Best For: Sea kayaking, canoeing, beach combing, casual cycling
The Lagoon is a classic, stylish beachfront sunglass that’s durable enough for casual sports, like flatwater paddling and tooling around town on your cruiser. Maui Jim’s capable oversize wrap sunglasses offer copious eye coverage to protect against wind and sun, and include proprietary PolarizedPlus2 technology. While these shades don’t have the slip-proofing and crazy rugged materials of some of the others on this list, the saltwater-safe lenses block 100% of UV rays and glare, and are truly some of the sharpest, clearest available on the market.
Best For: Surfing, kayaking, canoeing, SUP, rafting, fishing
This unique floating frame is the new Wave for water sports. Designed with a smart (and removable) protection skirt that creates a tighter intimacy to the contours of your eyes and temples, they create a better barrier against oncoming waves or splashing water for high seas or windy rivers. They also include a neoprene strap to better secure the glasses when playing hard in the water. The Wave is available in two lens types, but we recommend Julbo’s proprietary Octopus lens, which is light-sensitive (they get darker in very bright sunlight), water-repellent and polarized, to reduce glare from the water.
Best For: Surfing, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, SUP
The Chrome 2 is an excellent tool for the waterman (or woman), built with a specially formulated injected Nylon frame that floats in the pool, lake and ocean (see them in action here). The polarized lens reduces glare, blocks UV rays, and allows for superior contrast for fishing, paddling and beach cruising, where seeing what’s beneath the water’s surface is as important as seeing what’s on top.
$80-$100, depending on lens choice; dragonalliance.com
Best For: Mountain biking, skiing, ski mountaineering, trail running
The Hard Kore is Kaenon’s multipurpose, versatile sunglass that performs well in almost any environment. Using Kaenon’s proprietary SR-91® lenses, the Hard Kore balances the high optical clarity of glass with the lightweight, scratch- and impact-resistant strength of a polycarbonate lens. Translation: top-notch performance and long-term durability. Ergonomic nose pads and tips virtually eliminate slippage, even during rigorous activities like mountain biking, ski mountaineering and trail running.
$214-$224, depending on lens choice; kaenon.com
Best For: Winter sports, mountain biking, trail running
Simple, elegant and easy on the eyes, the Scott Leap transitions easily from one season to the next. Its moderate coverage blocks harmful UV rays and wind for winter sports, but also ensures good airflow to reduce fogging during strenuous activities in hotter environments. Photochromic lenses provide excellent clarity while automatically adapting—lightening or darkening in only a few seconds—to the sun’s intensity. Scott doesn’t sell its sunglasses online. To find a retailer near you, visit scott-sports.com.
Best For: Cycling, triathlons, running
The Oakley Frame sweep is an aggressively nimble, distortion-free eye shield for running, cycling and triathlons. Interchangeable lenses accommodate a host of sun conditions, whether you’re exercising under blistering heat, or feel as if you’re charging through the murky insides of a milk jug. The snug, hinged frame maintains a secure three-point fit that won’t slip around, and the polycarbonate lens is highly impact- and scratch-resistant for long-term durability.
Best For: Climbing, mountain biking, snow sports, fishing
The Bigfork is an all-encompassing tool for adventurous lifestyles. Providing a larger fit than many sunglasses, these sunglasses provide optimal coverage for snow sports, mountain biking, climbing and activities where you contend with lots of sunshine. Updated side vents eliminate fog and provide a more snug fit to adequately protect your eyes while you get your sweat on. They feature Native’s blue light-filtering N3 lenses, which minimize haze, giving you better clarity, color and contrast, whether you’re fly fishing, or zipping in and out of shaded trees on singletrack.
$129-$149, depending on lens choice; nativeyewear.com
Best For: Climbing, cycling, running, triathlons
No stranger to performance eyewear, Smith Optics has rolled out these ideal crossover sunglasses that deliver for running, cycling, triathlons and climbing. Constructed of Smith's Evolve technology, a 53% bio-based material, the low-profile frame design incorporates the highly impact-resistant lens for optimum vision clarity. The glasses come with three performance lenses to accommodate a large spectrum of light conditions. They also feature a two-position adjustable nose pad for a more customized fit. Hydrophilic material on the temples, nose pad and brow reacts to perspiration and moisture, gently adhering to the skin to reduce the chances of slipping off your face.
$159-$179, depending on lens choice; smithoptics.com
Best For: Skiing, hiking, climbing, cycling
The Bounty is a Porsche for your face with four-wheel drive—a fashion-forward lifestyle frame with real athletic chops. The polarized, photochromic lenses are treated with anti-fog technology for functionality in both winter and warm weather activities. Pinless hinges on the temples prevent pesky loosening over time, and promise longer-term durability than most shades. The adjustable nosepieces add to the no-slip fit that stays put, no matter what outdoor activities you embrace.
$70-$140, depending on lens choice; bolle.com
Best For: Running, biking on or off-road, triathlons
These superlight, minimalist sunglasses weigh in at a scant 24 grams (less than an ounce!). The contoured design is sleek and aerodynamic, sure, but the unique lens geometry allows wearers a much larger field of vision than you’d guess by looking at them. That’s one reason they’re so perfect for technical pursuits like mountain biking, trail running and triathlons. In addition, hydrophilic technology on the nose pads and ears keep them from slipping off your sweat-slicked face, so you can focus on the task at hand. Anyway, they’re so light you’ll probably forget they’re even there.
$50-$130, depending on lens choice; ryderseyewear.com
Best For: High-altitude sports like mountaineering and technical climbing; also great for water sports
Revo brought in one of its outdoor heavies—National Geographer photographer and alpinist Jimmy Chin—to help update its high-end polarized mountain sunglasses. Together, they’ve created a versatile tool that is both lightweight and relatively breathable while providing wearers maximum wraparound protection from the sun, whether at high altitude, traversing bleach-white glaciers, or spending time on glaring open water. The significant updates include removable side shields that offer extra peripheral sunlight protection and ridges along the top and bottom of the frame that promote airflow to minimize fogging during strenuous activities. For more info on Revo, visit revo.com.
Best For: Running, climbing, mountain biking
The Helix is a svelte, streamlined high-performance sunglass that also happens to be an anti-fog machine. The progressive wraparound frame directs wind away from your eyes at high speeds, while the total coverage offers supreme peripheral vision for running, mountain biking and climbing. The polarized lenses reduce glare near the water and adjustable nose pads and snug-fitting frame arms ensure a performance fit for any and all outdoor pursuits. For more information on Zeal, visit zealoptics.com.