When travelers go hiking, most come well-equipped with gear and accessories to keep everything convenient, secure, and protected. One thing that gets less attention? Your eyes. Hours under the blazing sun can do more damage to your eyes than you think, which is why sunglasses for hiking have some pretty complex technology.
From space-age frames and lenses to cult favorite, here are some of the best sunglasses for hiking to keep your eyes protected and your hike comfortable throughout the day.
Some hikers want specialized sunglasses, some want all-arounders. Beginners also don't need too many features, while advanced hikers will need extra protection. Define the kind of usage you want and you'll be able to choose the right style and features to find.
Lenses are made with different materials. Some are plastic, coated with iridium, or photochromatic. While the material itself is not too crucial, watch out for the coating that provides the protection. UV protection is important and almost necessary to keep your eyes safe. Polarized lenses also help deflect glare, and would be most useful in hikes under intense sunlight or in snow. Photochromatic lenses, on the other hand, darken or lighten depending on the external light of the environment.
While it's difficult to check on design if buying online, this is very important when it comes to fit. Some pairs will have removable or adjustable parts and pads to fit your face more securely. The design also dictates some extra features that improve ventilation or grip. If you're buying online, make sure the manufacturer has a return policy just in case you happen to purchase a pair that's not right for you.
The Oakley Flak 2.0 XL is a great all-around option. It's very lightweight with its plastic frame, which also hugs the face comfortably it doesn't get dislodged when going through rougher physical activity. Flak 2.0 is a standard size frame with enhanced lens coverage. The polarized lenses are optimized with high definition optics and patented XYZ optics for razor sharp clarity.
The frame has a rubber coating for extra grip, but can be difficult to clean especially after being coated with sweat and grime. Dirt tends to stick to the sides, but a bit of patience will keep the sunglasses good as new. The lenses can also stand wear and scratches for more active travelers.
The lenses are also coated with black iridium, which provides a mirror-like reflection. It's not only stylish, but also adds protection for the eyes. The tint is also dark enough to take to outdoor activities, but still allow you to go through your daily routine without having to take them off even inside a tunnel.
The Smith Optics Pivlock V2 Max Sunglasses offers wide coverage for a better field of view. Its Carbonic TLT lenses provide excellent clarity as well. Soft Hydrophilic Megol located at the temple tips and on the nose piece also ensure a secure fit and good grip. The nose piece is also adjustable to fit different face shapes and sizes.
The wide coverage lenses are meant for high-speed activities such as running or biking, but also provide excellent protection for high-altitude hiking or windy conditions. The set comes with interchangeable lenses that adjust depending on light conditions.
The lens, however, is not polarized, so the lenses won't minimize glare when in hiking under direct sunlight or in snow.
The Julbo Trek provides some serious protection from the elements. It's especially made for technical (read: hyper advanced) mountaineering, so its technology is specific and very lightweight.
The Julbo Trek comes with removable side shields that protect the eyes from lateral rays, intense glare, and even debris. The removable sweat blocker on the upside of the frame also keeps sweat from dripping into your eyes, which usually happens at the toughest parts of the hike. The frame is also designed to provide superior ventilation to avoid fogging on the lenses.
The Photochromatic lenses also adjust to the light - bright external light adjusts the tint darker, and the lens lightens a bit in low light.
If you don't have USD 100 to spare, you still have some great options. The Duduma Tr90 retails under USD 30, but still provides decent protection for hiking.
The simple design features wrap-around frames and polarized lenses, and it's also lightweight. The frame is a strong polycarbonate material, with Japanese 7-layer TAC polarized lenses to avoid peel off. It doesn't offer much other features, but for basic hiking or beginners, that's all you're going to need.
It's also simple and stylish enough for all-day or regular use. The frame sits comfortably on the face and doesn't have too many other features that would look silly on your trip to the mall. This simplicity may be the reason why several athletes prefer this design.
The frames and lenses are supposed to be unbreakable. As testament to this, the manufacturer offers lifetime breakage warranty on frames and lenses.
The Oakley Radarlock Path has a super lightweight and stress-resistant frame with an excellent field of view. It also has integrated surgeflow ports for ventilation and improved airflow.
This pair won't be moving around your face with its Three-Point Fit and unobtainium grips and interchangeable nose pads. The lenses also feature High Definition Optics for clarity and visual fidelity. Its impact resistance meets all ANSI Z87.1 standards. The lenses are also coated with Plutonite® lens material to filter out 100% of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays along with harmful blue light up to 400nm.
Oakley pairs are usually on the pricey range, and the Radarlock is no exception. However, this pair is sturdy and should last you a couple of years. However, the frame runs pretty small and will be a tight fit for larger head sizes.
Hiking sunglasses are so versatile and packed with cool innovations. The perfect one may just make your hike a whole lot better.
First-time hikers don't need to invest too much on hiking sunglasses, so the Duduma Tr90 will be the perfect choice. Its simple and stylish design is functional for daily use and outdoor activities. Despite its price, it provides adequate protection for your hikes.
More advanced hikers should consider the Julbo Trek pair. It's made for technical mountaineering, and it has features that will protect you from elements not normally found in simple hikes.
If you're looking for something on and off your hike, the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL is your best bet. It's slightly sporty without looking ridiculous on the streets, but extremely functional for challenging hikes. It also works well for different kinds of activities like cycling or running.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!