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Best Sunglasses For Hiking: Top Picks & Buyer’s Guide


Article Categories: Gear | Hiking Tips

Unless you’re hiking at night, you should wear sunglasses while you hike. Sunglasses are vital for protecting your eyes from UV radiation. They can help with trail hazards like debris and low-hanging brush, and are part of the 10 Essentials for Hiking.

However, there are thousands of sunglasses designs, and not all of them are suitable for hiking. Here, we will teach you everything you need to know to choose the best sunglasses for hiking that are comfortable enough for everyday wear.


Choosing Hiking Sunglasses

Whether you’re choosing sunglasses for daily use or for your outdoor adventures, there are a lot of design elements to consider. For outdoor sunglasses, you want sunglasses that are:

  • Lightweight and comfortable.
  • Shaded to protect your eyes from UV
  • Lets in enough light so that you can easily see the contours and shadows of terrain.
  • Durable with resistant lenses that will hold up to occasional trail hazards


Here are how the different elements of sunglasses design impact their suitability for hiking.



You want sunglasses that will stay on your head as you move. This means choosing the right width of frame and looking for options like nose pads, rubberized earpieces, and arms that are long enough to sit on your ear comfortably. They also should be loose enough that you aren’t getting marks on your nose, your temple, or your ears quickly while wearing.



Choose a sunglasses design that has good eye coverage. Wrap-around sunglasses are some of the best options because they don’t have side openings that let in light. Aviator-style and Wayfarer-style sunglasses are also good due to the large lens size and venting that prevents fogging. Smaller round lenses might be fashionable, but they don’t provide enough protection for hiking. Heavy sweating can cause wraparound sunglasses to fog easier, which should be a consideration for the glasses you choose on a given day.



Sunglasses need to protect your eyes in more ways than one. First, sunglasses can protect your eyes from dust and debris. Secondly, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can damage the eyes and increase the risk of conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and skin cancer.

When looking for UV protection in sunglasses, check for the following indications of UV protection:

  • 100% UV protection: Indicates that the lenses block or absorb all harmful UV radiation.
  • UV400 rating: Sunglasses with a UV400 rating block all UV radiation up to 400 nanometers, which includes both UVA and UVB rays.



Polarized lenses are the best for outdoor activities. They reduce glare, make it easier to see, and can reduce eye strain.

Polarized sunglasses work well because they reduce the glare from reflected light (like off of snow, puddles, or bodies of water). If you want more information about how they work, read our guide to polarized sunglasses and our article about mirrored and polarized sunglasses. If you’re hiking in the snow or near water, polarized lenses are a must-have– and honestly, you’ll probably enjoy their benefits in any and all outdoor settings.


Lens Color

There are many color options available for polarized and non-polarized sunglasses, and each lens color filters light differently. We have a complete guide to sunglasses lens colors, but here is a quick summary of each lens color and what it does. Having sunglasses where you can swap lenses, or multiple pairs to choose from is generally a good idea to get the best performance out of your shades.

Lens Color Benefits
Blue and Purple
  • Reduces glare in snow and on water
  • Better color/contour perception
  • Fog visibility
  • Prevents eye fatigue
Brown and Amber
  • Better depth perception
  • Enhances warm colors
  • Better eye protection
  • High color contrast
  • Accurate color perception
  • Glare reduction
  • Most versatile color
  • Even color visibility
  • Versatile
  • Better contrast
Red and Pink
  • Best depth perception
  • Eases eye strain
  • Reduces harsh contrast
Yellow, Orange, and Gold
  • Best clarity
  • Makes it easier to focus on moving targets
  • Good clarity in fog/haze


Lens Material

The lenses in your sunglasses can be made out of glass or a variety of plastic materials. Both glass and plastic lenses work well for hiking.

Glass Lenses Plastic Lenses
Optical Clarity Very good Depends on the type of plastic
Scratch Resistance More resistant Less resistant
Impact Resistance Resistant, but may chip or shatter from extreme impact Less resistant, but will likely crack instead of shatter
Drop Resistance May shatter from an extreme fall Much more resistant
UV Protection Can effectively block UV rays without additional coating or treatment Requires treatment or special coating to block UV rays
Weight Heavier than plastic Very light
Price Usually more expensive Can be less expensive; however, high-performance plastics can be more expensive than glass lenses


While it is your preference to use glass or plastic lenses, many hikers prefer plastic lenses because the sunglasses are lighter, more comfortable, and less likely to slip when you get sweaty.

Here is how some of the most common types of plastic used for sunglasses lenses compare to each other. Note that all plastic lenses require filters or coatings for UV protection, so no one type of plastic has an advantage over the others in that regard.


Nylon Acrylic  Polycarbonate Trivex
Optical Clarity Great Good Lower than other plastics Great
Scratch Resistance Good Poor OK Good
Impact Resistance Great OK Great Great
Drop Resistance Great OK Great Great
Weight Lightest Lightweight Lightweight Extremely lightweight
Notes Less common (and therefore more expensive) than other types of plastic lenses Usually the least expensive type of lens Relatively thin, frequently used in wrap-around designs More expensive than other plastic lens materials


The Best Sunglasses for Hiking

Now that you know what elements are important for choosing hiking sunglasses, here is our guide to some of the best shades on the market.


Costa Del Mar Rinconcito

Costa Del Mar Rinconcito

Costa Del Mar Rinconcito’s on Mulhacen in Spain

These scratch-resistant lenses are great for bright light conditions, and a top pick for activities near water. The lenses have several light filtering options built in, including blue light and harsh yellow light. These might be our all time favorite sunglasses for fishing, but we use them heavily on hikes as well. They are incredibly clear, durable, comfortable, and have just enough venting to avoid fogging on runs or hot days.

It is worth noting that any Costa Del Mar pair of glasses will perform great, and you have lots of different frame options to choose from.

  • Pros: Great optics, mirrored option, light filtering lenses
  • Cons: Limited lens colors, expensive
  • Lens Material: Glass or polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% UV Protection
  • Prescription Version Available: Yes
  • Price: $213-$273


Buy at Costa del Mar | Buy on Amazon


Redfin Amelia Sunglasses

Redfin Glasses While Hiking

Redfin Amelia sunglasses on the summit of Mount Of The Holy Cross, a Colorado 14er

We’ve personally taken the Redfin Amelia sunglasses fishing, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, and trail running.  We found these sunglasses to be extremely comfortable; their low profile means they fit great under hats, gaiters, and more. We love the blend of comfort, ventilation, yet semi closed frame, and the extremely high clarity lenses. It would be hard for us to choose a favorite between Redfin and Costas.

It is worth noting that any pair of Redfin glasses will perform great, and you have several frame options to choose from.

  • Pros: Lifetime warranty, extra-clear Zeiss optics, extremely comfortable, lots of color options, durable
  • Cons: A little wide for their size, no prescription version available
  • Lens Material: Nylon
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100%
  • Prescription Version Available: No
  • Price: $250


Buy at RedFin Polarized


Blenders Canyon

Blenders Canyon on ski touring day

Trusting the Blenders Canyon on a long ski tour in Utah

Blenders sent us a pair of goggles and sunglasses to test out. To be honest, we were absolutely blown away with the lens quality and comfort of both. The Canyons have the quality that is comparable to our costas, and when we looked at the pricetag, we were flabbergasted. Under $50 for extremely high quality lenses. We use them all the time. We are highlighting the Canyon collection do to the frame style being a great option for most hikers, but there are various styles to choose from.

We think these are one of the best value glasses on the market.

  • Pros: Inexpensive, super comfortable, tons of design and color options.
  • Cons: The website is hard to navigate to find the frame style and color.
  • Lens Material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% UV Protection
  • Prescription Version Available: Yes
  • Price: $49


Buy at Blenders | Buy on Amazon


Tifosi Crit

Tifosi Crit SunglassesTifosi makes incredibly comfortable glasses meant for athletics. The Crit glasses are awesome in our opinion because of the superior ventilation they offer. That means if you are running or hiking causing you to sweat profusely, you can’t ask for a better pair of sunglasses to prevent fogging. We use the Crits on our trail runs, bike rides, and backcountry skis to minimize fogging.

  • Pros: Fototec (tint darkens with brighter sun) and polarized option for tons of versatility
  • Cons: Less eye coverage and protection for the brightest days or high wind.
  • Lens Material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% UVA/B Protection
  • Prescription Version Available: Not on the Crit, but other Tifosi frames yes
  • Price: $45-$99.95 (depends on lens)

See On Tifosi | See on Amazon | See On REI


Abaco Polarized Radman

Abaco RadmanThe Abaco Radman sunglasses’ wrap-around design offers your eyes a high degree of protection from UV radiation and visible light. These glasses are meant to have a tight fit that some people, especially those with larger heads, may find a bit uncomfortable at first– but once you’re used to them, you’ll hardly notice they’re there. You can also find other more open frame designs on both the Abaco site and on Amazon.

  • Pros: Inexpensive, comfortable, wrap-around design for great eye protection
  • Cons: Tight fit requires adjustment.
  • Lens Material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: UV400 lens
  • Prescription Version Available: Yes
  • Price: $70


Buy at Abaco


Julbo Explorer 2.0

Julbo Explorer 2.0Designed for mountaineering, these sunglasses are extremely durable. Their side shields cut down on glare, and their brown Reactiv lens option is designed to enhance contrast and color in the brightest conditions. The Reactiv lenses also automatically transition from lighter to darker depending on the amount of UV light present.

These glasses are specifically designed for mountaineering, making them one of the ultimate choices for hikers in all seasons.

  • Pros: Versatile and adaptive, durable, side shields
  • Cons: Expensive, limited lens color options
  • Lens Material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% full spectrum protection
  • Prescription Version Available: Yes
  • Price: $150-$240


Buy at Julbo | Buy on Backcountry | Buy on Amazon


Knockaround Classics

Black / Sunset Knockaround SunglassesIf you need a durable pair of hiking sunglasses that won’t break the bank, look no further than the Knockaround Classics. These sunglasses are designed to be durable and lightweight, offering good eye protection for a great price.

When we just started getting into fly fishing and were on a tight budget, knockarounds were our go to. They simply work, they look good, and don’t break the bank. The lenses may degrade over time, but they easily will last you longer than a year if you take good care of them.

  • Pros: Inexpensive, lots of lens colors and frame designs
  • Cons: Side protection isn’t great
  • Lens Material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: UV400
  • Prescription Version Available: No
  • Price: $28


Buy at Knockaround | Buy on Amazon


Maui Jim Wailua

Maui Jim Wailua

These are the lightest sunglasses we’ve found that can stand up to the demands of the trail. Maui Jim makes durable, scratch-resistant sunglasses that offer great UV protection. Their unique hybrid lenses combine the best of both glass and plastic (good clarity, yet great durability and lightweight). The frames are open allowing for great ventilation, but also sunlight from the side which should be a consideration.

  • Pros: Weighs only 15 grams, anti-scratch coating,
  • Cons: Expensive, lets in light at the sides
  • Lens Material: Glass-polycarbonate hybrid, “MauiPure”
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% UV Protection
  • Prescription Version Available: Yes
  • Price: $249


Buy at Maui Jim | Buy on Amazon


Oakley Flak 2.0

Oakley Flak 2.0These extremely rugged sunglasses are highly resistant to shock and drops, scratches, impact, and anything else you could throw at them. Oakley’s sunglasses are all highly engineered for top of the line protection during extreme conditions.

  • Pros: Extremely durable, lots of customization options
  • Cons: Can be very expensive, not the best looking glasses for everyday wear
  • Lens Material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% UVA, UVB, and UVC protection; blue light protection up to 400 nm
  • Prescription Version Available: Yes
  • Price: $160+ depending on options; these are highly customizable


Buy at Oakley | Buy on Amazon


Ombraz Dolomite Sunglasses

Ombraz Sunglasses

Ombraz while backcountry skiing

Ombraz sunglasses are armless, which means that they fasten to your head by an adjustable strap. The result is a comfortable pair of sunglasses that are going to stay on your face, no matter what. Because these are a different style, these glasses will be absolutely loved by some, and will take some getting used to for others.

We love them for activities where glasses can easily fall off, like backcountry skiing, or for activities where you need your glasses on the entire day. These are super versatile since you can purchase them with side shields turning them into great mountaineering / winter hiking glasses.

  • Pros: Great protection, side shields available, extremely lightweight, hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings standard. Zeiss optics.
  • Cons: Nontraditional design may take getting used to, need two hands to take them off and put them on
  • Lens Material: Nylon
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% UVA & UVB protection
  • Prescription Version Available: Yes
  • Price: $160


Buy at Ombraz


Ray-Ban Daddy-O II

Ray-Ban Daddy-OThese wrap-around shades might not have the classic Ray-Ban shape, but that makes them even better for hiking. These lightweight shades offer extremely high optical clarity and complete UV protection. It is a mid range sunglass price for high end optics (we like value).

  • Pros: Protective wrap-around design, affordable glass lenses, great clarity
  • Cons: High fit bridge won’t work on everyone’s nose
  • Lens Material: Crystal glass
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% full spectrum UV
  • Prescription Option Available: Yes
  • Price: $129


Buy at Ray-Ban | Buy on Amazon


Redfin Key Largo Sunglasses

Redfin Key LargoSimilar to the Amelia sunglasses but with a smaller head shape in mind, the Key Largo sunglasses have all the great features we’ve come to expect from RedFin. They fit well and have a similar low profile. If you want a more open design, this is what we would recommend.

  • Pros: Lifetime warranty, extra-clear Zeiss optics, extremely comfortable, durable
  • Cons: Uncomfortable on large head frames
  • Lens Material: Nylon
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100%
  • Prescription Version Available: No
  • Price: $250


Buy at RedFin Polarized


Shady Ray’s Classic Timber

Shady Ray's Classic Deep Timber

The Shady Ray’s Classic sunglasses are a great option for hiking due to their large lenses, deep tints, and durability. Their polycarbonate lenses are scratch, shatter, and saltwater resistant to keep you safe and on the trail. We used our first pair of Shady Rays after finding them on the ground! After that, we bought several other pairs, and even gifted them to others.

Why? They are affordable, high quality, and the lost and broken replacement policy is perfect for the outdoor adventurer. There are tons of frame color and lens color options making it easy to get the style and function you want.

  • Pros: Lots of options, inexpensive, filters out a lot of visible light, two-year lost and broken replacement policy included
  • Cons: Frames not as durable as frames designed for hiking
  • Lens Material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% UV protection
  • Prescription Version Available: Yes
  • Price: $54


Buy at Shady Ray’s | Buy on Dicks Sporting Goods


Smith Frontman Elite

Smith Frontman Elite SunglassesFashionable enough for daily wear but tough enough for hiking, the Frontman Elites are highly impact-resistant, lightweight, and comfortable. They have several lens options, including their ChromaPop lenses for high color fidelity. Smith makes incredible gear, and they are trusted by pro athletes and outdoor guides in most sports.

  • Pros: Protective, lightweight, wrap-around design protects sides
  • Cons: No prescription option, expensive
  • Lens Material: Impact resistant
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% UVA and UVB protection
  • Prescription Option: No
  • Price: $169-$239


Buy at Smith Optics | Buy on Amazon


Smith Pinpoint ChromaPop

Smith Pinpoint RXSmith Optics’ ChromaPop lenses are great optics for hiking sunglasses. They have excellent color fidelity and let you see the landscape around you just as it is. These sunglasses are a great option for hiking– especially in dappled shadow and high contrast conditions, like hiking in a deep forest or a canyon.

  • Pros: Lightweight, interchangeable nose grips, ChromaPop lenses have great color fidelity
  • Cons: Expensive, that’s about it
  • Lens Material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% UVA and UVB protection
  • Prescription Version Available: Yes
  • Price: $159-$199



Tifosi Seek 2.0

Tifosi Seek 2The Seek 2.0’s lenses perform just as well as more expensive options, and this option really shines is in summer. Their ear and nose grips are made of a unique hydrophilic rubber. These sunglasses don’t slip– in fact, their fit and grip improves as you sweat. If you are looking for an inexpensive and comfortable pair, this is a great option.

  • Pros: Lightweight, hydrophilic grips that hold better to your skin when you sweat, shatterproof, inexpensive
  • Cons: Not everyone likes the frameless design, no prescription version available
  • Lens Material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • UV Protection: 100% UVA / UVB protection
  • Prescription Version Available: No
  • Price: $34.95-$39.95


Buy at Tifosi Optics | Buy on Amazon


Best Hiking Sunglasses by Category

Still not sure which sunglasses to choose? Here are our recommendations for specific sunglasses needs.


Best Hiking Sunglasses by Budget

Sunglasses can be relatively inexpensive or luxury purchases. Here are our picks listed by price.

Model Min. Price Model Min. Price
Knockaround Classics $28 Ombraz Dolomite $160
Tifosi Seek 2.0 $34.95 Oakley Flak 2.0 $160
Blenders Canyon $49 Smith Frontman Elite $169
Shady Ray’s Classic Timbers $54 Costa Del Mar Rinconcito $213
Abaco Polarized Radman $70 Maui Jim Wailua $249
Ray-Ban Daddy-O II $129 RedFin Polarized Amelia $250
Julbo Explorer 2.0 $150 RedFin Polarized Key Largo $250
Smith Pinpoint ChromaPop $159


Best Sunglasses for Winter Hiking

These sunglasses have excellent UV protection– winter sunlight bounces off of snow, and UV protection is necessary. They also feature large lenses and good contrast and visibility in shadows to deal with bright white winter conditions.

  • Julbo Explorer 2.0: Designed for mountaineering and high contrast.
  • Oakley Flack 2.0: Dark lenses protect eyes and maintain contrast in high light conditions.
  • Redfin Amelia: Large lenses for eye protection, great visibility.


Best Sunglasses for Extreme Sports and Trail Running

The best sunglasses for trail running are the ones that add the least amount of weight as you run and won’t fall off your face.

The same is true if you’re a rock climber or mountaineer; if your shades fall off your face while you’re performing a difficult move, they might be gone for good. Here are our picks for extreme sports and trail running.

  • Abaco Radman: Snug, face-hugging fit.
  • Ombra Dolomite: Cord is more secure than arms.
  • Tifosi Seek 2.0: Fits better when sweaty.


Best Prescription Sunglasses for Hiking

Nearsighted and farsighted hikers alike rejoice! You don’t have to struggle with sunclips or deal with slow transitions with a pair of prescription sunglasses. While several of the options we feature have prescription models, these three stand out.

  • Maui Jim Wailua: These are available in full prescription and reading glasses-style simple magnification.
  • Ombra Dolomite: These have a side shield option to reduce glare, helpful for astigmatism.
  • Ray-Ban Daddy-O: These cover a wider range of prescriptions than other hiking sunglasses.


Best Affordable Sunglasses

In this category, we wanted to highlight what we thought had the absolute best value in the lower end price range.

  • Blenders Canyon: Coming in at under $50 – these are hard to beat
  • Shady Ray’s Classic Timbers: WIth Shady Ray’s replacement policy, it is difficult to get better value anywhere else.

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, is always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about