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Spending time outdoors is one of the many benefits of running. But there are downsides; namely, too much exposure to the sun. UV rays – which are present even on an overcast day outside – can wreak havoc on our eyes as well as our skin. Without the right protection, UV rays can cause eye disease like cataracts and increase the chances of developing eye cancer. Plus, squinting through the reflections of cars, asphalt, or snow is just plain uncomfortable when trying to record miles.
For runners who spend hours a week outdoors, the discomfort and risks posed by UV rays are even greater. This is where the best racing sunglasses come in.
The best running sunglasses protect against all three types of UV rays (UVA, UVB and UVC) to ensure healthier eyes on the road. They block glare and in some cases improve vision with contrast enhancing tints.
Most importantly, a good pair of running sunglasses is designed for strenuous activity. They sit comfortably on your face as you run and sweat, whereas normal sunglasses are likely to shake or slip right away. Sunglasses designed for running also generally provide more shade than trendy sunglasses with wrap-around coverage.
What are the best running sunglasses?
Below are a few things to consider before choosing a pair of running sunglasses. First, you’ll want to think about where you usually run (i.e. trails or streets), as well as what kind of weather you experience.
Design: Most runners prefer a wrap-around design for full coverage. This will block out sunlight and glare at all times of the day, including sunrise and sunset. However, some runners like more street ready frames like wayfarers. These less athletic glasses are ideal if you’re going to the grocery store or cafe after a run.
Lentils: The lenses of the best racing sunglasses differ a bit with varying tints and polarization. Some tint colors are suitable for different settings, such as pink tints which enhance contrast and dark tints which block out more light. Contrast-enhancing hues like pink or orange are ideal for technical trails where you need to spot roots, rocks and changing terrain. Dark hues, on the other hand, are suitable for urban environments where you encounter glare from windows, asphalt, and cars.
Polarized lenses, which only allow light in at a vertical angle to eliminate glare, are generally preferred. However, polarization is not completely necessary in low glare situations such as trail running.
Style: All sunglasses – even sporty pairs – must look good. The size of the head is the first thing to think about, as the wrong size sunglasses can make your head look oddly small or too big. Additionally, running sunglasses can be sporty or more casual. Both are viable options, especially now that sporty hues are making their way into the fashion world.
Rx objectives: A handful of racing sunglasses come with the option for Rx lenses. This is obviously a major asset for any myopic runner. Just swap out the generic factory lenses for a pair with your prescription, which can often be easily done online.
1. Chemin Oakley Radar EV
If you are a serious runner (or a big connoisseur of running clothing), go for these Oakley Radar EV Path sunglasses. The tints use Prizm polarized lenses which provide all UV protection, enhance colors and significantly reduce glare. With an enveloping cover and tall lenses, this protection is effective from all angles.
The frame, on the other hand, is very light and uses Oakley’s rubbery material (Unobtanium) on the nose and temple pads. These improve comfort and prevent the glasses from bouncing or falling during intense runs. In terms of size, Radar EV Paths are best for average faces, but should fit just about anyone.
2. Smith at dock
Smith’s Dockside sunglasses might not look too sporty, but they’re more than ready to perform on a run. The glasses feature a wrap-around design that blocks out most of the sun’s rays from all angles, including the downward light you get around midday. Despite their coverage, the Docksides are very light thanks to the Evolve material – a high performance plastic from Smith. Even better, GlassesUSA.com offers the Docksides with corrective lenses. However, they are quite wide, so we recommend them for runners with larger faces.
3. Rudy Project Propulse sports sunglasses
Rudy Project’s Propulse sunglasses are another good choice for long-distance runners. With a weight of 26 grams and a grippy construction, the goggles are designed to stay comfortably in place on any terrain. One of the best uses for sunglasses is running in hot weather, as they have an integral ventilation system to reduce moisture fogging. Polarized lenses, which are made of a durable composite, can be easily replaced and are available in a few color options. On the fit side, we suggest the Propulses for runners with small to medium-sized faces.
4. Nike Skylon Ace Sunglasses
These Skylon Ace sunglasses from Nike are a great option for sprints or outdoor training, in addition to jogging. Italian-made blinds feature a wrap-around, slanted design that is meant to cover everything without adding too much weight and material. They are also very secure thanks to a rubberized nose pad and long temple tips that bend at the back of the head. Plus, you’d be hard pressed to find a sleek, full coverage high performance pair of running sunglasses.
5. Knockaround Fast Lanes Sport
Don’t be fooled by the affordable price of these Knockaround goggles – polarized goggles are actually durable, comfortable, and great for running. The frames are made of a lightweight rubberized plastic that grips your nose and ears to hold the glasses in place. Even if they fall off, the polycarbonate lenses of the glasses are quite difficult to damage.
Plus, Knockaround glasses are a trend with celebrities from Matthew McConaughey to Snoop Dogg wearing affordable sunglasses. This means you can easily wear them to the grocery store or cafe right after a run. We recommend the glasses for medium-sized faces, although they are also suitable for small and large heads.
6. Julbo Fury Performance Sunglasses
If you run early in the morning or in the evening when the light changes, take a look at these Julbo Fury sunglasses. They are available in bright or dimly lit options, the latter providing optimal shadow in a transitional light. All Furys (regardless of which lens type you choose) feature vented lenses that effectively prevent moisture and sweat from fogging. The frame, sized for medium to large faces, features grippy, shock-absorbing pads on the nose and ears for a comfortable, jerk-free fit. At the top of the frame, there is also a fitted front bar which prevents sweat from entering your eyes.