The Best Sunglasses for Hiking (2022)
Nobody ever thinks of including a pair of sunglasses in their hiking gear list, but why?
The majority of hikers forget that just like your feet, hands, and other parts of the body; the eyes also need protection. This especially true for those hot summer hikes.
So, if you were asked to buy a pair of hiking glasses, would you know where to start looking? Heck, would you even have an idea of what features to look out for in the ideal sunglasses?
From the frame material to ergonomics and space-age lenses, the technology around hiking sunglasses is pretty complex. For the novice enthusiast, hearing all this jargon can be overwhelming.
You need to be well-versed to make the right purchase decision. This is exactly where we come in.
In this article, we will tell you about the most essential factors to consider when shopping for hiking sunglasses. We’ll also consider some of the best sunglasses for hiking you can find in the stores.
Best Sunglasses for Hiking: Guide
There are various important aspects of hiking sunglasses that should interest you before making a choice when you go out shopping. These will go a long way to influence the performance of the sunglasses and their effectiveness depending on the conditions you’ll be hiking in.
Be sure to consider the following in the best sunglasses for hiking:
The lenses are one of the most important features on a hiking sunglass. They are responsible for reflecting harmful rays from the sun such as UV and blue light. Hiking sunglasses come with different types of lenses that are suited for different hiking conditions.
Typically, you’ll find the following lens type:
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) - This is the most basic lens type in hiking sunglasses and it simply reduces the light amount getting transmitted to your eyes.
High VLT sunglasses are not easy to come by since they are mostly used for overcast conditions. Meanwhile, low VLT sunglasses are used in bright conditions because they limit a large amount of light passing through the lens.
UV Protection - There are three different kinds of UV light that you should know about and these include UVA, UVB, and UVC. While you shouldn’t worry about UVC, it is UVB that you should be most concerned about.
This is because they are associated with cancer of the skin. Meanwhile, the effects of UVA are yet to be fully established but you can never be too careful.
Polarized vs, Non-polarized
Polarized simply refers to sunglass lenses that have been designed to reduce the glare of the sun by filtering out reflected light.
This allows your eyes to perceive colors more richly while the depth of vision is enhanced. In short, polarized sunglasses make everything around you look better.
For instance, if you look down at the water with your polarized sunglasses, you can easily see what’s underneath the surfaces as opposed to the glaring white from the sun.It’s also possible to see what’s on the horizon when you look out into the sunset during your hike.
Another situation where polarized lens become a necessity is when you’re hiking in large waterbodies or hiking the snow.
In such cases, the light gets polarized when it reflects off surfaces such as water and snow. The colour of polarized lens to choose will probably boil down to individual preference.
Nevertheless, grey might be a nice choice as it is the most neutral colour and makes objects appear mostly real. Meanwhile, brown lenses ensure that your surrounding has that crisp and vintage look. You can also choose from pink and blue to even green.
Eventually, you’ll have to decide what you want to go with as a matter of preference.
Just note that some colours tend to allow less light in, meaning they are not the best option for darker or overcast conditions.
This is another thing that you might want to know about beforehand, especially if you want to incorporate the sunglasses into your list of hiking gear.
However, the design becomes very essential when it comes to the right fit. Some types of sunglasses come with removable, as well as adjustable pads and parts to enhance the fit on your face.
The design also influences a variety of extra features that may improve the ventilation or grip.While it might be difficult to fully inspect the design of sunglasses you’re buying online, it is important to get it from a company with a nice return policy if at all you end up ordering a pair of sunglasses that don’t fit you.
Most lenses are manufactured out of materials such as polyurethane, plastic, and polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a plastic that offers very high-quality optics. It also has a strong structure that is resistant to impact, ensuring that your sunglasses can come out of occasional falls without cracking.
This also makes it a great choice for extreme hikes. However, you should note that polycarbonate lenses are easy to scratch, especially if they don’t come with an anti-scratch coating. This is something you might want to pay attention to before making an order.
Most hiking sunglasses use polycarbonate as a lens material given its high-quality.It may be expensive but not more than polyurethane.
On the other hand, polyurethane is a synthetic substance that blends the best attributes of polycarbonate and glass. This allows it to provide the best results when looking at the objects around you.
Although it is the most expensive option, polyurethane is also the most long-lasting and lightweight lens material. Finally, regular plastic lens happens to be the most price-friendly on the upside but scratches easily on the downside.
This means you have to keep on replacing your sunglasses since regular plastic is not that durable.
Eventually, when deciding between hiking glasses, be sure to check what material the lenses are made out of and whether the material is water-repellant and coated with anti-scratch or anti-glare resistance.
There are several materials to choose from as far as the frame of your hiking sunglasses is concerned. These will affect the weight, usage, as well as the comfort you get from wearing the sunglasses.
The most flexible and durable frame materials consist of either nylon or nylon-plastic blends.
Purely plastic frames may not be the best choice for extreme conditions, especially when you are prone to dropping your shades.You may easily end up stranded without your crucial sunglasses for the remaining part of the trail.
Aluminium and titanium are two materials that are quite sturdy but get too hot for comfort with prolonged exposure to the sun. This downplays their candidacy for a good hiking sunglass frame material. To be on the safe side, just go for something that has nylon!
The design and comfort of the sunglasses you get should be guided by what you intend to use them for. If you’re looking for the best sunglasses for hiking, you want to first look at the nose-piece, as well as the arms of the frame.
Confirm whether the nose-piece slides off. If not, what about when you start to sweat? For the frame arms, check if they are too tight. How do they feel after a few hours of hiking in the trail?
Remember that you’ll be hiking with your glasses for hours on end, so you don’t want a piece that gets uncomfortable after a while.If you’re making the order online, make sure that the manufacturer you’re buying from has a return policy or offers a product warranty. If possible, try them on before you buy to confirm that they are the right fit and don’t weigh too heavy.
This is something you may want to consider if you have eye issues that compel you to wear prescription glasses quite often. This means you’ll have to keep on switching to contacts whenever you have to wear your non-prescription hiking sunglasses.
Therefore, it would be more convenient if you had a pair of prescription glasses since you need to get a second pair for when you’re wearing contacts. All in all, this is simply a matter of preference, although if you wear contacts, you will need to get two pairs of sunglasses.
The Best Sunglasses for Hiking- List
Oakley Shift Carbon Fibre Sunglasses
Oakley are one of the most established companies in our article when it comes to producing high quality sunglasses for hiking....
As such, it should come as no surprise that we are kicking off our list with one of their best performers, the Oakley Shift Carbon Fibre Matte Sunglasses.
So why are they so good?
The Oakley Shift Carbon Fibre Matte sunglasses come with a huge array of features that will be useful for hiking.
For example, they were designed with a precise 3 point fit for the face, meaning almost perfect optical alignment.The glasses also feature Oakley's trademarked Prizm Polarized lenses which will assist you on those important hikes by reducing glare, which has been known to cause accidents in the past. Pros:
Wrap Around Frame
Easy to Swap Polarized Lenses
Different Frame Options
No fogging & vents build in
Logo on the side can cause issues with peripheral vision
Oakley Sonnenbrille Jawbreaker Sunglasses
Not only do the Oakley Sonnenbrille Jawbreaker Sunglasses look cool, but they're also incredibly functional and protect you against the sun, while fitting like a dream!
Oakley Sonnenbrilles come with UVA,UVB & UVC protection, so have no fear, while you're out cycling, hiking or whatever activity you're doing, you are fully protected by these wonderfully made sunglasses.Pros:
Carbon Fibre Frame
Tungsten Iridium Polarized Lenses
Perfect for all-weather hiking
Not enough variety in colours
Oakley Flak 2.0
As seen above, the Oakley company is a renowned sunglasses manufacturer that needs no introduction! The Oakley Flak 2.0 is one of our favourites on this list.
Their products are considered by many to be the “Ferraris” of sunglasses, and for a good reason.
Thanks to superior engineering and technology, Oakley produces high-performance and durable hiking sunglasses that will take your experience to the next level.
These sunglasses are ruggedly durable and come with scratch-resistance glass.
According to the manufacturer, the refraction of the Flak 2.0s is much truer to real sight. This is unlike other models that alter that depth of perception, even if it’s just a little bit.
This simply means that when you wear these sunglasses, your brain won’t have to work too hard to calculate depth.
The lenses provide 100% UV protection, meaning your eyes remain safe from UVA, UVB, and UVC rays that can be harmful if allowed to pass through over extended periods. Not to mention that they also block out blue light up to 400nm.
However, bear in mind that the light transition is only at 11% on these lenses, meaning they are pretty dark in low-light conditions and under shadows.
You also get the opportunity to purchase separate pieces in case y
Another thing is that considering the big-name brand that Oakely is, the price tag on their sunglasses is just as big. So, be sure to take extra care of your Flak 2.0s if you decide to invest in a pair.
Overall, these are a multi-purpose pair of sunglasses than can be used for hiking, running, biking, etc.Pros:
100% UV protection
Oakley Radar EV Sunglasses
The Oakley Radar EV Sunglasses are an absolute beast, and simply perfect for both hiking and cycling. EV stands for "Extended View", which means that you'll be able to see more in your peripheral vision and when in the drops in a road bike.
The Oakley Radar EV's will block 100% of UVA, UVB & UVC rays and also up to 400nm of blue light. They are available with prescription lenses and Oakley's patented Prizm Polarized lens designs.
They're a solid contender on our list of best sunglasses for hiking, check out the review below and a list of pros/cons:Pros:
Oakley performance shield lens technology with HDO
lightweight frame material
Full UV Protection
Available with Oakley Prizm lenses
Nosepiece cannot be adjusted to control the fit.
Maui Jim Peahi Polarized Wrap Frame Sunglasses
If you are the kind of hiker who likes to remain fashionable on the trail, these cute hiking sunglasses will make you fall in love with them. The Maui Jim Peahis are available in four unique styles, each with different colored frames and lenses.
However, all these lenses have one mutual feature, and that is the application of PolarizedPlus technology, which is crucial to enhancing the colors around you.
You also get UV protection that shields your eyes against all the three types of UV rays. Elsewhere, the frame of the Jim Peahis is made from Grilamid, flexible and lightweight material that enhances your comfort on the hiking zone over prolonged periods.
The sunglasses are also heat resistant with lenses made from super thin material that still offers excellent solvent and scratch resistance properties.
The four different lenses available in the Jim Peahi sunglasses package are all best suited for unique circumstances.
The Brown and Black sunglasses feature HCL bronze lenses that are best for dynamic light conditions while the Natural Grey lenses are excellent in bright and direct sunlight situations.
Meanwhile, the Blue Hawaii lenses are good at enhancing color and clarity.
If you ask us, for a recommendation for an upcoming hiking trip, I would go with Natural Grey as they are best suited for those conditions.Pros:
High-quality lenses and frame
Lightweight and durable
Scratch and solvent resistance
All the lenses are polarized
Heavy polycarbonate lenses
Costa Del Mar Blackfin Sunglasses
The Costa Del Mar Blackfins are a great mid-range alternative for those who don’t want to go overboard on what they spend on a pair of hiking sunglasses. They boast 580 Polycarbonate lenses that come with exceptional scratch resistance qualities.
Meanwhile, the frame is made out of bio-based injected nylon to make for superb durability.
These glasses also have stainless steel hinges, which make them heavier than some of the brands we have mentioned.However, the stainless steel is remarkably strong, so you won’t be experiencing any issues with the hinges anytime soon.
There are different colors of lenses to choose from in the Del Mar Blackfin sunglasses, however, the Blue Mirror polarized lenses are your best bet if you’re planning a hiking expedition.
Given their 100% polarization, these glasses help to reduce the sun’s glare while ensuring that your eyes don’t strain.
They also employ patented technology that blocks yellow and blue light, making them a great option for water sports such as fishing.Finally, these sunglasses will stay in position for the whole time you’ll be hiking. They don’t slip down or move around, which allows you to focus on the hike without getting distracted. Pros:
Durable stainless-steel hinges
Remain is position all the time
Blocks yellow and blue light
Maui Jim Starfish
The Maui Jim Starfish sunglasses were specially crafted for use by women. It uses an injected nylon frame, which is among the best qualities you can find in the market.
The Starfish also uses SuperThin glass lenses that are 20% thinner and lighter than ordinary glass.
The lenses are also polarized to reduce the glare of the sun, ensuring that your eyes are protected from harmful rays. They also come in a couple of colour options that would be best suited for various situations.
For instance, Maui Rose and HCL Bronze are great for sunny overcast while Neutral grey is more ideal for direct and bright sunlight.
The Maui Starfish are stylish sunglasses that allow ladies to remain fashionable during their adventurous hikes in the open spaces. On the downside, these sunglasses don’t come cheap.
The SuperThin glass lens design adds a significant cost to the sunglasses. However, you can reassure yourself that you’re getting value for your money!Pros:
Technical and stylish
SuperThin glass lens
Not suitable for extreme hiking
Julbo Vermont Classic Sunglasses
The Vermont Classic hiking sunglasses offers you a choice of three different types of lenses. We advise that you go for the Spectron 4 sunglasses as these are best suited for hiking.
They are also popularly referred to as mountaineering lens because they can block up to 95% of visible light to protect your fragile eyes.
The lenses are also pretty dark, you don't want to be driving with the Vermont Classic sunglasses on before you get to your hiking area.
One great thing about the shades is that they are very lightweight, although they come with excellent impact resistance.
This makes for a durable pair of sunglasses that you can go on multiple hikes without breaking or damaging them.
The Spectron 4 lenses also provide you with 100% UV protection and are flash treated to boost visible light filtering with a mirror effect on them. They also come with anti-reflective coating which serves to ease the glare from the sun off the back of the lens.
Another unique feature on the Vermont classics is the side and middle leather shields.
The shield above the nose bridge can be removed and this is done by pressing a button. While the side shields are not removable, they hardly bother you when you have the glasses on. These spectacular hiking sunglasses from Julbo have a premium price and may be out of some hiker’s budgets.
However, the level of quality offered ensures that you get an impressive return on your investment over time.Pros:
Classic mountaineering Spectron 4 lenses
Maui Jim Haleakala
The next option on our list for the best sunglasses for hiking is the Maui Jim Haleakala! They come with a modified rectangular frame that not only complements various shapes of faces but also makes them look good both on and off the hiking trails.
The Jim Haleakalas come to their own in the lens department.
These shades use the brand’s most popular MauiPure lenses, which feature exceptional shatter and scratch resistance, to go with oil and water protection.The lenses also contain SuperGlass material to make for durable and rugged construction.
The Maui lenses are polarized to handle direct and bright sunlight well and you get to choose from a variety of colors.
These include a Neutral Grey and HCL Bronze, which are great for rich color contrast and higher transmission in low light respectively. The only grievance on the Maui Jim Halekalas is their price.
You pay a premium price when you purchase these top-of-the-line sunglasses.
The lenses come with a Bi-Gradient mirror that is placed at the bottom or top of the lens or a Multi-Gradient mirror that will favour you depending on the usage.
Apart from the 100% UV protection, your eyes will also be safe from Blue light HEV. Generally, these glasses will come in handy when you want the best sunglass technology in the market and still look fashionable while wearing them.Pros:
100% UV protection
Polarized Maui Pure lenses
Rugged and durable build
Julbo Sherpa Glacier Sunglasses
The Julbo Sherpa Glaciers are one of the best sunglasses for hiking out there. They come with a cheap price tag that makes them more accessible to all levels of hikers without compromising on quality. These classic mountaineering sunglasses are suitable for all kinds of weather conditions.
Leather shields of the glasses frame offer excellent grip to ensure the shades always remain in place.
Peripheral protection shields your eyes against bright sunlight conditions. The lenses used are made of glass, which is heavier and more durable than plastic. It is also less vulnerable to scratching.
You’ll like that the lens can be removed, which offers flexibility when you want to use the glasses in different places, e.g. mall and office.
Unfortunately, the lenses are not polarized, although they offer great protection against UV rays. The pre-curved temples on these hiking glasses are flexible and allow you to adjust them conveniently to fit the size and shape of your head.
The temple ends are also 360 adjustable to let move the glasses around in the direction you want. This makes them perfect to wear under a hat or helmet since there won’t be any interference when you want to adjust them.Pros:
360-adjustable temple ends
Leather shields for keeping the glasses in place
Durable glass lenses
The right pair of hiking sunglasses is a must-have accessory if you want to have a full hiking experience. They protect your fragile eyes in the harsh trail conditions and improve the visuals and optics of your surroundings.
So, if you are looking for the best sunglasses for hiking, the above-reviewed models will make practical options for you!