The Best Running Sunglasses

When testing running sunglasses, we focus on five main categories: Comfort, Security of Fit, Lenses, Peripheral Vision and Wind Protection/Coverage. We feel like with these categories, it touches on all the crucial information you need to make an informed decision when looking to purchase sunglasses. We also focused on two main types of sunglasses, casual and performance. There is a proliferation of “casual” styled sunglasses that also offer high performance features. We tested more than 15 pairs of sunglasses and narrowed it down to top eight performers. For this specific test, we used three testers of varying running ability in very different conditions. We tested in the Rocky Mountains, Pacific Northwest, and Southeast. Each with very different demands on sunglasses and each one on both trails and roads. The testing ran for long time, from April to October. Each tester wore each pair of sunglasses for a few weeks and in as many different situations as possible. From long runs, speed sessions, bike riding, while driving or hiking, in the rain and bright sun, at dawn and dusk, every situation was covered.

Overall, with this test, you definitely see the performance orientated sunglasses outperforming the casual sunglasses but people also want stylish sunglasses that can go from the trail to bar or to any normal day to day activity. The sunglasses tested range in price from $100 to $250 so they are not budget sunglasses, but it was clear throughout the test, you generally get what you pay for.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Julbo Aerospeed Sunglasses
93
Best in Class
2019
Comfort 9
Security of Fit 8
Lenses 8
Peripheral vision 9
Coverage/Protection 9

Excellent wind protection

Excellent peripheral vision and field of view

Extremely comfortable

Large lenses won’t fit smaller faces

Darkest transition could be darker

Glare from low light angles

MSRP
$189.00
BEST DEAL
Bolle Aeromax Sunglasses
91
Comfort 8
Security of Fit 8
Lenses 8
Peripheral vision 8
Coverage/Protection 9

Excellent wind/sun protection

Good peripheral vision

Quality lenses

Not polarized or photochromic

Limited comfort

MSRP
$150.00
BEST DEAL
Rudy Project Ergomask
89
Security of Fit 8
Comfort 7
Lens Clarity 9
Coverage/Wind Resist... 8
Features 9

Excellent optics with a wide field of vision

Excellent adjustability with fully adjustable nosepads and temple tips

Very lightweight

Frame and lens are large—not good for smaller faces

MSRP
$224.99
BEST DEAL
N/A
Adidas Evil Eye Half Rim Pro XS
89
Best in Class
2015
Security of Fit 9
Comfort 7
Lens Clarity 8
Coverage/Wind Resist... 9
Features 8
Value 8

Extreme, 10-base wrapped design offers excellent coverage

Ultra-lightweight design

Adjustable temples and nosepads for a custom fit

Frame material is slightly stiff

MSRP
$230.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Zeal Decoy Sunglasses
89
Comfort 7
Security of Fit 8
Lenses 9
Peripheral vision 7
Coverage/Protection 8

Excellent clarity

Secure fit

Good wind protection

Poor peripheral vision

Light tint

MSRP
$250.00
BEST DEAL
Smith Pivlock Asana
88
Security of Fit 8
Comfort 9
Lens Clarity 7
Coverage/Wind Resist... 8
Features 8
Value 8

Lightweight design

Easy-to-use interchangeable lens system

Good optics

Wrapped lens offers good coverage and wind resistance

Not adjustable, save for a 2-position nose pad

MSRP
$159.00
BEST DEAL
Smith Attack Sunglasses
88
Comfort 8
Security of Fit 8
Lenses 7
Peripheral vision 8
Coverage/Protection 7

Great peripheral vision

Lightweight

Comfortable

Poor wind protection

Reflection in low angle light

MSRP
$249.00
BEST DEAL
Zeal Incline Sunglasses
88
Comfort 9
Security of Fit 6
Lenses 9
Peripheral vision 7
Coverage/Protection 7

Quality, plant-based materials

Lightweight

Exceptional lenses

Average peripheral vision

Wide Frame

MSRP
$149.00
BEST DEAL
SPY Screw Under
87
Security of Fit 9
Comfort 7
Lens Clarity 8
Coverage/Wind Resist... 8
Features 8

Lightweight design with durable Grilamid® material

Wide field of vision

Polarized Happy Lenses™ that enhance color and contrast

Interchangeable lens system

Solid styling

Nosepads are not adjustable for a custom fit

Frame material is slightly stiff

MSRP
$159.95
BEST DEAL
N/A
Costa del Mar Manta
86
Security of Fit 8
Comfort 7
Lens Clarity 9
Coverage/Wind Resist... 8
Features 7
Value 7

High-quality polarized lens delivers excellent optics

Lightweight design

Slightly smaller lens profile, perfect for medium and smaller face shapes

Wrapped lens offers good coverage and wind resistance

No adjustable options for a more customized fit

MSRP
$249.00
BEST DEAL
Julbo Renegade Sunglasses
86
Comfort 8
Security of Fit 7
Lenses 8
Peripheral vision 6
Coverage/Protection 7

Lightweight

Photochromic lens

Casual style

Wide fit

Lack of durability

MSRP
$189.00
BEST DEAL
Spy Frazier Sunglasses
86
Comfort 7
Security of Fit 7
Lenses 7
Peripheral vision 7
Coverage/Protection 8

Clarity

Protection

Attractive Styling

Lenses prone to fogging

Poor peripheral vision

MSRP
$150.00
BEST DEAL
XX2i Bermuda1 Sunglasses
85
Comfort 6
Security of Fit 8
Lenses 7
Peripheral vision 7
Coverage/Protection 7

Stylish

Unobstructive views

Secure fit

Too tight

Poor quality lenses

MSRP
$100.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Revo Baseliner
84
Security of Fit 7
Comfort 6
Lens Clarity 9
Coverage/Wind Resist... 8
Features 7
Value 7

Lightweight full-frame design

Excellent optics via a high-quality polarized lens

Wrapped design offers solid coverage and wind resistance

Full-frame styling is a bit stiffer than other sunglasses tested

MSRP
$189.00
BEST DEAL
XX2i Brazil1 Sunglasses
78
Comfort 7
Security of Fit 7
Lenses 7
Peripheral vision 7
Coverage/Protection 0

Good style

Well constructed

Polarized lenses

Poor wind protection

Fit is overly narrow

MSRP
$100.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Julbo Aerospeed Sunglasses

The Julbo Aerospeed is an excellent, performance-oriented pair of sunglasses. It is very lightweight, comfortable and provides excellent protection with a photochromic lens that works really well.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at CampSaver.com

Julbo Renegade Sunglasses

The Julbo Renegade is a stylish yet performance centric pair of sunglasses that combine a comfortable style with sophisticated lens technology. Best suited for casual riding or running, it performs well in a variety of situations.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at CampSaver.com

Zeal Incline Sunglasses

The Zeal Incline is an excellent all-around pair of sunglasses that combine quality plant-based materials, advanced tech and a great look. They do run wide and tend to fit someone with a wider head.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Moosejaw

Smith Attack Sunglasses

The Smith Attack is a very nice pair of performance sunglasses. They are very comfortable and lightweight but struggle with high winds and low-light angles.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Jenson USA

Zeal Decoy Sunglasses

The Zeal Decoy is a great all-around pair of sunglasses. They are more suited for low or changing light conditions as opposed to bright light conditions.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Moosejaw

See All Running Sunglasses Reviews

Running Sunglasses Review Results

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Comfort

The comfort of a pair of sunglasses can be fairly subjective at times but since we have several different testers we look for common issues (both positive and negative with each pair that helps us determine our comfort level. Across the board, the Julbo Aerospeed (and really all of the aero line from Julbo) was rated as the most comfortable. The Aerospeed had a lot of features that made it the most comfortable. These included the “air link temple” that acted as a shock absorber and also helped to relieve tension along the side of the head. The frameless design also helped because it allowed a small about of flex in the lenses that helped to reduce additional pressure. The Zeal Incline tied the Julbo Aerospeed in comfort but went about it in a very different way. The Incline has a fairly wide set frame that still manages to grip your nose well and does not put pressure on the side of your head. The Incline, however, scored really low in the security of fit due to its wide base. As the case with most things, there are some sacrifices to make.

Here you can see Julbo’s “Air Link Temple” along the arms of the Aerospeed. This is present on all Julbo Aero sunglasses.

Security of Fit

Security of fit was an interesting category this year because there was not one pair of sunglasses that seemed to stand out as exceptionally secure. Six out of the nine tested scored an 8. All did it a little differently, however. The Julbo Aerospeed was one of those six but achieved what no others did and that was a high comfort and security score. There were three, (Bolle Aeromax, Julbo Renegade, and Smith Attack) that scored 8’s for both comfort and security. One of the most secure sunglasses was the XX2i Bermuda1, however, it was the lowest scoring in comfort because it achieved its security by being very narrow and pinching the side of your head. Conversely, the Zeal Incline scored very high in comfort, but the lowest in security. The top all-around performers all featured some sort of adjustability, whether that was on the arms or the nose.

You can see the sharp taper of the arms on the Bermuda1, which made it secure but very uncomfortable

Lenses

This year we went in a slightly different direction from years past. We have been wanting to be able to objectively quantify the clarity of lens, but outside of spending huge amounts of mo.ney to independently test each lens or just taking the manufacturers word for it, we were not able to find a way to rate the clarity. So, we decided to focus on the lens as a whole and looked at the quality, materials, weight, flex, features (polarized, photochromic, etc) and subjective clarity. We felt like this gives a much better understanding of the sunglasses as a whole. If you have experience with fairly high-end sunglasses, then it should not be a surprise that both Zeal sunglasses, the Incline and Decoy, tied for top spot. Zeal has been making the highest quality sunglasses and lenses for a long time and all the while using plant-based materials as opposed to every other company using petroleum-based plastics. Most companies use two types of plastics: polycarbonate or Trivex NXT. All of the more expensive brands used Trivex NXT which is superior to polycarbonate in pretty much every way (clarity, weight, impact resistance, etc) but is also more expensive. Zeal uses a proprietary process to make their Ellume polarized lens that is in the Incline. In the Decoy, it uses the same Ellume polarized lens but adds in photochromatic capabilities to adjust to changing light conditions.

A close up of Zeal’s Ellume polarized lens on the Decoy.

Peripheral Vision

There were really two distinct categories for peripheral vision, full frames and half or frameless. The full frames which tended to be the more casual looking sunglasses ranked pretty poorly on peripheral vision because both the arms and lower edges of the frames usually blocked your view. Half frames like Bolle Aeromax and frameless like the Smith Attack both achieved good scores thanks to their large lenses that wrapped around the face and helped push the arm hinges out of the way. The Julbo Aeromax scored the highest thanks to its frameless design, wide wrapping lenses and thin arms. The Julbo Renegade scored the lowest here because the frames were fairly large and the arms just seemed to sit right at the line of sight when using your peripheral vision or even looking to the side.

You can see the deep wrap of the lenses and the high hinges that keep your peripheral vision clear on frameless sunglasses like the Smith Attack.

Coverage/Wind Protection

It should come as no surprise that the large and extra large frames would excel at providing excellent face coverage and wind protection. For this, we paid close attention to sun protection, debris, and wind protection. The Julbo Aerospeed and Bolle Aeromax tied for the lead with the Zeal Incline and Decoy coming in next. The Aerospeed and Aeromax provided amazing wind protection and did not have any problems with fogging or condensation on the lenses. Because of their wide wraps, they also provided excellent lateral protection from sun glares, crosswind and blowing debris. The worst performer was the XX2i Brazil1. Typically square lenses provide at least decent protection but because the Brazil1 has a low base curve, meaning the frame does wrap around your face but is rather straight, wind (especially head on) was able to blow right in. This was surprising since every other pair of sunglasses was at least decent in this category.

The extra large lenses on the Bolle Aeromax provide excellent coverage.

Review Results Intro/Summary

Testing all of these sunglasses was very interesting and everyone involved learned a good deal more about what makes sunglasses stand apart from each other and the value of a good pair of sunglasses. This test was really broken into two parts, performance style sunglasses, and casual style sunglasses. Both have pros and cons and it ultimately comes down to what you are looking for. Before leading this test, I always wondered if $250 sunglasses were really that much better than $100 sunglasses. I think, from this test, it is clear that up to a point, you get what you pay for. Having worn a lot of sunglasses in the $25-50 price point, they just don’t compare in terms of technology and durability. I have no doubt all of the sunglasses tested would last years, whereas a $25 pair of sunglasses barely lasts a season. Another thing that really stood out, is how much more advanced casual sunglasses have gotten. Most of them, above the $150 price point, pack as much tech into them as the performance style sunglasses do. I was expecting to see pretty big differences in on trail performance but there really wasn’t that big of a difference.

Test Methods

At Gear Institute, we take our testing very seriously and are constantly seeking ways to improve and provide less subjective and more objective reviews. Sunglasses are, admittedly, fairly subjective since each person is looking for something different in a pair of sunglasses and each pair fits a person’s head differently. We acknowledge this but still feel confident that by taking each all the categories as a whole, you will be able to find the pair of sunglasses that fits you best. Each pair of sunglasses was tested over several months to test how different temperatures and weather affect the wear. Each tester wore several times for several hours at a time and wore them around town, while running, biking, hiking, and driving. They were tested in the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, and the Southeast.

For the comfort category, the main criteria that we looked at were how comfortable were the sunglasses after prolonged wear of at least a couple of hours. Could you wear them for only 30 minutes or could you wear them for 6 hours without thinking about it? With this in mind, we focused on what made them comfortable or uncomfortable. Were the arms too stiff or hard, was the nose piece adjustable, how heavy were they? All of these things play into how comfortable the sunglasses were.

Security of fit is slightly less subjective than the comfort category but again, every pair acts differently on every person. The main focus areas were, did they move when you started sweating, how much bounce was there while running downhill or over technical terrain and then focusing on any other situation that could make them not slip bounce or fall off.

This year we modified the lenses category. In previous years it used to be clarity, but that is so hard to do objectively without proper testing equipment. And even though you can judge how clear a lens looks, that can change from day to day and person to person. So, we decided to generalize it a little bit more rate the lens in general. Clarity is certainly a very important part of that category, but we also consider durability, flex, weight, special features like are they polarized or photochromic, as well as material they are made out of.

Peripheral vision is a pretty straight forward category. Do the frames block your peripheral vision or not. Most performance style sunglasses did very well with category since their lenses tended to wrap further around the face and there was frame to get in in the way. Full frame sunglasses did rather poorly here.

Coverage and wind protection is also pretty straight forward. Did they block wind, debris or sun from hitting your eye? That is a fairly straight forward answer. Here, it was a mix of performance and casual sunglasses that performed really well.

What are Running Sunglasses?

There is not one specific definition of running sunglasses. Really you can run in any pair of sunglasses, just like you can run any pair of shoes, but you are not using the product for its intended purpose and are missing out on a lot of benefits of using a product for its intended purpose. For running sunglasses, fit and comfort should be a top priority. Most likely you will be spending hours a day in these and so they need to fit. Next, it is important to think about the type of conditions you will be running in. Here in the front range of the Rocky Mountains, it is very dry and very sunny, so I would want a pair of sunglasses that prioritizes a darker lens. If I was in a place like the Northwest, I would look for sunglasses that are photochromic or have a light brown lens that works well in darker forests or changing light conditions. In the South, I would want something that has good ventilation and is very secure since it is more humid. So, realizing your needs is very important. Obviously, the price point is important too, but know that you do get what you pay for in the most part. Anything above $150 is going to be a good product. When you start getting to the $250+ price point, you do need to do a lot of research since that is a lot of money and some are maybe over priced there.