What is your favorite piece of summer gear? So many choices. So we put together a list of the best outdoor sunglasses for 2019. What is your most essential piece of summer gear? Sunglasses. Your summer eyewear is a critical link to your outdoor summer pursuits.
Top Sunglasses for the Outdoors
Costa sunglasses are produced with the water recreationalist in mind. The reviewed models both feature a choice of lens material- the 580 G (glass) or 580 P (polycarbonate). Each has a polarized film layer and Costa’s C-Wall coating to increase scratch resistance. The 580 G’s have two layers of glass giving these lenses very high clarity and a mirrored layer. The frame material is a castor plant-based resin with spring hinges. Most notably, the Costa glasses offer seven (7!) lens colors for a range of light conditions from Blue Mirror for bright light on open water to Sunrise Silver Mirror for low light activities. The company will mix and match your preferred frame color with any of the seven lens colors. The Rincon model is in their Lifestyle line- it has the classic beach culture style with a large face protecting frame. Retail ranges from $179-$259 (lens choice dependent).
The Slack Tide model, in Costa’s Sport Performance line, boasts added frame end vents and template channels to keep fogging at bay and sweat out of your eyes. Retail for the Slack Tide ranges from $189-$269 (lens choice dependent). If you are spending your leisure time casting from a boat or from the surf’s edge, grab a pair of Costa’s.
Hobie has created a great pair of sunglasses that work well for running and perform equally as strong on the river and for playing in the snow. The rubber nose guard keeps the glasses securely affixed to your face and they sit far enough off your cheeks to allow the sunglasses to breathe and not fog under heavy use. The Rockpiles come with 2 Lens options, Cobalt works great for anti smudging and the lens changes depending on lighting conditions. While the Grey Lens is perfect for running on bright sunny days or for a day on the river fly fishing.
Polarized makes being outdoors in yucky conditions that much more fun. If you live in the Northwest the Hobie Rockpile with Cobalt lens would be the perfect pair of sunglasses to use year-round. [Purchase: $69.95]
Out of all the glasses we tested the Optic Nerve Amino nose piece held the glasses to our face better than any other pair we tried. As someone that loves to run, I can tell you that there is nothing worse then sunglasses bouncing up and down the bridge of your nose while out on the trail.
The Optic Nerve Amino’s are lightweight, feature swappable lenses (although the Shiny Blue Lens that came with the sunglasses work so great we haven’t actually found a need to swap the lens yet) and perform great for running, biking and backcountry ski touring. Speaking of biking, note that Optic Nerve also makes the Variant which quickly becomes our go-to pair of biking sunglasses this season. One of the best running sunglasses for small faces. [Purchase: $96.95]
Anytime a company is making products from plant-based materials we take note! Zeal gets it, the company has been making environmentally friendly sunglasses in Boulder, Colorado since 1997. Zeal’s Range sunglasses come with a mirrored polarized lens, are really lightweight, full-frame and look great on and off the trail. You no longer have to drive to the trailhead wearing a second set of sunglasses!
The polarized lens is even RX prescription ready. Making this one of the best running prescription sunglasses. [Purchase: $148.95]
If you are tough on your eyewear, check out the new STNGR brand. Durability is what sets these apart from other glasses. The frames are constructed of an ultra-durable, near-indestructible Memory Flex Nylon. The lenses carry the same hard-working ethic- they are shatterproof, scratch-resistant, and anti-reflective. These glasses are ANSI rated- which means they qualify as Personal Protective Equipment for workplace eye protection. Your peepers are safe. They offer three lens colors and all are polarized. STNGR currently has two models- the Alpine and the Ridge. The primary difference is size and shape. Find the model that fits your accident-prone noggin best and get outdoors! These retail for $135 making them among the best value in this list as well.
The next glasses to check out are from a new company named Ombraz. These unique armless sunnies answer a couple of the issues many summer athletes struggle with- namely managing your eyewear as you are managing your layers (hoody on, hoody off…) and the poorly timed sunglasses drop. The lightweight barely-there acetate frames are just there to hold the lens; the lenses, in turn, are held in place by a custom woven soft polyester cord that tightens onto your head. The frames are held snugly and securely on your face. The lenses feature Zeiss optics and are both hydro- and oleo-phobic which makes them highly smudge resistant. Ombraz offers three lens colors to answer varying conditions. All are polarized. The secure fit and low profile of these glasses make them ideal for climbers and white-water boaters that are always in danger of losing their eyewear. They retail for $140 direct from the Ombraz site
Lastly, if you are serious road biker, you are probably already familiar with the 100% brand. The Speedcoupe model features semi-rimless frames of TR90 and Hydroilo treated lenses (repels water, oils, extra smudge proof!). The exchangeable lenses are available in 8 tints and offer HiPER lens technology- which vastly increases contrast and enhances detail. You will see every pothole and tarmac repair with these. The wrap is designed to allow maximum airflow and the TPE rubber nose pads and temples keep these shades in place when you do get sweaty. These retail for (lens dependent) $135 – $175. $70 will get you an extra set of lenses.
For the high alpine mountaineer and summer skier, the classic Vuarnet Glacier 1315’s are still the standard. The frames are made of a beefy acetate and steel combination. The removable side shields are soft leather and attach to the temples via magnetic fixtures. The Glacier is available with a choice of 9 lens colors. Look for the SkiLynx lens- this is the legendary Vuarnet lens for a reason. These have the best light protection, protection against sudden and bright glares and increase contrast in low light or foggy conditions. The Grey Polar lens is also a good choice featuring Vuarnet’s highest anti-glare lens with hydro- and oleophobic surface treatments. These classics retail at $640.
For the aerobically inclined, check out Smith’s Attack Max. The Attack Max’s are the performance glasses for runners and bikers. The semi-rimless frames are made of TR90, a highly engineered thermoplastic that is strong, light and flexible. The polarized lenses come with Smith’s ChromoPop technology and are interchangeable with other Attack Max lenses. Additionally, when you purchase these you will receive an extra set of lenses. The cut-away shape of the lens allows air to circulate while you are active reducing fogging and sweat build up. For the long-distance trail runner or triathlete, the $249 for these shades will be well worth it.
The serious outdoor recreationalist never underestimates the sun- choosing the right set of shades for your sport du jour is key to a good day. While you are at it- don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen (https://mtnweekly.com/reviews/best-sunscreen-physical/) and grab the right sun protective hat (check out the Tilley Airflo for great protection and comfort https://mtnweekly.com/reviews/tilley-airflo-hats/).
While summer and sunshine in the mountains can be capricious, you always want your favorite shades. See you out there….