Exercise can be difficult to get these days. You’re stuck behind the computer for most of your week, then the weekend responsibilities that take over all lead to a struggle to find the energy or desire to get up and moving. Running or walking has become a big hobby and great exercise, though, due to the fact that you aren’t stuck in a stuffy gym. Actually, there are two HUGE drawing cards for running. The first is that running can happen whenever it’s convenient for YOU. In most other fitness activities, you have to fit someone else’s decided schedule like playing softball at 6:30 pm on Tuesdays at the field across town, or midnight rink time every other Friday to play hockey. Not so with running! The other really big reason people love running is that it’s one of the very few sports activities that requires absolutely no athletic skill. You don’t need to know how to dribble a ball well, or skate, or jump high and spike, or hit a fastball, etc. Get the point!?
Running trails can be found within driving distance of just about any neighborhood and varying the trails you run can make it that much easier to get out and get active. While most people focus on their shoes and clothing for running, most overlook sunglasses.
Top Running Sunglasses Comparison Chart
Sunglasses may not seem that important in the whole scheme of things, but you will be surprised to find out just how much you need to ensure that you wear eye protection. Some will scoff at the idea if they are early morning runners that get started before the sun rises. But, even those individuals may need eye protection. For professional runners, there are specific things to look for, and for those in certain climates they can be the most important gear you wear. We’ll do our best to explain everything in our buying guide. After that, we’ll review our picks for the best sunglasses to wear for running.
Running Sunglasses Buying Guide (What to look for)
Running sunglasses are unique when compared to traditional shades that you would wear while at the park or driving to work. The first feature that all runner’s sunglasses should include is a non-slip nose pad. Running is sweaty work and without something to keep the glasses in place, you are going to be more focused on pushing the glasses back up – or leaving them at home – than enjoying your run. Always look for a non-slip nose pad, no matter what glasses you pick. Further, the arms on running shades usually fit your head snugly, and some have a rubberized padding which also helps to minimize slippage while sweating and moving around vigorously.
The color of your lenses will depend on when you do most of your running and where you do your running. There are multiple tints and styles that will fit into different lifestyles which we will cover first. Clear lenses are used primarily in dark (morning or night) conditions, especially when the wind is blowing, to protect your eyes from tearing and push away debris that may fly towards your face. Mirrored lenses are most effective when combined with a different tint as they can reduce the amount of sunlight that bounces off the ground or other items around you – this effectively reduces or eliminates any glare.
are the most common and generally come in a dark shade such as blue, green, gray or brown. You will use dark tinted sunglasses for brighter conditions to ensure your eyes are comfortable in the harsh sunlight. Golden tinted sunglasses, generally known as amber sunglasses, are fantastic for low-light running because they filter out any blue light which can make it easier to see any hazards where you are running. Finally, Polarized or Photochromic lenses are useful in very bright areas. If you are running on sand or a beach and the glare bothers you, these are the perfect lenses, just keep in mind that they are generally much darker and not good for evening or dusk running.
With the need for a grippy bridge and an idea of what the different colors offered, it is time to look at a few other important factors which can make or break a pair of running sunglasses. If you have ever worn any type of glasses that fogged up, you know how detrimental that can be to a run. To overcome this issue, look for sunglasses that generally sit a bit further from your face to allow ventilation, or at least offer an anti-fog coating. That ties into the materials that the glasses are made from as well. If you plan to throw them in a bag or carry them with you a great deal, something flexible or soft will be a better choice than more rigid glasses.
Sunglasses also need to offer protection from UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. Without the protection, you risk photokeratitis – or eye sunburn in layman’s terms. This can cause permanent damage to your eyes, so make sure you keep that in mind if you plan to run during the day or in the sun a great deal. Finally, the fit of the glasses is going to determine how likely you are to actually use them. For example, a name brand pair that looks amazing but doesn’t fit well may not be the best idea. On the other hand, a cheap no-name pair that offers flexibility in how they fit will get used much more. Higher prices and name brands do not always convert over to top quality.
That brings us to the review. Our review is based on value for the product. While there are probably $10,000 sunglasses that are perfect for most people out there, we would never rate those as the likelihood of an average runner buying them is very low. Instead, we look at the features versus the average cost (at the time of the writing) and rank the products based on that. Our list is not the definitive list but more of a starting point as you research the type of glasses you may like. We will try to pick glasses that will appeal to the largest group of people that we can, but if you don’t find a pair that you think should be number one don’t be offended.
Sunglasses are a unique item to review. Everyone has a style they like and different head shapes look better in different styles. At the same time, certain people will want some features more than others and will have no use for features that are offered on a pair that may otherwise like. In that situation, use this review as a guide to help you find the right pair. Most of the time, if the features are just a little off, the company or a competitor will fill that void and you will find the pair that is perfect for your needs. With that in mind, enjoy the review and good luck in your shopping.
Best Running Sunglasses Review
The first pair of sunglasses on our list make the top due to their average price. Duduma may not be a household name, but with these glasses they could be on their way. You can often find promotions that offer discounts on a second pair as well. So if you and your friend or loved one need a pair, the price is even better – on the other hand, you could just get two styles.
The glasses are polarized for 100% UV400 protection coating which blocks 100% of UVA and UVB rays. The TAC lens includes a total of seven layers which increase protection, durability and adds shatter resistance. They also come with a lifetime breakage warranty on the frame. Our only big concern with the glasses are that some show up in bad shape so it would seem quality control is not quite 100%. Fortunately, their customer service is fantastic and you can quickly get a replacement.
You will also find a wide variety of colors to choose from for both the frame and the lens. During my research, I honestly thought that a higher priced Oakley pair was going to take the top spot, but these are almost as good, if not as good, as the higher priced brand and seem to fit the bill perfectly for all types of activities, especially running. Overall, this is what each pair should try to be.
- TAC Polarized Lens offers 7 layers of protection.
- Stylish design that doesn’t look cheap.
- Multiple color combinations to choose from.
- Lifetime breakage warranty on the frame.
- Quality control is hit and miss.
- Some pairs will not match the picture that you order.
Before getting into our thoughts on these glasses, use the link as a reference. Make sure you buy from a reputable retailer as these glasses are often sold by less reputable businesses as knock-offs. The true Holbrook sunglasses are great all-around glasses that should cost you what you would expect for Oakley’s. If the deal seems too good to be true, make sure you can return what you purchase if they are knock-offs. Look for the “Made in the USA” stamp on the glasses themselves. If there is a sticker on the lens, they are fakes.
With that out of the way, these are some of my favorite sunglasses on the market. I’ll admit I may be letting my own bias put these higher than I normally would – due to the value – but the look and style of the sunglasses are second to none. You can go from running to lunch to work and then on a date and they will fit perfectly in any scenario. These have a classic look and UVA and UVB protection through polarization. They fit well, even on large heads, but they aren’t so big that smaller heads will see them sliding off.
What I can’t make sense of is the “High Definition Optics” feature. While they explain it as high definition viewing from all angles, the fact that there is very little curve makes it seem as if this is mere marketing to jack up the price and add another bullet point to the feature list. Still, if you can ensure you are buying a real pair, you can’t go wrong with the Oakley Holbrooks.
- Polarized for UVA and UVB.
- The contemporary design works for any occasion, sports or lounging.
- High Definition Optics may be a thing, but we couldn’t tell a big difference.
- Composite frame and lenses.
- Great fit.
- A wide variety of color combinations.
- Much higher priced than our number one pick.
- Often sold as knockoff Oakley’s (Buy from a reputable shop).
- That High Definition Optics thing has us puzzled.
Primarily designed for fishing during the day, the Flying Fisherman Sunglasses are actually a great choice for running as well. I would not suggest them for professional runners, but for those just looking to take a daily run in the morning or evening, these are perfect. Polarized for UVA and UVB the lenses are perfect for keeping your eyes safe and the glasses are very durable.
They fall into the Amber or Smoke lens colors which both work well depending on your need. For morning and evening runs, go with the amber color as it will bring out more details in low light situations. Smoke would be our choice for brighter situations, so try to decide which you will use it for more often. Or, at the price points we found, by one of each pair.
The fit is solid on most sized heads and the lenses use an AcuTint coloring system that helps with color contrast without taking out the natural colors around you. There are a few quality issues, so buy from someone that is reputable and allows returns. Other than that, these are on par with the Oakley’s if you prefer this style.
- Durable frames and lenses.
- Should fit any head size.
- Great lens size.
- AcuTint lets you see the world a little more clearly while the sun is out.
- Some quality control issues.
- Only offered in amber and smoke.
- Style may not be ideal for some runners (they do look like fisherman’s glasses).
Spy Optic is another small name manufacturer on this list, but they offer a fantastic pair of sunglasses that should work for just about anyone. You may have noticed by now that the traditional sports sunglasses are not seeing as much love on this list as you may have expected. This is primarily because the glasses we have found are stylized to be multifunctional and the Spy Unisex Cyrus is a perfect case in point.
With the UV protection you expect and multiple styles to choose from, these are a great pair that can sit alongside any other glasses on this list. From a lesser-known company, though, they seem to be pricey. While style is obviously first for these glasses, they are great for casual runners. Lightweight and large, they transition nicely from activewear to something you can wear while out on the town. The consistency in quality has impressed us as well.
- Great glasses for running or going out.
- Large lenses with full UV protection.
- Multiple styles to fit your needs.
- For more professional runners, they may be too large.
- The price point is around the Oakley price – so it is hard to suggest these over those.
The Bolle glasses will likely appeal most to the female runners reading the list and they are one of the more traditional and all-inclusive pairs on this list. With Polarized A-14 coating, anti-reflective coating, anti-fog treatment, hydrophilic nose pads and temple tips they offer everything you are looking for. While they are made for men or women, these seem to be a bit smaller than most of the others, so your mileage may vary if you have a bigger head. They are at the medium price point and you will find some knock offs, so be sure to buy from a reputable retailer.
- Tons of features.
- A-14 protection.
- More traditional running style glasses, but still great for everyday wear.
- Does not offer the same level of protection from sunlight as some of the other options on the list.
- Smaller glasses which may not appeal to bigger heads. (Just make sure you can exchange or return them.)
Oakley shows up one more time on our list with their Gascan Sunglasses. They offer a unique look that harkens back to a Mad Max style look for runner’s glasses. Thick and black, they are definitely meant to be used in the bright sunlight. They aren’t cheap, which is a bit of an issue considering how easily they can get scratched. But they offer polarization and a unique look that should fit larger heads pretty easily. They aren’t our favorite glasses in terms of quality and features, but they offer a great deal in the way of style.
As with all Oakley’s, make sure you buy from a reputable dealer. Knock-offs are common and likely the reason many are lower quality and easy to scratch. These can be your go-to running glasses, but they can also work well for other activities. They have a striking style that will make you stand out – just be prepared for a bulky looking pair.
- Extremely unique style.
- Great for larger heads.
- Quality is suspect as scratches seem to show up too easily.
- Common knock off brand.
- A bit pricey.
- Bulkier than comparable sunglasses.
The final pair of sunglasses is probably the style you envisioned when you started this search. Polarized and durable, the Hulislem Blade is a great pair of sports sunglasses at an extremely affordable price if you shop around. They can come in close to the price of Oakley’s, but with some digging, you will find them on sale as some of the lowest priced glasses on the market.
They offer everything you need for running sunglasses, including a light frame and UV protection, and look the part. You will get some light bleeding and the nose pad is not adjustable, so it may not be a perfect fit for everyone, but they are a great choice for those that find them comfortable. They aren’t our favorite glasses on the list, but they will be the favorite of many of our readers without a doubt.
- Traditional styling.
- Solid UV protection.
- Light frame and very durable.
- Affordably priced.
- Nose pads are stuck in place.
- Light can bleed in behind the glasses.
- Won’t be a good fit for everyone.
Conclusion & Recommendation
Well, there you have it. Our picks for runner’s sunglasses may not have been what you expected (besides the Hulislem Blade’s at number 7), but we wanted to offer something unique – glasses that offered a solid style, but worked well as sporting sunglasses as well. Sunglasses are like running belts and gloves, you may not think of them as essential, but they can definitely allow your runs to be longer and more comfortable. Most of the glasses offered fall within most of the different lens colors discussed in the buying guide.
If I had to pick my favorite pair right now, without considering price or any of our other review factors I would go with the Flying Fisherman at number three. Primarily because of the style and the fact that I grew up on the water and the clear amber color is something that I love and those lenses seem to be exactly what I remember from my days out on the lake.
That isn’t to say our first two picks aren’t great purchases, they made the top spots for a reason. If you are looking to spend a little less, go with the Duduma’s at number one, if you are looking for a little higher quality and don’t mind spending a more, the Oakley’s at number two are your best bet.
The Spy Optic and Bolle at number four and five would be my top pick for smaller heads or female runners. That is if the other higher-ranked glasses don’t fit well or aren’t your style. Finally, if you are looking to stand out, go with the Gascan’s (number 6) as they make a statement on their own while still providing quality.
We have said it multiple times throughout the review, but it should be stressed here: many of the brands featured on this list are frequently knocked off and sold to unsuspecting customers. Make sure you buy from a reputable retailer, like Amazon, that will back your purchase if you get a bad pair. Also, make sure returns are an option as the pair you really want may not feel as comfortable as you hoped. While this review should give you a good idea of what glasses will work best, we never found a pair that fit perfectly for everyone. This is somewhat trial and error, just use this list as a guide to reducing the amount of trial you have to go through. Happy shopping and good luck on finding your new favorite pair of sunglasses.