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The 8 Best Sports Sunglasses for Every Activity

Photo: Rapha Pro Team Frameless Goggles

If you’re reading this, you already know how important it is to have a good pair of sunglasses for annual use — after all, the sun isn’t going anywhere. When you account for that, the next thing that comes to mind might be moving forward to the next level of eyewear: sport sunglasses. While a traditional (or polarized) pair of shades will protect you from the sun’s harmful rays, not even the best silhouette from your favorite designers would bode as well on your morning jog as a pair of Oakleys. With this in mind, we narrowed down everything you should look for in a pair of performance glasses based on your go-to workouts, as well as particular things to look for in each one for our best sports sunglasses guide.

Best Sports Sunglasses Breakdown

What to look for

UV Protection: This is a must for any pair of useful sunglasses, and you’re looking for at least 99% protection.

Polarization: Polarized lenses will reduce glare, and in other settings, you may be able to get on fine without it, but for any serious outdoor sports, it’s almost always a must. However, it’s not as important for some situations (like casual hiking and golfing).

Lens: Impact or scratch-resistant lenses can give you peace of mind, and also allow your sunglasses to last longer. As far as shape goes, style is definitely important, but for any serious outdoor excursions, you should try to avoid flat shapes and go for something with more coverage, like wraparounds or glasses with side shields.

Lens Color: Different lens colors provide different visibility in certain conditions. Gray and green lenses are great for bright days, and yellow lenses can enhance contrast when it’s a bit darker out (or overcast).

Frames: It’s best to avoid plastic, as it’s not the most durable, and look for sunglasses made with polycarbonate or bio-resin because they’re more rugged and lightweight. As for hinges, springs will offer more flexibility, and barrel hinges will be more solid.

Fit: When it comes to sports sunglasses, it’s important that they’re comfortable, but it’s even more important that they fit snugly on your face. If you can’t try them on in person, look for glasses with adjustable features like nose pads and non-slip features to be safe (although, these are great either way).

Styles of Sports Sunglasses

Cycling: Seeing as cycling is one of the more fast-paced activities here, seek a pair of glasses that feature rubber-made temple and nose grips that ensure they stay put throughout your ride. In addition to staying in place, the rubber material assists in staying grippier the more you sweat.

Golfing: As long as the sun is shining, odds are your next day on the golf course might cause eyestrain. The most important thing to look for in a pair of sunglasses for the occasion is 100% UV protection across the board and a lightweight frame. It’s worth noting that certain players may prefer to avoid polarized lenses because they can interrupt their field of vision, but go with what feels right in case eye safety is a key concern for you.

Hiking: No matter what time of year it is, you’re going to need some quality sunglasses when going hiking. Above all else, the glasses should offer UV-A, UV-B, UV-C, and blue light protection. Additionally, consider a pair with optimized stability compared to the average set of shades, preferably something with some form of protection from the elements. 

Running: Similarly to biking, you’ll want to consider materials that stabilize the glasses on your run. This notion primarily applies to rubber noseguards and temple tips, two things you have to be mindful of in your selection process, or else you’re practically buying a standard pair of sunglasses. As always, you should still account for UV protection in this case.

Trail Running: Like hiking, you’ll want a set of polarized lenses when trail running. It will reduce eye strain and glare while promoting visual clarity and optimized contrast in outdoor conditions.

As we said, the world’s most stylish shades don’t have some of these elements for a reason, primarily because high-level eyewear manufacturers don’t expect you to be running around and working up a sweat in their product, which is understandable; at the end of the day, that’s where the best performance sunglasses come into play.

Rapha Pro Team Frameless Goggles

  • Hydrophobic lens with military-grade anti-fog treatment
  • Very lightweight frames
  • Adjustable nose piece
  • Made in Italy
  • Might be a little big for some

Best Cycling Glasses: Rapha is adept at making cycling gear of all kinds, and these glasses are a surefire choice for bikers. The frameless pair is composed of high-quality materials like injection-molded Grilamid, Megan arm grippers for optimized fit, and hydrophobic lenses with military-grade anti-fogging treatment. Functionally, they offer a premium field of view designed for the highest competition, but you can easily use them at your own pace.

UV Protection: UV400
Polarized: No
Frame: Grilamid
Lens: Polycarbonate

Nike Maverick Free

  • Lightweight
  • Tapered temple arms for hats
  • Ventilated nose to reduce fog
  • Bridge may not fit everyone’s nose

Best All-Day Glasses: If consistent comfort is the most important element of eyewear in your eyes, then this is the way to go. Nike’s rimless iteration of its popular Maverick silhouette has polarized lenses to reduce glare, flexible arms to provide the perfect grip, and a ventilated rubber nose bridge to keep fogging at a minimum. Plus, it’s available in countless colors, so you can choose the one that best matches your gear.

UV Protection: 100%
Polarized: Yes
Frame: Nylon
Lens: Course tint

Julbo Explorer 2.0

Julbo Explorer 2 0
  • Shatterproof lenses
  • Removable side shields
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Bridge is a bit wide

Best Hiking Glasses: These mountaineering shades from the highly reputable Julbo are some of the most legendary sunglasses on the market. You’re getting cat. 4 polycarbonate lenses with an anti-reflective coating, adjustable temples, and removable side shields. The lenses are composed of NXT, a completely shatterproof material that’s used in helicopter windshields, and if you end up breaking them, Julbo has you covered with a lifetime warranty.

UV Protection: 100%
Polarized: Anti-reflective coating
Frame: Polycarbonate
Lens: NXT

Costa Del Mar Men’s Rinconcito Rectangular Sunglasses

Costa Del Mar Mens Rinconcito Rectangular Sunglasses
  • Scratch-resistant lesnes
  • Impact-resistant lenses
  • Can’t adjust nosepads

Best Glasses for Water Sports: While these may look like your average pair of sunglasses, they offer a variety of features that enhance your vision and overall comfort. The main attraction here is Costa Del Mar’s in-house 580p polycarbonate lenses, which are impact-resistant, lightweight, and block both yellow and blue light. The co-injected nylon frames are just as tough, and also environmentally friendly as they’re made with bio-resin. Additionally, the blue lenses are ideal for tempering the harsh light and reflections when you’re out on the water.

UV Protection: 100%
Polarized: Yes
Frame: Bio-resin
Lens: 580p polycarbonate

Revo Descend Fold

  • Polarized with NASA technology
  • Foldable frame
  • Elastomeric nose pad and temple
  • Case is a bit large

Best Golfing Glasses: We think it’s best to air on the side of caution here. While non-polarized lenses could lend a hand in enhancing your depth of field, some golfers would argue that it’s not worth the risks of experiencing unwanted glare. Taking this into account, going with a trustworthy brand like Revo made the most sense. Its Descent Fold silhouette is sleek, rimless, and remarkably comfortable. Visually, it’s available in a light green mirror lens, perfect for hitting the country club.

UV Protection: 100%
Polarized: Yes
Frame: Foldable
Lens: Not listed

Oakley Flak 2.0 XL

  • Made in the USA
  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Impact-resistant lenses
  • Can virtually try on
  • Frames may be big on some

Best Trail Running Glasses: Oakley is probably the first name that comes to mind in this space, so it was only a matter of time before one of its silhouettes appeared here. The Californian manufacturer’s Flak 2.0 boast a rectangular shape that offers enhanced lens coverage while remaining lightweight. The brand’s Prizm lens tech paves the way for low light transmission rates and all-condition performance. That said, the percentages differ based on the color you choose, so keep that in mind when considering a pair.

UV Protection: 100%
Polarized: Yes
Frame: Lightweight O Matter
Lens: Prizm

Tracksmith x Article One The Charles

  • Anti-fog
  • Good for running
  • Versatile style
  • Not quite as much coverage as other options

Best Glasses Overall: Tracksmith’s preppy attire is prototypical East Coast performancewear done right, and this sleek pair of sunglasses is a seamless showcase. The Charles is versatile enough to be worn on any occasion, but the collaborative silhouette (made alongside Article One) provides optimal UV protection across the board, deeming it ideal for virtually anything without the polarizing, future-first sense of sportiness.

UV Protection: 100%
Polarized: Yes
Frame: Polymer
Lens: Not listed

District Vision Koharu Eclipse

  • Made in Japan
  • Anti-reflective and shatterproof
  • Repels water and oil
  • Hypoallergenic nose pads
  • Lenses may be a bit flat for some

Best Running Glasses: District Vision is one of the most prominent performance brands at the moment, and that goes beyond eyewear. Nevertheless, its D+ lens tech is touted as the “Sports Lens of the Future” thanks to its shatterproof composition, anti-reflective application, and water-and-oil-repellence. This, combined with a D+only mirror, promotes 100% UVA/B protection with 16.19% light transmission, ensuring you won’t be bothered by the sun’s rays or rainfall on your next run.

UV Protection: 100%
Polarized: Not listed
Frame: Not listed
Lens: D+ technology

The Best Driving Sunglasses for The Open Road

Best Driving Glasses 00 Hero

While most of these glasses can bode well on the road, drivers can use some advanced assistance with help from our guide to the best driving sunglasses.