While the spring and summer months generally allow for a more minimal running experience, there are still some safety essentials that you should consider taking with you on your runs in order to protect yourself from dehydration, muscle cramping, and sun exposure (heat and UV). Running sunglasses are one of those essential items to consider wearing. This best running sunglasses buyer’s guide highlights the top 5 sunglasses for running, for both men and women, based on our strict criteria for trail running and ultrarunning. All running sunglasses for men and women on this list:
- are comfortable to wear for long periods of time which makes them great for ultrarunning
- are super lightweight
- stay in place while running fast
- offer UV Protection
- have excellent lens filters/optics specific for enhancing details on the trails
- are very durable
- look great in my opinion (subjective of course)
A quick note about summer running and ways to protect yourself from dehydration, reduce the risk of muscle cramping while running, and sun exposure. Take extra water, salts/electrolytes, sunscreen, and a technical running hat or running cap with you, they could literally save your life if you’re heading out for a very long trail run or race. I have witnessed a number of runners collapse in front of me due to dehydration during a race, and countless others hobbling along, usually within the last 20% of a race due to muscle cramps. Luckily, I’m usually able to help cramp sufferers by offering them a couple of my salt tablets.
If you need a way to carry essential items like your water, nutrition, salts, mobile phone, keys, sunglasses, trail running poles, and waterproof jacket, then definitely have a read of our running hydration packs buyer’s guide for advice on which race vest will be best for you.
This best running sunglasses buyer’s guide is updated regularly, so remember to bookmark this page in preparation for when you need to buy a pair of mens or womens sunglasses for trail running. For more advice on choosing the best running sunglasses for you, click here to jump down to more information below the list – otherwise, read on for the full list of the best running sunglasses!
1. Oakley Flak 2.0 XL Running Sunglasses
The Oakley Flak 2.0 XL running sunglasses have made it to the top of our best running sunglasses list for good reason. These multi-sport Oakley sunglasses offer a standard-size frame with enhanced lens coverage which increases your peripheral view while trail running, hiking, or cycling. The Flak 2.0 XL uses Oakley’s high definition optics and the overall design has been tuned to be extremely lightweight.
The Oakley Flak 2.0 XL Prizm lenses enhance color and contrast on the trails, making technical terrain easier to analyze and tackle while running at speed. The lens material also filters out 100% of UVA / UVB / UVC & harmful blue light up to 400 nm, and is available with Oakley prescription lenses for an additional cost. Lenses are replaceable which is nice to know just in case you do accidentally damage them.
One of the lesser-known technologies that I love about these Oakley running sunglasses is the grippy ‘Unobtanium’ material to keep them in place. There’s never a worry that these sunglasses are going to fly off during fast trail running, which is important when you’re paying a lot of money for them. It’s as if the more you sweat the grippier this material becomes, it’s quite remarkable! Oakley includes this material on the nose-contact area and frame-arms to really lock these sunglasses in place while running.
These popular Oakley running sunglasses are a great fit for both men and women (we both wear them running ourselves – see our Instagram account for some photos) and due to the great features listed above they made it to the top of this best running sunglasses buyer’s guide.
Weight: 28g (1oz) / Polarized lenses available?: YES / Replaceable lenses: YES
Recommended US online stores for the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL
41 new from $184.00
Recommended UK online stores for the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL
1 new from £447.80
2. Zeal Boone Running Sunglasses
Weighing less than an ounce, the Zeal Boone running sunglasses are designed to be lightweight, comfortable for wearing on the longest of adventures, and durable enough to not worry so much, should you accidentally drop them. They are fashion-forward running sunglasses, with high enough performance that any trail runner, ultrarunner, or hikers will be happy wearing them day-in-day-out.
The lenses in these Zeal sunglasses are polarized which helps to eliminate glare, increase visual clarity, enhance contrast, and as a result reduce the risk of eye strain.
Weight: 22.7g (0.8oz) / Polarized lenses available?: YES / Replaceable lenses: NO
Recommended US online stores for Zeal Boone
6 new from $149.00
out of stock
Recommended UK online stores for Zeal Boone
1 new from £156.45
3. Julbo Aero Sunglasses
Julbo Aero running sunglasses are designed for runners who love intense efforts, such as vertical kilometer racing, or skyrunning, for example. The mono lens, available in photochromic Reactiv, ensures a wide, obstacle-free field of vision, regardless of light levels due to the reactive filter changing properties of Julbo’s REACTIV lenses.
The suspended construction of these Zeal sunglasses includes vents at the top that provide ventilation, and prevent fogging, by encouraging air to pass between the lens and the frame.
I really like the nose-pads on these running sunglasses because they’re grippy, and offer adjustability in every direction which means that they fit all nose shapes and are extra comfortable because of it. A good fit also means the Zeal Boone do a good job of staying in place while running.
Weight: 30g (1.06oz) / Polarized lenses available?: NO / Replaceable lenses: YES
Recommended US online stores for Julbo Aero Sunglasses
5 new from $129.95
Recommended UK online stores for Julbo Aero Sunglasses
1 new from £87.96
out of stock
4. ROKA Halsey Sunglasses
The iconic Wayfarer style Halsey Sunglasses by ROKA take a different approach to lightweight running sunglasses, by fusing modern lifestyle fashion with pure functionality. Made for intensive activity, the ROKA Halsey sunglasses offer a polarized lens and multi-directional GEKO padding technology that is designed to stick on your face no matter how sweaty you are as you move.
The Roka Halsey sunglasses only weigh 26g (0.9oz), making them the lightest sunglasses in our best running sunglasses gear guide.
ROKA does, however, make an even lighter pair of sunglasses for running called the Phantom Ti Aviator, weighing in at a mere 20g (0.07oz)! Although insanely lightweight, they’re a little more delicate and so I chose not to include them in this list when in truth they probably should be. To learn more about those, read my full review here.
The ROKA Halsey sunglasses’ lenses have a protective coating to help keep your vision clear during your trail running or hiking adventures. The ROKA Halseys are a good fit on both of us and we therefore consider them to be great running sunglasses for women and men.
Weight: 26g (0.92oz) / Polarized lenses available?: YES / Replaceable lenses: NO
Recommended US online stores for ROKA Halsey Sunglasses
out of stock
5. Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Classic Sunglasses
The New Wayfarer Classic sunglasses are Ray Ban’s latest rework of the Wayfarer Classic. They now have a smaller frame with a softer eye shape, which leads to a lighter overall weight and a new look that’s more fitted. At 1.4oz, the New Wayfarer Classics are the heaviest running sunglasses on this list (although still pretty lightweight) however I like that they’re versatile enough to wear running and look good for everyday wear, too.
The New Wayfarer Classic comes with scratch-resistant polarized glass lenses that offer excellent visual clarity at the small cost of additional weight. The frames are very lightweight and made from a polycarbonate which boosts comfort for all-day usage.
Ray-Bans are known for their quality and with alloy hinges, these wayfarers are durable to stand the test of time, trail run after trail run. I have worn my Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Classics to run many trail and road miles, as well as off-the trails. Like the ROKA Halsey sunglasses, these New Wayfarer Classic sunglasses are sized to fit both men and women and we both find them comfortable to wear for running and generally being active outdoors.
Weight: 39g (1.4oz) / Polarized lenses available?: YES / Replaceable lenses: NO
Recommended US online stores for Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Sunglasses
23 new from $200.00
Recommended UK online stores for Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Sunglasses
3 new from £86.00
BONUS Alternatives – A selection of cheap sunglasses for running
I hope you enjoyed our best running sunglasses buyer’s guide, however, if you’re on this page as a new trail runner, new to the trails, or a little worried about dropping your sunglasses while running, then a less expensive alternative may be the best running sunglasses for you at this time, especially if you’ve just spend some cash on trail running shoes and clothes, too.
While this selection of cheaper running sunglasses brands may lack the durability and optics quality of more expensive running sunglasses, they do however offer a much lower price point which means you won’t have to worry so much about losing them or an accidental drop.
Bonus 1. Sunski Sunglasses
Sunski is a trendy company based in San Francisco, that wants to make a difference in the world by donating 1% of all sales to environmental non-profit organizations. We particularly like the Headland frames pictured to the right (above on mobile) but there are so many styles to choose from that you should definitely have a browse of their online store.
Sunski has also started using recycled plastic for their frames, which we approve of. If you would like to learn more about their sunglasses for running, then have a read of our detailed article all about Sunski.
Bonus 2. Goodr Sunglasses
Goodr OG’s are sunglasses for the wild amongst you! Don’t expect much in terms of build quality and durability, I mean these Goodr sunglasses are only $25 a pair, but they are cheap running sunglasses for men and women that offer polarized lenses that block 100% of those harmful UVA and UVB rays.
These Goodr sunglasses (pronounced ‘gooder sunglasses’, in case you are wondering) are grip coated and light enough that they don’t bounce while running either. If you’re on a mega budget then these Goodr sunglasses are probably the best running sunglasses when it comes to cheaper options.
Choosing the best running sunglasses for you
If you’re going to be running outside for extended periods of time then it’s worth taking a bit of time to select the right pair of sunglasses to wear when running, because if you’re uncomfortable or the sunglasses aren’t doing their job of staying put while protecting your eyes from glare and particles in the air then you’re really not going to enjoy your run, especially if that means you take the sunglasses off and have to squint or get dust in your eyes!
Why running sunglasses need to be lightweight and well-fitting
As well as being comfortable to wear for long periods of time, it almost goes without saying that a great pair of running sunglasses are also going to be super lightweight, and stay in place while you are running fast or over technical trail terrain. You basically don’t want to know that you have your sunglasses on, and this means they stay put and don’t bounce up and down or slide down your nose when you move rapidly.
Choosing the best running sunglasses to protect your eyes
From a technical eye-protection perspective, the number one criteria we have used to select the best running sunglasses for this list is excellent UV protection. In addition, we also like running sunglasses to have excellent lens filtering and optics to help you clearly see details on the trails, such as obstacles and the profile of the ground even when obscured by shade or dappled light (which can make picking out details in the terrain to step over more tricky).
From a more simple perspective, a pair of running sunglasses is also going to help protect your eyes from dust and dirty that can blow into your eyes, especially on windy days. This physical eye protection is why some people like to wear cycling-style clear or very light-colored lenses in their sunglasses when running outside on days when it’s not particularly bright or sunny.
Which are the best running sunglasses for women
Running sunglasses do not have to be gender-specific, because after all, the best running sunglasses for you are going to be those that have the right technical features you need, and fit comfortably on your head!
With that said, as women tend to have smaller (or at least narrower) heads than some men, the close-fitting wraparound sunglasses like the Oakleys and Julbo are often a great choice for women, as well as the smaller width frame sizes of the other more square shaped sunglasses like the Ray-Ban and ROKA options above.
Why choose running sunglasses with polarized lenses
Most of the running sunglasses for men and women on this list, including our favorite Oakley running sunglasses, are also available with polarized lenses.
Having polarized lenses in your sunglasses helps to eliminate glare, increase visual clarity, enhance contrast, and as a result reduce the risk of eye strain, especially when you’re running on or near reflective surfaces, such as water, snow or light bouncing off rocks or glass in intense sunlight.
Buying running sunglasses with prescription lenses
If you are looking for prescription sunglasses for running and you’re in the US, eyewear store SportRX is a great port-of-call for you if you’re looking for corrective versions of the sunglasses mentioned above. They sell prescription sunglasses for running and other sports (or just daily life) and regularly offer great deals – and they also sell regular non-prescription versions of those sunglasses.
Why durability is important when it comes to running sunglasses
While it’s easy to think that you’re better off with a cheap pair of sunglasses for running, this may turn out to be more expensive in the long run (pardon the pun) because the higher-priced, more technical running sunglasses also generally are more durable, in terms of the robustness of the frame and how flexible it is (i.e. it can bend rather than snap if put under abnormal pressure), as well as the scratch-resistance of the lenses themselves.
As mentioned above, for your first pair of running sunglasses you may want to start out with a cheaper pair if budget is a concern, however in our opinion you will enjoy your runs more, and ultimately get more miles and use out of your running sunglasses if you invest and look after one of the pairs of sunglasses that made it onto our main list of the best sunglasses for running.
If you have any questions while you try to choose the best running sunglasses for you, drop a comment below and we’ll do our best to help!