineering sunglasses from an extremely reputable outdoor eyewear outfit, you can expect a lot out of the Explorer2’s. Their ZEBRA Lenses offer 100% UV protection across the whole spectrum and are the fastest-changing photochromatic that money can buy. Better yet, they’re composed of NXT, a completely shatterproof material used for helicopter windshields. They also benefit from removable side shields, adjustable temples, and an included neck cord. And, should these sturdy shades for whatever reason break, Julbo fully stands behind them with a lifetime warranty.

Frame: Polycarbonate
Lens: NXT

Roka TL-1

Roka TL 1
  • Super lightweight
  • Titanium core lets you customize fit
  • GEKO tech on nose pads & stems keep them on your face
  • N/A

Best for Trail Running: Few sunglasses, outdoor-focused or otherwise, are as impressive as Roka’s TL Series. Made for mountain biking or trail running, the TL-1 offers an incredible weight of just 0.78oz thanks to the premium frame construction built with a titanium core that allows you to adjust the temple and stems for a customizable fit. Using the brand’s proprietary C3 polarized lenses, these specs won’t fall off your face thanks to the GEKO tech on the nose pads and frames that allow these to stick to your face without any annoying residue.

Frame: Titanium
Lens: Polarized C3 nylon

Costa Del Mar Rinconcito Glasses

Costa Del Mar Rinconcito
  • Great lens tech
  • Scratch-resistant lenses
  • Really comfortable and secure
  • Nose pads aren’t adjustable

Best Overall: A simple, stylish, and elegant pair of hiking shades that hides a slew of trick features that improve comfort, durability, and optics. The star of the show are the brand’s 580G in-house lightwave lenses which feature encapsulated mirrors sandwiched between the outer layers of this six-layer lens, as well as stellar clarity and scratch resistance — all while managing to be almost 25% thinner than your average polarized lenses. Integrated rubber pieces in the nose and temple ends guarantee comfort, while several different frame colors and half-a-dozen lens options help ensure these shades jive with your personal style.

Frame: Bio-resin
Lens: Polarized glass or polycarbonate

Maui Jim Ho’okipa Polarized

Maui Jim Hookipa Polarized

Honorable Mention: A highly-calculated pair of hiking glasses, Maui Jim’s Waterman model is one of the most rugged and dependable on this list. The rimless frames are comprised of durable Grilamid TR90 nylon material complemented with rubber inlays for improved comfort and support on the temples and nose pads. Having great clarity for the brightest of days outside, the lenses are made from the brand’s MauiPure material, a thin and lightweight glass that’s both scratch- and shatter-resistant.

Frame: Grilamid TR90 nylon
Lens: Polarized MauiPure glass

The Best Hiking Watches

Photo: Suunto 9 Baro Black

Now that you’ve sorted your hiking eyewear situation, why not delve into our guide to the best hiking watches. Whether you’re looking for a simple timekeeper or a sophisticated and rugged smartwatch, this guide to the best trail-ready timepieces has you covered.