The Best Sunglasses for Working Out
Protect your eyes on trails, roads, and crags with these pro recommendations
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You’ve got months of long, sunny adventures ahead, so don’t forget the shades. We asked runners, bikers, and climbers which sunglasses they’ll be rocking through the dog days. Here are their recommendations.
Smith Optics Mt. Shasta ($220)
Alex Borsuk, Ultrarunner
Ultrarunner Alex Borsuk digs Smith Optics Mt. Shasta shades because they take her from “trail to tavern.” With a vintage shape and impact-resistant Carbonic TLT lenses for clear optics, the Mt. Shasta offers performance without sacrificing style. These aren’t the shades for super-long days—the nose bridge has minimal structure, so they tend to slip down a sweaty face on a long run—but that’s not what they’re built for. “They’re comfortable and work well for short to medium-length runs or hikes,” says Borsuk, who lives in Portland, Oregon. “And they still look great at the brewery when you grab a beer afterward.”
Julbo Aero ($190)
Andy Anderson, Mountaineer
Andy Anderson, a national park ranger and avalanche forecaster based in Lake Tahoe, has always had trouble with sunglasses—they either bounce up and down, fit poorly, restrict his vision, or are too dark in the shade. The only pair to pass muster is the Julbo Aero. The frame maximizes airflow and minimizes fog. The mono lens spans both eyes and provides more peripheral vision. The Reactive Zebra Light lens is photochromic, so it adjusts to ambient light conditions. These shades also have a built-in shock absorber on the temple to keep them secure and comfortable during high-impact movement. “The only thing they don’t fix is me looking like a dork,” Anderson says. “And if there’s one thing I have learned over the last 40-plus years, it’s that nothing will fix that.”
Julbo Aerolite ($130)
Stephanie Violett, Ultrarunner
The Julbo Aerolite is the shade of choice for Stephanie Violett, the 2014 Western States women’s champion and Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc finisher. They have the same construction as the Aero but are designed to stay put on runners with smaller faces. Violett also prefers the Zebra lenses: “They’re ideal because they adjust when I go in and out of shade. That’s important on long runs or races when the sunlight is changing.” Plus, she says, the low-profile glasses are so lightweight that she sometimes forgets she’s wearing them.
Costa Slack Tide Polarized 580P Sunglasses ($180 to $200)
Brandon Orloski, Multisport Athlete and Gear Expert
Brandon Orloski has worked in the outdoor industry for ten years, testing gear for Backcountry.com. When he needs a pair of sunglasses that can keep up with all of his summer activities, he picks the Costa Slack Tide with polarized lenses made with polycarbonate, a clear plastic also used for shatterproof windows that’s ideal for lightweight sunglasses. “The lens quality is amazing—definitely one of the clearest lenses I have looked through,” says Orloski. When it comes to fit, he says the frames are snug. “They don’t feel like they will come off going down mountain bike trails or on trail runs.” If you’re casting a line in a rushing water, Orloski recommends threading a bit of fishing line through the small holes on each side to make a DIY croakie.
Sunski Manresa ($68)
Lael Wilcox, Bikepacker
Lael Wilcox, who has spent the past nine years bikepacking around the globe, doesn’t spring for fancy sunglasses. “I don’t really have anything too nice, because they get greasy and gross, and I’m just going to throw them away,” she says. For someone who holds the women’s record on the 2,745-mile Tour Divide, Wilcox has her priorities straight: Pack light, and don’t get attached to things. Recently, though, a friend gave Wilcox a pair of Sunskis, which she’s wearing on a ride across Switzerland and France. “I was like, ‘Great! These look good,” Wilcox says. They’re simple polarized sunglasses made with quality materials at a lower price point than most performance sunglasses. Several of Sunski’s models, including the Manresa, have recycled frames. Bonus: Sunski sells a lens replacement kit for $7.