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Best Sunglasses

Maybe not as classically stylish as the Vuarnets (left), we think the ...
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Monday September 28, 2020
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We researched 90+ pairs before selecting the 14 best sunglasses to buy and put through meticulous, side-by-side testing. We spent months wearing these shades during cross-country road trips, summertime swimming, and sunny Caribbean boating. Our eyewear enthusiasts evaluated lens quality and comfort across a wide range of face sizes and shapes. We scrutinized each pair's coverage and durability, as well as their style appeal to a variety of users. From sunny seasides and high altitude adventures to evening driving and patchy-sun paddles, we pushed each pair to their limit and beyond. If you're ready to ditch drugstore shades for something more stylish and functional, we'll help you find that perfect pair.

Related: Best Cycling Sunglasses

Top 14 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 14
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $209.00 at Amazon$141.71 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$249.99 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$265 List$135.04 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Great clarity, excellent contrast with little color distortion, flexing frames, works for most facesExcellent protection, great clarity, extremely comfortable, good for active endeavors, good for many facesExcellent eye protection and coverage, durable design, great contrast with minimal color distortion, superb caseGreat lens clarity, universally flattering style, surprisingly comfortable, durable build, good eye protectionGood contrast, superb clarity, excellent protective coatings, stay in place, lightweight, all-day comfort
Cons Peripheral coverage not ideal, cleaner bag a little stiff, may be sporty-lookingDeveloped a slight lens defect, fit is less secure, coverage could be betterHeavy, large overall size and fit, expensiveNot polarized, heavy, large, case not overly protective, expensiveNot very stylish, lighter tint suffers in bright light, copper lens distorts colors, too small, expensive
Bottom Line A top-notch combo of versatility, functionality, and styleExcellent protection and great comfort, though not totally perfectA great pair with excellent coverage and top-notch lens quality, but a bit heavyNot only do these sunglasses provide good eye protection, they also have swaggerFor any activity on the water, you’ll be happy to have the top-notch quality and performance of these glasses
Rating Categories Kaenon Clarke Costa Del Mar Spearo Maui Jim Kahi Vuarnet District Medium Round Costa Del Mar Hinano
Lens Quality (30%)
9
8
9
7
9
Comfort (25%)
8
9
7
7
8
Frame Quality (20%)
9
8
8
8
7
Style And Versatility (15%)
7
7
6
9
3
Coverage (10%)
7
7
8
7
5
Specs Kaenon Clarke Costa Del Mar Spearo Maui Jim Kahi Vuarnet District... Costa Del Mar Hinano
Lens Tested Grey 12 Pacific Blue Mirror Blue Mirror HCL Bronze Brown Lynx Copper 580P
Ideal Activity water sports water sports everyday everyday everyday
Ideal Lens Light Conditions Bright light Bright light Medium to bright light Medium to bright light Low to bright light
Polarized Yes Yes Yes No, but it is available Yes
Fit Medium-Full Medium-Large Large Medium-Large Small
Weight (grams) 29g 29g 40g 37g 25g
UV Protection 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) 12% 10% 15% 9% 12%
VLT Protection Index cat 3 cat 3 cat 3 cat 3 cat 3
HEV/Blue Light Protection (claim) not specified 100% 95% 97% 100%
Infrared Protection (claim) 0% 0% "infrared effective" 93% 0%
Neutral/Contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast
Lens Material plastic - "SR-91" polycarbonate glass - 580 Polarized (polycarbonate available) glass - "SuperThin Glass" glass - mineral glass glass - 580 Polarized
Impact Resistance Yes No No Yes No
Protective Coatings Anti-reflective back, hydro-oleophobic, mirror Anti-scratch, hydro-oleaophobic, mirror Anti-reflective on front and back Anti-reflective back, silver bi-shade mirror Anti-scratch, oil repellent, water repellent, naturally scratch resistant
Can take prescription lens? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Hinge type Standard/barrel Spring/flex Spring/flex Standard/barrel Spring/flex
Case Included Rigid zippered and soft/cleaning bag Rigid zippered and soft/cleaning bag Hard rigid clam case and soft/cleaning bag Semi-rigid flex case and cleaning cloth Rigid zippered and cleaning cloth

Best Overall Sunglasses


Kaenon Clarke


Kaenon Clarke
Editors' Choice Award

$209.00
at Amazon
See It

83
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lens Quality - 30% 9
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Frame Quality - 20% 9
  • Style and Versatility - 15% 7
  • Coverage - 10% 7
Best Use: Water Activities | Lens: Polarized, 100% UV, 10% VLT
Exceptional clarity
Great contrast with minimal color distortion
Semi-flexible frames
Good compromise of utility and style
Looks good on most faces
Lets in peripheral light/glare
Cleaning sack a bit stiff

The Kaenon Clarkes are an impressively functional blend of high-quality lenses, solid fit frames, and a style that works for a wide variety of people. With lightweight, polycarbonate lenses, the Clarkes still manage to provide a high degree of clarity and excellent contrast without as much color distortion as many others. They're a good compromise of being dark enough to block out the harsh rays of the sun you experience on the water or in the car without being so dark you can't wear them during that awkward sunset hour. Solid semi-flexible frame construction lends to easy wearing while also standing up to much daily abuse. Embedded nose pads help keep these sunnies in place through above normal sweat and movement, while remaining comfortable and not too tight. We think Kaenon has managed to find that sweet spot of style that works on a wide variety of face shapes and sizes without looking too sporty or like an outdated fashion. And if you appreciate a quality case, take note that the Clark's zippered shell was our favorite of all the models we tested, providing a blend of rigid protection, ease of use, and solid construction.

While our testers appreciate the middle ground of decent style with excellent functionality, it does come at a slight cost in the coverage of these frames. These shades are more flat than curved. Along with the average-width bows, this does leave a lot of space for light reflecting off the water to hit you smack in the pupil if you're at the wrong angle. And depending on your face shape and how high you like to wear your sunglasses, you may also discover a gap at the top of the Clarkes that let high noon inside your face cave of darkness. Though with some shifts in how you wear these during those key times, we don't think their shape or coverage is particularly awful stacked up to the competition. And if you're in the market for the most stylish pair of shades out there, you're probably not going to go ga-ga over these specs, though we still maintain that they're more stylish than many others we tested. At the end of the day, though, we think the quality and versatility of these excellent sunnies are top-notch.

Read review: Kaenon Clarke

Best Bang for the Buck


Native Eyewear Wells


Native Eyewear Wells
Best Buy Award

$78.95
(20% off)
at Backcountry
See It

70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lens Quality - 30% 8
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Frame Quality - 20% 6
  • Style and Versatility - 15% 5
  • Coverage - 10% 6
Best Use: Everyday, athleisure | Lens: Polarized, 100% UV, 12% VLT
Lightweight
Comfortable on a wide range of faces
Stay put exceptionally well
Fit a variety of face shapes and sizes
Good cases
Not the most stylish
Runs slightly small
Temple grips not the cleanest cut

The Native Wells are the Goldilocks of everyday shades. They're lightweight and comfortable to wear all day long, whether you're driving or hiking. The Wells offer a snug fit without the wraparound aesthetic, and rubber nose pads and temple grips keep them solidly attached to your face even during a sweaty run. We found these to work just as easily driving at dusk as they do paddling at noon. We love how clear they are, with the Crystal Grey lenses we tested maintaining true colors. For boosted contrast, you can also get the Wells with amber lenses instead. While these aren't winning any awards for being exceptionally stylish, all of our testers like them and find them equally as appealing from the trails to the sidewalks.

If you'd classify your face as wider or larger than average and are looking for a large pair of sunnies to frame your peepers, the Wells might not do the trick. They're labeled as a Large fit, but compared to the rest, we'd say they're closer to a Medium. They also don't have spring hinges that would easily accommodate more width, though the acetate frames themselves have enough give that we failed to find anyone who couldn't wear them. Their rubber nose pads are superbly integrated into the plastic frames, but the temple pads on our set don't look quite as nice. Their edges are a little rough, leaving us with a slight worry for their longevity, though we didn't have any issues with them during our testing. Truly, if you're after a lightweight, affordable, high-performing pair of glasses that you can wear biking or out to lunch, we find the Native Wells hard to beat.

Read review: Native Eyewear Wells

Best on a Tight Budget


Suncloud Rambler


63
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lens Quality - 30% 6
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Frame Quality - 20% 5
  • Style and Versatility - 15% 7
  • Coverage - 10% 7
Best Use: Everyday | Lens: Polarized, 100% UV, 15% VLT
Flexible bows
Lightweight
Fairly secure
Good lenses
Versatile look and use
Not flex hinges
Hinges loosen
Poor case
Minor flaws in polarized layer

The Suncloud Rambler are a breath of fresh air in a difficult market, combining a reasonable price tag with reasonable performance, making them a solid value set. These inexpensive glasses are lightweight, and the Polarized brown lenses offer excellent clarity and sharp contrast that adds color and crisp vibrancy to the world. They're some of the lightest we tested and are well-balanced with small nose pads that help secure them in place on your face. Flexible bows provide security and comfort, while the medium-sized lenses are fairly protective and are widely appealing to our team of testers with various face sizes and shapes.

Upon closer inspection, we found several flaws in the polarizing layer around the edges of these polycarbonate lenses. However, they're only noticeable through the second set of polarized lenses, and we couldn't detect any distortion to our view. They also come with a disappointing cleaning bag that mostly smears facial grease around rather than removing it. Perhaps most frustrating is how quickly the hinges start to come loose during regular wear. Be prepared to perform regular tightening with a tiny screwdriver. Yet these are fairly minor complaints against these low cost, high-value glasses. They may not top the performance charts, but these inexpensive shades still have a surprising amount to offer.

Read review: Suncloud Rambler

Best for All-Day Comfort


Costa Del Mar Spearo


Costa Del Mar Spearo
Top Pick Award

$141.71
(48% off)
at Backcountry
See It

80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lens Quality - 30% 8
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Frame Quality - 20% 8
  • Style and Versatility - 15% 7
  • Coverage - 10% 7
Best Use: Water Activities | Protection: Polarized, 100% UV, 10% VLT
Very protective lenses
Excellent clarity
Extremely comfortable
Good adaptations for an active lifestyle
Work well on a variety of faces
Ours developed a lens defect
Less secure fit on some
Coverage not complete

Costa del Mar's 580P lenses bring a lot to the table, offering some excellent protection for on-water activities. The Spearo frames are incredibly comfortable for just about everyone who tried them on. Straighter bows, cleverly embedded nose pads, and bow pads that not only grip but also help channel sweat away from your face all in a high-quality frame help to make these shades our top choice for all-day comfort. And though some of our testers with narrower faces found them to be ever so slightly large, some well-placed holes through the backs of the bows allow for easy attachment of a leash — always a good idea when on the water. We also love the cleaning cloth that comes with these more than any other pair and frequently used it to clean off the other shades we were testing.

Unfortunately, our pair of Spearos also developed some lens defects over the course of our testing, with irregularities in some of the corners. Though we can't see them at all while they're on, the rapid onset of these spots after just a few months of testing and travel is a bit of a bummer. Aside from that development, our only other knock on the Spearos is that their straighter shape, while increasing our love of their look, also decreases their coverage for some. But despite these few setbacks, the Spearos are consistently our favorite choice for a pair of glasses we can comfortably wear all day.

Read review: Costa del Mar Spearo

Best for Stylish Functionality


Vuarnet District Medium Round


Vuarnet District Medium Round
Top Pick Award

$265 List
List Price
See It

75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lens Quality - 30% 7
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Frame Quality - 20% 8
  • Style and Versatility - 15% 9
  • Coverage - 10% 7
Best Use: Everyday | Protection: Non-Polarized, 100% UV, 9% VLT
Great clarity
Flattering style across the board
Pretty comfortable
Durable
Excellent eye protection
Not polarized
Front heavy
Less impressive case

When we set out to test the top sunglasses for hanging out around the town and on the water, we thought first about performance and second about style. The high-quality Vuarnet District Medium Rounds take the cake for a timeless style that looks good on just about everyone who tried them, making them our pick for stylish functionality. Their dark hue and mirrored finish help repel an impressive amount of glare. We're impressed that their total lack of cushioning pads in no way detract from their comfort, and though the frames at first appear a bit thin, they are extremely solid and well-constructed.

The Districts aren't polarized (though Vuarnet has many polarized options), but impressively, they work pretty well even in high-glare situations. They're also a bit heavy — particularly in the front with their mineral glass lenses, and aren't our pick for really active days with copious sweating, as that extra weight can make them slide down your nose. But for everyday style and comfort, around the town or on the open road, our male and female testers alike adore the look and functionality of these stylin' shades.

Read review: Vuarnet District Medium Round


We tested these sunglasses at home and abroad and everywhere in...
We tested these sunglasses at home and abroad and everywhere in between to help you find the right pair for all your adventures.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Why You Should Trust Us


As an eyeglasses wearer since the age of four, our main tester, Maggie Brandenburg, is adamant about keeping her eyes protected. She typically spends more time outdoors than in, from leading high-alpine backpacking trips to teaching in the sunny Caribbean and kayaking on hyperreflective waters. For the past eight years, she's led global adventures for teens and adults, from backpacking the Andes and Sierra Nevadas to trekking through the African Savannah and paddling equatorial waters. Every adventure demands a lot from her eyes. In turn, she demands a lot from her eyewear. An avid eyewear junkie, she keeps up with the latest protective options and tries on every pair she can. Maggie spent several weeks wading through the sunglasses market to narrow down the top contenders before donning the selected models and heading outdoors. She drove across the country and back, took sunglasses to Central America, Italy, and Vietnam, and spent hundreds of hours comparing each pair to the others. Pacific sunsets, high altitude hiking, and 13+ hour days of driving — these glasses saw it all. Maggie has tested and reviewed over 200 products in the last four years.

Over the span of a sunny spring, two summers, and one warm fall, we wore these sunglasses incessantly. Our testers napped on beaches and boat decks. We rode mountain bikes and water taxis. We wandered the streets, markets, jungles, beaches, deserts, and mountains of nine different countries on four continents. We judged each pair on their functionality, quality, fit, and versatility. And, because we like to be thorough, we asked dozens of our friends and family to wear them. They told us how they fit, how comfortable and stylish they are, and how much they like the lenses.

Related: How We Tested Sunglasses

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Analysis and Test Results


The five metrics we used to test these glasses are weighted by their importance. We go far beyond what these glasses look like on and delve deep into their technical specifications and specific usages.

Fit Matters
The size and fit of your specs make a huge difference for more than just style. Arms that are the right length will keep them 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 you love and measure those or read their measurements on the inside of the bow.


Value


We recognize that price is an important factor when making a purchase decision. We tested options that range from fifty to several hundred dollars and found that price doesn't necessarily correspond with performance. Glasses with the highest value in this review offer solid performance at a below-average price. For example, the Native Wells offer some seriously impressive performance for a comparably low cost. If even that modest price is too much to swallow, the Suncloud Ramblers offer reasonable performance for an exceptionally low cost. However, if price is no obstacle, the Kaenon Clarkes cost a pretty penny but offer first-rate performance that we found to be well worth the investment.

Find the right pair of shades for your lifestyle and budget.
Find the right pair of shades for your lifestyle and budget.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Lens Quality


One of the most important attributes of any pair of shades is the quality of the lenses. Since the whole point of wearing them is to protect your eyes — from UV, glare, dust, etc. — we weight lens quality scores heavily. We also recognize that not all glasses are made for the same purposes (i.e., light hiking vs. all-day paddling) and tested them accordingly.


To examine lens quality, we asked three main questions:

What are they made to do?

All the glasses in the test claim to block 100% of UV rays, but they vary in how much high-energy blue (HEV) and infrared light they block. They also allow varying amounts of visible light to transmit (VLT) through the lens and into your eye. VLT is tied to protection but is also an activity-based choice, particularly when it comes to certain activities like mountain biking and driving. If you spend a lot of time driving at dawn and dusk or live in a commonly overcast environment, you may want to consider a higher VTL (which lets more light in) than you would on a bright and reflective lake paddling at high noon on a cloudless day.

Though the Vuarnets we tested aren&#039;t polarized, their mirrored...
Though the Vuarnets we tested aren't polarized, their mirrored coating works well even in the Caribbean sun.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

All of the glasses we tested are polarized or, in the case of the Vuarnet District Medium Round, have a polarized lens option. Polarization cuts down on the glare that reflects on flat surfaces like water and roads. Having a mirrored lens also cuts down on glare. Though the physical properties of polarized lenses can sometimes make reading certain electronic screens difficult, if you plan to wear your shades for a lot of driving or around water or snow, we feel polarized lenses — or at least mirrored coatings — are a must.

The Costa Del Mar Hinanos offer an incredible suite of eye...
The Costa Del Mar Hinanos offer an incredible suite of eye protection combined with an impressive amount of lens protection and durability.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Different lens materials and other types of coatings also make a big difference in how glasses perform at a specific task. Depending on what you plan you use your eyewear for, you may want lenses that repel water or oils (hydro- and oleophobic) to stop you from having to pause and clean them constantly. And when you do need to clean them, these lenses tend to be easier to wipe those fingerprints and hair gel smudges off. If you're a bit of a klutz like some of us are, you might easily drop your glasses on the sidewalk or a rock or find yourself falling face-first into the ground. If that's you, you'll be wanting impact-resistant lenses. Many of the glasses we tested advertise having impact-resistant lenses, or at least anti-scratch coatings meant to help protect against minor damages.

The Native Wells have excellent quality lenses that are lightweight...
The Native Wells have excellent quality lenses that are lightweight, clear, and comfortable to use across a range of lighting conditions.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

We tested a lot of really impressive lenses that offer some excellent protection against everyday wear. The Maui Jim Kahis HCL Bronze lenses are some top performers here. They have anti-reflective coatings on the front and back of each lens that cut down on stray glare. These coatings also keep your face from reflecting on the back of the lens at specific sun angles, which can make them difficult to see through. This suite of quality traits makes the Kahis an excellent choice for casual water recreation and all-around eye protection.

Costa del Mar offers some of the most protective lenses in the game...
Costa del Mar offers some of the most protective lenses in the game, blocking both HEV (blue light) and infrared rays to keep your eyes safe and comfortable.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Both pairs of Costa del Mars we tested, the Costa del Mar Hinano and Spearo, also offer impressive levels of protection. Costa's 580P lenses repel both water and oil while being incredibly protective from glare. These features make them an excellent choice for on-water activities as well. The two pairs of Native Eyewear that we tested, the Wells and Sanitas, are not only polarized, their polycarbonate lenses are also both clear and exceptionally easy to clean the inevitable smudges with even just your shirttail.

Not all glasses work as well on sunny and overcast days, but the...
Not all glasses work as well on sunny and overcast days, but the Native Wells are some that do.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

How are the optics?

Sunglasses should protect your eyes and cut down on eye strain while providing a crisp/clear view of the world. Some lenses are best suited for cloudy days, some for sunny days, and some can span both, making them a great choice for patchy Caribbean clouds, afternoon desert rainstorms, and dawn or dusk. The Maui Jim Kahis impress us with their ability to feel comfortable at high noon on the open ocean and when driving down the highway during intermittent showers. The Native Wells fall into the Goldilocks zone of being dark enough to keep you from squinting on a bright day but still light enough to keep wearing even as the sun approaches the horizon. The Suncloud Ramblers provide excellent contrast and color enhancement, particularly in variable and low lighting.

The Kahis provide some of the best clarity and contrast of any pair...
The Kahis provide some of the best clarity and contrast of any pair we tested.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

We evaluated the clarity of each model by wearing them in different lighting conditions and noting how they reacted to variable light. We noted if the lenses distorted details and if they enhanced, preserved, or detracted from natural colors. In general, glass lenses tend to provide a clearer picture, though new technology has made some excellent polycarbonate options. Most of the glasses lenses we tested, in the Costa del Mar Spearos and Wells, both Maui Jim pairs (Kahi and World Cup), and the Vuarnet District Medium Rounds retain excellent clarity. Impressively, the polycarbonate lenses in both the Native Wells and Kaenon Clarkes provide clear, detailed views without the added weight that typically accompanies glass lenses.

Though this dog can&#039;t tell us how good the Suncloud Ramblers are to...
Though this dog can't tell us how good the Suncloud Ramblers are to look through, our team of testers is impressed with the performance of this low budget pair.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Additionally, most of the brown-colored lenses do a great job of increasing contrast, making them easier to see through even under challenging light conditions, like those around dawn and dusk or under cloud cover. The Maui Jim Kahis and Suncloud Ramblers stand out as being particularly excellent for these conditions. While we tested most water-centric glasses with grey or blue lenses, many still have contrast-enhancing technologies designed to block out colors between blue, green, and red, the three main color receptors in the human eye. While the Costa Spearos and Smith Haywires both boast they have this contrast-enhancing technology, the Kaenon Clarke's use of this light-blocking power really impresses us. And in the Grey 12 base-colored lenses we tested, this results in a great level of contrast without any color distortion.

The Costa del Mar 580P lenses are some of the best out there in...
The Costa del Mar 580P lenses are some of the best out there in terms of clarity and eye protection.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

How well do the lenses hold up to normal use?

We wore these sunnies extensively for months to see how each pair withstood the daily durability test of constant use and abuse. We tested how easily they pick up grease and collect dust. Then we tested how easy they are to clean with a simple cloth (or a t-shirt if you're in a bind). We also considered how easily the lenses pick up microscopic scratches when you use that shirt to clean them in a pinch.

The Suncloud Ramblers have very flexible bows that add to their...
The Suncloud Ramblers have very flexible bows that add to their overall comfort on a wide variety of face shapes and sizes.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

While we didn't pick up scratches, our field experiments and experiences showed that the Native Wells and Oakley Holbrooks stayed pretty clean during regular wear and are quite painless to clean. The Kaenon Clarkes are also remarkably easy to wipe with your t-shirt if you can't find your microfiber cloth in a pinch. All the pairs with oleophobic coatings (Kaenon Clarke, Costa Spearo and Hinano, Maui Jim World Cup, Smith Haywire, and Native Sanitas) also stay clean and clean up a bit easier than those without.

The Maui Jim Kahis are solidly built to offer comfort during all...
The Maui Jim Kahis are solidly built to offer comfort during all kinds of playtimes.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Comfort


Comfort matters quite a bit for a piece of gear you're going to wear nearly every day and potentially for 12 hours at a time. Even the best lenses aren't helpful if the frames they're in are uncomfortable to wear for longer than an hour. This category relies a lot on the feels, and getting input from a wide variety of testers with different face shapes and sizes was very important. We considered how each pair feels across the bridge of your nose, above and behind your ears, riding on top of your head, and whether or not they tend to contact cheeks, eyebrows, or eyelashes. We wore sunglasses for full days to see how comfort changed or remained consistent over time. We also considered whether each pair is prone to sliding or moving around and if they are adjustable. Another important aspect of comfort is how heavy and balanced these shades are. We weighed each pair, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Medium-weight glasses that are front-heavy are more annoying and less comfortable than a heavier pair that balances the weight between the frame and the arms.


In general, lightweight, well-balanced shades with pads that grip your nose or ears are the most comfortable for all-day wear. The Costa Spearos are clear winners in this category. With rubberized nose pads and bows that grip without being sticky, spring hinges that allow the frames to flex with your face shape, channels for pulling sweat away from your temples, and a great overall shape that rides close without being too close, these specs are comfortable for everyone who tested them. The Native Wells and Costa Hinanos are also excellent contenders in comfort; lightweight, with nose pad and bow grippies. Impressively, the Wells rubber grips maintain their placement even during high-intensity activities that are both sweaty and involve plenty of jostling — like running.

Having the right protections on your lenses can make a huge...
Having the right protections on your lenses can make a huge difference in your visual experience and the longevity of your shades.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Though the Kaenon Clarkes lack bow pads, their overall shape helps them to remain impressively comfortable. The Vuarnet Districts aren't far behind, either. The Districts defy the rules and get away with it. They don't have any rubbery pads, are hefty and imbalanced, but we like wearing them anyway. The Suncloud Ramblers are easy to love as well. Their flexible bows offer an excellent combination of security and comfort on a wide variety of head sizes.

The Holbrook frames get straight to the point, holding the lenses on...
The Holbrook frames get straight to the point, holding the lenses on your face and keeping them there.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Frame Quality


Frame quality is a big part of durability. We researched and assessed each model, and put them through the wringer to find out which ones are the most likely to hold up through constant usage. We spent a lot of time jamming them 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.

Don&#039;t worry about losing your sunnies in the pool - the Beachcombers...
Don't worry about losing your sunnies in the pool - the Beachcombers float!
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

After beating up these glasses for months, through several countries and across the US and back, we are particularly impressed with the quality of the Kaenon Clarkes. Though lightweight and flexible, these shades are well-built and easily handled anything we threw at them, from dropping them on the pool deck to tossing them in the lake to stuffing them in a checked bag at the airport. They're one of the only frames that we never had to tighten the hinge screws on, and when we dropped them, or they went flying, we felt hardly any worry. We're also impressed by the ability of both the Maui Jim Kahis and Costa Hinanos to withstand a solid battering. The Vuarnet District Rounds are also very solidly constructed, despite looking more gracile than many other models.

The Native Wells have fairly standard acetate frames with a little...
The Native Wells have fairly standard acetate frames with a little bit of give in the plastic.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Though we didn't rate each model on their return policy, we did take note of it. Some models offer return or exchange policies that allow you to test the glasses for several weeks to see if you like them.

The Clubmasters survived our journey to Vietnam in remarkable style.
The Clubmasters survived our journey to Vietnam in remarkable style.
Photo: Brynna Nichols


Style and Versatility


As much as we wish there was a magical formula for style, there isn't. There's no objective test for how you'll look in any of these glasses, but we know it matters. Because it doesn't exist, we didn't rate these using an objective style guide. However, we asked many people with different styles and face shapes to try them on and tell us what they thought. Every tester took a peek in the mirror and rated how likely they would be to wear each pair in public based on looks alone.


A few pairs of shades perform well in other metrics but lose out when it comes to style. Some, like the Native Sanitas, run a bit small for many faces, making it harder to be universally flattering. A couple have patterns or specific shapes that are loved by some and despised by others, like the Hinanos and Haywires.

The Vuarnet District Medium Rounds are some of the most stylish...
The Vuarnet District Medium Rounds are some of the most stylish shades tested.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

A couple pairs we love specifically for their style, despite other shortcomings they may have. The Ray-Ban Clubmasters were frequently described as classy, hip, and even too cool for me. This made them a popular choice, despite their many shortcomings in every other metric. The Vuarnet District Medium Round are one of the most well-liked shades in this review, with one tester enthusiastically exclaiming, I look fantastic in these!

Not all cases are created equal. From lower left to upper right:...
Not all cases are created equal. From lower left to upper right: Oakley Holbrook, Ray-Ban Clubmaster, Vuarnet District Round, Native Highline (previously tested), Costa Hinano, Maui Jim Kahi.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Coverage


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 blocks light as well. We also noted which face shapes and sizes left overly large gaps for unwanted light and foreign body entrance.


Curved frames and lenses that contour around your face offer better coverage than flat models. The Maui Jim World Cups have a base curve of 8 (most of the rest are just 4-6), helping them to better wrap around your face and keep out sun and glare coming from unexpected angles. To add to that, they also have very wide bows that help to block side-sun. Though they may be a bit restrictive for a lot of driving, they're a great option if you're out on the water all day under a bright sun.

The World Cups offer some excellent coverage with their wide bows...
The World Cups offer some excellent coverage with their wide bows and wrap-around curvature.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

The Arnette Corner Man glasses also offer a base curve of 8, making them a more wraparound style model. Though they lack ultrawide bows to block out extra light, their lenses are particularly wide, offering solid protection from the sun and elements without obstructing your view like horse blinders.

The Corner Man shades from Arnette aren&#039;t our favorite pair, but...
The Corner Man shades from Arnette aren't our favorite pair, but they do offer great coverage.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Sunglasses with larger lenses and a closer overall fit — like the Maui Jim Kahis, Oakley Holbrooks, Native Wells, Kaenon Clarkes, and Costa Spearos — provide solid coverage and protection from most light angles. Some of the more casual glasses we tested are fairly straight across, like the Vuarent District Round Medium, leaving lots of gaps. Others are more face-hugging, providing extra coverage. Both the Oakley Holbrooks and the Maui Jim Kahis fall into that sweet spot, having a more ergonomic curvature and large lenses that offer quite a bit of coverage without completely wrapping your head like a shade ninja.

Case Quality


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. If you're spending that much on a piece of gear, it's nice if it just comes with a case that does the job.

We tested how well each model's case protects it against something as simple as a key scratch and as demanding as being crammed in an overstuffed bag being handled by an airline luggage crew. Rigid cases, like that of the Maui Jim Kahis, performed admirably at this task. Slightly less rigid, the zippered clamshell case of the Kaenon Clarkes is also one of our favorites, with plenty of space inside, excellent protection, and a zipper that remains easy to use when others start to stick.

The Clarkes come with one of our favorite cases of all the ones we...
The Clarkes come with one of our favorite cases of all the ones we tested.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

We also considered the finer details of each case, like its size and weight. And because we know you're out there having grubby, down-to-earth adventures, we also considered what cleaning tools accompany each pair of shades. The cases included with the Costa Hinano and Native Wells and Sanitas provide a good blend of protection and portability, and both come with a cleaning cloth. We adored the cleaning cloth from Costa del Mar and often found ourselves taking it with for use on other shades as well. It's soft and absorbent, easily pulling smudges and dirt from lenses, and is thick enough to not transfer your finger grease through it while still being flexible enough to reach all the corners of your lenses.

From beaches and slopes to cross country drives and brunches, we...
From beaches and slopes to cross country drives and brunches, we spent a lot of time testing these shades in multiple conditions.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Conclusion


There is a seemingly endless array of sunglasses available today, and it can be difficult to figure out which are the right choice for you. It's always our goal to help make your decisions easier by spending hundreds of hours testing the best products on the market side-by-side. We had a ton of fun testing and modeling these sunnies for months to hunt down each pair's best and worst attributes. We hope that our expertise and experience help you find the perfect pair of shades for your next adventure.

Maggie Brandenburg