This guide reviews the best hiking sunglasses and backpacking sunglasses for all your outdoor adventures. We’ll also answer all the essential questions you need to know about polarized hiking sunglasses, sunglasses technology, and what makes hiking sunglasses different from regular sunglasses.
Honestly, a proper pair of hiking sunglasses cannot be beaten and will give you that extra reliability you need while on your hiking trip; we consider them an essential part of any hiking outfit. Eye protection is paramount when hiking, and we view it as a piece of safety equipment.
Good hiking sunglasses offer excellent protection, comfort, style, and overall outdoor enjoyment. Best of all, these sunglasses don’t have to break the bank! We’ve hand-selected several great sunglasses for hiking that offer plenty of versatility and performance.
The Best Hiking Sunglasses
Smith Lowdown 2
MSRP: $139 | Weight: 28 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: ChromaPop Polycarbonate | Frame Material: Evolve Castor-Based Polymer
Not only is this stylish pair of glasses great for hiking, but they are also the best sunglasses for travel too! A new and modern adaptation of the original Smith lenses, the Lowdown 2 glasses have been upgraded with the latest technology and design to fit an active lifestyle. You can pick from a variety of frame colors and ChromaPop polarized lenses to create a pair of sunglasses that fit you perfectly.
Comfortable MEGOL nose pads keep the Lowdown from sliding around or becoming itchy when you’re sweating. These provide extra cushioning and support the sunglasses on your nose even when out hiking all day.
The Lowdown 2s are hydrophobic, so they repel water and grease. The lenses also receive an anti-scratch treatment, making it easier to keep the sunglasses from becoming dirty or getting smear marks when you try to wipe them off. I also love all the styles they come in (I have three pairs) and find them among the best hiking sunglasses and the perfect completion to a hiking outfit.
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Knockaround Premiums Sport Sunglasses
MSRP: $28 | Weight: 25 grams | UV Protection: 100% | Lens Material: Polycarbonate | Frame Material: Polycarbonate
Sunglasses are notoriously expensive, so the Knockarounds stand out for their exceptional value. The brand set out in 2005 to make a durable, dependable, and stylish pair of sunglasses that don’t break the bank. The result is outstanding a pair of “knockaround” sunglasses that you don’t care if they get beaten up.
The lightweight sunglasses feel great on the face and have a wide range of colorways. When we’re out on the trail, it’s easy to bump, drop, or scratch a pair of shades, so it’s nice not to worry about having to replace them. If you even have to with these sunglasses as they’re very durable.
Many cheap sunglasses fail to offer UV protection, but that’s not the case with the Knockaround sunglasses. There are also no weird optics with these glasses. It’s a straightforward pair of sunglasses that feel right at home in the bottom of a hiking pack.
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Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer Classic Sunglasses
MSRP: $161 | Weight: 45 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Crystal | Frame Material: Acetate
It’s tough to call these hiking sunglasses, but they are a timeless piece of style. We don’t need a dozen iterations of products we use in life. For a timeless pair of sunglasses, it’s tough to find a more versatile pair of sunglasses than the Original Wayfarer.
We love to travel and hike around the world. A pair of sunglasses like the Wayfarers are perfect for mountain summits or new cities. I can wear them just as quickly in a suit as I do on a mountain summit.
There are a few complaints about the Wayfarers for hiking. Crystal lenses and acetate frames make for quality sunglasses, but they are heavy. The nose bridge doesn’t stick to a sweaty nose well, and the fit is a little loose around the temples. I wouldn’t run in the Wayfarers or enjoy other mountain sports like climbing or mountain biking.
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Spy Discord Lite Polarized Sunglasses
MSRP: $160 | Weight: 45 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Happy, Polycarbonate ARC | Frame Material: Grilamid
Truly a champion among outdoor sunglasses, the Discord sunglasses deliver reliable performance and look good. You can wear them hiking, out at the cabin, or just relaxing at the beach with equal comfort.
Each frame uses Grilamid, practically indestructible, so do not worry if you accidentally drop them while on your hike. Durable pin hinges keep everything together and smoothly functioning even with time.
The Discords have rubber nose and temple pads, which keep the lenses in place even in hot and sweaty weather. It makes them perfect for running and higher impact sports since they’re less likely to slip and slide off your face.
The Discords sunglasses also feature 100% UV protection to prevent sun damage and eye fatigue. Each pair have the signature Happy Lens, which helps to enhance color and clarity to create a more positive mood environment.
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GoodR Circle Gs Polarized Sunglasses
MSRP: $25 | Weight: 19 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Triacetate Cellulose | Frame Material: Polycarbonate
These are fantastic value sunglasses that offer plenty of performance. The company’s sunglasses are fun, and all come with a polarized lens for under $30. Then to top it off, the sunglasses offer a one-year warranty, and the company is carbon natural.
We love these lightweight and affordable sunglasses for hiking as they deliver plenty of performance. Goodr Circle Gs are the lightest hiking sunglasses on this list at an incredible 19 grams. The rubberized nose and frame keep the sunglasses securely on the face when hiking or running. With an extended nose bridge, the glasses have enough airflow for them to fog up in the heat – a common problem from the sweat of our brows.
The names of sunglass colorways reflect the brand’s fun ethos with names like “Influencers Pay Double,” “Nine Dollar Pour Over,” and “Flamingos On A Cruise.” We love the trend of these affordable sunglasses you don’t have to fret over destroying at the bottom of your backpack.
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Ombraz The Dolomite Armless Sunglasses
MSRP: $140 | Weight: 20 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Triacetate Cellulose | Frame Material: Polycarbonate
Ombraz Sunglasses stand out as they’re one of the few innovative sunglass designs we’ve had the pleasure of wearing. Ombraz Armless sunglass do away with the temple sidearms of sunglasses and opt for two nylon cords to hold them to your face. I’ve worn them in my day-to-day life, and they feel right at home on the hiking trail or at my local brewery.
Thanks to the armless design, they’re far more durable, lightweight, and comfortable. The glasses are phenomenal in their ability to sit comfortably on the face with no temple strain and no risk of falling off. They’re great multisport sunglasses as you never have to fear losing them.
However, there is a negative to the armless design, and that’s the fact they require two hands to put on and take off. So, it’s an issue when your hands are full with hiking poles, ski poles, a climbing rope, or bike handlebars. The strap also interferes with helmet straps. Regardless they’re an exceptional pair of sunglasses that we highly recommend.
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Oakley Flak 2.0 XL Sunglasses
MSRP: $219 | Weight: ? | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Plutonite | Frame Material: O Matter
The Oakley Flak 2.0 XL Sunglasses are a phenomenal option for active hikes and athletes. They’re super lightweight, offer reliable coverage, and plenty of airflow in hot weather. With Prizm Lens technology from Oakley, the optics are exceptional, reducing glare and preserving detail and color.
The “rose” base lens color provides a soft background for the sunglasses while allowing natural colors to come through. Depending on what activities you need the sunglasses for, you can pick from various models, such as Road Black, Field, Golf, and Trail Torch.
You can also get full coverage in your peripheral vision thanks to the shape of the lenses and the High Definition Optics technology. Hikers will appreciate the durable yet lightweight design – plus, it’s possible to order repair kits and replacement parts if you damage the sunglasses but don’t want to buy an entirely new pair. They’re excellent sunglasses for those who love to run.
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Sunski Treeline Polarized Sunglasses
MSRP: $89 | Weight: 27 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Triacetate Cellulose | Frame Material: Recycled Polycarbonate
These lightweight sunglasses from Sunski provide excellent coverage for alpine adventures at an affordable price. We love the style of these extraordinarily versatile shades.
Alpine sunglasses that provide complete protection in highly reflective environments are paramount to eye health. Sunski’s Treeline Sunglasses have attached side shares to block our reflective light. Sweet-looking glasses are perfect for ski touring, hiking, climbing, and mountaineering.
The one negative we have for these glacier travel glasses is the lens polarization. It’s an odd choice as polarization is less effective at UV protection and can make the dissertation between ice and snow more difficult. Regardless they’re phenomenal sunglasses and will likely serve the needs of most recreational users.
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Maui Jim Ho’okipa Polarized Sunglasses
MSRP: $200 | Weight: ?? | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: MauiPure | Frame Material: Grilamid TR 90
Ho’okipa is a pair of weightless sunglasses that are so airy you forget they’re on your face. These polarized wrapped hiking sunglasses are available in standard and prescription lenses.
Each pair is made of a durable but lightweight frame to prevent uncomfortable sweat from building up around your nose and ears. Thanks to the anti-scratch coating applied to each pair, they’ll last for years.
The bronze tint of the glasses adjusts based on how much light you’re exposed to, which is perfect for the changing conditions you’re bound to experience while hiking. Performance is excellent, but the style is not for everyone. The Ho’okipa hiking sunglasses also have a two-year warranty and free shipping and returns.
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MSRP: $55 | Weight: ?? | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Nylon HydroClear Lens | Frame Material: Nylon
If you plan on heading out on the water, whether you’re hiking or just enjoying a day on the lake, the Rheos might be for you. We just got our hands on these bad boys, and not only are they some of the most affordable hiking sunglasses on this list, but they also float.
That means it’s pretty much impossible to go for a dip and accidentally lose your sunglasses. Rheos makes a range of different styles, each one floatable. Yes, we tested them on the lakes!
They’re incredibly comfortable and lightweight and feature scratch resistance technology. It might be best to find smaller framed sunglasses if you have a narrow face, though these fit larger face frames better.
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Smith Pinpoint ChromaPop Sunglasses
MSRP: $149 | Weight: 26 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: ChromaPop Polycarbonate | Frame Material: Evolve Castor-Based Polymer
The Chromapop Lenses are some of our favorite optics in all sunglasses. Like the Lowdown 2 above, the Pinpoint utilizes Smith’s lens tech and lightweight frame material. However, the Pinpoints save some weight with a lighter frame and offer more coverage for sun protection.
They are sporty enough to wear outside but also look great on the street. The Pinpoints feature interchangeable nose pads that are comfortable with megol rubber, optimal for riding a bike or running.
Smith’s signature ChromaPop provides clarity and detail and will make all the colors around you look better. They’re excellent on the water, biking, running, trail running, and doing anything outside.
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How to Choose Hiking Sunglasses
Before digging into the best hiking sunglasses, think about why you want hiking sunglasses. Are you looking for a new pair of glasses for hiking mountains, trail runs, snowshoeing, and other winter activities? Will you be on the water? In which case, you’ll want to protect against glare.
Maybe you’re looking for a style of sunglasses worn on both the trails and in towns. Perhaps you want a budget pair of sunglasses, or perhaps you have a large budget. No worries if you’re overwhelmed – we’re covering all that for you here!
Features of Hiking Sunglasses
Polarization is the optimal choice for glare-cutting lenses. From shiny vehicles to bright water surfaces, polarization will allow you to see color, shape, and contrast without needing to squint painfully.
Although polarized lenses are typically more expensive, this investment can make a big difference in the long run for hikers and outdoor adventurers. Consider how many circumstances you might want to use your glasses in – from morning walks and road trips to days at the beach.
I don’t hike in anything but polarized glasses. For one, they make everything from the trees to the water look better; the colors become more vibrant and detail crisper. I’m also out in the snow in the winter and on the water in the summer. Because of this, I need glasses that protect against the reflection I would get from the surface.
The fun thing about polarized hiking sunglasses is that they often come in fun colors. I have purple ones because that is my favorite color, and I love how they look when I’m hiking.
Lens Types and UV Protection
UV protection is another essential quality in excellent hiking sunglasses. You might be more familiar with UV protection in terms of sunscreen, so think of sunglasses like sunscreen for your eyes. Fatigue and strain can occur when you’re out in the sun for a long time, and UV protection is essential in sunglasses.
VLT is the most basic type of lens you can get in a sunglass and reduces the amount of light on your eyes. Low VLT (Visible Light Transmission) is helpful in bright conditions as they act as a blocking of light getting through the lens.
It would help if you had sunglasses with UV protection. You should consider three types of UV lights when outside in the sun. UVC (highest-energy UV rays), UVB lower energy than UVC rays), and UVA (lower energy than UVB and UVC rays are words you’ll commonly see.
UVA and UVB are harmful to the eyes. Overexposure to the sun’s UVB radiation is associated with several eye problems, including snow blindness. Overexposure to UVA radiation has been linked to cataracts and may play a role in macular degeneration.
Wearing sunglasses is essential to protect your eyes from all these harmful rays. They are best paired with a hiking hat to give you optimal face protection.
You’ll also want to look for a frame material that is both durable and lightweight t hold up in trekking conditions. Nylon is a common choice, as well as some plastic blends. It’s helpful to find scratch-resistant lenses to prevent damage from occurring when out on the trails.
I would avoid any plastic-only trekking sunglasses and stick to nylon frames as they are the most durable against harsh conditions.
Fit and Style
Before making final purchase on your backpacking sunglasses, you’ll want to double-check the frame fit. Most websites give exact dimensions of the glasses; you can measure your facial dimensions to determine the distance between your eyes and from your temples to your ears to make sure you purchase a pair of sunglasses that will fit your face shape.
It’s also essential to choose the right fit and style for the activities you love. If you’re biking or hiking, you may want sunglasses that are larger and cover your side eyes. We like lightweight frames with good grip and airflow for running or high-intensity sports.
When I hike, I barely notice my glasses on my face, which should be the goal. It is why we’ve only selected lightweight frames and sunglasses.
Certain lens tints are better suited to specific qualities of light. If you know, you’re more likely to need sunglasses while on a boat or in a car, you might want to consider this before just buying a pair that looks cool. Another great option is to look for a pair with auto-adjusting tints or the ability to swap out various lenses to accommodate for changes in light.
Prescription Hiking Sunglasses
Do you wear glasses or contact lenses? You could consider purchasing a pair of prescription hiking sunglasses. I wear my glasses when I’m inside and then switch to contacts with regular sunglasses whenever I go outside.
If you don’t wear contact lenses regularly, it’s worth investing in a pair of prescription hiking sunglasses. It’s also excellent if you’re on a multiday hike to not need to fuss with contacts in the backcountry.