Running sunglasses aren’t just about block out the light, they absolutely impact your run! Did you know they can eliminate stress and help you run better?!
In 2011, I had my first real experience in the “influencer” world. I stepped deep in to the world of running gear to see exactly how it’s made, tested and WHY.
I was intrigued. Then I was blown away. Then I learned an insane amount about the best sunglasses for running and I can’t wait to share it. From living in FL to CO, I’ve found a lot of this science to hold true.
Like how much EXTRA energy you use when not wearing sunglasses.
Don’t worry I promise not to pitch you nothing but Oakley. There are so many different brands available that I’ve now tested and enjoy. But I am going to give you a quick link to what you see me wearing from my black ones, to white ones, to black with a colored lens.
✅ these are the running sunglasses I wear and get asked about EVERY. SINGLE.DAY. on Instagram.
They not only have the sport features I need, but for me feel more flattering than a bulky wrap around pair. While those have some IMMENSE value, they just aren’t what I find a lot of female runners want on a daily basis.
It turns out sunglasses aren’t just a great thing for holding back my hair, they TRULY impact your running.
Having a good pair of sunglasses can impact your running in more ways than you can imagine. Learn all of that in this article, as well as my picks for the best running sunglasses.
I’ll also share with you the key features to look out for when purchasing your next pair of shades to make sure you make the right decision.
Did you know wearing the wrong sunglasses could actually result in a bad run? (Here are a few other amusing running facts.)
I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I spent a lot of years running without sunglasses because they bothered me or didn’t make me look just this cool.
Luckily as part of my work with Oakley, I was able to tour their rolling O Lab for a truly eye-opening experience.
If you, like me, have never purchased an expensive pair of sunglasses and can’t even fathom why you would need them PLEASE read this.
- Squinting creates stress
- Stress tells your brain you’re doing something hard
- Thinking that running is hard tells your brain it’s hard
- Eye strain leads to fatigue and headaches
- Lack of eye protection isn’t cool running on roads with things flying about
- UV exposure can lead to cataracts and other issues
- All that squinting adds to the lines around our eyes
I was amazed, awed and learned some really important lessons.
(Bonus because they semi-hide the fear when I tackle new races).
If you’ve decided from the tips above that you need the perfect pair, but aren’t sold on the Frogskins, let’s look at a few other options.
Best Everyday Running Sunglasses
Oakley Frogskins ($150)
(yup these are my go to’s in most photos)
The Oakley Frogskins features a youthful and classic design that has bagged a place in style history for over four decades.
Like the Oakley Flak 2.0, it also features the proprietary O-Matter frame material that results in a durable and lightweight frame. The lenses provide 100% protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays, as well as UVC, and blue light up to 400nm for a safer run.
The hydrophobic coating on the lens ensures it repels water, oils, and dust which makes it the perfect everyday pair for all types of runs. It includes Oakley’s High-Definition Optics enabling you to have an accurate vision over the field of view.
This incredible pair also meets ANSI Z87.1 standards for high-velocity impact protection as well as optical clarity standards. The ANSI Z87.1 standard is established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to ensure maximum quality when it comes to eye protection.
The ear stems and keyhole bridge with Three-Point Fit help keep the glasses in place while running.
This classic design comes in multiple colors of frames and lenses, including non-polarized and polarized lenses to ensure you find the right ones for you.
Best Budget Sunglasses
Tifosi Savago Sunglasses ($25)
(The clear one’s are so cool)
The Tifosi Svago features a much lower price point for a highly durable pair of sunglasses. The rounded lens design with a non-slip grip makes them the perfect crossover between running and lifestyle.
The Svago has polycarbonate lenses to provide increased durability by being shatterproof and scratch-resistant. It also provides 100% UVA and UVB protection.
The proprietary Glare Guard™ technology adds a reflective lens coating that reduces glare and eye fatigue, which is perfect to conserve energy while running.
Tifosi glides also allow the frame to slide on comfortably and provide an anti-bounce fit so you don’t have to worry about your sunglasses flying off during a run.
They’re one of the best running sunglasses to get if you’re on a budget. However, I could not find testing to prove they don’t distort vision.
Best Lightweight Sunglasses
ROKA Oslo High Performance ($155- $205)
The Roka Oslo are the best sunglasses for runners if you’re looking for a pair with ultra-lightweight construction. It features shades so ultralight that you’ll forget you’re even wearing sunglasses at all.
The thin temple arms on these glasses have hydrophilic grippers that keep them pinned without any evident pressure on your temples. No matter how much you move, sweat, or shake, you won’t have to worry about the frames falling off your face.
But they’re still flexible enough to accommodate a variety of face shapes. To ensure a perfect fit, you also get three sizes of nose-bridge pads with these sunglasses.
The Halsey and Vendee are styles similar to the Frogskins and feature ultralight C3 lenses. They feature an anti-scratch, anti-fog, and anti-reflective coating which makes them suitable for all types of runs.
With super-hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings, you won’t have to worry about smudges on the lenses anymore! It ensures anti-spotting and fingerprint resistance for easy cleaning.
A great choice, especially if you’re looking for lightweight sunglasses.
Best Trail Running Sunglasses
Oakley Flak ($170)
If you’re looking for a great overall pair of sunglasses that’s both reliable and comfortable, then the Oakley Flak 2.0 is a solid choice for all-day comfort. Plus, you have the LARGEST variety of colors and styles. You can really customize it to your favorites. I made a very cool custom pair during my time at the Ironman in Kona!
These sunglasses will support you on long runs and races with their lightweight and durable design thanks to Oakley’s proprietary O-Matter frame material.
The shatter and scratch-resistant frames on the Flak 2.0 feature Oakley’s high-Definition Optics, as well as curvatures. These greatly enhance peripheral views ensuring you always have a smooth run.
They include comfortable ear socks and notepads that have a coating that increases grip with perspiration and allows for a more secure fit. This is thanks to the grippy ‘unobtanium’ material used.
There’s no reason to worry that your sunglasses are going to fly off during, say, a fast trail run because the more you sweat, the gripper this material becomes.
The design of these sunglasses is a more traditional sporty-looking wraparound style and it comes in various tints. The pink Prizm Field lenses enhance color and contrast on the trails, making the terrain easier to tackle while running at speed.
The lens is also designed to filter out 100% of UVA, UVB, UVC, and harmful blue light up to 400nm. They’re also available with prescription lenses for an additional cost.
The Prizm Road lens technology also adds a slight tint to sunlight without completely dimming vision like other sunglasses tend to do. This is huge when you’re on the trails where it’s going from light to shade.
The slightly orange lens makes those shadows easier to see. In other sunglasses I have to take the sunglasses off because I literally can’t see roots and rocks in the shade.
If you’re a runner that’s also a triathlete, these sunglasses are great for cycling and swimming. The lenses can also be replaced which is good to know in case you accidentally damage them. It’s also available with polarized lenses.
Wraparound – best coverage
Best Anti Fog Sunglasses
Bolle Bolt Sunglasses ($110)
If you run in the humidity, like I did, in Miami, then fogging up can be a big issue. These Bolle Bolt sunglasses feature side ventilation that can help with it immensely. But they also have some more lifestyle designs that will get you back to the Frogskin look.
To ensure you never have to worry about your glasses fogging up, they also include an incredible anti-fog (AF) technology. The coating incorporates permanent resistance to fogging, as well as scratches and chemicals.
The AF treatment is applied to the lens for retained properties and won’t come off even after repeated washing and years of use.
The temple tips, nose pads, and adjustable nosepieces on the Bolt are all made from Bolle’s proprietary Thermogrip material. Its hydrophilic properties make it grippier when wet and will ensure your frames stay comfortably in place.
No matter how much you sweat or how humid it gets, these sunglasses are going to stay in place and give you clear vision while running. An excellent choice if you live in a humid area.
Best Anti Slip Sunglasses
Rudy Project Rydon ($180)
Another sporty sunglasses style, but with a smaller frame. High quality, durable, and thoroughly tested. Big fan of the anti-slip technology here too and the options for different lenses based on the type of running you do most.
The nose piece on these pair of shades is adjustable, so you can adjust its height and distance from your face. The temple pads are also adjustable, enabling them to offer the ideal amount of pressure while remaining firmly in place.
The Rydon’s also feature easily interchangeable lenses, allowing you to completely personalize your sunglasses, and are perfect for different light conditions.
I know the price feels overwhelming, but I have been running in all of mine for YEARS and YEARS. I did pay $20 to replace a pair of lenses after I scratched them on the trail, but these are going to last.
When it comes to expensive running gear, I try to put it in perspective:
- My $150 running shoes are going to last 500 miles, so 1/3 of a year. Roughly .3 cents per mile.
- The $150 running jacket I so adore is going to last me A VERY LONG TIME
- Running sunglasses I’ve worn mine for over a decade, which would make them about 0.009375 cents per mile.
Whether you want something that looks like a casual any day sunglass, but performs, or you want to go traditional sporty these are the best sunglasses for running based on all my research and testing!
I’ll admit, I’m cheap.
This isn’t news, I’ve said it before when talking about everything from gear to food. I’ve also said that being cheap doesn’t meant, I’m not willing to pay for something that will LAST and WORK.
None the less, I didn’t understand why I needed to pay for something like Oakley’s.
Then I spent a few hours learning that not all sunglasses are the same, watching demonstrations and a few days running in sunglasses that told me what I’d been mistaken.
BUT cheap doesn’t have to mean they aren’t great, as I’m now seeing with brands like Goodr (past consistent marketing of drug use as funny really turned me off. I personally don’t find them comfortable for any sort of long run either). You just need to know what features really matter.
I don’t just mean, can you wear them a ton, I mean if you’re running along the sidewalk and a car flips a big chunk of concrete up which smashes in to your face will it protect your eyes?
Most fashion sunglasses are going to break instantly, meanwhile the higher quality sunglasses can sustain things like BB’s being shot at them, which we saw in action in this little booth from Oakley.
Let’s hope that’s not the kind of thing you’re dodging on a run, but it’s something we don’t think enough about.
Each brand has their own way of showing you durability and if you can’t find that information anywhere on their site, it’s probably because they aren’t using materials designed for that.
These better materials are often less likely to get scratches as well, which is so key for me as I toss them in hydration packs, etc.
This is the one that really GRABBED MY ATTENTION.
On the screen below is a clearly focused image…they then placed sunglasses in front of the lens to show how different glasses actually DISTORT the picture and make things blurry.
This is due to the difference in quality materials and the curvature of sunglasses (i.e. light through a curved surface naturally wants to curve not move straight).
“there are two tests that speak to the clarity of optics: (1) Refractive power and Astigmatic power and (2) Prismatic power imbalance…
layman’s terms they essentially measure the distortion of light passing through a lens; too much distortion and the lens fails the test. “
When this happens your brain needs to work a great deal harder to make sense of what it is seeing and try to get you back to clear.Let’s think about this. If my brain is working so hard to help my eyes out while I’m also asking it to focus on my muscles for a two hour run…yeah it just doesn’t work out well.
Your entire body is zapped of energy!
Knowing that the cheap glasses are effecting my performance is enough to convince me, but paired with everything else now I truly understand that paying more is actually about getting more, not just getting a name in this case.
Cheaper sunglasses often have a cheaper lens material which distorts vision or they warp over time.Are you running in cheap sunglasses? Find out how it could be impacting your runs and eye health! #runchat Click To Tweet
Honestly that single demonstration and thinking about how hard my brain is working convinced me that better sunglasses are now a requirement for my workouts.
But UV protection is another huge one because I want my eyes to stay healthy and functional way in to my rip old running age.
Higher quality sunglasses better protect you against all types of UV rays.
And if you are not wearing any sunglasses, let me remind you they protect against eye cancer, they protect that cute little skin around your eyes that you don’t want to be all wrinkly in the future and they provide general protection of course from things flying around while we run along the roads.
When it comes to your running sunglasses, do you need anything different than the everyday?
The biggest thing for me is no fog!
Which honestly seems to come down to how they fit your face. The tighter the fit, the more likely they are to fog and that’s why I tend to wear the Oakley women’s sunglasses over the standard wrap arounds.
I’m putting this first because I think many of you are like me and don’t want to wear the traditional wrap arounds all the time. You’ll often see me in something that looks like a fashion sunglasses, but thanks to improvements in technology they’re all sport!!
Sounds obvious, but finding sunglasses that don’t bounce while your run or say stay put while you’re doing super awesome outdoor yoga is key.
Checkout the placement of rubber on the nose and the ear pieces to ensure they’ll stay on and for us ladies, won’t rip out hair.
This means when you look at the water, the snow or the glare off of a passing car windshield you won’t go blind.
It’s a great feature to have in those cases, but also means you’ll have trouble looking at your smart phone screen, so it may not be a feature you actually need all the time.Here I’m wearing the Oakley Radar Pace, which also includes in ear coaching and music.
Ever wondered why sunglasses have different tints? The good one’s do it to change your viewing experience and the cheap one’s do it as a party trick.
- Yellow is great for super cloudy days
- Pink/amber is great on trails where you move in and out of sun to see the ground clearly
- Gray is best for super bright days
- Blue is just fun and I wear them a lot, but HORRIBLE on the trails where going in and out of shade
Running on the trails, it’s amazing to have a light pink tint which makes it possible to see the trail clearly as you pass from light to shade over and over.
This has a little to do with how sunglasses hug your face and if you train in say swampy Florida.
Many sunglasses come with a film that should help with this (look for it in features), but you can also spray them with anti-fog if you’re consistently having issues.
Otherwise, checkout the options I noted above that don’t sit quite to tight to the face.
There you have it, all the reasons runners need to be wearing sunglasses. Plus, the features to look for when buying one’s that will truly protect your eyes.
Looking for more reviews to find the best things for your run?
Checkout our full page of my must have running gear reviews and guides to save you time searching and money! I share what’s worked for me and fellow runners, along with what wasn’t worth the price tag.
A few common requests:
- Best running sports bras
- Must Have Summer Running Gear
- Best running socks (lightweight to compression)
- Best running hats
Did you know all of this?
Do you wear sunglasses?
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