Best Sunglasses For Running In 2020 – Complete Guide

Last Updated: September 2, 2020

While I was training for my first marathon in early 2020, I favored training outdoors. I would regularly run a path where I would be met by beautiful scenery. Being in nature would motivate me to push myself further, and it would reward me with more beautiful landscapes.

On some days, though, the heat would be too much. I’m sure runners out there can relate to the struggle of how much harder it is to run when the sun is scorching hot and you start approaching the runners wall earlier than expected.  Even the scenery I love seems too bright to look at. Instead of squinting the whole way through, an obvious and quick fix to this struggle is to get some sunglasses.

Of course, one of the main reasons you want to get some sunglasses is to protect your eyes. The lenses of good sunglasses are designed to block UV rays which are not only harmful when it’s bright out, but also harmful in gloomy weather. Just as you protect your skin from the UV rays using sunscreen, so should you protect your eyes.

Sunglasses are definitely a must for those who run outdoors and train for marathons such as I did. Unless you constantly run at night or at low-light conditions, you must at least consider having a pair. However, if your workout regime is mostly done indoors, then maybe you want to save a few bucks or splurge on something else.

With my need for some sunglasses and a desire to look fashionable too (Wink, wink), I decided to do my own research. Here I’ve listed down my top picks for the best sunglasses for running. Hopefully, you get to decide on your own which pair is best for you.

Best Sunglasses For Running Compared and Reviewed

#1 - Oakley OO9144 Half Jacket 2.0 Sunglasses

Oakley is one of the very well-known brands in the world of eyewear, and for good reason. The Oakley Half Jacket sunglasses are definitely a favorite pair for runners all over. Their polarized lenses offer 100% UV protection, helping you get through your runs without straining your eyes.

If you’re wondering why these lenses work so well, it’s because they are made with High Definition Optics lenses which guarantee a clearer view of your running path.

These lenses filter out 99% of reflected glare but don’t worry about the distortion that most polarized lenses give. Oakley has designed their polarized lenses to prevent that haze and optical distortion. Imagine how much of a headache it would bring you to have cheaply designed lenses while running!

This is especially ideal for people who have several outdoor sports. Their interchangeable lenses definitely bring these sunglasses to a new level. You can choose whatever lenses you need for outside conditions or for whatever activity you have. Maybe you want to golf in the morning and run in the afternoon? These lenses have your back.

Sweat a lot? (I do!), Not a problem with these sunglasses. They stay on your face as you grind through those miles. They won’t fog up too. You’ll even forget they’re on your face because of how lightweight and comfortable they are. Their Unobtainium ear socks and nose pads keep the sunglasses on your face snugly but comfortably.

No matter how lightweight they are, Oakley guarantees their frame material will last you a long time. However, some users say that the frame doesn’t fit their face well. They say that this pair of sunglasses might be good for people with smaller heads, so keep that in mind.

These sunglasses definitely are of high quality, but you have to pay the price. These sunglasses are definitely on the pricier side, so maybe recreational runners may want to look for another brand. Some users also say that the lenses don’t go all the way around, which means that some light may enter your eyes through the sides.

What have others said about these sunglasses?

“Really comfy and lightweight. I look cool while running now.” Jason E

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#2 - Hulislem S1 Sport Polarized Sunglasses

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative but still with high quality, the Hulislem S1 Sport Polarized may be the pair for you. You can already see the quality of how the frames are made. Not only are they durable, but they are also stylish; they are designed in Italy and the material is formulated in Switzerland.

These are definitely one of the sunglasses that you’ll forget are even there on your face. The lightweight polycarbonate frame it offers will let you go through just about any kind of activity comfortably. You’ll find the polycarbonate material in safety glasses, sports goggles, and even children’s eyewear. I’d say that this is definitely an impact-resistant, durable material.

The frame also is stress-resistant with the Resistant O Matter Frame, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking while you beast it out. Don’t hesitate to get into more intense workouts; these sunglasses are made for it.

Now onto the main event: the lenses. Their lenses are mirror flash coated, which helps lessen the strain on your eyes by blocking UV rays. They specify that it blocks the light of wavelength 400 nanometers and below, which is the wavelength UV rays belong to. More than that, though, your eyes won’t be bothered by bright sunlight as you go on your runs.

The S1 lens even enhances how you see colors in their S1 coloring system. It doesn’t distort the colors but instead increases the color contrast without distorting your vision. This feature would definitely be perfect for someone like me who likes to look at the scenery around me while running.

These are definitely on the cheaper side, but they still give you the quality you need while exercising outdoors. However, some users say that the lenses fog up quickly, so if you sweat a lot, you might not like this product. Also, some people who purchased this product say that these sunglasses fit too high on the face.

What have others said about these sunglasses?

“These are extremely comfortable! Very clear sight, no eye strain after I finished my run. Definitely a good buy.” Robert L

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#3 - ForceFlex FF500 Sunglasses

Maybe you’re one of those people who breaks everything you buy as soon as you get your hands on it. Or maybe you’re one of the people who just go crazy on their workouts. Either way, the ForceFlex FF500 Sunglasses are the pair for you.

Its main feature is definitely its durability. No matter how much you step on, twist, bend, run over, these sunglasses are said to survive every single punch. 

Its polycarbonate lenses are definitely one of the most durable parts of it, as this is the material used in safety goggles and sports goggles. If you want a one-time purchase, a pair which will last you a lifetime, the ForceFlex will deliver.

These lenses definitely block all UVB and UVA rays. You get what you need in a pair, which is to reduce eye strain and help you go on your run without the headache. They also reduce the glare you see, especially on certain surfaces. You don’t really think about it, but when you wear these, you might see a great difference. Plus your eyes will love you for it.

These are also one of the models with the most stylish frames. If crushing miles outdoors isn’t badass enough for you, wearing one of these is definitely going to make you look like you’re just chilling. No one’s going to see the struggle in your eyes!

However, if you expect to get lenses that give you more clarity and contrast, especially on trail running, this might not be for you. Your vision might get a bit dimmer when wearing these glasses in attempts to block out the excessive light. This might be a good thing, though, especially if your eyes are really sensitive to light and you get easily dizzy.

Users also said that running long distances with these sunglasses will fog up these glasses. That usually happens, but if that really bothers you, you might want to reconsider!

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#4 - DUCO Sports Polarized Sunglasses

Want a pair that just screams style? You don’t even have to be running to use these sunglasses. You can use the DUCO Sports Polarized Sunglasses for casual wear and look fancy.

I think the metal frame definitely adds to the sleek and modern look that these sunglasses are going for. Because of its material, it is lightweight and won’t add any extra pressure to your face. Your run might look like just a little stroll with these sunglasses on!

The lenses are made of polarized triacetate lenses. These lenses block out 100% of UVA and UVB rays, which helps your eyes keep track of where you’re going easily. It is scratch-resistant and durable because of this material.

These sunglasses won’t fall off your face either. The silicone nose pads will grip your face so that you can go as fast as you can without worrying about anything else but performance. The flexibility of the frames will also make sure they fit your face comfortably. You can adjust to the size of your head and will endure that pressure.

Want to customize how stylish you look? DUCO Sports Polarized Sunglasses offers just that. They have different shades and colors for you to choose from. Personally, though, the black pair looks the sleekest and fancy. The style is almost like that of The Matrix sunglasses! Well, maybe not as cool as Neo.

When you buy these sunglasses, it comes with a glasses case, a microfiber pouch and cleaning cloth, and a polarization test card. All of these come at a cheaper price than most of its competitors! However, some users have reported that their lenses got a bit loose.

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#5 - Julbo Aero Sunglasses

Some athletes out there really get their grind on. No matter the weather, no matter how high the road gets, they keep pushing on in the name of sports! Maybe you even have sports other than running which requires more intensity. If you’re out in the wild most of the time while doing outdoor running, you’ll love the Julbo Aero Sunglasses.

The REACTIV photochromic technology that these sunglasses offer is designed to adjust to wherever you are, whatever you are doing. No matter the light conditions, it will quickly give you clarity and accurate vision. It boasts its 130 years of development, and it shows.

These lenses are not only effective at adjusting to your environment, but they are also durable and will last you a long time too. According to Julbo, you can expect that you won’t see any cracking even after a long time. In fact, they call it unbreakable!

You might be thinking this makes it all very heavy and bulky on your face. Julbo says they are ultra-light, so you don’t have to worry about it while you run. They stay on no matter where you go and will be effective wherever your workout takes you.

The nose pads also do the job of gripping onto your face so that it stays on. You can adjust them to whatever shape your nose is, making them extra comfortable. Not too tight, not too loose.

They go all the way around your face so you don’t have the issue of light going through the sides of your eyes. They also don’t block any part of your vision. Plus, if you get really sweaty throughout those long runs, these sunglasses won’t fog up as it is built with vents through its frames so that the air doesn’t accumulate behind the lenses.

It’s also customizable. They have a selection of colors for you to choose from. However, some users have reported how quickly their lenses can scratch.

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My Number One Pick?

What To Look Out For When Buying Sunglasses For Running

When considering a purchase of sunglasses for running there are a few things you should consider. As with most pieces of gear and equipment there are key nuances and features you should look out for. The guide below aims to help you with that!

UV Protection

Different materials offer different levels of UV protection. You have to look at what the brand used in the manufacturing of their sunglasses to make sure you’re getting the best quality.

Uncoated Plastic Lenses

As you can imagine, these lenses are definitely low cost and lightweight. It still has excellent optical qualities, but maybe not enough for your running needs. They only block about 88 percent UV rays, which is definitely not optimal to protect your eyes from eye strain.

Polycarbonate lenses

Polycarbonate lenses block 100 percent UV, which is definitely what you want when looking for running sunglasses. This material is what you will see in the helmet visors of astronauts, safety glasses, children’s eyewear, and space shuttle windshields.

Needless to say, these are very durable, impact-resistant, and lightweight as well. Compared to plastic lenses, they are less likely to crack.

Triacetate (TAC)

These are said to be the material of cheap sunglasses out there. They only absorb 40 percent of the harmful UV rays! Your eyes won’t like you for getting cheap on them. I guess the only upside is their low cost.

Polarized lenses

No matter the material the sunglass lenses are made from, if they are polarized, then they will be able to block 100 percent of the UV rays. This is why some brands use polarized TAC, which is probably the cheapest way to give you quality lenses.

However, polarized lenses are usually more costly than those that aren’t polarized. Polarized lenses are actually what make sunglasses able to block glare.

Durability

The frames are equally as important as the lenses of your sunglasses. You’ll be wasting a bunch of money on good lenses if they aren’t paired with a durable, long-lasting frame.

Metal Eyeglass Frames

Metal frames are generally sturdier and more resistant against the impact that running can bring. You have to be careful, though, in choosing the right type of metal, especially if you have more sensitive skin.

  • Titanium –
    Titanium frames will last you a long time as they are corrosion-resistant, meaning that they are less susceptible to rusting. They are also hypoallergenic, which may be important to you if you are one of those people who are sensitive to certain types of materials. Titanium frames are also lightweight.

  • Monel –
    This type of metal is usually coated to protect sensitive skin. This is because it is made from a lot of different metals, which makes it likely that it contains allergenic metals, such as nickel. Aside from this, Monel frames are also corrosion-resistant and flexible.

  • Beryllium –
    This type of metal is just like titanium, except it is less costly. It is both lightweight and durable, a perfect mix for long-distance runners. These are also very corrosion-resistant and flexible!

  • Stainless Steel –
    Stainless steel is on the cheaper side of the metals, but it is also a bit heavier than titanium. They are also corrosion-resistant.

  • Flexon –
    Flexon will make for a very durable frame, as this is very flexible. You can twist and bend it in any way, and it will keep its shape. This is especially great for doing all sorts of extreme outdoor workouts. These are also corrosion-resistant and hypoallergenic.

  • Aluminum –
    Aluminum, just like the others, is corrosion-resistant and flexible. You might find them in more expensive sunglasses though!

Comfort

This is definitely a part of your sunglasses you want to spend time thinking about. Your running experience might be altered completely by a pair of misfitting sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that will fit your head properly. Some sunglasses are said to be more fit for smaller heads, some for larger heads. I found that it helps to look at the reviews to see what people think of it.

The nose pads, or the part that rests on your nose bridge, also are an important feature. Most sunglasses I’ve researched have silicone nose pads, which is great for both a good grip so that it doesn’t fall off your face, and for comfort. How your sunglasses fit the sides of your head is also important! You don’t want a pair that squeezes your head into a headache.

Fit

The fit of your sunglasses is definitely called for when you want a comfortable pair. Sometimes the “average” fit just doesn’t do it for some people with certain facial features. The “average” fit is the fit usually sold by brands when they don’t specify what kind of fit it has.

The Asian fit was designed to cater to people whose sunglasses just didn’t fit right. Although this is a controversial term for some, it merely means that it was made for people with those typical features. For the nose bridge, for example, brands make it thicker and deeper for the Asian fit. The lenses are also made so that it doesn’t hit their cheeks.

Make sure you get the right fit for you as this is crucial! You don’t want to hurt yourself more by getting the wrong fit and making your runs more uncomfortable than they have to be.

Style

Although this is more of an afterthought, the style of your sunglasses definitely helps you look and feel great while working out. Some sunglasses will make you look like you’re running a marathon in the 1960s, while some will make you look like you’re just taking a casual stroll on the beach!

Regardless, I would put this at the bottom of my priority list. Running already is a cool sport on its own.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sunglasses For Running

Q: Do I really need running sunglasses?

A: If you run outdoors often, then yes! Like the way you want to protect your skin by using sunscreen, you also want to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of UV rays.

Q: What are the best lenses to get?

A: Generally, the top brands will offer polarized lenses in their running sunglasses. Polarized lenses will give you the optimal protection from UV rays. They will prevent eye strain by reducing the amount of glare your eye receives especially from reflections on surfaces. 

This will make it most comfortable for you compared to other lenses when going on runs. It’s still best to ask your eye doctor, though, if you have any special concerns.

Q: What if I wear prescription eyeglasses?

A: You might want to consider photochromic lenses! They automatically darken in the sunlight and protect you from 100 percent of UV rays. You will likely not need a pair of prescription glasses.

Conclusion

Trying on different styles and types of running sunglasses is fun and definitely makes you feel like an athlete looking for the right gear. Running sunglasses can even double as outdoor sports sunglasses, so that might be helpful for you. Together with a running hat, you’ll definitely be protected from the sun (And your own sweat). 

Just keep in mind how much you really workout outdoors before purchasing one of these. Maybe just get ones on the cheaper side if you don’t exercise outdoors that much. Make sure you’ve done your research, too! It helps to look at reviews, especially when deciding if those sunglasses will fit you well.

Also, make sure that the type of lenses will offer 100 percent UV protection, otherwise, those harmful rays still affect your eyes! After reading this, I’m hoping that you have enough knowledge to decide what’s best for you. 

If you’re running in the sun make sure you stay hydrated. If you’re going for extremely long runs maybe it’s about time to do some research into hydration packs for running.  It’s very easy to lose your electrolytes when running so its very important to protect yourself as much as possible during the summer to prevent dehydration.

Have fun looking for those cool sunglasses! If you have another pair you like that’s not in the list why not let us all know in the comments box below?

Sources:
https://www.julbo.com/en_us/reactiv-photochromic-technology/
https://www.allaboutvision.com/faq/sunglasses.htm
https://www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/eyeglass-frame-materials

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