Reviews You Can Rely On

10 Best Sunglasses of 2022

From men's and women's sunglasses to frames optimized for sports, cycling, and your wallet, we've tested a mountain of eyewear
10 Best Sunglasses of 2022
Testing all types of sunglasses in all kinds of conditions.
Credit: Jason Peters

Our Top Picks

By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Thursday August 11, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Looking for the best of the best sunglasses? Our top gear experts have spent years testing hundreds of the best sunglasses for every possible sunny adventure you can imagine. We've gotten nitty gritty and super specific with our testing, diving deep into the worlds of cycling shades, sunnies for sports performance, expensive stylish glasses, and budget-minded options. Over the years, we've worn them across the globe and through all kinds of adventures. We've kayaked at the equator, dog sledded at the North Pole, careened down mountain biking trails through the forest, climbed shining granite faces out west, and driven across the entire US and back. Whether you're searching for a pair to keep you protected and stylish or the ones that will stay on your head during your next 100-mile race, we've got you covered.

Do you have a specific activity in mind for wearing your new shades? Our experts have tested and ranked the best everyday sunglasses for men and the top picks for women — with plenty of unisex pairs as well. In the process, we rounded up the best cheap sunglasses for those on a tight budget. We've also tested the best frames for mullti-sports and specifically the best shades for cycling. From the trail to the beach to your best friend's wedding, we're here to help you find the perfect pair.

Editor's Note: We updated this article on August 11, 2022, to include the latest award winners from all five categories of sunglasses we test.


Best Sunglasses for Women


Ray-Ban Erika


Fit: Medium | Lens Protection: Not Polarized, 100% UV, Category 3
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent lenses with superb gradient
Very comfortable
Versatile style
REASONS TO AVOID
Slightly loose on top of your head

Across the board, that Ray-Ban Erika perform impressively and have been a favorite among our testers for multiple years. With crisp, clear lenses, these impressive shades have the ideal gradient. Their subtle shift from dark on top to light on the bottom offers an excellent balance of protection in bright light without any loss in performance in medium and lower lighting. The oversized, rounded wayfarer-ish frames were well-liked by our wide variety of testers, even considering vastly different facial shapes, sizes, and individual personal styles.

Though the specific model we tested isn't polarized, the Erika is available in a wide variety of frame and lens colors, many of which are polarized. While we love the comfort of the semi-flexible metal bows, they are a bit loose when worn on the top of the head. We were initially concerned that the grey lenses we tested appeared purple but ultimately found ourselves enjoying their added contrast without changing color perception. Though these glasses are a touch pricey, they deliver top-tier performance and unusually versatile style across the board.

best sunglasses for women
We had a tough time finding any woman the Ray-Ban Erika didn't look good on.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg


Best Sunglasses for Men


Kaenon Burnet Mid


Fit: Medium | Lens Protection: Polarized, 100% UV, 12% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Top-notch lenses
Very secure fit
Excellent coverage
REASONS TO AVOID
Sporty vibe isn't for everyone
Pricey

The Kaenon Burnet Mid are our favorite pair of men's shades. For multiple years of testing, these glasses continue to earn top scores across the board. We've tested both the grey and brown lenses, both of which offer superb clarity, excellent color retention, and the perfect level of enhanced contrast. The Burnet are one of very few pairs we've tested with nearly no back reflections — only in the harshest of lighting conditions, and even then, they're the least distracting we've seen. With a secure fit somewhere between loosely comfortable and securely wrapped, these sunglasses come in both mid and XL sizes.

We have very few complaints about these impressive glasses, but their look is mildly polarizing. Some of our testing crew love their vibe, while others found it to be "too sporty" for casual or even more formal situations. They're also on the more expensive end of the spectrum. Yet, if you like the look of the Burnet, we think their top-notch performance is well worth the investment.

best sunglasses for men
The sporty Kaenon Burnet Mid offer excellent performance and fit.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg


Best Value for Casual Glasses


CAMP Eyewear Trail


Fit: Medium | Lens Protection: Polarized, 100% UV, 12% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Good performance across the board
Cool style
Comfortable
REASONS TO AVOID
Can slip when sweaty
Style offers less coverage

While at first glance, the Camp Eyewear Trail may look like "just" another pair of wayfarers, we found them to have perfectly placed details and a price tag that makes them an exceptional value. Their blue lenses offer a hint of contrast and are crisp and clear, and a smooth finish and flexible hinges make these frames very comfortable to wear. Real wooden bows upgrade the whole look of these glasses, which quickly became a favorite casual pair for all genders on our testing crew.

The glossy finish on the Trail can be a detriment if you often find yourself hot and sweaty, as they are more prone to sliding down the nose. And as is typical of the wayfarer style of glasses, the flattened fronts and medium-sized lenses leave sizeable gaps around the edges where sunlight can sneak in. In spite of these slight drawbacks, we still found so much to love about these cool-looking, budget-friendly shades.

sunglasses - best value for casual glasses
The Camp Trail are a great pair of wayfarers with just enough upgrades to make them a high value buy.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg


Best on a Tight Budget


Shady Rays Classic Timber


Fit: Medium | Lens Protection: Polarized, 100% UV, Category 3
REASONS TO BUY
Solid eye protection
Versatile, comfortable style
Outstanding warranty program
REASONS TO AVOID
Unimpressive case
Woodgrain pattern may wear off

For those on a strict budget, the Shady Rays Classic Timber is a breath of fresh air. These straightforward shades are a lightweight wayfarer with a well-executed style and a price tag that fits the bill. We've tested the grey and brown lenses and both frame sizes and love them all. The woodgrain patterning on these plastic frames adds just a touch of extra intrigue that our whole testing team appreciates. We've also put their "Live Hard Warranty" to the test repeatedly over several years of testing. This impressive replacement program adds even more value to an already high-value pair of glasses.

Though you can purchase your own more protective case, it's worth noting that the Timber comes with just a simple microfiber bag that offers very little protection. Additionally, over the many years we've been testing these glasses, we have noticed that the woodgrain pattern starts to rub off in high traffic spots, like over the ears. However, this is a minor flaw for a seriously great value pair of sunglasses.

sunglasses - best on a tight budget
We've been wearing - and loving - the Shady Ray Timber Classic for years.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg


Best Performance on the Water


Costa del Mar Rinconcito


Fit: Medium | Lens Protection: Polarized, 100% UV, 10% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Great for high glare and in bright light
Comfortable yet secure
Superb coverage
REASONS TO AVOID
Sporty look
Expensive

If your weekends and holidays are filled with trips to the beach, kayaking adventures, and fishing trips, the Costa del Mar Rinconcito are the sunglasses for you. These shades have continued to hold our top spot for on-water usage for several years in a row. They have seriously crisp lenses that are darker than average and flawless polarization that further cuts down on glare — and are one of the only glasses we tested that block 100% of blue light. As another pair with impressively few back reflections, they're even more appealing to wear in harsh lighting. A secure fit with embedded rubber nose pads keeps them securely in place, while their larger lenses and slight wrap add coverage when you need it most.

However, if you want to have just one pair of sunglasses you can wear to the beach or to a black-tie wedding, the Rinconcito may not be quite your style. These performance glasses give the wearer a sportier look than average, and they're also one of the most expensive glasses we tested. But if you're after the best protection for water sports, we highly recommend these excellent sunglasses.

sunglasses - best performance on the water
From paddling the lake to celebrating in the beer garden afterward, we love the protection and comfort of the Costa del Mar Rinconcito.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg


Timeless Style


Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer Classic


Fit: Medium | Lens Protection: Not Polarized, 100% UV, 15% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Classic style is versatile
Look great on pretty much everyone
Robust and sturdy
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy slant leaves the top open
Quite hefty

The Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer Classic have been stylish for over 70 years — and we still love them today. They looked good on every member of our testing team, regardless of gender or style. They have a versatile vibe that goes just as well with a swimsuit and flip-flops as with your formal wedding wear. And, while no pair of sunglasses is truly unbreakable, these are some of the most robust shades we tested, with thick, sturdy frames and an astounding seven barrels on each hinge.

This beefiness doesn't come without a cost. The Original Wayfarer is a heavy pair of glasses, tipping the scales at 45 grams — more than double many of the other glasses we tested. Their smooth frames help them be comfortable regardless of their weight, but it is very noticeable. As the OG wayfarer style, these glasses slant very far forward, and while the chicness of this is undeniable, it does cut down on their coverage significantly. Still, we think it's hard to go wrong with this look.

sunglasses - timeless style
It's hard to feel anything other than OG cool in the Ray-Ban Original Wayfarers.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg


Best Sports Sunglasses


Oakley Sutro


Fit: Medium/Large | Lens Protection: Not Polarized, 100% UV, 15% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Outstanding coverage
Excellent lenses work for multiple sports
Durable frame
REASONS TO AVOID
Not great with helmets
May be too narrow for wider faces

Searching for sunglasses to wear through all your high-octane adventures? The Oakley Sutro offers maximum coverage and great performance across a full spectrum of sports. We love them for running, cycling, snowboarding, and mountain biking. With their oversized shield style, these impressive glasses offer full coverage and wind deflection even at high speeds. We found the lenses crystal clear and securely attached to a solid frame we didn't have to worry about while we were out playing.

This sturdy frame is a bit inflexible and narrow, causing some pressure points on our wider-faced testers. And while there's much we love about their colossal coverage, the Sutro are a bit too bulky to fit under lower-profile helmets. But if you wear a higher helmet and have a medium-width head, these are a very versatile and capable pair of sports sunglasses.

best sports sunglasses
The great coverage and tight fit of the Sutro Prizm were perfect for hill running on the California coast.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke


Low Profile with Sports Performance


Maui Jim Spartan Reef


Fit: Large/Wide | Lens Protection: Polarized, 100% UV, 12% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Exceptionally clear lenses
Sturdy frames with over-extendable hinges
More stylish look for a sporty pair
REASONS TO AVOID
Glass lenses are heavy
Wider than average head sizes

As much as we love the thousands of excellent plastic lenses out there, the optics of the Maui Jim Spartan Reef remind us of the benefits of glass lenses. These impressive shades are some of the highest-rated lenses in our testing, with crystal clarity that's hard to beat. Flex hinges and cleverly placed rubber pads also make their durable frames comfortable. And the wraparound fit adds coverage to a fairly low-profile pair of shades. Impressively, these were the only pair of wraparound glasses that didn't fog up at all during our high-intensity workouts.

Those remarkable glass lenses do come with an added weight cost, making these one of the heaviest pairs we tested at 47 grams. Despite this, the close, well-balanced fit of the Spartan Reef doesn't feel too much heavier than average. Some of our narrowest-faced testers found this to be slightly larger than they'd like, though they still stay put and perform admirably. All in all, it's hard to beat the supreme quality and performance of these low-profile sports sunglasses.

sunglasses - low profile with sports performance
From hiking and trail running to paddling and biking, we love the wraparound fit and versatile performance of the Maui Jim Spartan Reef.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg


Best Crossover Sunglasses


Kaenon Clarke


Fit: Medium | Lens Protection: Polarized, 100% UV, 12% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Great fit and function for most uses, faces, and styles
Excellent lens color and contrast
Durable, lightweight frame
REASONS TO AVOID
Minor back reflections
Too general to excel at any one thing

The Kaenon Clarke is a high-quality pair of sunglasses with a lot to offer. We've been testing these for years now, and they continue to prove themselves exceptionally versatile for just about every activity. They manage to fit securely and comfortably on both narrow and wide faces, with a low weight that makes them enjoyable to wear and a matte finish that helps keep them in place even on trail runs and bumpy bike rides.

Though the Clarke isn't at the cutting edge of any particular fashion or specific function, our testers of all genders found their timeless shape to work in a staggering variety of situations. Some, but not all, of our testing team found minor back reflections around the edges under harsh lighting conditions. Though there are glasses we like more for specific sports and niche uses, these are the pair we can never take out of rotation because they're just so versatile.

sunglasses - from desert trail running and north pole dog sledding to backyard...
From desert trail running and North Pole dog sledding to backyard gardening and touring fashionable European cities, we have yet to find a situation in which the Kaenon Clarke don't work.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg


Best Sunglasses for Cycling


Smith Wildcat


Fit: Medium/Large | Lens Protection: Not Polarized, 100% UV, (2 lenses included) Red Mirror 15% VLT & Clear 89% VLT
REASONS TO BUY
Two lenses included, with excellent clarity and color
Very comfortable
Superb coverage
REASONS TO AVOID
No dust protection
Clear lens scratches easily

The Smith Wildcat reigns supreme for cycling-specific sunglasses. They come with two lenses that are simple to swap out in different lighting conditions, both of which performed exceptionally well in all our extensive testing. The Red Mirror lenses we tested offer excellent protection, enhanced contrast, and supreme definition in difficult riding conditions. Their soft, flexible frame easily and comfortably flexes to stay securely on faces of all sizes, and adjustable nose pads and rubber contact points keep them securely in place as you ride.

The breathable, off-the-face fit of the Wildcat does allow more dust into the eyes than some of the other goggle-like cycling glasses we tested. Riding in front or on a solo ride it's something we didn't even notice — it was only when following closely behind a partner in dry, dusty conditions that this became an issue. Still, unless you find yourself frequently riding in those conditions, these are the pair of cycling sunglasses we would recommend investing in.

Read more: Smith Wildcat review

sunglasses - the wildcat has loads of coverage to block sun, wind, and debris no...
The Wildcat has loads of coverage to block sun, wind, and debris no matter the outdoor activity.
Credit: Zach Wick


Why You Should Trust Us


We have spent years testing and retesting sunglasses to evaluate which ones are best for specific uses. As detail enthusiasts, we've broken our sunglasses testing into five separate categories of glasses: men's and women's (which both include many unisex models), cheap, sports, and cycling. We have collectively spent thousands of hours wearing and testing these glasses in every possible activity and location we could. We wore them at the equator on the Galapagos Islands, in the sunny Caribbean, and through cloudless Sierra Nevada Mountain hikes. We wore them dog sledding at the North Pole in spring (sun and snow!), mountain biking patchy trails at twilight, running single track through the desert, road tripping across the country, and paddling across hot summer lakes. We've packed these sunnies in checked luggage, tossed them on car floors, pulled them out of the bottoms of backpacks, and rescued them from watery graves. We can confidently say we know a lot about sunglasses.

As extensive as our lineup of sunglasses is, our testing bench is equally impressive. Several of our Senior Review Editors lead the charge testing all the different types of glasses, including Jeremy Benson, Rob Gaedtke, Maggie Nichols, Zach Wick, and consultant, Bradley Nichols.

Jeremy is an obsessive year-round cyclist and author of two outdoor guide books. As a former sponsored ski athlete and current outdoor junkie, he has an unbridled passion for the best sunglasses for every adventure. Rob can be found doing just about everything there is to do outside. From crushing ironmans and marathons to rafting, climbing, golfing, and snowboarding, he's always on the go with his favorite pair of shades. Maggie has been wearing glasses since she was 4 years old and has been a professional backcountry guide for over 15 years. She is obsessed with protecting her eyes, as she works and adventures outdoors in some of the sunniest places on the planet, from the African savannah to mountaintops almost 2 miles high. Zach is an avid cycler of all types, having spent 18 years as a competitive road and mountain bike racer. With a background in outdoor product design, he has an eye for top-quality products. And finally, a native to the sunny Reno-Tahoe region, Bradley has been an outdoor adventurer his whole life. From backpacking in the summer to hitting the slopes in the winter, he always keeps his eyes comfortable and protected. Each of our main testers pulled in the help and critical eyes of a host of friends, family, and coworkers to help test and evaluate these sunglasses.

Now that you've found your perfect shades, get out there and go on...
Now that you've found your perfect shades, get out there and go on an adventure!
The Smith Forefront in Matte Cement worn with Smith Pivlock V2...
The Smith Forefront in Matte Cement worn with Smith Pivlock V2 sunglasses.
Testing sunglasses on sunny Caribbean beaches.
Testing sunglasses on sunny Caribbean beaches.

Why Should I Invest in (Potentially Expensive) Sunglasses?


Just like a great winter coat, the perfect button-down shirt, or an excellent pair of shoes, there are three types of sunglasses: the ones that look good, the ones that work well, and the ones that look good while also working well. While the right pair of sunglasses can absolutely bring your whole look up a notch, they're also a very important piece of protective gear that you should never leave home without.

You worry about your skin being damaged by UV rays, and your eyes are no different. UV exposure has been linked to many eye conditions, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and even eye-related cancers. For those who spend extended hours outdoors, additional protection against high-energy visible light (aka HEV light or blue light) is recommended by an ever-increasing body of evidence. Even if you're just stepping out into the backyard with the dog, a blast of bright light can be painful and potentially eye-damaging. Reflected light off surfaces like water and snow, pavement, and other objects compound the amount of light your eyes are trying to cope with, making polarized lenses ideal for blocking out this unwanted additional glare. With all the reasons to wear sunglasses quite literally staring you in the face, let's go through how to decide which sunglasses are right for you.

sunglasses - sunglasses do far more than just look good - they're an important...
Sunglasses do far more than just look good - they're an important part of protecting yourself from the damaging effects of UV rays.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

How to Choose the Right Sunglasses


Before even considering the style or intended activities you have in mind for rocking your new shades, it's helpful to go over the many materials and features manufacturers put into their products. Understanding each attribute's benefits and best use will help you determine if a pair of glasses is right for you.

sunglasses - think about what kinds of activities you want to do while wearing...
Think about what kinds of activities you want to do while wearing your sunglasses, and let our reviews help you narrow down which pair is right for your lifestyle.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Lens Selection



Material


Though historically speaking, all glasses were once made of glass, many sunglasses (and regular eyeglasses) aren't anymore. Today there are four common materials used to make lenses:
  • Glass: This material provides some of the best clarity available. It is naturally scratch and chip resistant but not impact resistant. Glass lenses are heavier than their synthetic competitors and can shatter with enough force.
  • Polyurethane: This synthetic material offers exceptional impact resistance while maintaining excellent clarity. It is flexible and lightweight, adding to its appeal for high-intensity activities. However, it also typically comes with a higher price tag.
  • Polycarbonate: Another synthetic material with good impact resistance and pretty good optical clarity. Poly lenses are also lightweight and typically more affordable than polyurethane, though also less scratch-resistant.
  • Acrylic: This mass-produced material is inexpensive to manufacture and commonly found in budget glasses. It is less durable, with some of the lowest optical clarity, which sometimes even includes image distortion. This material is lightweight and a far less expensive alternative to polycarbonate lenses.

Coating


Beyond just the material of the lenses, many manufacturers enhance their products with additional coatings. For any lens that isn't made of glass, a scratch-resistant coating is recommended. Even if you are an avid case-user, plastic lenses easily pick up scratches — from blowing dust or even being wiped on a t-shirt. A scratch-resistant coating is one of the most important features to ensure the continued usability of your sunglasses over time. Hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings are a nice touch, particularly if you plan to use your glasses for more intense activities involving sweat and water. These two coatings help repel water (hydro) and oil (oleo) like from your hair, eyebrows, and fingers.

sunglasses - having the right lenses is very important to your eye comfort and...
Having the right lenses is very important to your eye comfort and health, whether you're spending hours kayaking across the lake or just hanging on the beach.
Credit: Jason Peters

A mirrored coating on lenses can help cut down additional light from entering your eyes and is sometimes used as a substitute for lenses that lack polarization or even just as a style additive. Anti-reflective coating on the inside of the lenses is less common, but one that we find makes a huge difference for any pair worn slightly away from your face. Without this coating, it's easy to see the reflection of your own face or even your own eyeball staring back at you. Anti-fog coatings are also uncommon but exceptionally useful for close-fitting glasses you plan to do high-output activities in — like running, hiking, or biking.

Color


While there are many colors you might get your lenses in, the two most common are grey and brown/amber. Grey lenses typically offer minimal color distortion and are often darker than other colored lenses. Brown and amber lenses increase the contrast of what you see, though the exact nature of this increased contrast depends on the specific lens. These often do better in variable and medium light conditions than gray lenses but sometimes suffer in very bright conditions.

sunglasses - there are many coatings and colors you could get your new lenses in...
There are many coatings and colors you could get your new lenses in. We can help take out the challenge of deciding which combo is right for you.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Frame Considerations


Sunglasses frames are important for more than just their looks. Several attributes help certain types work better in specific situations. If you're looking for lightweight, durable frames, consider getting nylon frames. They are often impressively flexible while still being quite strong, which makes them great for high-intensity sports. For more casual uses, other types of plastic frames — including acetate — blend low weight with high functionality and reasonable durability. Though they're often less flexible than nylon frames, plastic frames cost less and can be made in an astonishing array of colors. Some are even made of recycled and renewable materials.

Checking the hinges of your potential new glasses is a very important consideration. Some sports glasses increase their secure fit by having bows that grip more effectively, then offset this added pressure by including flexible hinges. These flex hinges can overextend, helping them to be more comfortable — especially on wider faces — and add durability to the overall frame construction. Even standard barrel hinges deserve some attention. Though they can't overextend, there are better and worse constructions here too. In general, more barrels make a more secure hinge that's less likely to loosen over time. Five is a good number, though we also tested many with just three and a few with seven. No matter how many barrels you end up with, making sure you can get a small screwdriver in there to tighten or loosen them is a must, as they may loosen over time.

sunglasses - it's important to make sure whatever glasses you choose have frames...
It's important to make sure whatever glasses you choose have frames that fit securely and comfortable on your face, whether you're climbing a route or reading a book in the hammock.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

You'll also want to consider the other touch points of your potential new glasses on your face. All sunglasses will rest on your nose and above your ears, and some may touch your eyebrows or your cheeks as well. If you have a narrow or wide nose, you may want to consider sunglasses with adjustable nose pads. On the other hand, if you often place your sunglasses on the top of your head when going indoors and have longer hair, those free-floating nose pads are likely to get caught. If you're looking for a pair of sunglasses to wear while you work up a sweat, consider the material used to make the nose pads. Glossy plastic and heavy materials will likely slide on your nose if it's wet. Instead, look for a matte finish, embedded rubber nose pads, and lightweight glasses. And if you're the type of person who often needs to bend the bows of your glasses to get them to fit your head or sit straight on your face, plastic bows are much more challenging to reshape than metal.

Pairing the right frames with your specific face shape is essential to get the coverage you want from your sunglasses. If you often wear your sunglasses with a hat, you might not need to consider top-down coverage. But if you find yourself hatless at midday, ensuring you can minimize the space between your eyebrows and your glasses will prove far more comfortable for your eyes. Getting side and bottom coverage to protect your eyes is also important for anyone spending lots of time outdoors. While larger lenses are an obvious fix, smaller lenses can be just as effective with the right frame curvature. Look at the base curve before committing — a higher number means the pair is more curved to fit your face. Your typical pair of gas station or music festival wayfarers is about a base curve of 6. Some fashionable glasses look almost flat, with a base curve of around 4. Sportier models that wrap around your eyes almost as well as goggles typically advertise a base curve of about 8.

sunglasses - finding the right frames to add coverage when you need it most -...
Finding the right frames to add coverage when you need it most - from exploring a new city to having a snowball fight in the woods.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Sunglasses for Every Use


In a perfect world, you could find a single pair of sunglasses to wear to brunch, on trail runs, touring European cities, and kayaking at sunset. While those sunglasses can exist, depending on your style, it's much more common to have two pairs of sunglasses — one you love to wear when you're dressing up or just lounging around, and another with the sports performance you need for your preferred activities. No matter what you're wearing sunglasses for, there are some useful tips to keep in mind while shopping around.

sunglasses - nothing puts sunglasses to the test quite like running the san juan.
Nothing puts sunglasses to the test quite like running the San Juan.
Credit: Shayna Gaedtke

Casual and Everyday Sunglasses


Are you mostly looking for a solid pair of sunnies for everyday wear? You know, the ones you can put on to drive to the store, to hang out at the beer garden, or to wear to all those outdoor weddings this summer? Choosing the best everyday sunglasses has a lot to do with if you like how they look on your face — but that's not all you should consider.

When investing in a pair of casual shades, regardless of their cost, be sure to check if they're going to protect your eyes. Check that the lenses have 100% UV protection (most do), and consider if you're going to be driving in them or if you live in a place that gets snowy. If that's the case, you'll probably want polarized lenses to help keep your eyes comfortable no matter how much glare is around you. Grey lenses are popular and often block out more light than other color lenses, while brown/amber lenses enhance contrast and are typically easier to wear in variable lighting conditions such as partly cloudy days and golden hour.

sunglasses - even when you're shopping for style, don't forget that the job of...
Even when you're shopping for style, don't forget that the job of your sunglasses is to protect your eyes and keep you comfortable.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

If you're buying a pair online, read about the frames' size to ensure they'll fit on your face. Look to testimonials to see how they fit other people's faces to help gauge how they might lay on yours. Consider adjustable nose pads, flex hinges, and overall size. And look into the return policy of whatever pair you choose, just in case you decide you don't like them after all.

Once you have your sunnies in hand, test them thoroughly before the return period ends. Wear them when you're sweaty and do jumping jacks to see how comfortably they stay put. Wear them outside when the sun is directly overhead or coming at you from the side to check if their coverage and fit offer the protection you're looking for. Golden hour — that hour just after sunrise and just before sunset — can be some of the most challenging times of day for sunglasses, so see how yours do. And don't be afraid to return them and try something else if they don't work for you.

sunglasses - if you're still sacrificing quality function for the sake of style...
If you're still sacrificing quality function for the sake of style, you've got the wrong pair of sunglasses.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Sports Sunglasses


If you've got the looks covered, and you're on the hunt for a set of specs for running/climbing/hiking/paddling/golf, etc., there are other considerations you'll want to keep in mind while you search. We highly recommend getting polarized lenses for sports that involve exceptional glare and light exposure, like water sports, snow sports, or climbing. This added layer of protection will lighten the strain on your eyes by cutting out glare from the sun bouncing off of water, snow, or rocks. You might also consider other light wavelength protection if your chosen sport has you outside for extended hours. HEV or blue light blockage is particularly useful around the water for activities like paddling or fishing.

Certain lens coatings are helpful for specific sports as well. An oleophobic coating helps reduce oil on the lenses, which is handy for glasses worn close to your face. A hydrophobic coating is useful if you plan to be around the water or splashed a lot, as it helps water droplets to roll more easily off the lenses. If you're hoping to run in your new shades, consider an anti-fog coating to prevent your lenses from clouding up too much. And a quality anti-reflective coating on the backs of the lenses is something we highly recommend, as it helps reduce back reflection.

sunglasses - lens protections and frame fit are both very important when...
Lens protections and frame fit are both very important when selecting the right sports sunglasses for your lifestyle.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

When it comes to quality performance from your frames, think less about their style and more about how well they fit and stay put. Many sports-oriented specs have embedded nose pads and even temple grips to help them stay in place. Check their weight as well, to see if they are as light as your intended use requires. Frames made of nylon are often flexible, offering a secure fit. Flex hinges are useful too, both for possible impact and for comfort over an extended period of time. Check their base curvature to see how face-hugging your potential new shades will be, and consider the overall size of the lenses to gauge their coverage. If you often wear a hat or helmet while you're out, keep that in mind when looking at the bow dimensions and lens height of any potential glasses. And of course, when you get them, put them to the test right away to make sure they perform the way you need them to.

sunglasses - it's hard to get used to the look of full shield sunglasses, but...
It's hard to get used to the look of full shield sunglasses, but they will win you over once you see how they perform.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Cycling Sunglasses


If you need a pair of glasses specifically for biking — whether on the road or the trail — there are a few additional considerations beyond what you might require for other sports. Because you'll have more wind in your face than many other sports, added coverage is usually a plus for cycling shades. Look for this not just in the size of the lenses, but also their curvature and shape — particularly on the outsides of the lenses and in the center, between your eyes. When considering a close-fitting pair with large lenses, make sure they have an anti-fog coating. Without this added layer, a goggle-like fit is likely to start fogging up as you sweat your way through your ride.

sunglasses - added coverage is a must for wind and dust protection while biking.
Added coverage is a must for wind and dust protection while biking.
Credit: Zach Wick

If you're a road biker, lenses with polarization are best to help minimize glare off the road. That said, if you often find yourself riding among the trees, you may not want the polarization, as it can sometimes disguise the rocks and bumps you need to see in the path. For mountain bikers, it can also be advantageous to have two sets of lenses — one meant for bright days with a high VLT and one meant for cloudy or overcast days that offers wind and dust protection without cutting down much, if at any, low light. Some pairs come with two lenses right out of the box, and many others offer interchangeable lenses.

When evaluating the frames, try on potential pairs with the helmet you'll wear while riding. Take it to the store if shopping in person. Low-riding helmets can be limiting with cycling shades, which tend to be larger on your face. Be sure to buckle your helmet as you would when riding to see how the straps fit over the bows of the glasses. Check how well they stay secure on your face by jumping. Carefully consider the comfort of the bows over your ears, especially while wearing your helmet, to make sure the fit is just right.

sunglasses - no matter where you roam, what your style, or what you like to do...
No matter where you roam, what your style, or what you like to do, there's a pair of sunglasses we've tested for you.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Conclusion


There are thousands of possible sunglasses on the market for you to choose from. As many of these are also style accessories, seemingly endless models are available at any given moment. Yet they are also essential to the continued health of your eyes. It's possible that no other article of clothing has quite the same high-level combination of fashion and protection as sunglasses. By testing hundreds of pairs of sunglasses and evaluating their performance, fit, and looks, we can help you find the ideal pair for your lifestyle, vibe, and wallet.

Maggie Nichols


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