My Favorite Running Sunglasses

While we normally associate sunglasses with summer, I wear my sunglasses throughout the year. In fact, glare off the snow can make sunglasses all the more important in winter. I primarily wear sunglasses to avoid crushing sun headaches, while the more health conscious wear their sunnies to protect their eyes from damaging UV light. Below, I share my three favorite running sunglasses – a group that’s not changed in a couple years.

Julbo Race

I picked up my Julbo Race ($150) three years ago as I was preparing for the Marathon des Sables. At the time, I was looking for prescription-compatible photochromic (the lenses shift light-to-dark when exposed to sun) glasses, preferably that wrapped close to the face. Truth be told, I could never get used to the optical clip insert, the RX optics piece that snapped inside the photochromic lenses, nor was a I used to the size of the Race, so I didn’t take them to the desert and they sat in a drawer for a while.

Julbo Race

In June 2010, I had LASIK and started looking for some non-prescription running sunglasses. My search started in one of my drawers and out came the Race. Without the optical clip, I’ve absolutely loved these glasses.

To start, the lenses are killer. Julbo makes great optics, period. The Zebra photochromic lenses transition from a medium-to-dark lenses without my perception. While I lack the vocabulary and technical expertise to describe the general optical quality, they are the best lenses I own. On top of that, I’ve yet to scratch these lenses despite letting them fall to the hard ground many a time and, uh, not always taking the best care of them.

I’ve come love the Race’s fit and feel. They sweep around my head, hugging it but never being too tight. Around the eyes, the frames sit close to the face, which keeps out dust and debris while still venting well.

If I had to get rid of all my other sunglasses today, I’d be heading out for tomorrow’s run wearing my Julbo Race.

Ryders Eyewear Shot

There’s beauty in functional simplicity, and I’ve come to see such beauty in the Ryders Shot. When hitting the trail on a bright, sunny, bluebird Utah day, I’ll often pull out my polarized Shot ($69). That means they come out an awful lot.

Ryders Shot

I’ve got a smaller face when it comes to sunglasses and the Shot wrap my head just right. Once they’re on, I hardly notice them at 22 grams, but am always confident that they’ll stay in place.

The polarized lenses are great, especially when dealing with snow, a wet trail, extremely bright light, or low-angle light.

The only downside to the Shot is that they’re ready for replacement two years into a hard-knock life. Still, as a solid value proposition in the quality sunglasses sphere, I can strongly recommend them.

I do believe I’ve also seen both Karl Meltzer and Geoff Roes wearing the Shot.

Rudy Project Kylix

I wear my Rudy Project Kylix almost exclusively for runs when it’s snowing. Given that I’m in Park City, Utah that can still mean quite a bit of use. Why do I save my Kylix for the snow? Because mine have photochromic lenses that start clear. Having previously spent the better part of a decade running in prescription glasses, I grew used to eye protection in foul weather. Now, in the snowy environs of Park City, I’m keen to throw on some clear lenses when battling the elements. Little more than a week ago, I slipped on my Kylix just before midnight to head out for a run in wind-driven graupel that sandblasted my exposed skin… but I could see just fine.

Rudy Project Kylix

If and when the sun should pop out, the Kylix transition to moderate-darkness lenses. They’re certainly enough to take the edge off even with full sun on snow.

Like the Shot, the Kylix is tailored toward small faces. The nose pieces on the Kylix are independently adjustable, so they not only sit well on your nose, but you can also adjust the distance of the lenses from you face depending on the specifics of your activity.

Call for Comments

  • What are your favorite running sunglasses?
  • Anyone else throw on glasses with clear or other light lenses when it’s precipitating?