Best Polarized Sunglasses
No matter what type of sports you prefer while you’re outdoors; fishing, biking, or hiking, you’ll want to make sure you have a great pair of polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes on those sunny days. Polarized sunglasses help to filter out glare from outdoor environments that can reflect and create problems with your vision. Some of these sunglasses are also great at both protecting your eyes from the sun and glare as well as making you look great. Seeing better while looking great are two excellent benefits for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy a wide variety of adventures.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Ray-Ban Aviator
- Polarized protection
- Oakley Half-Jacket
- Wrap-around design
- Maui Jim Ho'okipa
- Color enhancement
- Vision boost
10 Best Polarized Sunglasses
Ray-Ban Polarized Aviator Sunglasses
When the sunlight’s so bad you can’t even look in the direction you need to focus on, Ray-Ban’s Polarized Aviator Sunglasses offer a variety of excellent features to help you overcome this. Their polarized filtering system will help you see easily anytime this happens without distorting the color you see. They are fantastic when you are dealing with super-reflective water, because even when the water is choppy, they will help to dramatically cut back on glare. These sunglasses are also built to last, and can survive a lot of abuse without getting bent or distorted.
Ray-Ban’s Polarized Aviator Sunglasses offer a classic, attractive, in-style appearance. The sunglasses are extremely fashionable, and meant to look great on anybody, no matter what shape your head might be. Ray-Ban always attempts to style their sunglasses with the most attractive and modern features on the market.
- Excellent polarized protection
- Doesn’t distort color
- Made to be long-lasting
- Sizes tend to run large
- Fit is not always comfortable
- Appearance of shades can be dark
Oakley’s Half-Jacket 2.0
Oakley’s Half-Jacket 2.0 Sunglasses are made to be comfortable and lightweight while still being able to take quite a bit of abuse. The frames include Three-Point Fit technology that helps to hold the glasses on your face correctly throughout the day. Even better for outdoor enthusiasts, the frames are made with unobtanium components that grip tighter when you sweat.
The lenses are interchangeable in design, so you can protect your vision and perform better, no matter what you plan to do that day. Also, the optics come with Oakley’s High Definition Optic design, which helps to bring up clarity as well as handling polarization.
Oakley’s Half-Jacket 2.0 Sunglasses come with the traditional Oakley design and wrap-around your face. The wrap-around design of these shades not only looks classicly great, but also help to protect your eyes and increase clarity no matter where you look. They are sleek and semi-rimless, which makes it easier for you to see when you look down, and also creates a unique, stylish appearance.
- Wrap-around design helps increase eye protection
- UV protection as well as polarization
- Durable and comfortable
- Tend to run small
- Polarization on lenses creates a rainbow-like effect when scratched
- May require adjustments to fit face.
Maui Jim Ho'okipa Polarized Sunglasses
Maui Jim’s Ho’okipa Polarized Sunglasses come with Polarized Plus2 technology. This technology brings you some of the best glare protection and polarization on the market, since it wipes out nearly all glare and prevents UV rays from reaching your eyes. The Polarized Plus2 technology in these lenses accomplishes all of this while also helping to boost color. You’ll experience better depth perception overall.
These shades are also very rugged, and made to withstand a wide variety of accidents and abuse. Maui Jim’s sunglasses also come with a waterproof coating to help repel water and snow, while also decreasing fingerprints and smudges on the lenses.
Maui Jim’s shades are comparable to Ray Ban’s in their sleek, classic, and stylish design. The shades are made to look great on anybody, no matter what shape your head might be. They offer a catchy design that looks attractive no matter what you wear them with.
- Polarized Plus2 technology for excellent glare protection
- Color enhancement technology
- Boosts vision and depth perception
- Tend to run small
- May require professional adjustments
Native Eyewear Throttle Sunglasses
These polarized lenses offer plenty of retina protection, shielding nearly 100% of the sun’s UV rays from your retinas. Made to significantly reduce glare and enhance color, you’ll notice both better color enhancement and depth perception, giving you sharper vision while you play outside. The lenses are made to adjust to any lighting condition you may encounter while you are out and about.
These frames are also strong and durable, made of thermoplastic so they can endure accidents and abuse without getting bent out of shape. Even better, the frames come with a lifetime warranty, meaning you can easily replace them if you do run into an issue with them.
The Rhyno-Tough Air Frames on these glasses are both made to withstand the outdoors while also providing a lightweight and modern appearance. The frames are both stylish in shape and appearance, making the person wearing them seem fashionable and confident.
- Lifetime warranty
- Color enhancement
- Great UV protection
- Increased depth perception
- Tend to run small
- Nose area can pinch
- Don’t always cover top of the eyes
Switch Lycan Interchangeable Lens Sunglasses
Switch’s Lycan Polarized Interchangeable Lens Sunglasses are made with a strong nylon frame, which resists drops and makes the frames quite durable, no matter what you might use them for. The lenses are made up of shatter proof polycarbonate, so you’ll be safe from scratches as well as lens cracks. The lenses are polarized to prevent glare, and also block 100% of UV sunlight.
Made with a magnetic interchange system, you can easily switch out your lenses without worrying about bending or breaking them. The shades also come with a lot for their price, including a lens pod, spare lenses, and a microfiber cleaning pouch.
These shades are made with a full frame design that makes them look great for everyday use, but also helps protect your eyes no matter what sports you engage in outdoors. They are also made with large lenses to help better protect the eyes, but also fit larger faces well.
- Lenses made from shatter proof polycarbonate
- Block all UV sunlight
- Magnetic interchange system
- Lenses tend to delaminate after use
- Can fit large
Kaenon Jetty Polarized Sunglasses
Kaenon designed their Jetty Polarized Sunglasses with both durability and performance in mind. Their sunglasses come with a recessed Variflex rubber nose pad, which helps keep the shades from slipping down your nose and also keeps them in place throughout the day. The hinges used on the frames are five-barrel stainless steel hinges, so the shades can withstand a good deal of punishment. Also, the lenses are polarized to help boost your vision while also blocking out UV rays.
The Kaenon Polarized Jetty Sunglasses are very appealing and attractive. They are made to fit anybody well, and offer a sleek and modern look. Plus, they include the polished Kaneon jewel icon to prove their authenticity to others with an attractive and eye-catching trademark.
- Variflex rubber nose pad
- Five-barrel stainless steel hinges
- Block out UV rays
- Lenses can be difficult to clean after long-term use
- Lenses can pop off
Persol PO 714 Sunglasses
Persol’s PO 714 Sunglasses are polarized with glass lenses that block out almost 100% of UV rays. The polarized lenses on these shades are great for both blocking out glare when near water, and when driving. They will certainly increase your vision and your outdoor sports performance, keeping you distracted from glare. The lenses are also designed to be scratch-resistant and are able to take a lot of daily abuse, so they are great for those of you who worry about destroying your lenses.
Persol’s PO 714 Sunglasses are plastic with an acetate frame. They are designed to make the wearer look cool in even the hottest outdoor sports conditions. Made to be attractive and stylish, they are oversized and modern in both look and feel.
- Excellent polarization
- Lenses are very tough
- Lenses block out UV rays
- Frames are large and slide off your nose easily
- Lenses seem to collect dirt easily
Oakley Frogskins Polarized Sunglasses
Oakley’s Polarized Frogskin Sunglasses are polarized at the molecular level, which is a huge benefit because the polarization won’t diminish over time. Also, the lenses come made with hydrophobic technology so that things like sweat and water won’t stay on the shades. Both the frames and lenses are plastic and made to be durable. The lenses also protect your eyes with 100% UV Protection.
The polarized iridium lenses on these shades do a great job of blocking out all kinds of glare. The tint on the shades isn’t dark, but it is effective. Also, the joints on the shades are metal-free, making these sunglasses very light.
As a style returning from the 1980s, these lenses are retro and classic, but also trendy. They are also very lightweight and extremely comfortable. Also, the Oakley logo appears on both sides of the frames, signifying the brand of your shades.
- Very lightweight shades
- Great UV eye protection
- Plastic material can feel cheap
- Can get damaged quickly
- Tend to run large
Zeal Optics Unisex Brewer Polarized Sunglasses
The frames on the Zeal Optics Unisex Brewer Polarized Sunglasses are made of plastic and very lightweight. For lightweight glasses, they are made with durable material, since the frames include Bio-Powered Z-Resin in them to improve their strength. The lenses are polarized and also include a special SPF film that not only blocks out UV rays but boosts high definition clarity. The nose pads on the frames are made with Hypoallergenic ProFlexRubber, which are made to boost comfort and help the shades stay on more easily.
These shades are pretty standard in appearance, not too flashy and available in a variety of solid-colored options. However, they are still stylish, and work well for people who don’t want something too flashy. They fit just about any head size, and have a modern look and feel.
- Hyperion Lens Technology offers SPF protection
- High definition clarity with polarization
- Bio-Powered Z-Resin frames
- Hypoallergenic ProFlex Rubber nose piece
- Not flashy in appearance
- Can fit face too large
Ray-Ban Unisex New Wayfarer
Ray-Ban updated their new Wayfarer Polarized Sunglasses with some great materials so that the frames and lenses are both lightweight and long-lasting. The frames on these shades are made of acetate plastic, which is a type of plastic known for being lightweight but able to withstand abuse. The lenses on the Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Polarized Sunglasses are both polarized to improve your vision and block out glare. The lenses also come with a coating that helps block out 100% of UV Rays.
These Ray-Ban’s shades still come with the company’s sleek, classic appearance, but are updated to have a smaller lense style and a shape that’s a bit softer in look. The Wayfarers come in the classic tortoiseshell frame design with green lenses, giving them a stand-out earth-toned look.
- Stylish appearance
- Protective coating on lenses blocks out 100% of UV rays
- Crystal lenses
- Shade frames can make a creaking noise after use.
- Ray-Ban logo can come loose and detach
Criteria for Evaluation
Examine Sunglass Lens Coatings
Different types of sunglass brands typically offer a different variety of coatings. Also, more expensive shades are going to buy you higher-quality lenses with more coating features that both protect the eyes and the lenses themselves from scratching or shattering. Typically, the higher the price of the sunglasses, the more protective coating features the sunglasses will offer you.
Outdoor enthusiasts need to consider buying sunglasses with more protective coating features. Not only will the lenses last longer, but you’ll also experience better vision and better outdoor performance with these types of lenses.
Types of lens coatings include anti-scratch coatings to protect the lenses from mishaps, hydrophobic coatings to keep off water and sweat, anti-fog coatings to help when it’s humid, and mirrored or flash coating. Mirrored or flash coating is usually placed on the outside of the sunglass lens and operates as a reflective coating to reduce glare. Most polarized sunglasses come with this type of lens coating, and the one thing to keep in mind with mirrored or flash coatings is that they can make things look darker. So this is why you may find polarized sunglasses with slightly lighter tint shades to prevent color distortion.
Consider Sunglass Lens Colors
When picking what type of polarized shades you want to use on your outdoor adventures, you’ll want to take a look at lens colors. The color of the lenses on your glasses can make a big difference depending on what you’re planning to use the shades for. Both colors and contrasts can be affected by lens tint, and exactly how your lenses are tinted can also determine how much sunlight is going to hit your eyes.
Darker lens colors are usually found in brown, green, and grey tints. These darker tints are probably the best lens tints for outdoor enthusiasts who know they’ll be around a good deal of sunlight. Darker lenses can help to dramatically cut back on glare, meaning you won’t strain your eyes so much on bright days. Color distortion is also something to examine with darker lenses, since grey and green lenses don’t tend to do this. However, some brown lens tints can create small distortions in color.
One thing to keep in mind, though, when examining lenses on polarized shades is that sometimes polarized lenses need to be a bit lighter in tint to prevent color distortion when balancing out anti-glare features.
Materials Used in Lenses
The materials used by the manufacturers to design the lenses are going to determine a lot about your sunglasses. Typically, better materials in the lenses are going to cost more, and also affect how well the lenses work to boost clarity, how long the lenses last, and how heavy the lenses will feel on your face.
Most sunglass lenses are made up of either glass, polycarbonate, polyurethane, or acrylic. Glass lenses are the best type of lenses for vision, performance, and strength. Scratch resistant and capable of providing clearer vision, glass lenses can boost performance for outdoor enthusiasts. Glass lenses do have some drawbacks. They are typically heavier than other lenses, cost more, and can still scratch when dropped, although the lenses won’t shatter or chip up.
Polycarbonate lenses offer nice optical clarity and do well handling daily abuse. Their ability to withstand force is top-notch, considering how lightweight these types of lenses are. However, they are also costlier than other materials and don’t resist scratches well.
Polyurethane lenses tend to also be expensive, but their ability to last long and resist abuse make them a worthwhile consideration for the outdoor enthusiast. They are also quite lightweight, and the lenses are far more flexible than what other materials can provide.
Acrylic lenses are often sold as an affordable lens option, but aren’t made to withstand much impact. These lenses are not typically made to last and not as clear as the other options. Acrylic lenses aren’t the best option for the avid outdoor enthusiast, since they offer little performance improvement, vision clarity, and are not made to be long lasting. Acrylic lenses are usually used for those who just want a casual pair of sunglasses.
Materials Used in Frames
Taking a close look at what your sunglass frames are made from is yet another item outdoor enthusiasts need to examine when purchasing polarized sunglasses. Frames, like lenses, are going to affect several things about the performance of your shades while you are in the middle of your outdoor activities. Frame materials influence a lot about your sunglasses, including their ability to withstand abuse and how comfortable they will fit your face.
Sunglass frames are typically made from either metal, acetate, nylon, or castor-based polymer. Metal is a pretty standard sunglass frame material, and comes with a variety of benefits but some drawbacks as well. Metal can adjust easily and help keep the frames from cutting off your ability to see. It is a costlier material to buy, and can become damaged if you perform a lot of outdoor activities. They can also become very hot and difficult to wear in the heat, which is another drawback for those looking for great outdoor polarized sunglasses.
Acetate frames are a plastic material variation that allow for a lightweight feeling and a lot of style, since the frames can come in a variety of colors. However, as far as outdoor sports goes, these frames can be stiff and difficult to manage, and can also break more easily.
Nylon frames are a more affordable option on most sunglass frames. They are lightweight and don’t come with the same drawbacks as metal frames. While you can’t adjust most nylon frames, which can be a serious issue if the frames don’t fit your face, they are often made for sports and the outdoors. So, they do provide an affordable, long-lasting framing material option on outdoor shades.
A castor-based polymer is a light and long-lasting frame material that does provide another framing option for sunglasses. While they can sometimes cost, this frame material performs well for outdoor sporting events.
How the Sunglasses Fit Your Face
You’ll want to examine how the sunglasses fit your face as well when you’re trying on a pair of sunglasses before you take them on any high-activity outdoor sporting trips. First, you want to make sure that the sunglasses feel balanced evenly between your nose and your ears. You don’t want to feel any extra heaviness or inadequate balance on any of these pinpoints. Next, the frames should fit tightly on both your ears and nose, but you shouldn’t feel any pinching, rubbing, or other annoyances. Make sure that your eyelashes don’t rub on the frame, either, or else you know you don’t have a proper fit for your face. Depending on the type of material your frame is made out of, you may be able to adjust them, or adjust the nosepiece on the frame.
If you are buying your sunglasses online, and know what type of face you have, then look for that type of description in the blurbs advertising the sunglasses. For instance, if you know you have a larger face, then look for frames that are advertised for that type of face.
Q: What are polarized sunglasses good for?
A: If you’re wondering what exactly these types of glasses are good for, then you’ll find your answer with both the boaters and fishermen who have used them for a long time to reduce glare on the water surfaces they typically find themselves experiencing. However, other people who do a variety of work outdoors or like to experience outdoor sports also find that polarized sunglasses benefit them, and help people see better during a wide variety of outdoor activities.
The ability of polarized sunglasses to reduce glare in a wide range of environments boosted their popularity early on. Many other people besides those that are active on the water discovered that polarized sunglasses increased their ability to see clearly while outside. Because of their glare reduction and clarity increasing properties, polarized sunglasses have been used by all types of outdoor sports players, including joggers, hikers, bikers, and even skiers. Basically, any outdoor sport where you might find your vision disturbed by glare would be assisted by the utilization of polarized glasses.
Many people also find that polarized sunglasses help to improve their vision when completing their daily driving activities. Both asphalt roads and a car’s hood or windshield can create glare while driving, so polarized sunglasses are great in this capacity for cutting back glare and increasing clarity of vision.
Polarized sunglasses also help those people who have eye sensitivity problems when their eyes are exposed to sunlight. Some individuals naturally have this issue, while others may have had eye surgery, like cataract surgery for instance. Polarized sunglasses not only benefit these people by cutting back the glare they are exposed to, but also protecting their eyes from UV rays and sunlight.
Q: How do polarized lenses cut back on glare?
A: Polarized lenses are designed to work with light’s reflective properties, which can be both blinding and damaging to the eyes when the light gets too intense. Typically, when light isn’t reflecting off of something, it will scatter in every direction, and this is usually when the eye is able to handle light the best without becoming overwhelmed. However, when the light hits something flat it can reflect off of, it can become too intense to handle, increasing glare and destroying visibility while sometimes damaging the eyes.
All polarized sunglasses work by utilizing a special filter that blocks the intensity of bright light reflecting off of surfaces, filtering out glare and making it easy to see. The filtering system used on the lenses of polarized sunglasses thus bring the wearer protection from glare, whether the person is driving, out on the water, or undergoing some outdoor activity.
However, because these lenses use a filtering system to root out intense glare from light, typically providing more comfort and visibility when worn, they are not always great in all conditions. If you are into skiing or snowboarding, then you know you need to avoid icy patches. Polarized sunglasses can block the glare reflecting off of these patches, tricking some people into thinking there is no ice—which can actually be a hazardous thing in these types of sports.
Certain images can also be difficult to see with polarized lenses, mostly indoors, since they are mostly created for outdoor activity. People can occasionally have issues seeing images on LCD displays, or LED displays, sometimes making it hard to view some car dashes, ATMs, or other screens of this type. They can also sometimes affect your ability to view your cell phone screen, or any GPS you might utilize.
Some boaters and pilots have had difficulty viewing their LCD displays on the panels of their vehicles, which can be a problem while out on the water or in the air. One thing to know, however, is that some sunglasses have been made with polarization materials that solve this problem, so many of these issues can be avoided depending on the type and make of the polarized glasses you purchase.
For the most part, though, the design of polarized sunglasses does improve vision and clarity for the outdoor enthusiast, and provides several advantages that those who love outdoor activity will enjoy. Many outdoor sports lovers find that polarized glasses help improve their performance level since they can see better without so much glare to deal with.
Polarized lenses also come in a variety of different types of options that can help them adjust to the individual user. They can be made as bifocal sunglasses, as well as progressive lenses to assist with vision while playing outside. Other options include polarized photochromatic lenses. Photochromatic lenses actually adjust when the wearer goes inside and change from dark to light. For people who are very sensitive to light and need to wear glasses all day long, this offers a great option for protection.
Q: Do I need to think about how much light comes through the polarized lenses?
A: Most manufacturers of polarized sunglasses disclose what’s known as the lens visible light transmission, sometimes also called VLT. Visible light transmission measures how much sunlight hits your eyes while you have your lenses on. Typically, manufacturers list this as a percentage, and the percentage depends much on what material the lenses are made out of, the lens color, the thickness of the lenses, and also the types of coatings found on the lenses.
For you, outdoor enthusiasts wondering what the best VLT percentage to buy is, you’ve got two options. Typically, anything from 0-20% VLT is going to work great if you plan on wearing your shades while performing several outdoor sports. Lenses in this category will be more expensive and usually include many different layers of protection. If you can’t quite afford something at this standard, buying lenses that have a 21-40% VLT rating are still good lenses, and function well for pretty much any use.
Lenses that have VLT percentages over 40 are better for lower-light conditions, or when the weather is overcast. Anything above 80% VLT is really only good when it’s dim or nighttime, so most outdoor enthusiasts will want sunglasses that come with lenses with 40% or less VLT.
Q: Should I buy polarized sunglasses with mirrored coating, or with non-mirrrored coating?
A: When considering the coatings offered by the various polarized sunglasses on the market, many people wonder if they should opt for or opt out of mirrored coating. Really, the answer depends on exactly what you are planning to do while you are wearing your sunglasses.
For outdoor enthusiasts planning to use their sunglasses while engaging in sports, buying polarized sunglasses with a mirrored coating will bring you far more benefits than going without. The mirrored coating really cuts back on the glare, and will let you look around anywhere you need to without allowing anybody to see your eyes. The anti-glare protection offered by polarized sunglasses with mirrored coating is going to reflect most of, if not all, of the glare and light off of your eyes. This ability to reflect so well will keep your eyes from straining or becoming blinded while you engage in your outdoor sport.
Q: How can I keep my polarized glasses safe and protected?
A: Most outdoor enthusiasts that wear polarized sunglasses know they can be a bit expensive, running anywhere from about $100-$200 per pair. This price tag is especially true for the outdoor enthusiast that wants very good lenses with extra layers of protective coating. Since you’ll be wearing your sunglasses while engaging in some pretty hearty activities, you’ll want to make sure you take care of them. Even sunglasses built to take multiple forms of abuse need the care to keep them going.
Several brands of polarized sunglasses come with a sturdy case to keep the glasses in when you aren’t wearing them. Make it a habit of putting the sunglasses away in your case rather than leaving them out on a table where they can get knocked around, or on top of your head, where they can fall off. Using your case will make your glasses last much longer.
Additional accessories that help keep your sunglasses safe and that you should consider purchasing are corkies or a sunglass lanyard. Either one of these two items will keep your sunglasses safe since they can’t fall off and disappear on the ground somewhere, or worse yet, vanish in the water if you’re in the middle of a water sport.
Most importantly, you’ve got to keep those lenses clean. Another nice bonus of buying a good pair of polarized sunglasses is that they will typically come with some type of lens cloth to help you keep your lenses clean. It can be tempting for a lot of outdoor enthusiasts to want to grab their T-shirts while in the middle of something to clean off their lenses, but doing this is far from ideal, especially when you are outside. Your clothes can built up dust particles, and then rub up against your lenses and scratch them. So, stick to the cloth.
Polarized sunglasses provide amazing benefits for outdoor enthusiasts. Equipped to cut back on glare while increasing sight clarity and protecting the eyes, they help to increase performance while also keeping your eyes shielded from harmful UV rays. While the quality of the lenses can be a factor when purchasing lenses, most of these sunglasses are both affordable and long-lasting.