13 Best Hiking Sunglasses For The Trail

This guide reviews the best hiking sunglasses and backpacking sunglasses for 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.

A proper pair of hiking sunglasses cannot be beaten and will give you the extra reliability you need; we consider them an essential part of any hiking outfit. Eye protection is paramount when hiking; we view it as safety equipment.

Good hiking sunglasses offer excellent protection, comfort, style, and 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

best sunglasses for hiking

Smith Lowdown 2

best hiking sunglasses

MSRP: $199 | Weight: 28 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: ChromaPop Polycarbonate | Frame Material: Evolve Castor-Based Polymer

Key Features

Chromapop Lenses, Polarized Lenses, Anti-Reflective Coating On The Back Of Lenses, Hydroleophobic (Repels Oil & Water), Auto-Lock Hinges, Evovle Frame (bio-based),

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Chromapop Lenses
  • Impact Resistance
  • Super Comfortable
  • Works For Daily Life
Cons
  • Generic Frame
  • Expensive

These glasses are great for hiking, and their style makes them great for life off the trail! The original Lowdown was a classic sunglass for an active lifestyle. With the release of the Smith Lowdown 2, they deliver hiking sunglasses with their latest technology and a better fit.

Optics are the real standout feature of the sunglasses as the ChromaPop polarized lenses effectively remove glare and bring out the contrast. This makes it easier to see in difficult environments like deserts, dense foliage, water, snow, or alpine. We love the wide selection of polarized lenses and frame colors to create a pair of sunglasses perfectly tailored to our style.

Those frames are super comfortable and lightweight enough to never cause fatigue on your face despite wearing them all day. One of the key features to achieve this is the MEGOL nose pads that keep the sunglasses in place. It’s not just comfort and optics; the sunglasses also benefit from an anti-scratch treatment for added durability.

Some of our favorite hiking sunglasses on the market. It’s the sunglasses we keep reaching for, and we have tried several different versions. We’ve got about 5 Smith Lowdowns in our collection. When we’re not playing in the mountains, we’re traveling, and these sunglasses are always in our suitcases.

Shop For Smith Lowdown 2.0 Sunglasses

Knockaround Premiums Sport Sunglasses

Knockaround Sunglasses

MSRP: $28 | Weight: 25 grams | UV Protection: 100% | Lens Material: Polycarbonate | Frame Material: Polycarbonate

Key Features

UV400 Rating, Polarized Lenses, Rubber Nosepads, Lightweight Polycarbonate Frame

Pros
  • Super Affordable
  • Decent Optics
  • Comfortable
  • Reliable Fit
  • Wide Color Selection
Cons
  • Quality
  • Durability

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 many 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 replacing them. You may not need to replace these sunglasses as they’re pretty durable. That said, their durability is not quite as good at resisting chips and scratches as expensive lens options.

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 at the bottom of a hiking pack. We love them on a backcountry trip, so we can toss them in our backpacks without worry.

Shop For Knockaround Sport Sunglasses

Spy Discord

Spy Optics Discord Athletic and Hiking Sunglasses

MSRP: $180 | Weight: 45 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Happy, Polycarbonate ARC | Frame Material: Grilamid

Key Features

Happy Lens Tech, Accurate Radius Curvature polycarbonate lenses, Polarized Lenses, Grilamid® Lenses Material,

Pros
  • Happy Lens Tech
  • Excellent Fit
  • Comfortable
  • Good Optics
Cons
  • Mixed Grip
  • Not Our Favorite Optics

The Spy Discord is a staple in the Spy line for a classic outdoor sunglass. They draw style inspiration from classic 80s sunglasses with various color options. What impresses us most about the sunglasses is the fit and ability to stay on our faces. Happy Lens tech is also pretty impressive and best compared to Smith’s Chromapop. Performance feels just a little behind Smith, but they are a more affordable line of sunglasses.

Optics provide vivid color and contrast in the lens. They provide great clarity and reduce glare off water and reflective surfaces. We never notice any back reflection with the sunglasses or distortion thanks to the ARC® shape tapered to match the human eye. Along with optics, the fit is very, and we haven’t noticed any fatigue on our faces on full days of hiking.

This is done with durable pin hinges and a frame made from lightweight Grilamid. It’s a synthetic material that is impressively strong and provides excellent durability. Our only complaint with the sunglasses is the lack of rubber to hold the glasses on the bridge of the nose. The sunglasses are coated in a “sticky” material; however, when sweaty, they still tend to slip down the nose.

Shop For Discord Sunglasses

Smith Wildcat/Bobcat

MSRP: $229 | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: ChromaPop Polycarbonat | Frame Material: Evolve

Key Features

Chromapop Lenses, Polarized Lenses, Anti-Reflective Coating On The Back Of Lenses, Hydroleophobic (Repels Oil & Water), Auto-Lock Hinges, Evolve Frame, Interchangeable Lenses

Pros
  • Full Coverage
  • Lightweight
  • Chromapop Lenses
  • Impact Resistance
  • Super Comfortable
Cons
  • Not Necessarily Hiking Sunglasses

If you’re an avid hiker, biker, or skier looking for the best sunglasses to enhance your outdoor adventures, look no further than the Smith Wildcat/Bobcat sunglasses. Aside from the frame size, they are identical sunglasses; the Wildcat is larger, and the Bobcat is smaller. A nice selection of colors keeps them unisex to tailor the fit to the face.

These sunglasses are stellar for mountain athletes who enjoy various sports. They offer goggle-like coverage to shield the eyes from the elements while also providing the airflow and easy-wear feel of sunglasses. Lenses are interchangeable and include clear inserts for eye protection in low-light environments. No surprise mountain bikers love these sunglasses.

The use of ChromaPop™ lens technology again provides excellent optics. This technology enhances the details on forested trails and bright alpine bowls, making it easier to see and navigate surroundings. Unless it’s late evening or a cloudy day, I rarely need to switch to the clear inserts when mountain biking in a thick forest, as the optics are excellent.

They’re my sunglass of choice for ski touring and mountain biking. It’s about versatility here, too, as the sunglasses are similarly excellent for hiking. My only complaint is they’re bit overkill if you’re using them purely for hiking. Plus, you won’t wear these with anything other than an athletic or casual outfit.

Shop For Smith Sunglasses

Maui Jim Ho’okipa Polarized Sunglasses

Maui Jim Ho'okipa Polarized Sunglasses

MSRP: $200 | Weight: ?? | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: MauiPure | Frame Material: Grilamid TR 90

Key Features

Excellent Polarized Lenses, Shatterproof Polycarbonate Lenses, Clearshell® Hard Coating,  Grilamid Lightweight Frames, Rubber Nose Pads,

Pros
  • Excellent Optics
  • Great Quality
  • Ultralight
  • Very Comfortable
  • Excellent Durability
Cons
  • Goofy Style

Maui Jim Ho’okipa is a pair of weightless sunglasses that are so airy you forget they’re on your face. These polarized wrap-around hiking sunglasses are available in standard and prescription lenses. Maui Jim produces some excellent sunglasses with wonderful durability and tech similar to Smith Optics.

Each pair is made of a durable but lightweight Grilamid 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, free shipping, and returns.

I’ve never been a fan of Maui Jim’s sunglasses styles. Maybe they don’t work for our face shapes. Unlike the Oakley, I’ve never loved the style of Maui Jims. However, it’s tough to deny the sunglasses’ performance as they are lightweight and comfortable with excellent optics.

Shop For Maui Jim Ho’okipa Sunglasses


GoodR Circle Gs Polarized Sunglasses

GoodR Circle Gs Polarized Sunglasses

MSRP: $25 | Weight: 19 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Triacetate Cellulose | Frame Material: Polycarbonate

Key Features

UV 400 Protection, Polarized Lenses, Silicone Inserts For Grip, Lightweight Frame,

Pros
  • Super Affordable
  • Decent Optics
  • Comfortable
  • Reliable Fit
  • Wide Color Selection
Cons
  • Quality
  • Durability
  • Reflection

The Goodr OGs are fantastic value sunglasses that offer plenty of performance. The company’s sunglasses are fun and come with a polarized lens for under $30. Then, the sunglasses offer a one-year warranty, and the company is carbon natural. Goodr is most comparable to Knockarounds, and the quality of the optics between the two is nearly identical.

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 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.

Of course, you get what you pay for, as the optics and quality are definitely lacking. We notice they’re far easier to snap, chip, or scratch than more expensive options. Regardless they’re lightweight, comfortable, and affordable.

Shop For Circle Gs Polarized Sunglasses

Ombraz The Dolomite Armless Sunglasses

Ombraz The Dolomite Armless Sunglasses

MSRP: $140 | Weight: 20 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Triacetate Cellulose | Frame Material: Polycarbonate

Key Features

Zeiss Polyamide Pptics Lenses, Built-In Marine-grade Nylon Cord, Lightweight Frame

Pros
  • Excellent Quality
  • Innovative Design
  • Great Optics
  • Decent Style
  • Reliable Performance
Cons
  • Armless Design Has Its Drawbacks
  • Slight Reflection On Back

Ombraz Sunglasses stand out as they’re one of the few innovative sunglass designs we’ve enjoyed 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 daily, and they feel right at home on the hiking trail or at my local brewery.

The armless design makes them 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: they require two hands to put on and take off. So, it’s an issue when your hands are full of hiking poles, ski poles, a climbing rope, or bike handlebars. The strap also interferes with helmet straps. I also find if the fit is “too tight,” the forehead creates condensation on the top of the lenses.

Regardless they’re an exceptional pair of sunglasses that we highly recommend. After testing a lot of sunglasses, there are my “regulars” that I repeatedly reach for, and one of them is the Ombraz.

Shop For Ombraz Dolomite Armless Sunglasses

Oakley Radar EV Path Sunglasses

Oakley Radar EV Path Sunglasses

MSRP: $219 | Weight: ? | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Plutonite | Frame Material: O Matter

Key Features

Prizm Lenses, O-Matter Stress Resistant Frame, Nonslip Unobtainium® Nosepads, Earsocks Increase Grips,

Pros
  • Excellent Quality
  • Reliable Optics
  • Reliable Performance
  • Excellent Coverage
Cons
  • Athletic Style

The Oakley Radar EV Path Sunglasses are a phenomenal option for active hikes and athletes. They’re super lightweight, offer reliable coverage, and have 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. The biggest complaint is the style. They are a little goofy in photos and off the trail unless you’re running or biking.

Shop For Oakley Radar EV Path Sunglasses

Maho Tulum Sunglasses

MSRP: $219 | Weight: | UV Protection: 100% | Lens Material: Trivex | Frame Material: Stainless Steel

Key Features

Lifetime Warranty, Polarized Lenses, Stainless Steel Frame, Zuma Fit & Retention System, Trivex Lenses,

Pros
  • Excellent Optics
  • Classic Style
  • Superb Quality
  • Versatile
Cons
  • New Brand
  • Malleable Frame

Maho Shades effortlessly blends classically styled sunglass frames with athletic performance and wonderful quality. We’ve tried out a handful of their sunglasses and have been impressed by their ability to perform on the trail yet look excellent.

The Maho Tulum Sunglasses caught our eye, and we love them for their versatility. They can fit any environment, from a black tie event to hiking the desert. A lot of this has to do with their exceptional quality with stainless steel frames and trivex lenses. However, we find the Zuma™ fit and retention system most impressive.

Grippy nose pads and side arms effectively keep the sunglasses in place and comfortable. We wouldn’t guess from the look of the sunglasses that they’re ready for a run around the park or up a craggy peak.

The stainless frame is durable and looks sharp, but it does make them susceptible to bending. Due to this, the sunglasses are best suited for day hikes, travel, and daily life. We’d advise a more flexible synthetic material if we’re looking for our next pair of backcountry warriors.

Shop For Maho Sunglasses


Sunski Treeline Polarized Sunglasses

MSRP: $89 | Weight: 27 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Triacetate Cellulose | Frame Material: Recycled Polycarbonate

Key Features

Magnetic Perforated Side Shields, Polarized Category 3 Lenses, 28g Frame, Reyclced Plastic Resin Frame, Lifetime Warranty

Pros
  • Excellent Value
  • Reliable Performance
  • Durability
  • Peripheral Sun Protection
Cons
  • Size Does Not Work Universally

These lightweight Sunski Treeline Polarized Sunglasses 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 for these glacier travel glasses is the lens polarization. It’s an odd choice as polarization is less effective at UV protection and can complicate the dissertation between ice and snow. Regardless they’re phenomenal sunglasses and will likely serve the needs of most recreational users.

Shop For Sunski Treeline Polarized Sunglasses

Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer Classic Sunglasses

Rayban Wayfarer

MSRP: $161 | Weight: 45 grams | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Crystal | Frame Material: Acetate

Key Features

Crystal Lenses

Pros
  • Excellent Optics
  • Classic Style
  • Great Quality
  • Versatile
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Non-sport performance
  • Expensive

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. It’s tough to find a more versatile pair or timeless pair of sunglasses than the Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer.

We love to travel and hike around the world. Sunglasses like the Wayfarers are perfect for mountain summits or new cities. I can wear them just as quickly in a suit as on a mountain summit. If you’re a fan of minimalism and want one pair of sunglasses to do it all, I find the Wayfarers reliable.

There are a few complaints about the Wayfarers for hiking. Crystal lenses and acetate frames make for quality sunglasses but are heavy. The nose bridge doesn’t stick to a sweaty nose well, and the fit is slightly loose around the temples. I wouldn’t run in the Wayfarers or enjoy other mountain sports like climbing or biking.

Shop For Original Wayfarer Sunglasses


Rheos Floatable

MSRP: $55 | Weight: ?? | UV Protection 100% | Lens Material: Nylon HydroClear Lens | Frame Material: Nylon

Key Features

Polarized Lenses, Floatable Frames

Pros
  • Floatable
  • Polarized Lenses
  • Durable
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Okay Performance

If you plan on heading out on the water, hiking, or 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 and 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.

Shop For Rheos Floatable Sunglasses


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 this case, you’ll want to protect against glare.

Maybe you’re looking for a style of sunglasses worn on 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 everything for you here!


Features of Hiking Sunglasses


Polarization

Banff Packing List

Polarization is the optimal choice for glare-cutting lenses. Polarization will allow you to see color, shape, and contrast from shiny vehicles to bright water surfaces without needing to squint painfully. 

Although polarized lenses are typically more expensive, this investment can make a big difference for hikers and outdoor adventurers in the long run. Consider how many circumstances you might want to use your glasses – from morning walks and road trips to days at the beach. 

Mountain Biking In Sedona

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 the 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 they are my favorite color, and I love how they look when hiking.


Lens Types and UV Protection

best hiking sunglasses

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 as sunscreen for your eyes. Fatigue and strain can occur when you’re 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 it blocks light from 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 for optimal face protection.


Frame Material

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 the final purchase of your hiking sunglasses, you’ll want to double-check the frame fit. Most websites give the 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. 

Choosing the right fit and style for the activities you love is also essential. If you’re biking or hiking, you may want larger sunglasses that 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.


Lens Tints

what to wear hiking

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 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 switch to contacts with regular sunglasses whenever I go outside.

If you don’t wear contact lenses regularly, it’s worth investing in prescription hiking sunglasses. It’s also excellent if you’re on a multiday hike not to need to fuss with contacts in the backcountry. SportRX carries a wide range of brand-name sunglasses and can match your prescription needs for hiking sunglasses.

Shop For Prescription Sunglasses

HIKE MORE

About Natasha

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

Leave a Comment