Best Sunglasses for Running Reviewed
Whether you’re a professional athlete or just someone who goes on a daily jog to keep fit, you need to think about proper protection when running. Must have gear includes the right pair of running shoes, comfortable clothing, plenty of sunscreen, and, of course, a good pair of running sunglasses.
Regardless of whether you do your runs in the morning, at sunset, or whenever you can squeeze one in during the day, you need to be aware of the harmful effects of the Sun’s UV rays on your eyesight. The right protective gear will not only keep your eyes safe, but it will also make it more comfortable to exercise, ensuring clearer vision and better awareness of your surroundings.
The list below looks at the ten best running sunglasses currently available for purchase, with products from leading manufacturers whose eyewear you’re sure to enjoy.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 6 hrs of research
Hydrophilic Nose and Ear Pads
Top 10 Running Sunglasses
1. Kaenon Kore
Hydrophilic Nose and Ear Pads
Kaenon is a company born out of the idea that there’s still room for improvement when it comes to sports eyewear. Founded by former Oakley employee, this company takes active sunglasses seriously, providing customers with some of the most durable products of this kind. They don’t come in too many color options, but you can choose a matte or glossy finish in the frame, as well as a couple of lens variations.
The most important feature of these sunglasses have to be the lenses. Instead of opting for glass or polycarbonate which are the most popular options among manufacturers, Kaenon makes their gear with SR91 which is the material to use if clarity in a lens is prioritized, according to all official durability tests conducted in America. These will be the perfect choice for trail running, cycling and even extreme sports, especially considering that all five lens shades are polarized.
Another notable thing about the Kaenon Kore is that the lenses are interchangeable, so you can purchase a single frame and a couple of lenses for versatility. The TR-90 frame is durable, with hydrophilic nose and ear pieces that become more sticky when wet. Another notable feature are the hypoallergenic nose pads which are the perfect choice for those with sensitive skin. As for cost association, these cost quite a bit, with a price that’s higher than average. Nonetheless, if you’re after a product you’ll be using for years, the Kaenon Kore is an investment worth making.
2. Oakley Flak 2.0 XL
Lightweight O Matter Frame
Unobtanium Comfort Pads
Numerous Lens Options
Soft Case Included
Extra Large Coverage
Beware of Counterfeit Items
Athletes looking to purchase running eyewear, will already know of Oakley’s reputation when it comes to performance. Designing eye protection gear that is meant to maximize eye comfort and minimize distractions is the guiding force behind this company, so choosing to invest in a pair of Flak 2.0 XL’s will definitely prove to be a good choice. These sunglasses were designed to offer a standard sized frame paired with oversized lenses so that wearers can enjoy excellent peripheral vision and performance increasing features.
The frames of these are made with a lightweight O Matter material. This is a special compound developed by Oakley as an alternative to regular acetate frames. Oakley sunglasses made with this technology are 25% lighter, do not deform with time, and have a higher impact resistance. To increase comfort and grip, Unobtanium tips are added to the ear and nose areas for increased comfort that isn’t impacted by perspiration.
The lenses on the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL come in a huge number of options. You can opt for a photochromic lens which will block 100% of all UV rays but adapting to the light conditions, so you can even wear them inside. If you’re a fan of high-tech lenses, you can also opt for the brand’s Prizm line which was introduced in 2014 and which offers maximized contrast and enhanced visibility. It can also be purchased in polarized versions to reduce glare near highly reflective surfaces. These sunglasses rank higher than average in terms of price, and depending on the lens technology you decide to go with, the price may go up or down. Nonetheless, seeing that Oakley products are designed with athletes in mind, they’re a great choice for those who train on a daily basis.
3. Oakley Radar
Extended upper view
The reason we landed the Radar running sunglasses from Oakley in our number one spot is that it has all of the features that you would want when training hard in bright conditions. The frame is easy and lightweight, and after a while, you may even forget that you are wearing anything at all! The lenses are also light enough that you won’t be washed away in the darkness, but they are just tinted enough to keep you from squinting and will prevent you from the dreaded squint induced headache!
The frame for these sunglasses is made from a very lightweight plastic that is going to hug your face, and the arms stretch around your head to provide a very secure fit. The lenses aren’t wrapped in a frame and remain open and breezy, so as you start to heat up you won’t have to deal with a sweaty brow or fogged up lenses.
Users will have the option to select from a few stylish frame and lens designs. There are three frame color choices that include basic black, white with gray arms, and neon yellow with gray arms. Lens colors include basic black, blue, orange, and purple.
What users respond to most to this design of runner's sunglasses is that the lenses and frame are large enough that it is not going to obstruct your view in the slightest. Plus, it offers superior UV protection so you will receive all of the benefits of protective eyewear without feeling like you are wearing anything at all!
4. Under Armour Zone 2.0
Adjustable Nose Clips
Great UV Protection
Minimal color choices
If you have trouble finding a pair of shades that feels comfortable on your head, you might want to check out this design from Under Armour. It has a lot of features to help you gain the perfect fit, such as adjustable nose pads and adjustable auto grip arms that are made to stretch. Plus, it is going to give you all of the protection that you need from harmful rays.
As with all Under Armour products, you know that you are getting something that is made with active people in mind. As we mentioned earlier, one of the biggest things that we loved about this design is that not only are the arms made to fit most head shapes, but it also comes with a pair of nose grips that are able to be adjusted to ensure that you get a snug and secure fit so that you might even forget that you are wearing them on your next trail run!
As far as style is concerned, there are a few choices that you can select from. The frames are pretty much the same across the board- they offer simple black plastic frames that have a little pop of color on the arms and on the logo. The lenses are offered in colors that include basic black and orange.
Along with a great fit comes excellent UV protection. These lenses are going to be able to shield your eyes from UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. If you are in the market for something that is made from high-quality materials that will be able to keep up with your pace, this is going to be one of your better options.
5. Ray Ban New Wayfarer Polarized
Three Sizes Available
Cloudy, Clear and Sunny Weather
Not a Sports Fit
Beware of Counterfeits
There are very few products in the fashion industry that have become as iconic as a pair of Ray Bans. Whether you want to look cool in a pair of Aviators, are after a movie star look with Wayfarers, or decide to go with the funky Clubmaster, you can rest assured that purchasing sunglasses from this company guarantees satisfaction. As far as sunglasses go, they don’t have a model that was made for fitness activities in particular, but the New Wayfarers are a popular option among enthusiasts, and they offer added value seeing that you can wear them throughout the day, not just while exercising.
What makes these special is the attention to detail when it comes to the lenses. Our suggestion would be to go with Ray Ban’s Green Classic G-15 glass. This glass is a versatile option ideal for both sunny and cloudy weather, and if you’re going to be around big bodies of water, definitely choose the polarized version. Polarized running sunglasses eliminate glare, increase clarity, increase contrast and protect your eyes from large reflective surfaces. For darker conditions, you may choose to go with a gradient lens option, which will increase visibility.
The frame of these Ray Bans is made from nylon, and is a durable, lightweight option that’ll look good on almost anyone. You can choose between three sizes - large, standard and small, as well as several color options, with black and tortoise being the most popular options. Of course, you can even customize these, choosing a design that will fit in perfectly with your favorite running gear.
These come in a leather protective carrying bag, and can even be purchased in versions that fold for maximum space saving. As for price, they rank average compared to other high quality running sunglasses, so if you’re after something that’s truly protective and guaranteed to last you a lifetime (with the right care), the Ray Ban New Wayfarer is definitely it.
6. Costa Del Mar Blackfin
7 Lens Colors
Glass or Polycarbonate Lenses
Rubber Padding Durability
The Blackfin by Costa Del Mar is a pair of eye protection gear that any runner would be lucky to have in their arsenal. While not originally designed as running sunglasses, these are one of the most performance oriented items on our list. Originally, the Blackfin was designed for fishermen who needed comfortable, lightweight sunglasses with premium quality lenses that would help them see better in varying light conditions, protect their eyes from large reflective surfaces, as well as increase their awareness of their natural surroundings.
When shopping for a pair of sunglasses like these, you’ll find yourself faced with a choice between seven lens options. If you’re looking for absolute clarity, you’ll go with glass. If, however weight and durability are your priorities, you’ll choose the polycarbonate versions. For runners who love running at sunrise or sunset, we highly recommend the Sunrise Silver Mirror color, while those running in variable light might benefit from the Copper lens color. If you’re just after a pair that’ll do well in most conditions, you may also want to go with Gray or Gray Silver Mirror.
The frames of the Blackfin are made with injection molded plastic that’s flexible and highly durable. Lightweight, these don’t come with too many accessories, but runners will find that a simple wire or silicone retainer can ensure safety on any run, preventing these from falling off and becoming damaged. In terms of price, these are one of the most expensive items on our list, however, do keep in mind that the cost will depend on the frame and lens combination you choose.
7. Nike Tailwind
Limited Color Options
If you like to travel fast and hate the idea of fogged up lenses as you start to build up a sweat, this is going to be a really great pair to have on your head. The style of these sunglasses for runners is a lot more open and airy than many of the other designs, and they are made to fit like you aren’t wearing anything at all. If you don’t typically wear shades but need to protect your eyes when out on the trails, this style from Nike is worth checking out.
The very first thing that we noticed about this pair of running sunglasses is that the top layer of the lens isn’t connected directly to the top of the frame. While it may look a little odd, it actually serves a pretty practical purpose. Shades typically slide off of your face when your brow begins to sweat, but the open design of this model will keep air flowing right though, while the lenses will protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
Colors and design are a little limited with this option. Users will only be able to select from a basic black frame that sports moderately tinted black lenses. We did, however, really like the little added pop of neon yellow on the classic Nike logo on the side of the arm. This unit also offers a loop on the back of the arm so that you can fasten a cord that runs along the back of your head to ensure that they stay securely in place!
As with all products from the Nike line, this design is made for those that are on the move. The innovative design will protect your eyes from UV rays, but it is also going to give your head a little more room to breathe over many of the other designs that we have seen out there on the market.
8. Tifosi Tyrant 2.0
Multiple Adjustment Points
Stiff Ear Pads
Fototec Lens Issues
The Tifosi Tyrant 2.0 was originally made for cyclists with a design that favors comfort and aerodynamics. Made by a reputable manufacturer who is a favorite amongst athletes, the Tyrant 2.0 is perfect for those in need of medium to small fit running sunglasses, who want multisport sunglasses that excel during strenuous physical activity. These come in a good number of color options, and the best thing about them is that they include a soft protective case and three pairs of interchangeable lenses so you can quickly adjust your experience on the go.
The frame of the Tifosi Tyrant 2.0 is made with a lightweight nylon frame that has multiple adjustment points to offer the best possible fit. It is flexible and temperature resistant, so you won’t have to put up with fit issues in varying weather conditions. The arms are adjustable, as are the hydrophilic nose pieces which become grippier when exposed to water or perspiration, meaning that these sunglasses won’t slide off as you move. You can also purchase nose and ear pieces in case they become worn out, or you want to experiment with a different wearing experience.
As mentioned above, these running sunglasses come with three polycarbonate lenses included in your purchase. They’re easy to change, and offer 100% UV protection. Additionally, they’re shatterproof, and only weigh one third of traditional glass lenses. You will also be happy to hear that the lenses that are compatible with the Tifosi Tyrant 2.0 have ventilation holes which increase comfort and prevent fogging. The price these sunglasses go for is quite affordable compared to products by more famous manufacturers, so if you want a product that is of great quality, without having to spend a fortune, these are well worth checking out.
9. Adidas Raylor S
Limited Lens Choices
If you love the look of your classic wireframes but want something that is made to move, the Raylor S design from Adidas is going to be one of your better choices. It offers a sleek and simple frame that isn’t as bulky as some of the other running sunglasses that we have seen, and it has a few features that will make it a perfect fit for those that are on the move and need something that is going to stay in place.
The very first thing that we noticed about this design was the sleek and simple frames. It is made from a high-quality plastic material that will be able to take a beating if you are known for being not-so-kind to your sportswear. However, the incredibly slim frame is going to feel very lightweight on your face, and you may forget that you are even wearing them!
Color choices for these sunglasses for running are a little bit more limited than some of the other designs that we have found, but they still offer a simple and sleek elegance to the frame. Users will be able to select from classic black or white frames that boast the classic Adidas logo, and lens options are limited to a shiny but non-reflective brown.
Users love this design because it is simple and lightweight, and it still protects your eyes from those harmful UV rays. Plus, the lenses are coated with polarized materials that are going to keep from washing out your surroundings.
10. Woosh Polarized
The style of these running sunglasses from Woosh is slightly different than the sporty designs that we have seen so far. This option has more of a trendy design, but it is still something that you will want to wear out on the trails. The wider frame offers an enhanced field of view without sitting as close to your face, and the high-quality lenses do a great job at protecting your eyes from harmful rays.
As we mentioned earlier, the very first thing that we noticed about this style was the sleek styling. Instead of sitting so close to your face and wrapping around the back of your head, this option is worn much like you would wear your casual shades. However, the quality of lenses used means that it is going to be something that will be perfect when out on the trails for extended periods of time.
Users will have the option to select from basic black frames, but they can also choose clear plastic frames that are very on trend. As far as the lenses are concerned, you will have the option to select from basic black lenses, or you can also select blue or orange tinted lenses. The clear frames with the colored tinted lenses are certainly something that is going to make all of the other trail runners a little jealous at your practical style.
For those that don’t want to sacrifice their personal style in the name of functionality- this design from Woosh is the perfect pairing of current eyewear trends with the function that you want when out on the trails.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Just ask the Fonz- the style of your shades is something that is incredibly important.
Of course, the performance of these products was one of the very first things that we considered when selecting our favorite designs, but we would be lying if we weren’t a little swayed by how each designed looked. When it comes to sportswear, aerodynamics is going to be your best friend. That’s why we opted for frame shapes that hug your head, but without becoming too tight and constricting. There are two different places that will allow users to get the best performance while still allowing them to express their personal style.
The type of materials used is going to dictate how comfortable they will feel on your face, as well as indicate how durable they will be.
The endgame here is to feel like you are wearing nothing at all. To achieve this, the materials are going to need to be incredibly lightweight and a little thicker. This means you cannot opt for those stylish wireframes, because you will find that they are going to slip off your face as you move and sweat. We have broken down the materials that we looked for, and the reason behind including them.
When it comes to sportswear, there are just some brands that stand out from the pack.
While you may not think much of it, the brand of your sunglasses can actually have a heavy impact on your satisfaction. While you may be tempted to purchase a product from the local gas station, the quality you will be getting won’t even be comparable to the clarity and protection you receive when you invest in models from reliable manufacturers such as Oakley, Ray Ban or Kaenon.
The downside of shopping for quality sports eyewear, however, is that it comes with a high price. All of the brands listed above utilize high-precision technology in designing their lenses in order to achieve the following effects:
Keeping the sun out of your eyes is just as important as keeping it off of your skin.
You have the option of slathering sunscreen all over your body, but you can’t slather it on your eyeballs. This very delicate part of your body often gets overlooked when heading outside for a walk or a jog, so it is important that you select gear that is going to protect one of the most important and delicate parts of your body as well!
It is important to note that polarized lenses do not mean that they are going to protect your eyes from the sun. Polarized lenses simply mean that they are going to help reduce glare so that you don’t squint as much. To ensure that your eyes are protected, we made sure that each brand offered some form of UV protection.
While almost all brands out there on the market have lenses that will protect from UVA and UVA rays, there were some that also made claims that they protected from UVC rays. From our research- this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will protect your eyes more than those that simply filter out UVA and UBA rays.
What are UVC rays? While UVC rays are considered to be the most damaging, they are mostly filtered out completely from the atmosphere before they even reach your skin (or your eyes in this case). Most UVC rays are produced by man-made devices, such as welding torches or older models of tanning beds.
The bottom line when it comes to UV protection is that anything that filters out UVA and UVB rays are considered to be completely sufficient. Designs that filter out UVC rays will not provide you with extra protection unless you plan on engaging in a little bit of welding as you exercise!
If they don’t fit your face right, you aren’t going to want to wear them.
Not everyone’s head is the same shape, and these products are one-size-fits-all. For casual styles, it’s perfectly fine if they fit just a little loose or a little tight because you probably aren’t going to be moving around that much or getting very sweaty. However, because you are going to be moving around a lot, you want them to fit snugly without strangling your face. So, how can you achieve this equilibrium? There were a few features that we considered to ensure that you get the very best fit that is going to be comfortable and easy.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
The sun has been around for a pretty long time, but sunglasses just hit the scene in the late 1920s and became popularized when movie stars started wearing them in public.
Early lenses used to be made out of a small pane of intricate blown glass (dating back to the 13th century!), but today most lenses are made from a form of very durable plastic.
Nike didn't just stop at making sunglasses, they have an entire line of sporty corrective lenses as well that are designed for active people that need durable and sporty frames for any and all activities!
Other Factors to Consider
Our biggest piece of advice that we could give you when selecting a design is to take into consideration what features are more important to you.
If you are training for your first marathon and want something that is aerodynamic and sporty, you may benefit from selecting a narrow design that fits closely to your face. However, you don’t want it to fit so tightly that the lenses are going to fog up as you sweat. Be sure to opt for designs that fit tightly, but that is a little open as well so that your eyeballs can breathe!
For those that was something that is casual and stylish that you would wear even when out with friends in the evening, trendy designs (like the Ray Ban New Wayfarer) are going to give you all of the protection and stability that you want when working up a sweat when training on the track, but still look good in the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why should I wear running sunglasses?
Even if your eyes aren’t as sensitive to light as others, these products serve more functions than just reducing glare.
Did you know that prolonged exposure to UV rays may actually promote the growth of cataracts as you get older? Just like you are generous at slathering on sunscreen to reduce the risk of wrinkles and skin cancer, the same care should go into protecting your eyes. Not only will it reduce the risk of cataracts, but it can also prevent macular degeneration which can also lead to vision loss when you age.
Long-term health risks aside, wearing a pair when you are training outside can help improve your performance. Squinting in bright light may seem like it is a minor inconvenience, but squinting for just 5 minutes greatly increases the risk of developing a killer headache or migraine. When you feel good, you train harder, so it is important that you equip yourself with gear that is going to make you feel good!
q: What are the benefits of polarized sunglasses for runners?
It seems like everyone is boasting about polarized lenses, but what exactly are the benefits of wearing them? It is first important to note that on their own, they do not offer any additional UV protection. They are simply designed to reduce glare and keep your vision from becoming muddy and dark.
Glare happens when light is reflected off of horizontal surfaces. These lenses are infused with a filter that actually absorbs light that is reflected off of a surface, so why the time that it reaches your eye is completely filtered out. What this creates is a view that is crisp and clear, and isn’t washed out by glare. This means that you will have a clearer view of your surroundings, which is especially important when engaging in any outdoor activity.
q: What makes them ideal for running?
You likely have a pair of sunglasses that you picked up at a gas station on a road trip that does a pretty decent job of keeping the sun out of your eyes. While they will work for conditions such as driving or spending some relaxing time outdoors, they may not be ideal for activities that require a lot of movement.
What you are looking for in these designs is a frame shape that is made to fit your head a little tighter than most (which is why plastic frames are going to be ideal for this scenario), and that has a few extra features in the arms and the nose to ensure that they stay in place when you move. Rubber grips on the arms and the bridge of the nose typically aren’t found on casual designs, and this is the material that it really going to help it stay in place as you start to move.
q: What’s so great about TR90?
You may have noticed that most of the brands out there on the market don’t just use any old type of plastic, but rather they use a specific plastic that is referred to TR90. So, what is this material and why is it so great for these types of products?
TR90 is a type of thermoplastic that actually gets incredibly pliable when it becomes warm and stiffens up when it becomes cool. This makes this material a lot more pliable, which also means that it is going to be a lot more difficult to break.
This pliable and durable plastic is the perfect material for these types of products because it means that they will be able to bend to fit most head shapes without becoming weak and brittle with extended use. It also means that you can accidentally sit on them when climbing into your car without the risk of them breaking!
q: Will they offer a good deal of protection from UV rays?
Absolutely! Most of the designs out there on the market have lenses that have been treated with a material that is going to keep those harmful UVA and UVB rays out of your eyes that could lead to the development of cataracts as you get older.
There are some brands out there that state that their lenses not only protect against UVA and UVB rays, but they also protect against UVC rays as well. From what we have researched, designs that simply protect against UVA and UVB rays are completely adequate, and anything past that is considered to be a bit of overkill. Most UVC rays are absorbed into the earth’s atmosphere and don’t make the journey to your skin or eyes.
q: Why can’t I just wear wireframes?
Sure, you can opt for your standard wireframes, but you may run into some troubles down the road. While the lenses are going to do their job keeping glare and UV rays out of your eyes, the frames may become incredibly uncomfortable, and they may even bounce around on your face when training on a bumpy trail.
Wireframes aren’t going to have the same level of stability and comfort over the TR90 frame models, and when you begin to sweat they are going to slide down your face. You may think that your old reliable and trendy wireframes may work at the beginning of your run, but you will grow quite frustrated with them around mile 2!