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Looking for a legit pair of sport sunglasses? We researched 100+ before we settled on the top 25 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 Sunski Treeline Polarized is a solid value grab offering enough performance, fit, and coverage to make up for slightly lower-quality frames and lenses. The side shields offer expectational sun and wind protection, and the fact that they are removable is an added bonus. At only 28 grams, these glasses fit super well and can be worn all day.
Our biggest complaint with the Treeline is with the lenses. They are noticeably cheaper than many other top performers and will scratch easier. If you want a little more feminine look, Sunski makes a version called the Tera that sports a little more shape and a cleaner nose bridge. Whatever you decide, know you will be well covered and not break the bank with these attractive shades.
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.
The Pit Viper The Son of Beach Exciters is an epic mix of ridiculousness and solid all-around performance. Though one of the heaviest in our lineup, they fit and feel much lighter than they are, thanks to the adjustable-length arms and tight-fitting design. These glasses passed our flip test without moving a centimeter. The lenses are also thick, polarized, and very sharp in bright light.
Our biggest issues with these shades is seeing a faint logo when looking up and the lack of any flex in the main frame. These two things aside, the glasses we tested are not subtle, so depending on your boldness, you might want to give a few of the other color options a look. Regardless of the style, the Beach Exciters are excited for whatever sport you toss their way.
The Roka Torino is an ultra-lightweight sunglass with solid coverage, killer optics, and a tighter, smaller fit. These sunglasses can be used across any sport with sound performance, and when it's time to enjoy some R&R after a ride, there is no need to swap them out with a better-looking pair; these glasses also pack a little style to boot.
There are a few downsides to the Torino. The smaller fit allows the frames to be seen in the peripheral, and the 9% VLT means these are for bluebird days only. But if a jack-of-all-trades shade is what you are going for, we highly recommend giving these a go.
Why You Should Trust Us
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.
Our in-depth testing process of sports sunglasses breaks down into five rating metrics:
Field Performance (25% of overall score weighting)
Lens Quality (20% weighting)
Fit and Comfort (20% weighting)
Coverage (20% weighting)
Frame Quality (15% weighting)
Our main tester Rob Gaedtke is no newbie 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.
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 used 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 specs 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. Another great value grab is the Smith Parallel 2 Max Polarized — these glasses are a perfect alternative to the more expensive Oakley Flak 2.0 XL. If that price point is still on the high side, take a look at the Native Eyewear Sightcaster or KastKing Toccoa — both offer reasonable performance for much more approachable prices, especially the bargain basement price of the Toccoa.
If you can dish out a little more, the Sunski Treeline Polarized is an exceptional value that prioritizes performance. On the flip side, if you are looking for performance and price isn't an obstacle, the Julbo Aero Reactiv is an impeccable pair of glasses, suitable for men and women, kids or adults. Thanks to the reactive lens, they do fantastic 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. You will know you found a good fit if they pass the flip test.
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.
The Sunski Treeline Polarized has best-in-class wind protection thanks to the snug fit and magni-snap sidekicks. These glasses are super versatile, comfortable to wear all day long, and fight glare with force. The only ding on performance was a slight fog build-up after a run, but it quickly dissipated and never hindered any view.
Another in the Sunski lineup that performed well is the Sunski Avila. This is a small but mighty pair of glasses that fought off wind, stayed firmly attached, and didn't fog or hold sweat. The biggest issue here is the glare in bright direct light, but we feel this is an acceptable compromise for a hip and inexpensive pair of sunglasses.
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 Costa del Mar Caldera have a real glass lens that performs exceptionally well in high-reflection environments blocking glare and enhancing visibility. They are also super easy to clean and shed water better than most.
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 Rudy Project Propulse. We tested the ImpactX Photochromic 2 Red lenses and found they transition super fast and have a huge VLT range of 17% - 76%. They are also sharp and offer good contrast throughout the range.
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 the elements. Another high performer is the Oakley Turbine Rotor. These glasses offer good coverage and stay close to the face keeping most elements away.
Another way to get good coverage is with solid sun shields like the ones found on the Pit Viper The Son of Beach Exciters. These glasses are a close second in coverage to our full shield glasses, offering a sound alternative. We found the Exciters totally protected our eyes while ripping 40mph down the Chutes, all the while fending off sun and any incoming snow.
While shield sunglasses will always have the maximum volume of coverage, wrap-around style glasses like the Smith Guide's Choice XL ChromaPop and Native Eyewear Sightcaster 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.
Two pairs of glasses in our lineup have side shields, "Brook Shields," as Pit Viper likes to call them, or "sidekicks" as Sunski calls them: the Sunski Treeline and the Pit Viper The Son of Beach Exciters. These shields do wonders for both light and wind blockage. You will feel very protected smashing down the mountain or trail with either of these sunglasses.
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.
The Rapha Classic has clear, strong plastic, soft and flexible nose and arm ends, and smooth barrel hinges, providing 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. The Costa del Mar Caldera uses recycled fishing nets for its frames, and the imprinted texture is a nice touch. 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.
Two additional glasses that deserve a callout, both for very different reasons, are the Pit Viper Beach Exciters and the Roka Torino. The Pit Viper frames are over-the-top thick and strong, while the nose piece and adjustable temples are both flexible and soft. On the other hand, the Torino frames are crazy light and amazingly flexible, especially the end pieces.
This was a huge lineup of sport 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 Smith Parallel 2 Max is a bargain if you are looking for super comfortable, low-profile athletic sunny. These glasses are the perfect competitor to the highly rated Oakley Flak 2.0 XL at a much lower price point. Smith also throws in an extra set of low-light lenses and a hard case to sweeten the deal.
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 are, 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.
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.
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.