Best Running Sunglasses of 2024

Here are the iRunFar editorial team’s picks for the best running sunglasses.

By and on March 28, 2024 | Comments
Best Running Sunglasses - testing Knockaround sunglasses

iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks tests Knockaround sunglasses on an early season run at 13,000 feet. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

This is a guide for finding the best running sunglasses, one awfully polarizing accessory — bad pun alert! — for runners of all kinds. A pair of sunglasses is the ultimate style accessory for some of us, yet it’s a necessary and, in some cases, an expensive evil for others.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum — oof, another one! — the variety and depth of sunglasses options available are staggering. You no longer have to sacrifice style and flair if you prefer low-cost, gas station-style sunnies. Brands like Goodr and Knockaround have done for sunglasses what Warby Parker did for eyeglasses. And if your eyes require significant technology, several companies such as Julbo, Rudy Project, and Smith are making high-tech sunnies to suit you. On the higher end of the spectrum, we loved the Smith Reverb and the Smith Pinpoint With ChromaPop Polarized Lens, while our budget-friendly choice for the best running sunglasses was the Knockaround Fast Lanes.

The iRunFar editorial team tested a wide variety of sunglasses, with the primary criteria being lens type, cost, and style for different sizes of faces and men and women, so that we could find the best sunglasses for running. For more background information, see our running sunglasses glossary, buying advice, testing methodology, and frequently asked questions below the picks.

Best Running Sunglasses

Best Running Sunglasses - running in desert with sunglasses

iRunFar Editor-in-Chief Meghan Hicks testing sunglasses outside of Moab, Utah. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Standard Lens Running Sunglasses: Smith Reverb ($220)

Best Running Sunglasses - Smith Reverb - product photo


  • Many frame and lens colors to choose from
  • Panoramic, shield-style lens offers a lot of protection


  • The style will work well for many sports but not for daily life
  • High-end price for a non-photochromic lens

The Smith Reverb sunglasses have some standout features, but the interchangeable, standard ChromaPop lens is the most notable. ChromaPop is Smith’s in-house lens technology. It’s not polarized or photochromic, but it specializes in bringing out the full-color reds, blues, and greens, which tend to blend to the naked eye. If you’re running in low light and still need eye protection, swapping out these lenses to clear ones using Smith’s PivLock system is easy. Sweating on this featherweight frame does little to move them around your face, and sweat does not build up on the lens. With almost a hydrophobic effect, sweat tends to roll right off.

The Reverb sunglasses are incredibly light, and because of the high-quality materials, many of us had no trouble with friction, especially during ultramarathon-length runs of 10 hours or more. The style of these frames is definitely on the athletic side, and they may not fit well in situations that aren’t out on the trail.

Shop the Smith Reverb Sunglasses

Best Standard Lens Running Sunglasses — Runner-Up: Method Seven Silverton 26Trail ($175)

Best Running Sunglasses - Method Seven Silverton 26Trail -product photoPros:

  • Exceptional optics
  • Good coverage


  • Frames are too big for small faces

When it comes to outstanding optics, the Method Seven Silverton sunglasses nailed it in terms of tint and clarity. While our testers found that they aren’t quite dark enough for those full-sun alpine days if they weren’t wearing a hat, they excelled in lower-light conditions and in the shade of a hat brim. Fairly new to the trail running market, the brand is better known for creating glasses to protect the eyes of those working in indoor growing facilities. They’ve created crystal clear optics with these sunglasses that have a 26% visible light transmission rating. The lenses are also partially polarized for increased contrast. You don’t get the full polarization effect, which can be extreme in some sunglasses,  but just enough to help bring out shadows in the trail, making it easier to negotiate roots and rocks. This level of darkness of the lens lends itself to running in the woods or cloudy days in the alpine. They also excel under the protection of a hat, and iRunFar gear editor Eszter Horanyi chose to wear them while setting an unsupported FKT on the Nolan’s 14 line in Colorado, a route that spends most of its time above treeline. One of the most appealing features of these glasses is that they’re incredibly light at only 23 grams, and they sit happily on a hat without slipping around.

Our only gripe with these glasses is that they are a little big for smaller faces and can bounce around for some people. But if you’re looking for some of the best optics on the market, it’s hard to go wrong with these.

Shop the Method Seven Silverton 26Trail sunglasses

Best Polarized Lens Running Sunglasses: Smith Pinpoint With ChromaPop Polarized Lens ($200)

Best Running Sunglasses - Smith Pinpoint With ChromaPop Polarized Lens - Product Photo


  • True all-around sport and lifestyle sunglasses that work as well for running as they do for such activities as skiing, fishing, traveling, and wearing around town


  • The frame may be a little big for women or runners with smaller faces

Two of our testers have been wearing the Smith Pinpoint With ChromaPop Polarized Lens sunglasses for over two years, calling these their one-and-done sunglasses for running and the rest of life. The styling is low profile enough for casual use, and the polarized ChromaPop lens adds clarity and enhances colors on the trail. These sunglasses are light, and the nonslip nose pads work even if you’re sweating heavily. In addition to their versatility and utilitarian styling, their ChromaPop polarized lens is among the best in business right now for visual clarity and definition. These sunglasses are available with both polarized and non-polarized lenses.

Smith also offers a full lifetime guarantee on their sunglasses, so while these may be more expensive than other options, they should last you forever, and you can replace them for free if they don’t.

Unlike many sunglasses, these work well for many different face sizes, and even our testers with narrower faces like them.

You can read our full Smith Pinpoint Review to learn more.

Shop the Smith Pinpoint With ChromaPop Polarized Lens Sunglasses

Best Polarized Lens Running Sunglasses Runner-Up: Zeal Boone ($160)

Best Running Sunglasses - Zeal Boone - product photo


  • The frame feels solid and high quality
  • Slipping during sweaty runs is minimal


  • The bigger frame is probably best suited to men or runners with bigger faces

The Zeal Boone sunglasses are not only one of our testing panel’s favorite running sunglasses overall but also the only ones in this guide with a clear environmental proclivity. The frame is made with Zeal’s Z-Resin, a material derived from castor plants, and the lens is made from plant-based Ellume. What’s more, Zeal is a partner with the National Forest Foundation and 1% for the Planet, where proceeds benefit environmental projects.

But Zeal’s anti-plastic stance doesn’t compromise technical performance. The polarized lenses do an outstanding job helping them to see obstacles on the trail by increasing color variability. Many of Zeal’s sunglasses carry a lifestyle aesthetic, but perhaps none better weave the technical performance needed for running and sport with as much off-trail style for post-run socializing or backyard partying as these. These really are a single pair of sunglasses that you can take anywhere.

Some of our testers with smaller faces did find these frames and lenses pretty large and overbearing, so they’re probably better suited for people with wider faces.

Shop the Zeal Boone Sunglasses

Best Photochromic Lens Running Sunglasses: Julbo Aero With Reactiv 0-3 Lens ($230)

Best Running Sunglasses - Julbo Aero With Reactiv 0-3 Lens - product photo


  • The lens works exceptionally in all conditions, in any season


  • The frame doesn’t stay put very well on your head or the brim of your running hat when you need to take them off

If your run takes you through variable lighting conditions, be it open fields before entering deep, dark woods or daytime into dusk and night, the Julbo Aero with Reactiv 0-3 Lens is a great option. The photochromatic lens gets darker or lighter to match the ambient light in order to optimize your ability to see the trail. At its darkest, the lens is dark enough for bright days in the sun and even with sun glare from snow, while it’s absolutely clear during the dark of night — which we tested during many early starts over the past year.

The super lightweight Aero really sticks to your face, and the breathability of the Aero frame shines during long and slow uphill slogs. Our testers didn’t have any issues with the lenses fogging up in hot, humid, and sweaty conditions. While these look slightly more technical than other running-oriented glasses, we’ve found their sturdiness, durability, and eye protection to outweigh any limiting style factors. These glasses are also available with non-photochromatic lenses.

Shop the Julbo Aero with Reactiv 0-3 Lens Sunglasses

Best Photochromatic Lens Sunglasses Runner-Up: Julbo Spark With Reactiv 2-3 Glare Control Lens ($230)

Best Running Sunglasses - Julbo Spark with Reactiv 2-3 Glare Control Lens - product photo


  • Exceptional grip on sweaty or oily skin
  • Performs and looks great on- and off-trail
  • Lightweight


  • No hard case included to prevent damage during storage

As a reprieve from hardcore sport styling, but with every bit of excellent performance for running and other endurance sports, the women’s-oriented Julbo Spark with Reactiv 2-3 Glare Control Lens helps folks satisfy both purposes very well. The photochromic performance of the Reactiv 2-3 Glare Control Lens isn’t as impressive as the Julbo’s Reactiv 0-3 Lens, but they’re still an excellent option for running in variable light conditions.

The fit was better than the Julbo Aero for some of our testers, being a little tighter and staying put better on their head or hat when not in use. The Spark has curved temples, and Julbo’s Grip Tech is a soft and comfortable rubber placed strategically on the nose bridge and temple arms to keep the glasses from slipping. Besides being comfortable, the rubber also won’t stick to your hair, which can be an unpleasant distraction during any activity. You can get these glasses without photochromatic lenses as well.

Shop the Julbo Spark with Reactiv 2-3 Glare Control Lens Sunglasses

Best Photochromatic Lens Sunglasses Runner-Up: Rudy Project Propulse ($190)

Best Running Sunglasses - Rudy Project Propulse - product photo


  • Exceptional photochromic transition speed in changing light conditions
  • Frame airflow channels move air around, preventing fog or moisture buildup


  • Styling is very sporty, and they are unlikely to be used as casual sunglasses

After over seven years of testing photochromic lenses for running, one of our testers calls the Rudy Project Propulse, with its ImpactX 2 photochromic lens, the best he’s ever used. If you’re looking for pure performance, we can say only good things about these glasses. The style, on the other hand, may not be for everyone.

In the performance department, the Propulse lens transitions from completely clear to a protective amber hue quickly. The experience of the lens darkening is undetectable, and at its darkest, the ImpactX 2 lens provides a soft brown hue, which is excellent for picking out details on the trail.

The quality doesn’t end with the lens. These sunglasses fit securely, and their flexibility can accommodate winter hats and different face sizes. There are very effective frame cutouts to reduce weight, and both the frame and lens have a system of vents that reduces fogging and increases airflow around the eyes. The venting is particularly effective in preventing fogging on long climbs. While the high price might deter some from investing in the Propulse, Rudy Project includes a warranty for up to three years, which might make it easier to justify the spend.

Full Rudy Project Propulse Review.

Shop the Rudy Project Propulse Sunglasses

Best Budget Running Sunglasses: Knockaround Fast Lanes ($35)

Best Running Sunglasses - Knockaround Fast Lanes - product photo


  • Better than expected lens performance
  • More durable than similarly priced sunglasses


  • Doesn’t include a hard case for storage
  • The frame may pinch the head and ears after many hours of use

Knockaround is a brand with less runner awareness than Goodr but is building momentum with its Goodr-like-priced sport sunglasses, Knockaround Fast Lanes. Several of our testers were impressed with the performance of these sunglasses, especially given the price point. Like other sunglasses at this price, the Fast Lanes frame doesn’t feel as pliable or durable as higher-priced, dedicated sports glasses, but the lens quality is much better than expected.

The rubber grips on the nose bridge held in place during vigorous runs like speed workouts and bombing downhill. Shorter rather than longer runs might be a critical distinction because, on runs over four hours, those with larger heads felt the arms squeeze uncomfortably behind the ears. Perhaps more pliable rubber over the polycarbonate would relieve this pinching sensation.

The styling is slightly more sophisticated than the popular Goodr OGs, and the colors are more understated, making it a more viable option for daily use, not just as your dedicated running sunglasses.

Shop the Knockaround Fast Lanes Sunglasses

Best Budget Running Sunglasses Runner-Up: Tifosi Sanctum ($35)

Best Running Sunglasses - Tifosi Sanctum - product photoPros:

  • Affordable
  • Large coverage area


  • Not the best optics
  • Style may not suit everyone

Big and loud frames are back in style, and the Tifosi Sanctum offers full-coverage protection and reasonable optics in an affordable package. There are many of us who destroy sunglasses on a regular basis by dropping them, having them fall off our heads when we lean over, or because we’re maybe not the best at carrying a case for them when we’re out and about. If you’re someone who wants to not feel bad about treating sunglasses badly, getting a pair that’s under $50 can make the sting of scratched lenses or broken frames sting a little bit less. These sunglasses are fairly wide, so those with a narrower face may find them overbearing. The large lenses accentuate the size of the frames. And while some may not be pleased with the re-emergence of this style of sunglasses, there’s no denying that they do an exceptional job protecting eyes from wind, moisture, and dust. It’s this feature, combined with the price tag, that made these sunglasses stand out for our testers. We also like the wide array of color and lens options, so there’s something for everyone.

The polycarbonate lens is quite good for the cost. No one is going to argue that it matches the performance of higher-end sunglasses, but it will protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. The different lens color options allow you to choose one that suits the type of light that you run in most frequently.

Shop the Tifosi Sanctum Sunglasses

Best Budget Running Sunglasses Runner-Up: Goodr OGs ($25)

Best Running Sunglasses - Goodr OGs - product photo


  • Low-cost investment and a capable frame with an adequate polarized lens will suffice for many


  • Polarized coating can wear quickly
  • The field of view is limited
  • The frame is bigger than average and might be too large for small faces


Goodr OGs sunglasses are perhaps the most ubiquitous frame in all of trail running right now and are popular all over the world, with people using them in many different climates. The very affordable OGs come with glare-busting polarized lenses, and the brightly colored frame choices on offer are just plain fun, and many will find this wayfarer style appropriate for daily life as well.

One component that has made the OGs extremely popular is the silicone inserts on the nose bridge, which effectively prevent the glasses from slipping in very sweaty or rainy runs. The frame is snug and lightweight, but the field of view is square like other value-priced sunglasses. Looking straight ahead is fine, but the lack of curvature of the lens makes peripheral viewing awkward.

For the lack of bounce while running, our team rates the OGs as one of the best in this entire guide, budget-priced or not.

Shop the Goodr OG Sunglasses

Comparing the Best Running Sunglasses

Smith Reverb $220 ChromaPop Medium
Method Seven Silverton Trail26 $175 Partially polarized Medium
Smith Pinpoint With ChromaPop Polarized Lens $200 ChromaPop Medium
Zeal Boone $160 Ellume polarized Medium
Julbo Aero with Reactiv 0-3 Lens $230 Photochromic Medium
Julbo Spark with Reactiv 2-3 Glare Control Lens $230 Photochromic Medium
Rudy Project Propulse $190 Photochromic Medium
Knockaround Fast Lanes $32 Polarized Medium
Tifosi Sanctum $35 Polycarbonate Medium
Goodr OGs $25 TAC Medium

Sunglasses Glossary

Photochromic Lens: This type of lens appears clear indoors or in the dark but fully changes to dark brown or black in direct sunlight.

Polarized Lens: A polarized lens reduces the sun’s glare. They don’t transition back and forth in light conditions but help minimize reflections from the surface of water and snow. Sunglasses across the spectrum (expensive and cheap) may come with polarized lenses, but lower-end options are significantly less durable. Reputable polarized sport sunglasses should also offer ultraviolet protection.

Standard Lens: These are non-photochromic and non-polarized. Running sunglasses with a standard lens often includes multiple lens options that can be swapped out based on conditions.

Ultraviolet (UV) Protection: Some lenses will include a UV protective coating or are made with a UV protective compound to provide additional protection from solar radiation.

Hydrophobic Lenses: These lenses have a coating that prevents your sunglasses from fogging up in the cold or from condensation buildup when you sweat.

Anti-Scratch Lens: While no lenses are completely scratch-proof, look for sunglasses with a polycarbonate lens. They are more durable and wear-resistant than plastic.

Interchangeable Lenses: These are commonly included with sunglasses that don’t have a photochromic lens and allow you to easily swap in a different lens based on light or weather conditions.

Best Running Sunglasses - Beth Pascall 2021 Western States 100 wearing sunglasses

Beth Pascall at the 2021 Western States 100 wearing bright-colored sunglasses. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

How to Choose: A Buyer’s Guide for Running Sunglasses

We acknowledge that sunglasses are a very subjective and personal purchase, and choosing the best running sunglasses isn’t necessarily straightforward. Size, shape, and style preferences differ from person to person. Some people like big and loud lenses, while others prefer something that can be worn socially after a run, like the Zeal Boone. But aside from appearance, there are a few objective features in sunglasses that you can look at to help you make your purchase. So, which sunglasses are best for you? To find out, you should consider a few of these factors.


Ideally, we would have one pair of sunglasses for running and daily life. Unfortunately, the characteristics of the best running sunglasses don’t always align with those needed for driving, socializing at the park, or going on a business trip. Fortunately, some options offer a running-ready lens with more casual styling, like the Knockaround Fast Lanes and the Zeal Boone. That being said, some people don’t mind going to a coffee shop after a run in some of the louder sunglasses we’ve included in this guide.

Shape and Style

Trends in running sunglasses have lately returned to the 1980s and 1990s with loud, windscreen-like shapes that dwarf even those of us with bigger faces. Luckily for those who prefer something more standard, there are still many options with a more subdued shape and profile. Some sunglasses in this guide are significantly smaller than others and tend to fit women’s faces better, and some have a more general appeal, with colors and shapes to suit all runners.

The shape of sunglasses also affects their performance. More technical sunglasses are designed with a focus on performance. The shape of the lenses and frames allows them to move air through and keep from fogging. Other sunglasses with a more traditional lens and frame shape might not perform quite as well when you’re running in sweaty conditions, but they can be more comfortable to wear in social situations before or after a run.

Best Running Sunglasses - Anthony Fagundes 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k wearing sunglasses

Anthony Fagundes at the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k wearing sunglasses. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Lens Type and Features

There are three main types of lenses found in running sunglasses: standard, photochromic, and polarized. In sunglasses with interchangeable lenses, a standard lens will generally be darker and provide 99% ultraviolet light protection. The sunglasses might also have a second or even a third pair of interchangeable lenses in clear and another color. Many sunglasses come with an array of lens options, so it’s important to make sure that you’re choosing the lens you want when making the purchase.

A photochromic lens, like the one on the Julbo Aero with Reactiv 0-3 Lens, is really the gold standard when it comes to running in changing light conditions because of its ability to adapt. While they’re great for those who run from daylight into darkness or from alpine environments into the woods all in one run, they are expensive.

A polarized lens, like that found on the Smith Pinpoint With ChromaPop Polarized Lens, reduces glare and can bring out the contrast on obstacles in the trail. This can help you see roots, rocks, and variations in the trail more easily. Polarized lenses appear at both the bottom and top of the price spectrum for sunglasses, but lower-quality polarized lenses are easily damaged and scuffed.

Fit, Adjustability, and Comfort

As with all running gear, comfort is a top priority when choosing sunglasses. Pressure around the head, especially at the ears, is a common complaint when wearing sunglasses for more than four hours. This can be made worse if a runner is wearing a hat or headphones that wrap around the back of their ears. You’ll want sunglasses with frames that fit your head well, which isn’t necessarily correlated with the frame material or cost. Sunglasses that are too tight on your head will eventually cause pain, while frames that are too big can flop around on your face when you’re running.

If you want a single pair of sunglasses for all your running needs, you might want to get a pair with interchangeable lenses. You can swap out the lenses of these frames based on the light conditions. A photochromic lens, like the one on the Julbo Spark with Reactiv 2-3 Glare Control Lens, will be your best bet for runs starting or finishing in the dark but also involve daylight because the coverage they provide will vary depending on light conditions.

It’s also important to consider how well the sunglasses will stow when not in use. Do they stash easily in your running vest? Will they stay in place when you store them on your head? How do the arms fit with a hat? Our testers found that the flexibility of the Rudy Project Propulse helped them stay in place, whether they were wearing them during a hot summer run or had them on over a thick hat.


Best Running Sunglasses - Hillary Allen 2021 UTMB wearing sunglasses

Hillary Allen racing with sunglasses atop her head at the 2021 UTMB. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks


You won’t find any infomercial-type sunglasses in this guide you can’t run over these sunglasses with a car or throw them off a cliff and expect them to survive. But all the sunglasses in this guide are reliably durable — they don’t scratch easily or break under normal wear and tear. Even the budget Goodr OGs and the Tifosi Sanctum performed well in the durability department. If you’re someone who frequently drops their sunglasses or has a habit of stashing them in a pack without putting them in a protective case, you might want to err on the side of buying less expensive glasses and replacing them as they get damaged.

The most significant difference in durability is polarized lenses. Less expensive polarized lenses can be damaged easily and become distorted over time. More expensive polarized lenses still need to be protected from abrasion, but they should last for a long time with proper care.


Although the best sunglasses for running are now more durable and functional than ever, the adage “you get what you pay for” is still relevant. All sunglasses are somewhat fragile, but better lens quality and durability are what you really get for a higher price. Goodr is a very popular sunglasses brand, but its polarized lenses don’t stand up over time the same way more expensive brands like Zeal and Smith do. If you want the best running sunglasses with polarized lenses that you can count on to perform for a long time, it could be worth shelling out for Rudy Project Propulse or the Smith Pinpoint With ChromaPop Polarized Lens. But some runners accept that they often handle their sunglasses roughly and drop them frequently, and for these people, a less expensive pair of sunglasses could be the way to go, even if they have to be replaced occasionally.

Best Running Sunglasses - Wearing the Method Seven Silverton Trail 26

The Method Seven Silverton Trail26 sunglasses perform best in lower-light conditions but are dark enough for full sun when used with a hat. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Running in Unpredictable Light Conditions

For many people, runs occur during the day with relatively stable light conditions. For these situations, having one lens option is plenty. Even if it starts to get dark on you on the occasional run, you can put your sunglasses on your head or in a pack while you get home. If you’re running a lot early and late in the day and go from darkness to daylight or daylight to night, it could be worth investing in a pair of sunglasses like the Julbo Aero with Reactiv 0-3 Lens with a photochromic lens so that you can keep your eyes protected regardless of the light conditions.

Interchangeable Lenses

Several of the sunglasses in this guide come with interchangeable lenses, some polarized. These are not as convenient to swap out as having photochromatic lenses that automatically change the amount of light they let through, but they can allow one set of sunglass frames to work under various light conditions. The idea is to choose from your multiple lenses to match the specific condition. Some pairs of sunglasses come with two different lenses, a dark one and a clear one, and they are easy to switch out. Switching lenses may be more of a hassle than having photochromatic lenses, but the price difference between standard swappable lenses and some of our photochromatic options is significant.

Anti-Fogging Features

To keep lenses from fogging, they need to keep moisture from building up on them. Many lenses have a hydrophobic coating on them to help with fogging. This coating helps move moisture from the lens by not allowing the moisture to stick to the surface. Other anti-fogging features on sunglasses include air vents in the frame or lens and specific lens shapes that improve airflow.

Best Running Sunglasses - filtering water while wearing sunglasses

Sunglasses are even more important when running at high altitudes. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Why You Should Trust Us

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the best sunglasses out of the seemingly endless options on the market. iRunFar’s gear testing team is based all over the U.S. Intermountain West and West Coast, areas that over-index on sunny and gloomy days, respectively. Our team’s sunglasses preferences range from high-performing photochromic lenses to varying frame sizes and shapes for differently sized faces. We chose some sunglasses designed for performance and others that performed well, but we deemed stylistically acceptable to wear to the coffee shop after a run. Our team also tested a variety of glasses with photochromic lenses for changing light conditions.

We started the initial version of this guide by polling the many members of the iRunFar team about their favorite sunglasses for different conditions. We also researched the market for options from both popular running brands and other lesser-known companies. We tested many of the best running sunglasses in this guide for more than a year and, in some cases, two years consistently. Others are fairly new to the market but impressed us immediately and quickly became the sunglasses we reached for when heading out.

Our team tested sunglasses in various conditions, from short overcast runs to long days in the alpine. Our testers frequently go on extended above-treeline romps through the Colorado mountains, where UV protection for the eyes is paramount and tested sunglasses on long efforts, including an unsupported Nolan’s 14 FKT. We wore the sunglasses included in this guide for hundreds of hours to get a good feel for their performance and durability.

We evaluate sunglasses based on a variety of factors ranging from lens performance to frame style. Some of our testers are admittedly hard on their sunglasses and put them through proper durability training to see how easily the lenses scratch or frame break. Weight, fit, and the ability to stay perched on a hat or head when not used are also considered in evaluating sunglasses for this guide.

Best Running Sunglasses - Bryon Powell testing Smith sunglasses

iRunFar’s Bryon Powell testing sunglasses in the desert. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

We tested these glasses across multiple sports — not just running — to find out how the fit and sport-specific lenses performed in cold, wind, sweat, low light, and bright light in sports like road running, skiing, cycling, and fishing. We also attempted fastest known times in these glasses, starting in the dark and finishing under the stars. This helped us figure out how well these sunglasses accessorize.

As ultrarunners, we often run in the dark … so how well do your sunglasses store on top of your head, hat, or vest when you’re not wearing them? We considered these factors as part of sunglasses’ overall performance, not simply their ability to block or enhance light conditions.

Sunglasses used to come in just two varieties: cheap — often called gas-station glasses — and expensive — giving many of us pause at their high cost. But with the much-disrupted optics industry starting with direct-to-consumer eyeglasses companies like Warby Parker, we now have greater choice in high-performing yet more affordable sunglasses.

Some very expensive sunglasses are included here because they may offer more durability, higher performance, and better warranty coverage. We gave as much priority to budget options, which we defined as $35 or less as we did to expensive options, defined as $150 and above in this guide. We found high performers are across both ends of the spectrum, so it’s a great time to be a sunglasses consumer.

At iRunFar, we’re continually testing new sunglasses to update this guide as new options become available.

Frequently Asked Questions About Running Sunglasses

Why is it important to wear sunglasses?

Sunglasses protect your eyes from ultraviolet A  and B (UVA and UVB) rays, help reduce eye fatigue, and improve clarity when running across terrain with different surfaces and flat light, scenarios that we find in the mountains, forests, and on the coast. Even budget sunglasses like the Tifosi Sanctum can provide nearly 100% protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses also physically protect eyes from tree branches and more. An errant branch to the eye can end a run prematurely and, in some cases, permanently damage eyesight. Wearing clear lenses at night may seem overkill, but they can save you from injury.

Best Running Sunglasses - Meghan Hicks testing Knockaround sunglasses

iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks testing Knockaround sunglasses. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

How do sunglasses protect my eyes?

Sunglasses keep ultraviolet rays from penetrating your eyes and are the equivalent of sunscreen. As a literal barrier, sunglasses protect your eyes from wind, dust, sand, branches, and other debris that could scratch your corneas, causing serious damage. Sunglasses with a large lens can provide a high level of protection from errant branches and debris flying through the air. Wearing clear lenses at night can also provide a barrier against unseen branches, bugs, and more.

What is a polarized lens, and is it better for running?

A polarized lens is excellent for any sport requiring terrain distinctions because it increases contrast and can help you pick out differences in trail surfaces. When your running sunglasses also act as your sunglasses for other sports, a polarized lens will be handy for water-based activities like fishing, boating, or snow sports. Polarized lenses make it easier to see into bodies of water and many people like how the world looks through them. Our testers loved the performance of the Smith Pinpoint with ChromaPop Polarized Lens sunglasses and found that the increased contrast they provided allowed them to pick out features on the trail more easily.

What is a photochromatic lens, and why are they suitable for running?

Photochromic sunglasses are particularly good for trail running and all-day-and-night outings because of their ability to alter their darkness based on ambient light. When you’re out in the sun, and the lens is in contact with UVA and UVB rays, a chemical reaction darkens the surface of the lens. When the light is reduced, the coloring fades to clear, making it easier to see in darker conditions. Sunglasses with a photochromatic lens, like the Julbo Aero with Reactiv 0-3 Lens, allow you to use one lens no matter what time of day or night you’re running. They take the hassle out of swapping between dark and clear lenses and will allow you to keep your eyes protected if your run has gone longer than normal and you find yourself out in the dark.

Best Running Sunglasses - running on slickrock in sunglasses

Sunglasses are important for protecting eyes from damaging sun rays. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

How long will my running sunglasses last?

In many ways, you get what you pay for when it comes to running sunglasses.

While less expensive glasses will perform well and look good, the implicit agreement is that they won’t endure much abuse, and the lens quality may deteriorate quickly. Many of us will be okay with spending $25 on sunglasses like the Goodr OGs, knowing it’s not a big deal if we damage or lose them.

If you’re looking for the best running sunglasses, though, you’ll have to be prepared to pay more. A more expensive pair of sunglasses will be much more comfortable, and the lens will let you see more details. Perhaps you’ll even be more inclined to care for your sunglasses better when you know how much money you’ve invested in them.

How do I prevent scratches on my sunglasses?

Dropping your sunglasses in dirt, mud, or on rocks, especially sandstone, can definitely damage the lens, and these impacts are just part of trail running for many people. But there are steps that you can take to protect your sunglasses otherwise. One way to keep your sunglasses scratch-free is to use a lens-specific cleaning cloth. There’s a good chance one comes with whatever sunglasses you purchase. When covered with dirt, mud, or sweat, washing your frame and lens with mild soap and water is okay, and you can dry them with a sunglass- or eyeglass-specific lens cloth. A higher-quality lens on a more expensive pair of sunglasses, like the Smith Pinpoint With ChromaPop Polarized Lens, will be more resistant to scratches than a lower-quality one. Inexpensive polarized lenses are particularly prone to damage from abrasion.

Best Running Sunglasses - running in mountains with sunglasses

Ben Kilbourne tests sunglasses outside of Silverton, Colorado. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

How do I stop my sunglasses from fogging up when I run?

When choosing your sunglasses, look for two features: a hydrophobic lens coating and a frame with cutouts to let the air flow between your face and the glasses. Most high-end sunglasses have an excellent hydrophobic coating that can keep them from fogging. This is especially important for people who sweat a lot. Our testers loved the breathability of the Julbo Aero with Reactiv 0-3 Lens and found that they didn’t have any issues with fogging.

I always lose, drop, or damage my sunglasses — help! How do I store my sunglasses when I’m not wearing them to prevent their loss and damage?

It’s best to treat your sunglasses like you would your puppy: don’t leave them in the car on a hot sunny day; clean them gently with mild soap and water; and give them protection from the elements. Most sunglasses come with at least a soft pouch and, at best, a hard case. Use them! It’s an excellent policy to always travel with the hard case and keep it in your car so that you can stash your glasses safely pre- and post-run.

Only clean your glasses with the soft case or, when really dirty, with some water and soap. Avoid cleaning your sunglasses with your shirt when you’re out on a run.

If you frequently drop sunglasses or can’t be bothered to put them in a case when not in use, buying budget sunglasses like the Knockaround Fast Lanes or the Goodr OGs could be a good idea. That way, when your sunglasses get damaged, replacing them doesn’t cost much. For some of us, the best running sunglasses are those we don’t care about.

Why are running sunglasses so expensive?

As with all technical running gear, the research into making a high-quality pair of technical glasses leads to a high price point. Fortunately, several brands have emerged recently offering low-price sunglasses specifically for runners. You might sacrifice some of the durability and high performance of more expensive sunglasses like the Smith Pinpoint With ChromaPop Polarized Lens, but lower-cost sunglasses will undoubtedly meet most runners’ needs. When it comes to versatile sunglasses, where you can use the same sunglasses for running as you might skiing, cycling, or traveling, sometimes paying more is really worth it.

Can I use the same sunglasses for different sports?

Most sunglasses on our list will perform well for many types of athletic endeavors. The key to multiuse sunglasses is to find a pair that is breathable and hydrophobic so that they don’t fog on your face. Different sports may need different levels of coverage.

Call for Comments

It’s time for you to weigh in on your favorite running sunglasses! Leave a comment to share what sunglasses you love to run in, and tell us in what conditions they perform best for you. We’ll continue to update this guide as this gear category evolves and we test more running sunglasses.

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Best Running Sunglasses - Bryon Powell testing Knockaround sunglasses

iRunFar’s Bryon Powell testing Knockaround sunglasses. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Craig Randall

Craig Randall is a Gear Editor and Buyer’s Guide Writer at iRunFar. Craig has been writing about trail running apparel and shoes, the sport of trail running, and fastest known times for four years. Aside from iRunFar, Craig Randall founded Outdoor Inventory, an e-commerce platform and environmentally-driven second-hand apparel business. Based in Boulder, Colorado, Craig Randall is a trail runner who has competed in races, personal projects, and FKTs.

Craig Randall

Eszter Horanyi identifies as a Runner Under Duress, in that she’ll run if it gets her deep into the mountains or canyons faster than walking would, but she’ll most likely complain about it. A retired long-distance bike racer, she gave ultra foot racing a go and finished the Ouray 100 in 2017, but ultimately decided that she prefers a slower pace of life of taking photos during long days in the mountains and smelling the flowers while being outside for as many hours of the day as possible. Eszter will take any opportunity to go adventuring in the mountains or desert by foot, bike, or boat, and has lived the digital nomad lifestyle throughout the west for the past seven years.