The best hiking sunglasses of 2021

From bestreviews.com
By
Ana Sanchez
BestReviews

A secondary benefit from wearing hiking sunglasses other than sun protection is shielding against dirt, sand and other debris getting into your eyes.

Best sunglasses for hiking

When you’re hitting the trail, you want to protect your eyes from overexposure to UV light from the sun. Wearing a reliable pair of sunglasses that won’t slide off or break is critical when you’re adventuring far from home. 

Snow glare can be damaging to the eyes, and sunglasses with lenses that can protect you from snow blindness is a must. In this buying guide, we cover lens features and frame considerations so that your shades are comfortable, durable and stay put while you hike.

Regular sunglasses vs. hiking sunglasses

While any pair of sunglasses can be worn while hiking, a good pair of hiking sunglasses provide 100% protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays. Many hiking sunglasses also feature lenses that reduce glare from hiking around water or snow, which normal sunglasses do not.

Design may also vary from everyday glasses. Some styles of hiking sunglasses offer wraparound protection or removable side shields for better protection from inclement weather, like rain or wind. 

UV protection from sunglasses

Ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun can cause damage to your eyes over time. For hiking, you definitely want to select sunglasses with UV protection as these harmful rays are more powerful at higher elevations.

UVA and UVB rays are linked to skin cancers, and yes, your eyes can get sunburned from UV light as well. Long-term risks of eye exposure to UV radiation include cataracts and macular degeneration.

The best hiking sunglasses protect eyes from 100% of UV radiation (including UVC rays) as well as high-energy visible radiation (HEV), also known as blue light.

Do I need polarized sunglasses?

A popular feature on hiking sunglasses are polarized lenses. These reduce glare and filter out reflected light. This improves your depth of field and enriches the colors around you.

This feature isn’t essential if you aren’t hiking by snow fields, light-colored sand or bodies of water that produce glare. But if you are, polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes from reflected light and help you see better.

Some hikers don’t like the way polarized lenses alter the colors you see. Grey polarized lenses are the most neutral, but some consumers prefer brown, blue, green or pink lenses. 

Hiking sunglasses frame material

The best sunglasses for hiking are both durable and lightweight. Every ounce you carry counts at the end of the day, but you also don’t want frames that are too flimsy, which can break or slide off.

Nylon and nylon/plastic frames are both flexible and durable. You want some flexibility in your sunglasses so they can “bounce back” to shape if dropped or undergo abuse. Metals like titanium or aluminum can get hot in the sun and aren’t recommended for hiking.

Best hiking sunglasses

Most high-end

Oakley Men’s Flak 2.0: available at Amazon
A highly durable pair of sunglasses that can be worn for rugged activities. These premium frames feature polarized, polycarbonate lenses that protect your eyes from UVA, UVB and UVC rays and blue light.

Maui Jim Haleakala Wrap Sunglasses: available at Amazon
Stylish wrap sunglasses that feature superior lens technology. These scratch-resistant and shatter-proof polarized lenses come in bronze and rose colors. Not only do they block 100% of UV rays but also blue light.

Mid-level priced

Under Armour Igniter 2.0. Sunglasses: available at Amazon
Under Armour’s most popular sunglasses that block out glare and feature a flexible fit. Reasonably priced frames include 100% UV protection and scratch-resistant coating.  

Most affordable

Eye Love Polarized Sunglass for Men and Women: available at Amazon
Ray Ban-style sunglasses without the premium price tag. These stylish, unisex sunglasses feature 100% UV protection and eliminate glare with their polarized lenses. Lightweight but durable, these sunglasses are a great value.

Suncloud Switchback Sunglasses: available at Dick's Sporting Goods
A polarized pair of wrap-style sunglasses that are lightweight and lauded for their comfortable fit. Perfect for hiking on sunny days, their anti-glare orange lenses provide 100% UV protection.

Most stylish

Oakley Men’s Twoface Rectangular Sunglasses: available at Amazon
A casual but sleek pair of black frames that are more stylish than the brand’s Flak 2.0. The Plutonite lenses are polarized, offer top UV protection and truer vision at every angle with their HDO technology. 

Ray-Ban Justin Polarized Sunglasses: available at Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods
Combining the classic Ray-Ban frames with polarized lenses, you’ll look cool and protect your eyes from glare and UV rays while you hike. These high-quality frames are unisex and reminiscent of the brand’s iconic Wayfarer model.

For women

Maui Jim Women’s Starfish Cat-Eye Sunglasses: available at Amazon
A stylish pair of premium sunglasses featuring SuperThin lenses that are lighter and thinner than most. Like the brand’s Haleakala model, the Starfish’s polarized lenses come in neutral gray, rose or bronze tints.

Costa Del Mar Maya Polarized Sunglasses: available at Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon
If you want to sport some glamor on the trail, look no further than these cat-eye frames. Made from lightweight but durable eco-friendly material, these sunglasses boast high-quality construction and polarized lenses in gray, copper and blue tints.

For men

Oakley Men’s Gascan Sunglasses: available at Amazon
If you’re not a fan of polarized lenses, Oakley offers a basic nylon frame with the same superior lens quality as its polarized sunglasses. This durable pair also protects against all UV rays and blue light.

Columbia Men’s Utilizer Wrap Sunglasses: available at Amazon
For the Oakley look at a lower price tag, Columbia offers this solid pair of wrap sunglasses at a reasonable price. These no-nonsense black frames feature polarized lenses and UV protection, designed for wear in the great outdoors.

For mountaineering

Julbo Explorer Mountain Sunglasses: available at Amazon
For extreme weather conditions and hiking, you’ll need to step up your eyewear game. These glacier glasses provide full coverage and protection with removable side shields. Their polarized lenses are brown with anti-reflective coating and offer full UV protection.

Most eco-friendly

Zeal Optics Drifter Plant-based Sunglasses for Men and Women: available at Amazon
A hip pair of hiking sunglasses made from eco-friendly materials. Four frame designs to choose from, including stylish “woodgrain” and “tortoise shell” — all made from Z-resin derived from the castor plant. Features polarized lenses and 100% UV protection.
 

Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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