Three best sports sunglasses
It's always fun when you're able to take your workout outdoors. One drawback to being active in an outdoor setting, though, is the sun, which can leave you squinting and struggling to see. That's why having a good pair of sports sunglasses is so important.
But there are so many different sports sunglasses to choose from that shopping can get a little confusing. You have to figure out the right type of frame, lenses, and other features to make sure that your sunglasses are as durable and functional as possible.
If you're on the hunt for the ideal sports sunglasses, we've compiled everything you need to know to choose the perfect pair for your next round of golf or run through the park. For the easiest shopping, simply check out our top product recommendations.
Considerations when choosing sports sunglasses
When it comes to sports sunglasses, the frame design is about function. Frames should be made from durable, flexible materials that are impact resistant in case you fall or are hit during an activity. Many sports sunglasses also have a wraparound design, which extends protection around the sides of your head to prevent sunlight from blinding you at any angle.
There are several common frame materials used for sports sunglasses.
Nylon is a budget-friendly, lightweight material that offers high durability. Nylon frames also provide high impact resistance, so they work well for a wide variety of contact sports.
Acetate is a highly flexible material that offers some impact resistance. Acetate can work well for some sports, but it isn't the best frame option for sports that involve a great deal of contact.
Castor-based polymer is a lightweight, durable material that's made from the castor oil plant. Castor-based polymer can work well for sports and activities that don't require significant impact resistance.
Metal is more commonly used for casual sunglasses, though some sports sunglasses use it as well. Metal frames are often adjustable and usually offer the least amount of vision obstruction. But they're more expensive than other types of frames and don't offer the same durability as other materials. Metal frames are an especially poor choice for sports or activities that require high impact resistance.
Sports sunglasses typically feature either polyurethane, polycarbonate, acrylic, or glass lenses. The best lens material usually depends on what type of activities you'll be using the glasses for.
Polyurethane provides outstanding impact and scratch resistance and makes for extremely clear lenses. It's also lightweight, so the sunglasses are more comfortable to wear. Polyurethane is a fairly expensive option, though.
Polycarbonate is similar to polyurethane, but it usually costs less and doesn't resist scratching as well.
Acrylic is a very budget-friendly material, but it doesn't offer much impact or scratch resistance. Acrylic lenses are best for lower-impact sports like hiking, fishing, or golf.
Glass usually makes for the clearest lenses. It offers superior scratch resistance, too, but it's fairly heavy, can shatter upon impact, and is pretty costly.
Sports sunglasses are available with either dark or light tinted lenses. The color of your lenses can determine how well you can perceive other colors, as well as how much light actually makes its way to your eyes.
Dark-tinted lenses, including gray, brown, and green shades, work well for most outdoor sports. They work especially well in bright sunlight and are very effective in reducing glare. Brown lenses may affect how you see other colors slightly, but gray and green lens usually provide very accurate color readings.
Light-tinted lenses, including yellow, gold, and amber shades, work best for low to moderate sunlight. They can be very effective in the snow, though, so they're ideal for skiing and snowboarding. Light tinted lenses also provide very effective color contrast, depth perception, and object visibility.
Polarized lenses help reduce glare when you're wearing sports sunglasses. This is an extremely important feature if you're choosing sunglasses for watersports or have eyes that are extremely sensitive.
Keep in mind that polarized lenses can sometimes make it difficult to read LCD displays, so you may have difficulty viewing your sports watch when wearing your glasses.
Sports sunglasses with photochromic lenses adjust automatically to different lighting conditions, which means they get darker when the sun is particularly bright and lighter when the sun is dimmer.
Photochromic lenses aren't as effective in cold weather conditions, though, so they may not be the best option for winter sports like skiing or snowboarding.
Visible light transmission
Visible light transmission (VLT) refers to how much sunlight reaches your eyes through the lenses of your sports sunglasses. This percentage is determined by the material, thickness, and tint of the lenses.
Choose a VLT rating based on the conditions you'll be wearing your sports sunglasses in.
80% to 90%-plus VLT: These lenses are almost completely clear, so they usually aren't advised for situations with any type of sunlight.
40% to 80% VLT: These lenses work well on overcast days.
20% to 40% VLT: These lenses usually work well in most situations.
0% to 19% VLT: These lenses are the ideal option for extreme, bright sunlight.
Sports sunglasses often feature lens coatings to make the glasses more durable or functional.
Anti-scratch coatings prevent scratches and nicks in the lenses to improve the sunglasses' durability.
Hydrophobic coatings help the lenses repel water, so they're ideal for water sports.
Anti-fog coatings can prevent your lenses from fogging up on very humid days or when you sweat heavily.
Flash coatings give the lenses a mirrored finish, which helps limit glare.
Some sports sunglasses offer removable lenses in different tints so you can adjust the lenses depending on the lighting conditions or the activity you're engaging in. If you play a wide range of sports and in a wide variety of conditions, a pair of sports sunglasses with interchangeable lenses is often the best option.
Sports sunglasses should fit snugly over your nose and ears, but there shouldn't be any pinching.
If you wear other equipment for your sporting activities or workouts, such as a helmet or visor, make sure to try your sports sunglasses on with the other gear so you know that they fit comfortably together.
Even if they have a protective coating, buy a case to hold your sports sunglasses. A case will prevent scratching and other damage when you throw your sunglasses in your gym bag.
Avoid subjecting your sports sunglasses to extreme heat. It can affect the lens coating and even damage the frame.
Q. Which type of sports sunglasses is best for winter sports?
A. Snow can reflect up to 80% of the sun's UV rays, so it's especially important to wear sports sunglasses for winter sports and activities. Because the sun reflects off snow in nearly every direction, it's a good idea to choose a pair of sports sunglasses with wraparound frames. This will prevent sunlight from blinding you from the side while you're skiing, snowboarding, or enjoying other winter sports. Sports sunglasses with a light tint also usually work better in the snow, so look for a pair with yellow, amber, or gold lenses.
Q. What features should I look for in sports sunglasses for biking?
A. Since you'll be moving quickly on your bike, you want a pair of sports sunglasses that will stay on no matter how fast you pedal. Look for a pair of sunglasses with a good grip around the temples and on the nose. In particular, look for rubber grips, which usually hold more effectively when you're sweating.
Sports sunglasses we recommend
Best of the best: Oakley Men's Gascan Sunglasses
Our take: A well-constructed, durable pair of sports sunglasses that provides superior eye protection, making them worth the hefty price tag.
What we like: Full UV protection for your eyes. Polarized lenses reduce glare and provide good visibility in any lighting.
What we dislike: Can be a bit oversized if you have a small face.
Best bang for your buck: Eye Love Polarized Wayfarer Sunglasses
Our take: A durable, lightweight pair of sports sunglasses that comes with either a hard or soft case.
What we like: Mimics the classic style of Ray-Ban Wayfarers at a fraction of the price. Provides full UV protection, as well as a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
What we dislike: Doesn't have a wraparound style like most other sports sunglasses.
Choice 3: JiMarti JM01 Sunglasses
Our take: A solid, well-designed pair of sports sunglasses that won't break the bank.
What we like: Boasts shatterproof lenses and frame. Can work well for multiple sports and activities.
What we dislike: Lenses may fog up if you sweat a great deal
Jennifer Blair 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. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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