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Looking for a legit pair of sport sunglasses? We researched 100+ before we settled on the top 21 to put to the test. Our sports-obsessed testers wore these shades climbing, cycling, fishing, running, hiking, riding, and paddling, not to mention walking dogs and schlepping kids to school. We assessed how they performed in the field, the quality of the lenses and frames, their coverage, and the overall fit and comfort of each pair. From sunny runs on the California coast to overcast mountain biking in the Sierras, these glasses saw wind, water, and dirt, and we divulge how they stacked up. Get ready to ditch those worn and scratched backup sunnies and find a pair that plays perfectly to your sport.
If you are looking for maximum coverage and sound performance across a spectrum of sports and activities, look no further. The Oakley Sutro Prizm was our top performer across all categories, and it's easy to see why. These multi-sport sunglasses were great for cycling, running, snowboarding, and mountain biking. Thanks to the large shield style design, coverage and wind deflection were maximized even at high speeds. Add in the crystal clear, high contrast optics of the Prizm, and you have a winning combo.
We only had two complaints about the Sutro. Because of their size, they didn't fit great under lower-profile helmets, and because of their ridged plastic arms, people with larger heads said they fit a bit snug. For those with more standard-sized helmets and heads, the Sutro is a great value for such a versatile and capable pair of sunglasses.
The stylish Sunski Dipseas is our best bang for the buck for a more feminine frame. These glasses scored high in every category except coverage. They ran well, skied well, and sunbathed extra well. Coming in at only 18 grams, the Dipseas are the lightest in our field, and it shows. These are super comfortable glasses with well-built frames and metal hinges. Neither the design nor the price tag will weigh you down.
Coverage is where these glasses take a big hit. The round lenses, while classy, just don't provide as much protection. This is also a more feminine-looking frame, which could be a pro but perhaps makes them less versatile than nearly all of the other unisex glasses in our lineup. Regardless, if you want style and performance on a budget, the Dipseas are a great choice.
Fit: Medium | Tested Lens: Smoke Base Silver Mirror, Polarized, 100% UV
Frame quality is cheap
The KastKing Toccoa are easily the best pair of sport sunglasses you will find at this price point. They blew us away with how good the lenses and coverage were, all in a 20-gram, ultra-light, ultra-cheap package. While noticeably lower quality than the top performers in our lineup, we didn't hesitate to climb, fish, and run with these glasses.
The main issue with these sunnies is the lack of rubber on the arms and nose. We recommend using a pair of chums if you take these out on the water, as they do tend to slip with sudden movement. But the polarized lenses offer excellent visibility when spotting fish in moving water. Overall, these are a great pair of shades to keep in the tackle box and not worry if something happens to them.
The Oakley Flak 2.0 XL packs a big punch in a small package. Arguably the best fitting glasses in the lineup with great use across the sports spectrum. These glasses feature the ultra-sharp Oakley Prizm lens that wraps perfectly around your face. But it doesn't stop with the lenses; the frames are equally stellar, flexing and bending to fit any shaped head and keep them from breaking should you take a spill.
Our only issue with these glasses is the thickness of the arms. Oakley added little wings to the arms that extend a tad too far for our liking; however, they do add a bit more friction, and, even with the extra material, these weigh in at only 25 grams. All in all, the Flak 2.0 is a versatile pair of sport sunglasses with quality parts and killer performance.
Quality, quality, quality. Yup, the Maui Jim Spartan Reef has the highest rated lenses and frames in our lineup. With actual glass optics, metal hinges, and break-back spring arms, these glasses are noticeably top-of-the-line. Thanks to the wrap-around fit, they also have great coverage and a comfortable fit, and were the only wrap-around to not fog up on us after some heavy activity.
The quality of the Spartan Reef does come with a weight disadvantage. They are the heaviest pair we tested at a whopping 47 grams. But thanks to the stellar fit and function of these glasses, they wear more like a 35-gram pair. If quality is what you are looking for and you don't mind spending the cash to get it, these are frames that we heartily recommend.
Fit: Medium | Tested Lens: Varia Photochromic, 100% UV, 26 - 75% VLT
Sharp, photochromic lens
Adjustable nose fitting
Great range of light
Frames could be nicer
Poor finish work
The Ryders Eyewear Seventh Photochromic is a sporty, variable light sunglass that performed well enough to earn it a place in our award lineup. The most impressive part of these glasses is the lenses. They transition from low morning light to mid-day sun with ease and stay super sharp across the 26 - 75% variable light transmission range. The Seventh offers an adjustable nose piece for improved comfort, and at 30 grams, they are easy to wear all day long.
The semi-rim frame quality was just a notch below the top of the pack, and a fuzzy laser-etched logo and plastic remnants still on the frame felt a bit cheap for such a nice pair of glasses. Outside of those two minor complaints, these high-value glasses are ideal for both cycling and running.
Fit: Medium | Tested Lens: Black Mirror, 100% UV, 10% VLT
Versatile use and function
Great frame quality
Durable and flexible frame
Red tint is a little harsh
Tight for larger head sizes
The Rapha Classic Sunglasses are our top choice for those looking to marry solid performance with a little style. These glasses look and fit like a standard sunglass yet perform like a high-end sport model. They come with an adjustable nose piece and a high-contrast lens with anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings — all at a very affordable price.
At only 26 grams, these glasses are also extremely light and stay firmly on the face. Our biggest complaint is the coverage. While not terrible, we like a bit more coverage in a sports sunglass. The red tint on the lens does get fairly apparent in lower light, but nothing that caused any real discomfort. Performance dialed. Style dialed. Value extra dialed.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our main tester Rob Gaedtke is no noob to sunny sports. He has worn, lost, smashed, scratched, and flat-out destroyed glasses of every size, price, and style. He is an ironman and marathon finisher and has completed three century rides and nearly 50 trail runs. He's also rafted, climbed, golfed, snowboarded, and hiked with countless pairs of sunglasses. When it comes to sport-specific eye protection, Rob has plenty of experience to share.
Our in-depth testing process of sport sunglasses breaks down into five rating metrics:
Field Performance (25% of overall score rating)
Lens Quality (20% of overall score rating)
Fit and Comfort (20% of overall score rating)
Coverage (20% of overall score rating)
Frame Quality (15% of overall score rating)
We scoured the internet to find the top-rated and reviewed sport sunglasses on the market. We watched videos, looked into product materials, and finally settled on the top sunglasses to purchase and review. We measured, weighed, and inspected each pair, looking at the hinges, features, and every aspect of quality. We then put them to the test in as many sports activities as we could cram into our winter and spring testing season. We tested them side-by-side in high-speed downhill rides, long and sweaty street runs, and we even did a backflip with each pair on to see if they would stay on. Here is what we found out.
Analysis and Test Results
The five metrics we used to test these sport sunglasses are weighted by their importance. We go far beyond what these glasses look like and delve deep into their technical specifications and specific usages. But at the end of the day, all the engineering and planning are useless if they don't perform in the real world. And that is exactly what we do here at GearLab. We use these glasses just like you will and report back on what we found.
Price is always an important part of purchasing a pair of sport sunglasses, and that is why we tested a wide range of glasses with various price points. Glasses with the highest value in this review offer solid performance at a below-average price.
Take the Rapha Classic for example, ranking among the top of the pack for performance but at a mid to low price point. Add the fact that these shades can also dress up for a day on the town, and they scream value. If that price point is still on the high side, take a look at the Native Eyewear Sightcaster, Sunski Dipseas or KastKing Toccoa — all offer reasonable performance for much more approachable prices. On the flip side, if you are just looking for performance and price isn't an obstacle, the Julbo Aero Reactiv is an impeccable pair of glasses, suitable for men, women, kids, and adults. Thanks to the reactive lens, they do awesome in just about any light mother nature tosses at you.
The most important category in our sport sunglasses tests is field performance. Do they fog up, do they handle wind, will they stay on your head as you cast, and will they fit comfortably under a helmet? These are critical factors when choosing a pair of sunglasses to take on your adventures. Here is how they all stacked up in the field.
The Oakley Sutro Prizm crushed the performance category. There is a reason shield glasses are storming the market, and that's because they block wind, provide ample coverage, and give plenty of protection from the sun. The clarity and contrast of the Prizm lens helped with visibility while running and riding, and the fact that they never once fogged up in the humid mountains of the central coast was a huge plus. They also fit well under most helmet styles, though they were a bit snug on a lower profile brimmed helmet.
The size and fit of your specs make a huge difference for more than just style. Arms that are the right length will keep your frames attached to your face while you play. A narrow bridge holds glasses up on a narrow nose. A pair that is wide enough for your head will help prevent headaches. It's important to look at frame and lens sizes before you buy a pair of glasses. Not sure what size you wear? Grab a pair of shades you already know and love and measure those, or read their measurements on the inside of the bow.
Another high performer in the field test was the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL. These glasses are super lightweight at only 25 grams with a great wrap-around fit, making them feel like they are a part of your face. The slight red tint worked well in bright light and the contrast boosting lens made for excellent visibility. The frames have good flex allowing them to stay firmly on any sized head without causing any discomfort.
The Julbo Aero Reactiv is one of only two reactive lens glasses in our lineup. With a range of 13% - 72% visible light transmission, these glasses are awesome for long, all-day rides. They transition quickly and smoothly from low to bright light, and the visibility is amazing all the way through the spectrum. A thin gap from the lens to the frame along the top and the anti-fog coating helped ensure these never fogged up. But these are not just cycling glasses. We climbed, ran, and snowshoed with these sunnies, and they held up wonderfully every time. Coming in at only 25 grams, the Aero Reactiv was built for all-day fun.
Our most stylish high performers were the Rapha Classic. These glasses rocked all of our sports and looked good doing it. Touted as a cycling sunglass, it's easy to see why. The rubber nose and ends helped these stay firmly on the face, and the anti-fogging coating did its job when climbing hills. These glasses have a slight red tint, giving enhanced depth of field and contrast. And while our performance tests stopped at the car, these glasses stayed on all day.
When it comes to material, the most important part of any pair of shades is the quality of the lenses. And while protection from UV, glare, and dust is critical, sharpness, contrast, and clarity are equally important. We considered all aspects of lens quality, including the types of light they can handle, color enhancement or color-changing properties, clarity, and reflections or glare.
The only true glass lens in the lineup is on the Maui Jim Spartan Reef. These lenses are second to none, offering a crisp, sharp, clean view with a polarized finish. Maui Jim calls it their SuperThin glass and boasts three protective coatings: anti-reflective, anti-scratch, and hydroleophobic. It is easy to see why people love these lenses. And if you need an Rx in your sunnies, these are also available in prescription.
It's hard to find a flaw in the Oakley Sutro Prizm lenses. We tested the Prizm Jade option and found they offer great contrast and solid clarity. These are built for bright light with a VLT of 15%. That said, we did a few morning runs with these glasses, and they never felt too dark. The Sutro lenses offer UV protection and anti-scratch protective coatings, and they also come in prescription.
The Oakley Flak 2.0 XL lenses we tested were the Prizm Golf option. These have a VLT of 30%, perfect for low to medium light. We love this spectrum because of how great it performs in cloudy and shady situations. The contrast on these lenses also helps add clarity and visibility. The Prizm Golf comes coated with 100% UV protection and anti-scratch and is available in prescription.
If you are looking for a transition/reactive lens, the Julbo Aero Reactiv is amazing. Offering a huge VLT range of 13% - 72%, these lenses can go from nearly translucent to full dark mode. The clarity of the optics is impressive, as is the added contrast they provide. These lenses also come with several coatings, including internal anti-fog, external oil-repellent, and oleophobic.
Another reactive lens in our lineup is the Ryders Eyewear Seventh. We tested the photochromic lens and found it to be razor-sharp and very smooth throughout the 26% - 75% VLT range. The Seventh comes with scratch-resistant, hydrophobic, and oleophobic coatings and is very easy to clean.
While not the highest ranking, we wanted to call out the lens quality of the Sunski Dipseas. These lenses performed quite well considering the price point and are worthy of mention. We like the clarity and contrast these lenses offer as well as the reflection dampening of the polarized coating. All in all, these lenses are great in high reflective situations like snow and water.
Fit and Comfort
Another critical aspect of choosing a pair of sunglasses is how they fit and feel. An ill-fitting pair of shades can fall off, give you a headache, chafe your skin, or pinch various parts of your face. Even if your sunglasses are cheap, having them fall to the ground and get damaged is frustrating and can be dangerous if you're mid-sport. Similarly, if your frames give you a headache or hurt a part of your face, you won't be inclined to wear them and you'll be more focused on your eyewear than the task at hand. To assess this metric we paid attention to flex in the frames, padding, and overall shape. We had testers of various shapes, sizes, and ages try them and weigh in. Ultimately, only direct experience on your own face will determine if you've found your match, but we noticed some trends in certain pairs that rose to the top in our tests.
It is hard to beat the overall fit and comfort of the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL. These glasses float on your face, and it is truly easy to forget they are on. The flexibility and rubber of the arms hold them on a variety of face sizes. We noticed that the rubber can snag shorter hair, but this wasn't a problem at all with long hair.
The material used on the Julbo Aero Reactiv frames and nose bridge make them super comfortable and well-fitting. The adjustable nose and extra soft and flexible arms allow them to sit perfectly on the face. When you add in the fact that they are only 25 grams, these glasses scream both fit and comfort.
While not our highest performer in the category, we wanted to mention the high score for overall fit and comfort of the KastKing Toccoa. Weighing only 20 grams, the Toccoa are extremely light and comfortable. The thin arms are a nice touch, allowing them to easily slide into chums or under a helmet. For a bargain pair of glasses, these fit fantastically.
Cases Make a Difference
A good case can really have an impact on the longevity of your shades. It's not impossible to find an aftermarket case that may provide more protection for your investment, but if you're spending a sizeable amount on a piece of gear, it's nice if it just comes with a case that does the job.
If you want to protect your eyes outdoors, you'll want your shades to offer good coverage. You know, so they actually do protect your eyes from sun, dust, and debris. The glasses we tested offer different degrees of coverage. To compare them, we analyzed the shape and size of their frames and lenses to see if they adequately filter sun, glare, and flying dirt from any angle. We paid attention to arm width by the temple to see if it also blocks light. Finally, we noted which face shapes and sizes left overly large gaps for unwanted light and foreign body entrance.
It's hard to beat the coverage of the POC Do Blade Raceday. The mix of full shield and wrap-around bend means your eyes are protected and then some. Similarly, the sheer amount of lens on the Oakley Sutro Prizm provides great protection from all of the elements.
While shield sunglasses will always have the maximum volume of coverage, wrap-around style glasses like the Maui Jim Spartan Reef , Smith Guide's Choice XL ChromaPop, and Native Eyewear Sightcaster all offer exceptional coverage thanks to their shape and fit.
These formats are great for avoiding side and under light and truly give that total immersive feeling. The Sightcaster and the Guide's Choice did, however, let one bad element into the inside of the glasses: fog.
Frame quality is a big part of durability. We researched and assessed each model and put them through the wringer to determine which ones are the most likely to hold up through constant usage. We spent a lot of time jamming these sunnies in bags and cars and flexing frames to see how well they withstand the pressure. We noted anything that scratched or failed to perform as intended. We looked at each frame's materials and construction, paying particular attention to the hinges to see if they're a standard barrel hinge (i.e., don't overextend) or a spring hinge (i.e., are made to overextend). We also carefully examined any nose pads or bow grippies and their attachment points.
It is going to be hard to find a frame better than the Maui Jim Spartan Reef. From the quality of materials to the stylish design, these frames are top-notch. The hinges feature break-back metal springs, and both the arms and nose are padded. It does come with some weight, but it is well worth it.
A few other frames are worth nothing. First, the Rapha Classic. With clear, strong plastic, soft and flexible nose and arm ends, and smooth barrel hinges, these shades provide a firm and tight fit. On the other end, the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL frames are super flexible, lightweight, and flex and form to any head size. And finally, the Oakley Sutro Prizm frame is strong yet has enough flex to keep the hard plastic comfortable for medium-sized heads. Add a nice, comfortable nose rubber, and you have a sound frame compared to the competition.
We would be remiss if we didn't give a shout to the Tifosi Swank. The frame quality on this moderately priced pair of sport sunglasses is impressive. The plastic is strong, the hinges smooth, and the lenses firmly held in place.
This was a huge lineup of sunglasses and while not all made the top of the pack, there are a few worth mentioning.
Our first notable mention goes to the Zeal Incline. These glasses are extremely light, flexible, and have decent lenses (we tested the Dark Gray). And thanks to their lower price point, they pack a great value. We found them excellent for running and fishing but not so great under a helmet.
The goodr OGs, yes, the lowest-scoring pair in the lineup, does deserve a shout-out. While these are similar to the free glasses you get from the dentist, there is just something lovable about them. We found ourselves reaching for them more times than not when performance wasn't a requirement for the day.
And our last notable mention is the Suncloud Rambler. If you are looking for a solid B-pair of shades at a lower price point, these are worth a look. The glass is good, the frames hold nicely on the head, and they fit well under every helmet we tested them on. The frames are a tad on the cheap side, but these glasses scream value all day.
There are way too many choices when it comes to sport sunglasses, and that only adds to the stress of deciding which pair is right for your specific situation. It's our goal to lower that stress and make it easier for you to decide. Rest assured that we spent countless hours testing the best and highest rated products available, pitting them head-to-head and testing them side-by-side in various environments and situations. We had a ton of fun testing and showcasing these sunnies in action, and we hope our expertise and experience will help you find the perfect pair of shades for your next adventure.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.