The 10 Best Sport Sunglasses of 2023
Whether you're hitting the golf course or the mountain trails, these sunglasses offer the best eye protection and visibility.
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Travel + Leisure / David Hattan
Sunglasses are meant for more than just looking cool. They’re crucial for protecting your eyes and the area around them from the harmful effects of UV exposure. Neglecting to slip them on can have major consequences, including internal eye cancers and skin cancer around the eyes, macular degeneration, pterygia, and cataracts.
When it comes to sports, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a professional athlete, “the right pair of outdoor glasses can also help support your visual skills and may boost your athletic performance,” explains Michelle J. Hoff, OD, FAAO, ABOM, FNAO, Associate Clinical Professor of Optometry at The University of California Berkeley Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science. Plus, they act as a protective barrier against projectiles such as debris, dirt, fingers, and collisions. “Many injuries are prevented or mitigated as a result of using sports googles,” says James Kelly, M.D., an ophthalmologist and owner of Kelly Vision Center in New York City.
We spoke to folks like Drs. Hoff and Kelly as well as Rob Tavakoli, aka SunglassRob, the CEO of SportRx, a company that produces prescription lenses for a number of manufacturers, and a few sports enthusiasts. Based on their tips, these ten shades shone the brightest.
A smudge-resistant coating on this lens helps minimize fingerprints for optimal clarity and easy cleaning, while a wide field of view ensures you can focus on your game with no distractions.
This sporty silhouette may not be a match if you’re looking for more of a lifestyle pick.
From their sharp detailing to their innovative styles, there’s a reason folks consistently fall for Smith sunglasses, and the Vert PivLock, one of the brand’s newest pairs, is no exception. This trendy, oversized, wraparound style was built to battle the sun during lengthy outdoor adventures by ensuring your entire eye area — front and sides — is protected while offering greater color, clarity, and definition. Six lens and frame combinations to choose from allow you to match your sunglasses with your specific sport needs or aesthetic preferences. You can go chic with the black on black combo or showcase a bit more personality through a funkier mirrored hue lens (think violet, rose gold, red, and opal). VLTs range from 10 percent, which is perfect for the sunniest days on the trail or water, and 30 percent, a versatile option suitable for everyday use (more on how to choose lens colors and VLT below).
A handy bonus: Each pair comes with a clear interchangeable lens that you can quickly swap in during low light and night conditions to continue to keep eyes shielded from flying rocks, tree branches, and other debris. A hard case for travel and a microfiber bag that can double as a lens wipe are also included.
Price at time of publish: $209
The Details: TR90 nylon | Polarized | 10-30 percent VLT | Anti-fog
They look fun and stylish while still being extremely functional.
The slim frame may not work well for those with wide faces.
While the price tag may be what first grabs your attention — yep, they are way cheaper than most sunglasses — it’s the fact that they block 100 percent of harmful UVA and UVB rays that will keep you reaching for this pair time and time again. Available in multiple colors with laugh-out-loud names (think: Freshly Baked Man Buns, I’m Wearing Burgundy? and Influencers Pay Double), this classic circular style has a grippy coated frame that keeps them in place and bounce-free — even when your face is soaked in sweat. The best part: Not only are they perfect for all of your outdoor activities, including walking, hiking, and cycling, but they are also a great everyday pair too.
Price at time of publish: $25
The Details: UVA/UVB protection|Plastic | Polarized | Anti-fog
If you’re wondering about battery life, don’t. You’ll get about 12 hours of use off of a three-hour charge.
These sunglasses are only compatible with specific products, some of which are produced by Apple, Garmin, and Suunto.
If you’re a serious runner or cyclist that also likes to geek out on the latest tech, the frameless Engo 2s may be just what you need. This pair, which has stay-put grippy rubber on the arms and comes in two sizes, projects your real-time data (heart rate, power, pace, distance, elevation, etc.) from your bike computer or smartwatch via Bluetooth to the inside of the right lens. This way, you’re always clued into your stats and overall progress. And no matter what light conditions you find yourself training or racing in, the auto-adjust feature ensures your metrics are always visible. Despite all of the tech jam-packed into these sunglasses, they still look like your typical sporty shade, rather than some space-aged specs from a sci-fi movie, which we absolutely love.
Price at time of publish: $330
The Details: Polycarbonate | Two sizes | Travel case included
They’re so lightweight, you’ll barely notice you’re wearing them.
This single-lens design can swallow narrow faces.
When you step out for a road or trail run, you need to be aware of your surroundings. The Oakley Corridor gives you the full, vibrant picture through its Prizm Lens Technology, which enhances details and depth perception so that you can see things quicker — like subtle changes in road texture — to avoid hazardous tumbles. You won’t have to worry if you do fall either, because this pair is also extremely durable thanks to the brand’s super strong and flexible “O Matter” material. Also, the modern take on this aviator-esque style, which comes in a variety of tints, makes this semi–rimless shield (and you!) look pretty darn cool. FYI: There is also a low-bridge-specific fit, which is targeted at making these sunglasses more secure and more comfortable for folks with a low nose bridge and higher cheekbones.
Price at time of publish: $194
The Details: O Matter (nylon composite) | 11-20 percent VLT
Since these are semi-rimless, there is no bottom frame to obstruct your view during your golf game.
They have limited color options.
If you’re a golfer who usually has to choose between sporting your sunglasses or a hat, you’ll love the Nike Maverick Free Course Tint. The arms on this partially rimless version are tapered down, so both your shades and your favorite cap can coexist seamlessly and comfortably. Beyond that, their shatter-resistant polycarbonate lenses might also make you take a second look — especially if you’ve been known to throw your sunglasses after a bad swing or two. But honestly, it’s their soft grip that offers all-day comfort paired with the tint, which highlights landscapes and enhances contours outdoors that’ll keep you on par for all 18 holes.
Price at time of publish: $179
The Details: Nylon frame | Anti-fog
Adjustable nose pads and temple tips help wearers customize for a more comfortable fit.
They only come in one size.
When it comes to winter sports, the Rudy Project Stardash, which offers visibility in all states of light, has you covered, literally. Side shields, which are easily detachable, transform these aviator-shaped sunnies into a goggle of sorts, helping to keep wintry debris (like snow, ice, and wind) as well as the sun from sneaking in through the sides at high altitude mountain environments. As you navigate your winter sport, the photochromatic lenses will enhance contrast and improve visual acuity and depth perception. You also won’t have to worry about your glasses fogging up as you work up a sweat: These super light, eco-friendly frames have venting slits in the center and along the top to allow for some air flow.
Price at time of publish: $270
The Details: UV protection | Rilsan Clear material | 6-73 percent VLT | Anti-fog
A special lens coating makes them extra scratch-resistance as well as helps keep sweat at bay.
These were made for women with a high nose bridge and lower cheekbones.
When it comes to the women-specific Coasta Aleta, which takes its name from the Spanish word for “fin” these sunglasses check all the boxes. Fashionable, check. Functional, check. Fits really well, checkity-check! Plus they are outfitted with polarized shades — these come in copper, gray, and green mirrored lenses — which help eliminate the glare created by the sun hitting the water. The result: a crisper, clearer view that enhances your experience whether you are fishing, kayaking, or simply chilling on a catamaran.
Price at time of publish: $222
The Details: UV protection | Bi-Resin | Polarized | Anti-fog
The design of the nose pads helps with airflow to up the grip of these sunglasses so they don’t slip when your face is drenched in sweat.
These are made with larger heads and faces in mind.
Whether you’ve taken up tennis or are more into the uber-popular pickleball these days, nothing can kill the vibes on the court more than sun glares. These are outfitted with a polarized lens, which solve for that, cutting out harsh shadows that obscure baselines and sidelines and instead offering color contrast for super clear views on the court. And while there are five tints to choose from, we’re partial to the Maui rose colorway, which the brand says is best for a variety of conditions, from super sunny days to ones that are overcast. Also nice, these performance sunglasses are made with the brand’s thinnest and lightest material, for a barely there feel (just 10 grams!) that won’t weigh you down when you’re going for match point.
Price at time of publish: $199
The Details: Nylon | Polarized
You may get steamy, but your sunglasses won’t since they are fog resistant.
If you want to go with the Reactiv photochromic lenses, which quickly go from lighter to darker depending on the UV light present, over the Spectron polycarbonate ones, you’ll have to pony up more cash.
This performance pair, which is reminiscent of a ski goggle with its wide, cylindrical lens, is a bike racer’s best friend. They’re lightweight, well-vented and the oversized lens offer an unobstructed field of view while protecting against the sun and debris when cycling at super-high speeds. There’s also a cutout on the arms near the temples that acts as a mini shock absorber, helping to give these sunglasses a super comfy feel while a rubber piece along the nose bridge keeps them in place. And with nine colors to choose from, there are plenty of chances to showcase your personal style while on the bike.
Price at time of publish: $140
The Details: UVA/UVB protection | Rilsan | 12-87 percent VLT | Anti-fog
The sticky elastomer around the nose and temples makes sure these frames don’t budge no matter how much you move or how sweaty you get.
If you’re not a fan of round glasses or don’t have the face shape (think rectangular, oblong, or oval) that traditionally compliments this style, you may want to steer clear.
The Roka Hamilton is a durable, lightweight pair of sunglasses that is basically a one-stop shop for minimalists who need something that works for every potential life event: running, cycling, golfing, beach days or just hanging out around time. They don’t bounce when you are on the move, nor do they slip with sweat thanks to the sticky elastomer along the nose and ends of the arms. Plus this classic round frame, which is at its best in bright and sunny conditions, is super stylish. And if you rather not wear polarized lenses, there are a few non-polarized options too.
Price at the Time of Publish: $210
The Details: UVA/UVB protection | TR-90 nylon | Polarized: Yes | 11-17 percent VLT | Anti-fog
When it comes to sunglasses, comfort is key. That means you want a pair that fits snugly on your nose and ears but are not too tight. A sign of too-tight sunglasses: any sort of squeezing, pinching, or rubbing. They should feel nice and light. Also important, you want the weight of your sunglasses to be evenly distributed, making balanced contact between your nose and ears. Eyelashes that swipe against your lenses are also a sign of a bad fit. Lastly, aim to choose sunnies that compliment your face shape. For example, those with heart-shaped faces often look best in round styles while those with an oblong one should stick to oversized or wrap-style silhouettes.
This term refers to the amount of light that passes through the sunglass lens and reaches your eye. It is affected by a myriad of things, including the material, color, coating, and thickness of your lenses. A good general guide to VLT percentages, according to REI:
Polarized lenses aren’t suitable for every sport. “Polarized lenses reduce glare from reflective surfaces like water and snow and metallic objects, thus increasing eye comfort in situations and sports where reflection is common,” Dr. Kelly explains. This makes them great for things like fishing, golfing, and running. But for others, like ball sports (think tennis) or mountain biking, polarized lenses can affect depth perception. Dr. Hoff says that digital displays, like some on bike handlebars, are not compatible with polarization.
Different tints on sunglasses are more than just style preferences. Some “can enhance colors, making them brighter and more vivid while [other] tints can mute or distort colors, reduce glare, block light, or improve depth perception and visual acuity,” Dr. Hoff explains. That said, most people get lenses that are too dark for their sport, says Tavakoli: “Water sports and fishing aside, contrast is the name of the game. My famous quote is ‘less stop, more pop!’ Meaning don’t be afraid of a rose, brown, or amber lens color that adds contrast to the world. Dark gray lenses, although great on the beach on a sunny day, can dull out the features of the road, field, court, or trails. The old notion of looking at the world through rose colored lenses can actually help performance in many sports.”
A quickie color guide from Dr. Hoff:
Technically yes, but you should be a bit more thoughtful. “For most any sport or hobby out there, vision is most important,” says Tavakoli. And if you can’t see well, you can’t do anything well: ride, run, fish or any of the other countless outdoor activities you love. In other words: “If you are willing to invest in carbon fiber, coaches, clinics, new clubs, new reels, why compromise on vision?” Not to mention there are material differences between sport-specific glasses and everyday shades. “Sport glasses should be lightweight, have rubberized grip on the nose and temples, give you proper coverage from the sun, wind, and debris, and have lenses designed for your sport and lighting conditions,” Tavakoli goes on. “Most everyday shades are too heavy, don’t stay on well when moving fast and sweating, and have lenses that can be too dark, depending on your sport.” Also, there is a safety aspect to consider. A good portion of everyday sunglasses have glass lenses, which Tavakoli says are not impact resistant. That means “a golf ball to the eye, a face plant while trail running, or a good old fashion OTB on your bike and glass lenses can shatter, causing way more damage than if you were wearing nothing, while true sport glasses can save you from a nasty eye injury.”
When it comes to your sport, Dr. Kelly advises opting for ones made of impact-resistant materials like polycarbonate. Tavakoli advocates for nylon or what is referred to as a TR-90 type material. “Brands have their own name for this type of material, for example Oakley calls it O Matter,” Tavakoli says. “This type of plastic is very durable, lightweight, and holds its shape well in the heat and cold.” Steer clear, though, of any acetate type material, which is heavier and playable in heat, advises Tavakoli, as it can lose its shape over time and start sliding off your face. Metal frames are also a big no no, especially in any impact sport because in an accident, the metal can pierce your skin, causing a lot more damage, he says.
Polarized lenses can be super helpful because they cut out glare. They do this by blocking out the horizontal wavelengths that occur when sunlight reflects off a flat or shiny object. The downside: Polarized lenses are often dark — very dark. “This can be a great thing if you are deep-sea fishing where the water and sun create extreme glare and brightness,” says Tavakoli. “But for mountain biking you want to see every contour of the trail, even in the shade.” Plus, polarized lenses can negatively affect depth perception for some sports.
Rozalynn S. Frazier is an award-winning, multimedia journalist with more than 20 years of experience reporting on health and fitness. She is also a NASM-certified personal trainer and an avid exerciser, who routinely puts wellness tools and fitness gear through its paces to help assess which products are worthy of praise. She has created content for SELF, Shape, Men’s Health, Real Simple, Oprah Daily, Cosmopolitan, among others. To curate this list of the best sports sunglasses, she spoke to Michelle J. Hoff, OD, FAAO, ABOM, FNAO, Associate Clinical Professor of Optometry at The University of California Berkeley Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science, James Kelly, MD, ophthalmologist and owner of Kelly Vision Center in New York City, and Rob Tavakoli, AKA SunglassRob, the CEO of SportRx.
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