Best Hiking Sunglasses for Backpacking Adventures

HIKING SUNGLASSES:  Buyer Guide  |  Best Overall  |  Most Durable  |  Most Stylish  |  Best for Women

Have you ever hiked through treacherous climates and rough terrain without a reliable pair of hiking sunglasses? Have you ever dealt with glare and snow or uncomfortable sunglasses that fall off your face?

It’s not fun to hike without sunglasses for protection from the blinding snow; nor is it fun to constantly adjust your perpetually sliding sunglasses.

Point blank, a reliable pair of hiking sunglasses will give you the extra comfort and reliability needed in the backcountry.

In this guide, we’ll review the best hiking sunglasses for every type of adventure, and answer riveting questions like, what sets hiking sunglasses apart from normal sunglasses? When should you buy polarizing sunglasses? What is the latest technology for sunglasses, and why is it important?

From frame materials, lenses, polarized colors, style, and budget, we’ll help you ask the right questions when it comes to protecting your eyes.

SunGod sunglasses for beach

Hiking sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun!

While sunglasses may be a hiking gear afterthought, choosing the right pair of sunglasses will be the difference between a comfortable hiking experience and potential snow blindness.

Your eyes are one of the most fragile parts of your body, and I think we can all agree that it is important to protect them.

Sometimes hefty prices can deter us from investing in reliable hiking sunglasses, but in the end, it’s worth it; though don’t worry, my list will include affordable hiking sunglasses, so you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to protect your eyes.

Below I will cover our picks for the 10 best hiking sunglasses and why they stand out from the rest. The first section will explain the difference between lens and frame materials, which glasses are best for specific activities, and what you should look for when purchasing sunglasses.

 

Quick Answer for Best Hiking Sunglasses:

Best Valued Hiking Sunglasses – Sungod

Most Durable Hiking Sunglasses – Oakley Flak 2.0

Most Stylish Hiking Sunglasses – Maui Jim Haleakala

Best Mountaineering Sunglasses – Julbo Explorer 2.0

Best Hiking Sunglasses for Women – Maui Jim Starfish

 

Our Favorite Hiking Sunglasses

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How to Choose the Perfect Hiking Sunglasses

Before we dive into the technical considerations for choosing a pair of hiking sunglasses, take a second to consider what type of hiking you do most often.

Are you purchasing sunglasses for day hikes or trail runs? Do you need sunglasses for the snow, in which case protection against glare is critical?

Do you prioritize style? Budget? Do you need an “all around” pair of hiking sunglasses, or something more specific for running or biking?

These are the types of questions you should ask yourself before you go out and buy a pair of hiking sunglasses.

hiking sunglasses in sunny Zion

Protect yourself from the sun on any hike!

 

Hiking Sunglasses Lenses: What to look for

Before we get to the frame, let’s talk about lenses. Among all of the different options, lenses are the most important part of your sunglasses since they are the piece that reflects light, UV rays, and blue light.

There are a few different types of lenses to consider, and I’ll discuss the difference below.

 

Lens Types:

VLT (Visible Light Transmission) – This is the most basic type of lens, and basically means it will reduce the amount of light transmitted to your eyes. Sunglasses with a high VLT are not common, as they are mostly for overcast conditions. Sunglasses with a low VLT are useful in bright conditions since they block out most of the light getting through the lens.

UV Protection: You want to buy a pair of sunglasses with UV protection. There are three types of UV lights: UVA, UVB, and UVC. While there is no need to worry about UVC, it is UVB that is associated with skin cancer risk. UVA is still under debate, but you are better safe than sorry.

 

Polarized or Not?

You may be wondering what are polarized sunglasses? While not a must-have for everyday activities, I personally can never go back to non-polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses are designed to filter out reflected light and reduce glare. By doing so, colors become richer and depth of vision is improved.

Basically, polarized lenses make your surroundings look better. With polarized sunglasses, you can look down at the water and see what is below the surface, rather than a glaring white from the sun. You can also look out into the sunset and see what’s on the horizon.

Furthermore, polarized lenses are crucial if you are spending time in the snow, or hiking near large bodies of water since light becomes “polarized” when it reflects off a surface like water or snow.

Polarized Lens Color mostly comes down to a matter of preference, though I personally like grey or brown. Grey is the most neutral color, so things appear mostly real. Brown give your surroundings a crisp, vintage look.

Others may prefer blue or green or pink. Ultimately, the color is mostly a matter of opinion, though certain colors will let more or less light in, and may not be the best choice for overcast or darker conditions.

Style matters too!

 

Lens Material:

Most lenses are made from materials like polycarbonate, polyurethane, and plastic.

Polyurethane is a synthetic material that fuses the best qualities of glass and polycarbonate. While the most expensive, this option is the most durable and lightest weight lens material.

Polycarbonate is a plastic with very high-quality optics and a strong, impact-resistant structure, making this lens material a great choice for hiking too. That said, it can be easily scratched if it doesn’t come with an anti-scratch coating, so take care of polycarbonate lenses.

For the most part, the hiking sunglasses below are made from polycarbonate material since it is high-quality, but not as expensive as polyurethane.

A regular plastic lens is the most cost-effective, but scratches easily and therefore is the least durable choice.

When you are choosing between hiking sunglasses, check what type of material the lenses are made of and if that material is coated with anti-glare, anti-scratch resistance or water repellent material.

 

Hiking Sunglasses Frames: What to look for

When it comes to sunglass frames, there are a few different materials to choose from that will affect the weight, comfort, and usage.

The most durable and flexible frame materials include nylon and nylon/plastic combinations. Solely plastic frames are not suited for tough conditions where you might drop and break your sunglasses far from civilization. Then you’re stranded without sunglasses for the remainder of your hike.

Aluminum and titanium get hot in the sun, so they are also not good options for hiking sunglasses. Basically, look for something with nylon.

 

Hiking Sunglass Frame Comfort and Design

The type of activity you plan to engage in will determine the best design for you. Since this guide focuses on sunglasses for hiking, I’ll start here.

You want a pair of sunglasses that are comfortable, functional, and work well. Firstly, consider the nose-piece and arms of the frame. Does the nose-piece slide-off? What about when you are sweating?

Are the arms too tight? Do they become uncomfortable after a couple hours? You will be wearing sunglasses for hours on end if you are hiking, so comfort is really important.

If you are purchasing sunglasses online, check that the company offers a warranty or return policy. You should try them on for a long period of time to judge the sunglasses’ comfort, and if they end up not fitting properly you’ll want to return them.

Next, consider what conditions you plan to hike in. If you need protection from wind and rain then a wrap-around design is an excellent choice, though this might be overkill for most hikers.

If you plan to engage in a lot of movement, like trail running, mountaineering, and rock climbing, then consider sunglasses that will not slip during these activities. There are mountaineering specific sunglasses if this is your primary activity.

Ultimately, you want your sunglasses to be one with your face. You want them to be so comfortable, you barely notice they are there until you take them off.

 

Should you get prescription sunglasses?

This is something I’ve been personally debating for some time. One one hand, I wear my prescription (regular) glasses pretty often, so that means I need to switch to contacts when I wear non-prescription sunglasses.

Having a pair of prescription sunglasses would definitely be convenient, but it would also mean I need a second pair for when I am wearing contacts…

Ultimately, this is a matter of preference, but if you wear contacts you’ll want to have two pairs of sunglasses.

 

10 Best Hiking Sunglasses

Alright, now we get to the good stuff. Below I have discussed and reviewed the best hiking sunglasses depending on style, material, activity, and of course, price.

There are a lot of great options out there that cost a lot of money, so I will list hiking sunglasses under $100 too.

 

1. Sungod Renegade Sunglasses: Best Value Hiking Sunglasses

Sungod Renegades

Sungod makes awesome hiking sunglasses for a reasonable price, which is why I’m making these sunglasses number one on our list. There are surely more technical sunglasses, but they might be overkill for the average hiker.

Suited for both sunshine and cloudy days, you can wear Sungod glasses year-round. The best part about Sungod is their customizable colors and lenses.

You have the option to choose between polarized and non-polarized lenses as well as mix and match the lens, frames, and accent colors.

Their lenses have 100% UV protection and 2mm polycarbonate lenses. This means they are durable, though not top of the line. Most sunglasses on this list use polycarbonate, though some are glass.

Sungod sunglasses are also layered with triple-layer scratch resistance protection and anti-reflective inner lens coating.

As I mentioned above, you can choose if the lenses are polarized or not. The polarized filter eliminates harsh glare and improves the depth of field, which is great for if you are hiking near snow or water.

The frame is built from their Adventureproof technology for ultimate durability and protection. The snap-lock hinges lock into an open or closed position, so you can put on your sunglasses with one hand. They weigh 27 grams.

One of the best parts is the SunGod lifetime guarantee that every pair is backed by. If they break, the company will repair your sunglasses free of charge, even if it’s your fault.

I own a pair of the renegade’s and I have never had a problem with comfort, or slippage. Their PaceBreakers model is built more specifically for high-movement sports like biking, trail running, and more, and I’ll cover those below.

Overall, this model is an all-around, high-quality pair of hiking sunglasses at a reasonable price.

Best For: Multi-purpose sunglasses for hiking and other more strenuous activities.

Price: $90

Lens Material: Polycarbonate

Polarized: Yes (optional)

 

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Pros

  1. High quality, reasonable price
  2. Rubberized grips at ears and nose
  3. Comes with warranty

Cons

  1. Smaller lens than others
  2. Not designed for extreme sports
  3. Frame material could be more durable

 

2. Oakley Flak 2.0 – Most Durable Hiking Sunglasses

This pair of sunglasses, or at least Oakley as a company, needs no introduction. The Ferrari of sunglasses, Oakley engineering takes performance to the next level with these ruggedly durable hiking sunglasses.

One person even said that these sunglasses survived a car tire! While the glasses were scratched, the frame was undamaged. You can’t get a more durable pair of glasses.

But let’s talk specs. Oakley claims that the refraction of these glasses – in other words, how close/far you see objects – is much truer to real sight. Many glasses change the depth of perception if even just a little. Truer visual image means your brain doesn’t need to work overtime to calculate depth.

All of Oakley’s lenses offer 100% UV protection for UVA, UVB, and UVC rays as well as blue light up to 400 nm. Keep in mind that the light transition on these lenses is quite low at 11%. This means they will be too dark in shadows and low-light situations.

You can buy separate pieces to replace say a scratched lens, but Oakley does not have a warranty that I know of. That means, if you break them, you buy them again. Furthermore, they are pricey, so you are going to want to take really good care of these glasses.

While a bit pricey, these are incredibly durable biking, running, and hiking sunglasses.

Best For: Multi-purpose sunglasses for hiking and other more strenuous activities

Price: $160

Lens Material: Polycarbonate

Polarized: Yes

 

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Pros

  1. Extremely durable
  2. Rubberized grips for extreme sports
  3. High-quality

Cons

  1. Expensive
  2. Smaller lens than others on list
  3. No warranty

 

3. Maui Jim Haleakala – Most Stylish Hiking Sunglasses

These men sunglasses look good on and off the trails since their modified rectangular frame complements a range of facial shapes.

Where the Maui Jim Haleakala really shine is the lenses. The material is their most popular MauiPure, which includes excellent scratch and shatter resistance as well as water and oil protection and combines their SuperGlass material.

Note that if you want pure superglass, you’ll need to choose a more expensive model; some around the same price but others upward of $339.

Polarized to handle bright, direct sunlight, you can choose the polarized color too. They come in a neutral grey color for rich colors and sharp contrast, HCL Bronze for a warm tint, grey fade – this offers a higher transmission so you can use glasses in lower light situations – and Maui Rose for a subtle rose ting best for overcast and sunny conditions.

The drawback about Maui Jims is the price. These glasses are by n0 means cheap, but I’ll explain what you’re paying a premium for. The lens come with either what they call a Bi-Gradient mirror, which is applied to the top and bottom of the lens, or a Multi-Gradient lens, which applies a darker application at the top that gradually gets lighter. Both are great options, depending on the primary use.

Not only are they 100% UV protected, but they also block out Blue-Light HEV, which recent research suggests can cause damage to the eye.

Best For: Best lens technology, but still look ultra stylish.

Price: $229

Lens Material: Glass/Polycarbonate

Polarized: Yes

 

Pros

  1. Extremely light-weight
  2. High impact resistance
  3. Best lense technology

Cons

  1. Edge of frame can obstruct vision
  2. Not designed for extreme sports
  3. Expensive

 

4. Julbo Explorer 2.0 Glacier – Best Sunglasses for Mountaineering

julbo explorer 2.0 glacier mountaineering sunglasses

Designed for extreme conditions, these glacier glasses provide exceptional coverage, removable side shields, and overall protection. Temples have 360-degree adjustable stems and soft grip tech that won’t pull your hair; the grip nose insert is comfortable too.

The frame material is made from nylon and lens material is made from polycarbonate. As for the polarized lens, the Julbo Explorers have a full-spectrum UV protection, anti-reflective coating, and a brown color.

These glasses provide protection for sunny days on the snow, but they aren’t so dark that they can’t be worn in other conditions.

Best For: Mountaineering and winter hiking conditions

Price: $130

Lens Material: Polycarbonate

Polarized: Yes

 

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Pros

  1. Really comfortable
  2. Perfect for mountaineering and snow

Cons

  1. Overkill for hiking
  2. Slightly expensive

 

5. Maui Jim Starfish (Women’s) – Best Hiking Sunglasses for Women

Many of the Starfish’ star features are similar to the Haleakala’s above, but these hiking sunglasses are designed specifically for women. Crafted with an injected nylon frame, frames don’t get any better than this.

This model uses the SuperThin glass lens – their most quality one. SuperThin Glass is 20% lighter and thinner than standard glass.

Like the other model, these Starfish sunglasses have polarized lenses to reduce visible glare and come in a few different options for lens color. HCL Bronze and Maui Rose are best for sunny and overcast; whereas, Neutral grey is ideal for bright and direct sunlight.

These stylish, awesome sunglasses and the reputable Maui Jim are perfect for hikers and adventurers who still want to look stylish.

Again, not the cheapest sunglasses by a mile and the SuperThin glass moves the pricepoint up significantly, but that’s what you pay for quality.

Best For: Ultimate protection and style

Price: $229

Lens Material: ST Glass

Polarized: Yes

 

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Pros

  1. Highest quality lens material
  2. Stylish and technical
  3. Extremely High-quality

Cons

  1. Really expensive
  2. Not designed for extreme sports
  3. For women (not really a con)

 

6. Sungod PaceBreakers – Best Multi-Sport Hiking Sunglasses

Sungod’s PaceBreaker model is one of the best sunglasses for high activity and multi-sport usage. Like the Renegades, these sunglasses are completely customizable; you can mix and match the lens, frames, and accent colors. Choose between polarized and non-polarized too.

Lenses have 100% UV protection and 2mm polycarbonate lenses. Finally, like the other model, the PaceBreakers come with the SunGod lifetime guarantee that every pair is backed by. If they break, the company will repair your sunglasses free of charge, even if it’s your fault.

Best For: Strenuous and high movement activities.

Price: $90

Lens Material: Polycarbonate

Polarized: Yes (optional)

 

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Pros

  1. Made for multiple sports
  2. Reasonable cost
  3. Warranty

Cons

  1. May be overkill for some hikers
  2. Not as stylish as the renegades
  3. Frame material could be more durable

 

7. Julbo Run Sunglasses – Best Sunglasses for Running 

julbo run and hiking sunglasses

 

The trail is your playground with the Julbo Run sunglasses. They boast wide, anti-fog lenses, a curved frame, and shock resistant nose and temple pieces. The hiking sunglasses trekking model have removable side-shields that offer side protection against sunlight and debris.
Let’s get into the specific and why these are great sunglasses. The photochromic lens gets darker or lighter according to light intensity. Polycarbonate lenses offer 100% UV protection, and the hydrophobic coating prevents marks, water, and condensation.
These sunglasses feature impressive UV protection too.

Best For: Ultimate protection from sweat, glare, and debris

Price: $100

Lens Material: Polycarbonate

Polarized: Yes

 

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Pros

  1. Shock resistance, anti-fog technology
  2. removeable side-shields

Cons

  1. Lenses can be dark in low-light situations
  2. No warranty

 

8. Zeal Drifter – Eco-Friendly Hiking Sunglasses

zeal drifter sunglasses

You know what’s the mark of a great pair of sunglasses? You forget you are wearing them. Zeal’s wraparound frame is both comfortable and made of castor beans, a renewable resource that slices the weight in half while remaining impact-resistant.

These babies are 100% UVA/B/C protection and 95% HEV (Blue-Light) protecting.

The lenses are polarized to reduce visible glare. Colors come in copper and dark grey; copper lets in 14% light transmission and dark grey let’s in 9%.

Proflex rubber on the nose and temple keep sunglasses comfortably in place. Not only are they a great fit, but they’re made with plant-based resources and strive to be environmentally sustainable. We tip our hats to companies like Zeal.

Best For: Ultimate protection and multiple sports

Price: $150

Lens Material: Polycarbonate

Polarized: Yes

 

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Pros

  1. Environmentally renewable
  2. Stylish and comfortable

Cons

  1. Lenses can be dark in low-light situations
  2. No warranty

 

9. Oakley Two Face Sunglasses – Stylish, High-Quality Hiking Sunglasses

Are the Flak 2.0 a bit much for you? Well, then you’re going to love these casual Twoface sunglasses with a similar style to the Maui Jim’s above.

These Oakley sunglasses are quite different from the Oakley Flak 2.0′ above. For one, the lenses are made out of Plutonite and the style is much more rooted in the California surf and skate culture. But like all Oakley glasses, you can expect quality and durability.

100% UV filter and blue light protection as well!

Best For: All-around pair of polarized sunglasses

Price: $140

Lens Material: Polycarbonate

Polarized: Yes

 

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Pros

  1. Stylish hiking sunglasses
  2. Very durable and good quality

Cons

  1. Not specifically for extreme sports
  2. No warranty

 

10. Sunski Navarro Polarized Sunglasses – Affordable Hiking Sunglasses

These uni-sex, stylish hiking sunglasses are lightweight, durable – made from polycarbonate weighing less than 1 oz. – and flexible. The Navarro Polarized sunglasses offer polarized lenses – as the name suggests – and 100% UV protection for every UV wavelength. Light transmission is around 15%, and lens tint options include an amber flare and gray-green forest.

While not the top hiking sunglasses on this list, they’re still great for multiple sports and look fashionable. Best of all, they’re really affordable and covered by Sunski’s “Forever Warranty.”

Best For: All-around pair of polarized sunglasses

Price: $58

Lens Material: Polycarbonate

Polarized: Yes

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Pros

  1. Lightweight less than 1 oz
  2. Reasonable price

Cons

  1. Not the best quality on list

 


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