If you like running when the sun’s out, you need a good pair of sunglasses — the last thing you want is to be squinting at the sun while trying to get in the zone. But the pair of shades you want for running will be quite different than what you’d wear for sipping drinks on the patio or taking a road trip. While you only need to consider style and fit for the former, running sunglasses require certain performance factors, too.
First off, you’ll want them to be lightweight. Even a few extra ounces can feel like a hundred pounds when you’re working hard. Also, your lens should be at least partially hydrophobic so it can withstand sweat and moisture, as well as the occasional rain shower if you’re in a wet climate. You may want to invest a bit more in lens technology. While seeing crisp textures and a high contrast of colors doesn’t matter while tanning poolside, you do need to see the ground you’re running on, particularly if you’re on trails, or jogging off the pavement.
It’s also important your sunglasses fit right and won’t slide down your face, especially if you’re running sprints, hurdles, or on-trail sessions. Plus, if you wear prescription glasses, you’ll want your preferred sunglasses to be made Rx compatible — several companies such as SportRx even outfit popular athletic sunglasses with prescription lenses. Beyond that, think of comfort, budget, and style. Here is a list of the best running sunglasses in every category.
The best optical clarity
Designed with the same cutting-edge lens technology Spy uses in its snow sports goggles, these high-performance shades feature a 6-base polycarbonate ARC lens that enhances textures while making colors appear vibrant and varied. The Helm 2 — which start at around $100 — also features Spy’s Happy Lens technology which filters out harmful short-wave blue light while allowing long-wave blue light in. The idea is that the long-wave rays — which have been shown to boost people’s moods — actually make you feel more positive and alert during training sessions.
Aside from its innovative lens tech, the Helm 2’s feature nearly crush-proof Grilamid material with five-barrel hinges and non-slip rubber temple inserts. Plus, they look good on your face which is always a plus.
The most lightweight
If you hate the feeling of heavy, clunky glasses weighing you down while running, then these ultra-lightweight shades from Adidas are for you. These slick, aviator-style glasses weigh in at just over 21 grams with a flexible, shatter-proof SPX frame that’s handmade in Austria. They feature Adidas’ proprietary lens technology engineered with multi-layer, scratch-resistant polycarbonate, providing premium UV protection that won’t scuff up the second you drop them or venture off trail — which we also consider a steal at just $133.
Prescription wearers take note, these are also Rx compatible and incredibly easy to customize with double-snap nose pads and traction grip contact points on the temples. Best of all, the chic aviator aesthetic is stylish without detracting from its performance features.
The best polarized lens
Whether you jog near water, train in a snowy mountain town, or simply like the look of polarized sunglasses, these Native shades are some of the best on the market. Built with the brand’s N3 technology, the mirrored lenses are designed to reduce infrared light (i.e. Glare) up to four times more than your typical polarized lens.
Native designed the Catamount to reduce the visual light transmission while also enhancing contrast and offering UV protection up to 400 nanometers. The result is reduced blue light with exceptional contrast and texture. As a bonus, the lenses are interchangeable so you can collect a whole quiver of colors for different moods and activities. Considering these cost just $139, they’re also easy on the wallet.
The best hydrophobic lens
This pick from Bolle seems tailor-made for triathletes and distance racers. The hydrophobic, oil-resistant lens coating blasts away beads of water, dirt, and oil almost instantly, allowing you to work up a hard sweat and push through any weather conditions. They offer superior performance in the rain and intense heat alike and protect against elements like mud or soil. So, if you’re training for a Tough Mudder or similar adventure race, you can rest assured these $179 shades won’t be ruined after just one event.
The Trivex lens material is a touch lighter than polycarbonate and more impact-resistant. Beyond that, the cast molding offers crisp optical clarity that resists distortion and delivers a clean view. At only 26 grams, they are also one of the lightest options on this list.
The best no-slip fit
If you’re looking for a pair of sunglasses that’ll stay put while you run — even while tackling sprints, hurdles, or off-road training sessions — these polarized shades are a superb choice. Featuring Shred’s NoSlip custom-fit technology, the glasses are equipped with rubber pads on the nose and inside the temple tips which prevent them from budging when you bounce around.
The rubber pads also provide extra comfort at the various contact points on your face. Shred’s polarized lens is constructed with a Contrast Boosting Lens system that cranks up the contrast and definition while also blocking the glare. These $200 glasses weigh in at roughly 25 grams, meaning they’re incredibly light while still looking stylish.
The best budget
For people who can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on elite performance glasses yet still want a quality pair of shades, these Singlefins from Sunski offer excellent value at just $58. Not only are they extremely durable but they come standard with a fit that feels custom made for your face. The frame is soft and lightweight with polarized lenses which reduce glare when you train outside.
Sunski offers the Singlefin in three shades including grey with a rose tint, tortoise with a forest green tint, and black with an aqua blue tint. Though they perform well during a variety of exercises, they also make a great trail-to-tavern option, as well.
The best elite performance
Sure, they’re nearly $400 ($395, to be exact) but Nike’s new Vaporwing Elite are essentially the Cadillac of running sunglasses. Constructed with top-of-the-line Zeiss optics, the sunglasses offer crystal clear optical clarity, vibrant texture, and exceptional contrast. Their angular design is wind-resistant and highly aerodynamic, shaped to give you speed in scenarios where every millisecond counts. They utilize Nike’s Flying Lens technology which promotes air circulation, preventing the lens from trapping moisture and fogging up as you sweat.
Furthermore, the wide open, single-shield design creates an unobstructed field of vision with a wide peripheral vision. Nike’s Vaporwing Elite are lightweight and form-fitting with a ventilated, self-adjusting nose bridge and rubber divets to provide extra grip.
The most compact
These unique sports sunglasses not only provide stellar performance features and lens technology but they’re compact enough to fit in your pocket. The Popstar NYDEF’s are designed with Popticals’ patented FL2 Micro-Rail System which allows the arms to fold inside themselves and slide into the frame. A micro-thin stainless steel rail, which is guided by a strong magnet, pulls the ends together seamlessly.
Popticals built these frames with durable Swiss Grilamid TR 90 and each pair comes with a sturdy, hard-shell case. They have hydrophobic, oleophobic (i.e. Oil-resistant) nylon lenses that are light, scratch-resistant, and ultra clear — an all-around solid package for $199.
The best men’s style
You want your sunglasses to perform like a workhorse when you’re out running but you don’t always want to look like you’re about to run a marathon. Thankfully, the Zeal Carsons exist. Not only do these have all the performance features of elite running sunglasses but they’re packaged in a trendy design you can keep wearing when your workout ends.
Zeal designed the $179 Carsons with Ellume, a polarized, plant-based polymer lens that delivers crisp optics while also being sustainable and petroleum-free. The top-grade polarization dramatically reduces the amount of UVA rays that penetrate the lens and it also filters out high-energy blue light (HEV), enhancing color and depth perception. Though they’re a stylish pick for men, they work great for women, too.
The best women’s style
Keanon’s Monterey shades are a solid combination of fashion and function. Its ultra-lightweight TR-90 frame stays comfortable while running thanks to its grippy Variflex nose pads, and its 5-barrel stainless steel hinge makes them durable while keeping them on your face. Kaenon designed the Monterey to feature sleek contours and a narrow shape which makes this $219 pair a chic and stylish option.
They come in your choice of a rustic driftwood color with a gold mirror lens (which brings out greens for increased depth perception), or a basic black with a grey-tinted lens (which offers a neutral shade with true-to-life clarity). The frame is built with a narrow profile for smaller, more petite faces. On top of running, the sunglasses make an awesome choice for biking, hiking, SUPing, or hitting happy hour.