The Best Performance Sunglasses for Running, Cycling, and More
Sunglasses are some of the hardest-working, most versatile pieces of gear you can buy. No matter what you like to do outside, a good pair of shades is essential, both for protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays and for clear, unhampered vision. Looking to upgrade your frames? We’ve rounded up some of the best sunglasses for men and tapped an expert for buying advice, too. Here’s what you need to know.
Picking out the right pair of performance sunglasses depends a lot on how you plan to use them, says Tyler Andersen, senior optician at SportRx, a company that makes prescription lenses compatible with a wide range of brands. Lenses that work well for hunting in low-light conditions, for example, probably aren’t ideal for a run in full daylight. Even so, says Andersen, there are two factors to consider regardless of your sport: making sure the frames stay on your face and that they fully protect your eyes from the sun.
“Picking out the right pair can be somewhat sport-specific,” he told Men’s Journal via email, “but the features that tend to be favorable across the board are good wrap coverage and good grip.”
You’ll want a pair that fits well and stays in place as you move, with a lens shape that keeps the sun completely out of your eyes. Before investing in a pair, it’s worth trying some on to make sure they fit and provide the coverage you need. Thankfully, there’s a straightforward test to determine if you’ve found a winner: “When you put them on, you should forget they’re there,” says Andersen.
Light and Lenses
Beyond that, choosing the right frames largely comes down to where and when you plan to wear them. For most outdoor activities, you’ll want polarized lenses, which come with a special coating that filters light rays and cuts down on glare. Another stat to keep an eye out for is VLT, or visible light transmission. This tells you how much light the lenses will allow through. If you use your frames primarily in low-light situations, you’ll want a higher VLT percentage, which will help you see more clearly. In sunnier conditions, you’ll want lenses with a lower VLT percentage to block out excess light. Finally, don’t forget features that are specific to your body and your sport, like prescription lenses or helmet compatibility.
For this guide, we’ve rounded up top options from well known performance brands like Oakley and Smith, as well as niche companies like Ombraz. Whether you need a pair for a day of fishing or a long ride on your bike, we’ve got you covered.
Best for Mountain/Snow: Vallon Heron Glacier 2.0
The Heron Glacier 2.0 is a throwback to old-school alpine style, but it’s built with 21st-century technology. Polycarbonate frames make them ultra lightweight, mirror-coated lenses protect against harsh UV rays, and leather side shields block the sun’s glare reflecting off the snow and other surfaces (arguably the coolest feature on these shades).
Sweat combined with jostling usually leads to sunglasses slipping off your face. But Dragon’s injection-molded thermoplastic frames are so lightweight they feel like they’re floating on your nose. They stay up even during fast hill sprints and long-distance runs. The polarized lenses are scratch-resistant, and they repel dust and oily fingerprints as well.
Don’t worry about dropping this pair overboard. Ombraz reduces weight and plastic with their armless design, which features a soft and adjustable woven cord that stays snug around your head whether you’re steering a boat, casting a line, or riding a wave. The new Dolomite model has tough, impact-resistant lenses and side visors to block glare coming off the water.
For days on the bike that switch from sunny to cloudy to sunny again, the GP Series’ high-contrast lenses will save your eyes. The sleek frames are tough and versatile, and they have three interchangeable rubber nose pad options for a dialed-in fit and comfort.
This spicy little number is a brand-new release from MAAP and 100%. Their collab comes in two colorways—an electric blue and fluorescent coral—that boast specialized HiPER lenses that crank up color and contrast so you clearly see what’s in front of you. Think of it as the OLED of performance sunglasses—perfect for when you need pristine clarity while blazing through gravel tracks and mountain trails.
This do-it-all pair combines timeless style with superior performance, which makes them ideal for any active guy. Zuma fit grips on the nosepads and earsocks minimize bounce, and Ultramarine Trivex lenses enhance color while keeping your eyes protected.
Best for Workwear: Oakley Tombstone Spoil Industrial
Keep your eyes safe while working at the table saw or on the factory floor with the Oakley Tombstone sunglasses. They’re part of Oakley’s Industrial Collection, which means they meet ANSI standards for impact resistance and are designated as official Safety Glass. The wide lens shape creates an unobstructed view, and the lenses use Prizm technology to provide enhanced color contrast. Working in low light conditions? Check out the M Frame 2.0 Industrial, which comes with clear lenses.
Don’t let a bright sky prevent you from nailing your shot. The 8-base lens curve on these shades wraps around your face for the perfect amount of coverage. Tan nylon frames and brown polarized lenses—which meet standards for ballistic impact protection—help you blend in while in the woods, but they don’t stand out like camo does during a weekend of errands.
Sunski turns scrap plastic into sleek recycled resin frames. This classic shape (complete with polarized lenses) comes in three colors and looks good on anyone. Plus, if you break them under normal use, the brand’s “forever warranty” covers them for life. Sustainable, stylish, and wallet-friendly—a rare combo.