If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
Spending time outdoor is one of the many benefits of running. But there are drawbacks; namely, too much sun exposure. UV rays – which are present even when it’s overcast outside – can wreak havoc on our eyes as well as our skin. Without the right protection, UV rays can cause eye diseases such as cataracts and increase the chances of developing eye cancer. Plus, squinting through harsh glare from cars, asphalt or snow is just plain uncomfortable while trying to log miles.
For runners spending hours a week outdoors, the discomfort and risks posed by UV rays are even higher. Here’s where the best running sunglasses come in.
The best running sunglasses protect against all three types of UV rays (UVA, UVB and UVC) to ensure healthier eyes down the road. They block out glare and, in some cases, improve vision with contrast-enhancing tints.
More importantly, a good pair of running sunglasses are designed for intense activity. They’ll sit comfortably on your face while running and sweating, whereas normal sunglasses are likely to jiggle or slip right off. Sunglasses designed for running also typically provide more shade than fashion sunglasses with wrap-around coverage.
What Are the Best Running Sunglasses?
Below are a few things to consider before picking up a pair of running sunglasses. First, you’ll want to think about where you typically run (I.e. trails or streets), as well as what kind of weather you encounter.
Design: Most runners prefer a wrap-around design for total coverage. This will block sunlight and glare at all times of day, including sunrise and sunset. However, some runners like more street-ready frames, such as wayfarers. These less athletic-looking glasses are good if you hit the grocery store or coffee shop after a run.
Lenses: The lenses is the best running sunglasses differ quite a bit with varying tints and polarization. Certain tint colors suit different settings, such as rose tints which improve contrast and dark dints which block more light. Contrast-enhancing tints, such as rose or orange, are ideal for technical trail running where you need to spot roots, rocks and terrain changes. Dark tints, on the other hand, are good for urban settings where you encounter glare from windows, asphalt and cars.
Polarized lenses, which only let in light at a vertical angle to eliminate glare, are usually preferred. However, polarization isn’t totally necessary in low-glare situations such as trail runs.
Style: All sunglasses – even sporty pairs – should look good. Head size is the first thing to think about, as the wrong size sunglasses can make your head look oddly small or too large. Also, running sunglasses can be either sporty or more casual. Both are viable options, especially now that sporty shades are making their way into the fashion world.
Rx Lenses: A handful of running sunglasses come with the option for Rx lenses. This is obviously a major plus for any near-sighted runners. Just swap the generic factory lenses for a pair with your prescription — something that can often be easily done online.
1. Oakley Radar EV Path
If you’re a serious runner (or a serious connoisseur of running gear), go for these Oakley Radar EV Path sunglasses. The shades use Prizm polarized lenses that protect against all UVs, enhance colors and greatly reduce glare. With wrap-around coverage and tall lenses, that protection is effective from all angles.
The frame, meanwhile, is very lightweight and uses Oakley’s rubber-like material (Unobtanium) on the nose and temple pads. These improve comfort and prevent the glasses from bouncing or falling off during intense runs. Sizewise, the Radar EV Paths’ are best for medium faces but should fit almost anyone.
2. Smith Dockside
Smith’s Dockside sunglasses might not look too sporty, but they’re more than ready to perform on a run. The glasses feature a wraparound design that blocks most sunlight from all angles, including the top-down light you get around noon. Despite their coverage, the Docksides are very lightweight thanks to Evolve material – a high-performance plastic from Smith. Better still, GlassesUSA.com offers the Docksides with prescription lenses. They are on the large side, however, so we recommend them for runners with wider faces.
3. Rudy Project Propulse Sports Sunglasses
Another good pick for long-distance runners are these Propulse sunglasses from Rudy Project. Boasting a 26-gram weight and a grippy build, the glasses are designed to stay comfortably in place on any terrain. One of the sunnies’ best uses is for hot weather running because they feature an all-over venting system to reduce fogging in humidity. The polarized lenses, which are made of a durable composite, can be easily switched out and come in a few color options. In terms of fit, we suggest the Propulses for runners with small to medium-sized faces.
4. Nike Skylon Ace Sunglasses
These Skylon Ace sunglasses from Nike are a great option for both sprints or outdoor workouts, in addition to jogging. The Italian-made shades feature an angled, wrap-around design that’s meant to cover everything without adding too much weight and material. They’re also very secure thanks to a rubberized nose pad and long temple tips that bend around the back of the head. Plus, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more stylish pair of full-coverage, high-performance running sunglasses.
5. Knockaround Fast Lanes Sport
Don’t be fooled by the affordability of these Knockaround glasses: The polarized shades are actually durable, comfortable and great for taking on runs. The frames are made of a lightweight rubberized plastic that grips your nose and ears to keep the shades in place. Even if they happen to fall, the glasses’ polycarbonate lenses are quite hard to damage.
Plus, Knockaround glasses are something of a trend with celebrities from Matthew McConaughey to Snoop Dogg seen wearing the affordable shades. That means you can easily rock these to the grocery store or coffee shop right after a run. We recommend the glasses for medium-sized faces, although they work fine on small and large heads too.
6. Julbo Fury Performance Sunglasses
If you run in the early morning or evening when the light is shifting, check out these Julbo Fury sunglasses. They come in either bright or low-light options – the latter providing optimal shade in transitional light. All of the Furys (no matter which lens type you choose) feature vented lenses that effectively prevent fogging from humidity and sweat. The frame, sized for medium to wide faces, is fitted with grippy, shock-absorbent pads on the nose and ears for a comfortable, jiggle-free fit. At the top of the frame, there’s also a close-fitting brow bar that prevents sweat from getting in your eyes.