Your best protection against the sun: 5 hiking sunglasses

Your best protection against the sun: 5 hiking sunglasses

The 5 Best Sunglasses for Hiking-Detailed guide

 It’s important to plan ahead when hiking. You might want to bring certain items depending on the length of your hike. But no matter what kind of hike you’re doing, you should always pack a good pair of sunglasses for protection against the sun.Finding the best hiking sunglasses for your next hike can be tricky. We’ve reviewed the entire hiker sunglasses section to bring you our top choices for the 5 best pairs of glasses on the planet.

Being prepared means having the right gear for your hike for example a good pair of hiking sandals, it’s the best choice to make in the summertime to keep your feet cool. You should be sure to bring good sunglasses for your hike and also don’t forget to bring your hiking gloves if you are hiking in the winter time to protecte your hands.

Buying Hiking Sunglasses – What is important?


The most important feature for hikers’ glasses is not the lenses, but rather the shape of the glasses and their side pieces. The lenses are obviously also very important, but because sunlight doesn’t just hit you from one angle, it is essential that the glasses protect your eyes from all angles; either the glasses should wrap around to your temple or the side pieces should be wide enough to cover most of the light coming from the sides.


All hiking glasses should protect against 99 percent or 100 percent of all ultraviolet radiation. Note that some manufacturers (especially from Europe) label their glasses with “UV400” or “UV absorption up to 400 nm,” meaning that they block out 100 percent of ultraviolet radiation.

Another important aspect of sunglases is their VLT rating. Sunglasses with a VLT rating of 2 are considered good quality and can be worn for almost any purpose. However, if you’re going to hike in open mountains, then you might want to consider sunglasses with a VLT rating between 3 and 4.

We would recommend using category 3 lenses which filter out 80–90 percent of the visible light. These lenses are suitable for glacier walks or hikes at high altitudes but not safe enough for driving at any times of the daytime.

There are, however, various types of lenses with additional features that might be desirable:

  • Polarized glasses: Polarized glasses are simply coated with a specialized chemical film that reduces reflections from the surface of water or other shiny materials. These filters absorb only one type of polarization, so if your eyes are sensitive to both types of polarization, you may experience discomfort wearing them. Some of the sunglasses in our selection below have polarized lens options.
  • Photochromic lenses: Photochromic lenses, also referred to as transition or light adaptable lenses, darken automatically when exposed to sunlight (UV radiation) due to UV-sensitive molecules such as silver chloride or other silver halides being incorporated in the lenses – which themselves can be made of glass, polycarbonate or plastic.Photochromic lenses take less than a minute to darken and somewhat longer to clear up. The reaction time is usually considered to be the greatest disadvantage of photochromic lenses and can diminish the otherwise pleasant idea to have a pair of sunglasses which adapt to the light conditions. Some of the models below come with photochromic lenses (optionally)

The best hiking sunglasses

Julbo Explorer 2.0

Julbo Explorer 2.0-Best hiking sunglasses
Julbo Explorer 2.0-Best hiking sunglasses

Julbo Explorer 2 is a set of sun glasses designed for extreme environments. It has three different lenses: The AltiArc Mineral glass, which provides excellent optical clarity and protection against scratches and shocks; the Spectron Polycarbonate, which offers high impact resistance and anti-reflective properties; and the Reactive Lenses, which offer both photochromism and polarization.

The latter is ideal for extreme vision situations in the desert, high mountain ranges, and on the ocean while Zebra photochromics lenses are more all-around and are also faster at adapting to changing light levels. Although both the photo chromic lenses can adapt to let more visible light pass through (Zebra 35 percent, Chameleon 20 percent), they shouldn’t be used for driving since all other categories of glasses would provide better visibility.

Buy here the Julbo Explorer 2.0

Oakley Fives Squared

 Oakley Fives Squared-Best hiking sunglasses
Oakley Fives Squared-Best hiking sunglasses

Fives Squared by Oakley is one of their best selling sunglass styles and there is a good reason for that. They offer small lenses that fit comfortably around your face so that your eye protection is always up to par. Their frame options include various neutral colors and polarized lenses too.

With Fives Squared, you can purchase replacement lens for your glasses. There are nine different color options available, including both non-polarizing and polarizing options. All Oakley eyewear meets or exceeds ANSI standards for optical quality and impact resistance.

Buy here the Oakley Fives Squared

Smith Frontman

Smith Frontman-Best hiking suglasses
Smith Frontman-Best hiking suglasses

Smith Optics makes some of the best outdoor eyewear available. The Smith Frontman sunglasses are among their finest offerings. They come in black, brown and grey, and they offer an array of lens choices.

Polarized eyewear includes polarized glasses in gray, brown, and platinum, but also includes polarized eyewear with Smith’s chromaPop™ tech that helps reduce color blindness by reducing color distortion. The Smith Frontman® Sunglass collection is also available in the Elite tactical version with military spec ballistic protection that meet ANSI Z87 standards.

Buy here the Smith Frontman

Serengeti Bormio

Serengeti Bormio-best hiking sunglasses
Serengeti Bormio-best hiking sunglasses

Serengeti eyewear has set itself aside by offering photochromic lenses in all its glasses. The Serengetis Bormio model is one of the company’s Sport division products where functionality and design go together seamlessly. The Bormio frames have relatively thin side pieces but because the frames have an overall base curve of 8, they will wrap around your face perfectly and keep your eyes safe from any direction.

Frames are available in different colors and styles, including black and tortoise. All of them include Serengeti‘s photochromic polar PhD lenses. These lenses closely mimic the optical clarity of glasses.

Buy here the Serengeti Bormio

Maui Jim Spartan Reef

Maui Jim Spartan Reef-Best hiking suglasses
Maui Jim Spartan Reef-Best hiking suglasses

For the uninitiate, Maui Jim may seem more like the brand of sunglasses but the company was actually founded in 1980 to create sun protection for eyes that would be able to match the splendor of the natural beauty of Hawaii rather than impair it.

Because they’re polarized plus 2 lenses, all Maui Jim sunglasses have real polarizing plus 2 lenses, which don’t allow glare to disturb your eyesight and are actually constructed from real glasses (unrivaled optical clarity).

However, it isn’t just any type of Maui Jim sunglasses that they use; it’s SuperThin glasses which are 20 percent lighter and thinner than regular glasses while providing superior scratch and solvent resistance.

We chose the Maui Jim Spartans Reef glasses as our base curve 8 frame because they provide all-around eye protection as well as good fit, comfort, and style. They’re available in five colors—Gloss Black with Grey Lense, Marlin, Red Fish, Matte Tortoise Rubber, and Mahimahi with High Contrast Lense.

These are merely category two sunglasses because they let 25 percent of the visible light through, which may not be suitable for hiking when the sun is shining brightly.

Buy here the Maui Jim Spartan Reef

A few frequently asked questions about sunglasses for hiking

Are polarized sunglasses better for hiking?

When sunlight hits a surface, such as ice or water, the sunlight becomes polarized. Polarized glasses block this reflected sunlight and reduce the intensity of the sun’s rays.

Therefore, polarized sunglasses are an absolute necessity when you’re out on a hike near large lakes or oceans. They protect you from both direct sunlight and glare from water or snow, which could otherwise cause permanent damage to your eyes.

Can I get prescription glasses for hiking?

If you need to wear eyeglasses in your daily life, you can still buy them from specialty stores. Many manufacturers and retailers now offer you the option to give your prescriptions, and they’ll customize a pair for you. For example, Ryders Eyewears, Smith Optics, and Abaco all offer this service.

You could also buy a pair of clip-on sunglasses or a pair of fit-over sunglasses that you wear over your regular prescription eyeglasses while walking.

Why you need the best hiking sunglasses?

We tend to get everything from head to toe so that our heads are safe, we’re well hydrated, covered up, wear hats, use sunscreen, and yet we forget one more important safety precaution – using eyeglasses.

Your eyes are often neglected when you’re outdoors. Even if you wear sunscreen, being outside for long periods of time can cause serious eye issues. Hikers need special glasses to protect their eyes from the elements.

What color polarized lenses are considered the best?

Typically, dark color options like gray, brown, and green are among some of our most popular ones. Darker color options like gray and green will have no distortion while lighter colored polarized lenses will have less than 1% of it.

How to Choose the Perfect Hiking Sunglasses?

 Before we dive into the technical aspects of choosing a set of glasses for your next hike, think about what kind of activity you do most frequently. Are you buying these for day hikes or trail rides? Will they work for snowy conditions, where protection against glare is crucial? Do you value fashion above function?
Now let us discuss how to pick a good pair of sunglasses for your outdoor activities. First off, you should make sure that the lenses of the sunglasses are polarised so that you can see through them during bright sunshine. Next, you should ensure that the frame fits comfortably on your face without being too tight or loose. Lastly, you should choose a frame material that doesn’t scratch easily.

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