Are you looking for a pair of best sport sunglasses? While it might sound like an exaggeration, we consider sport sunglasses as essential safety gear, akin to helmets. This comparison only becomes clear if you’ve ever crashed your bike, had a ski wipeout, or stumbled on a trail because you couldn’t see the terrain ahead. High-quality lenses and frames enhance your vision, allowing you to discern every bump, ridge, and knob in the landscape, regardless of lighting conditions. But more importantly, if you spend extended hours outdoors, the best sport sunglasses can alleviate eye fatigue, protect against dust or debris, and add some style to your attire.
Sport sunglasses offer more functionality than standard sunglasses. Unlike the cheap shades you can grab for $10 at your local store, sport sunglasses are designed to withstand sweat and endure significant abuse. They should remain comfortable on your face all day, whether you’re wearing them with a helmet or a winter hat. And even though they aren’t primarily a fashion statement, sport sunglasses should still look good on your face.
Below, we’ve consulted with outdoor athletes and experts to present you with the finest sport sunglasses for a wide range of outdoor activities. Find a pair that suits your needs and never let the skies deter you from pursuing your outdoor adventures.
Best Sport Sunglasses Overall: Oakley Sutro
Crisp and Clear Vision for Any Activity
Fit: Wide/Universal | UV Protection: 100% | Polarized: Certain lenses
When I asked multi-sport mountain athlete and outdoor photographer Makenzie Lambert about his favorite pair of sunglasses, he had a quick response: “Oakley Sutro through and through.” This classic model is popular among cyclists, runners, and skiers for its full-coverage design and contrast-boosting lenses.
- Large selection of lens colors, with replacement lenses available for purchase
- Excellent coverage and protection due to their wraparound shape
- Customizable on Oakley’s website
- Oversized fit may not complement all face shapes
Best Crossover Sport Sunglasses: Zeal Optics Easterly
A Timeless Style With Sport-Capable Functionality
Fit: Narrow, small/medium | UV Protection: 100% | Polarized: Yes
I’m not exactly easy on my sunglasses: I take them on and off constantly, toss them onto a rock while I attempt a climb, and throw them in my bag unprotected when I can’t find the case. (I know—yikes—I’m working on it.) Suffice to say, most of my shades end up scratched to the point that they do more harm than good. But after a multi-day bike ride, a week-long climbing trip and consistent, everyday use while traveling, my Easterly’s are still going strong. Considering their minimal and lightweight design, I’m incredibly impressed with their durability.
The classic rounded frames aren’t what most people think of when they hear the term “sport sunglasses.” And while they don’t provide the same full-face coverage for cycling at high speeds or ripping downhills on skis, the Easterly’s are versatile and purpose-built for everyday use or high-output activities. This is primarily due to the excellent fit: The ceramic nose pads are adjustable (no pressure points on the bridge of my nose) and the Hexetate temple arms are so comfortable I barely notice I’m wearing glasses—even under my bike helmet. If you need sport sunglasses but don’t want the flashy colors and styles that come with them, this is the pair to get.
- Timeless style in three frame/lens combinations
- Comfortable enough for all-day wear
- Comes with hard carrying case
- Lacks the same coverage and protection found on more sport-specific sunglasses
Best Value Sport Sunglasses: Goodr Circle Gs
Stylish, Polarized, and Affordable
Fit: Narrow | UV Protection: 100% | Polarized: Yes
Elena Wright, an avid trail runner and racer in Salt Lake City, uses Goodrs—a fun yet functional sunglasses brand that challenges the designer sunglasses industry. During Wright’s summer group runs, “all 30+ girls show up wearing the same sunglasses.” When asked why, she explains that they’re “affordable, durable, they don’t bounce around on my face, and seem to provide good eye protection. Plus they’re cute with lots of color options.”
The plastic frames feature a coating on the nosepiece to keep them in place even when you start to sweat, and the lightweight plastic frame miraculously stays in place without bouncing as you navigate rocks (or potholes). All of Goodr’s models incorporate polarized lenses, and the array of styles and color options means you’ll probably find yourself grabbing a few pairs to match your mood. And at $25 dollars, these are the most affordable on our list yet they have maintain durability if you take care of them.
- Affordable (a great choice for those prone to breaking or losing glasses)
- Many color and style options
- Super lightweight
- Reviewers note that the hinge mechanism breaks easily
Best Sport Sunglasses for Running: KOO Nova
Designed for Trail Running, but Versatile Enough for the Road
Fit: Medium | UV Protection: 100% | Polarized: No
These ultralight sunglasses are designed for long days on the trail when you don’t want to be weighed down by your gear. They weigh only 21 grams, so whether they’re on your face or in your pack, you’ll barely notice them. The frameless shape promotes a wider field of view, so you can see obstacles on all sides, and the springy temple arms provide a comfy fit no matter your head shape. You can also change out the nose pad to achieve a custom fit.
My favorite feature is the clarity and color definition of the Zeiss lenses, and the hydrophobic coating does a good job of preventing moisture buildup even as you’re breathing hard in cold weather. They also claim to be shatter-proof, although we haven’t tested this feature. Overall, these are some of the lightest, full-coverage sunglasses available, which makes them ideal for runners who require lightweight, reliable shades.
- Array of lens colors with varying degrees of light filtration
- Asian nose bridge included
- Very expensive
Best Sport Sunglasses for Hiking: Sunski Treeline
Do-It-All Shades for Outdoor Activities
Fit: Medium | UV Protection: 100% | Polarized: Yes
Sunski’s Treeline sunglasses are an excellent choice for hiking once you learn more about their many features that provide ample protection and comfort. The polarized lenses reduce glare, making it easier to see in bright sunlight, especially when hiking near water or in high-altitude environments. And the lenses are impact-resistant, which is crucial when navigating rocky or uneven terrain.
The Sunski Treeline shades are also designed for comfort during long hikes. They have a lightweight yet durable frame that won’t weigh you down or feel uncomfortable through hours of wear, and they feature adjustable, non-slip nose pads that keep them securely in place even when you’re sweating or moving quickly. To protect your periphery, the shades boast magnetic, removable sun shields that reduce angled glare when skiing in the backcountry. Sunski also throws in a microfiber cleaning pouch and a protective case, making them easy to store and transport when not in use. Choose from four different colorways, one of which will complement your on-trail style.
- Sculpted nose pads and arms provide additional grip
- Removable sun shields reduce glare
- Design comes with a lifetime warranty
- Frames are made from recycled plastic
- Lightweight frames may be a little more fragile
Best Sport Sunglasses for Cycling: Rapha Pro Team Frameless
High-Contrast Lenses and a Curved Design Offer Maximum Protection
Fit: Medium | UV Protection: 100% | Polarized: No
Built to handle the complexities of competitive riding, Rapha’s Pro Team Frameless cycling glasses are some of the best available. Snap lock hinges hold the shape so the glasses are easy to take on and put off, even while you’re riding, and a frameless design provides an unobstructed field of view in all directions. While they have the same wide lens profile as other glasses, the flexible temple arms taper, so they’ll fit a wider variety of head widths than other rigid sunglasses like the Oakley Sutro.
You can choose between three lens options with differing levels of light transmission: black mirror (10%), purple green (15%), and pink blue (21%). However, keep in mind that the lenses aren’t interchangeable (if you want this feature, opt for Rapha’s full-frame glasses instead), which reduces the versatility of these glasses. For example, the high light transmission of the pink blue lenses means they’re good for visibility on overcast days but may be too light for bright conditions. Essentially, every lens color comes with a tradeoff.
- Frameless design offers optimal field of view
- High-contrast lenses allow you to see obstacles
- Sleek aesthetic and vibrant colorways
- Cannot change out the lenses
- Shades don’t come in an Asian fit
Best Sport Sunglasses for Mountaineering: Julbo Vermont Classic
Avoid Snow Blindness With These Vintage Shades
Fit: Small | UV Protection: 100% | Polarized: Certain lenses
If you’ve ever flipped through mountaineering history books or spent hours scanning photos of classic alpine climbs, these glacier glasses probably look familiar. Julbo rereleased this vintage design—the Vermont Classic—on its 125th birthday to honor their heritage, but the simple design—metal frames with leather side shield attachments to completely block the sun—has been upgraded with modern technology (namely lighter lenses with impressive optics). If you plan to use these for high alpine expeditions, you may want to shell out the extra money for the Alti Arc 4 lenses, which are mineral glasses with very low light transmission (7%) yet dazzling visibility. But if you intend to use your shades more casually, the Spectron lenses should be perfect.
However, my one complaint with these is the temple arms. The curved, soft tips at the end of the arms secure behind your ear to improve the fit, but while the bent tips may be comfortable for some, I find them very uncomfortable after prolonged periods of wear. So, I bring them along when I’ll be mixing glacier travel with traditional dirt trails, but I don’t use them for all-day glacier treks. Some reviewers state that they become more comfortable after you break them in, so if you plan to use them all day, you may want to stretch them out or work the rubber.
- Excellent visibility in low light
- Total eye protection with leather snap-on peripheral shields
- Vintage aesthetic
- Hard to put on and take off (which—to be fair—makes them more secure)
- Wrap-around temple tips can be uncomfortable
Best Sport Sunglasses for Fishing: Suncloud Rambler
Never Botch Another Catch
Fit: Medium | UV Protection: 100% | Polarized: Yes
Whether you’re wading in a sun-dappled creek to catch a trout or casting a reel off the back of your boat into the endless ocean, your fishing sunglasses should be designed for time on the water. When you’re fly fishing in the shallows, copper lenses provide high contrast so you can spot movement below the water’s surface, while gray lenses block light. Dark lenses can be beneficial in direct sun when you need to reduce eye strain but don’t need that boost of visibility. Either way, you should opt for polarized lenses that reduce unwanted glare from the water.
Ben Mackall, a fly fisherman based in Bozeman, MT, goes to Suncloud for their high-quality lenses and decent affordability. “They have good optics and have managed to keep polarized lenses at a price point that is accessible to the masses and good for people like me that tend to abuse and lose something as small as sunglasses,” he explains. “I find the tint of the lens itself matters more than anything when it comes to cutting reflection in certain lights and water coloration.”
- Similar glare reduction and comfort as more pricey sunglasses
- Comes in both copper and gray lenses
- Some reviewers cite a loose, unsure fit
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