Rudy Project Propulse Sunglasses Review

Rudy Project Propulse sunglasses ($145 to $195) with the ImpactX-2 photochromatic lenses are the perfect trail running and ultramarathon sunnies. They offer wraparound eye protection from dust, wind, and various face-slapping flora; are lightweight and exceedingly comfortable; and have photochromatic lens options which work through all of the light and dark conditions we trail runners and ultrarunners experience. Their price is very high, but in this case you gain an incredible running sunglasses experience.

Rudy Project Propulse catalog photo

Rudy Project Propulse sunglasses. Photo: Rudy Project

Rudy Project Propulse Sunglasses Frame and Fit

The Rudy Project Propulse sunglasses are marketed as state-of-the-art sunglasses for running developed after rigorous testing by professional runners. I opted to test the photochromatic version with the ImpactX-2 lenses. Over the past year, these running sunglasses have seen a great deal of use and abuse. The Propulse has a very secure fit and lots of pliability to accommodate winter hats and different face sizes. The frame features cutouts to reduce weight, and the frame and lenses have a system of vents which reduces fogging and increases airflow around the eyes. I’ve run in a lot of sunglasses with vents, some of which created an odd air flow and sensation around my eyes. The Propulse simply keeps my eyes feeling less irritated and with less sweat dripping around the frames. I found the Propulse to be a great pair of shades on the occasional mountain-bike ride as well where the venting prevented fogging on long uphill slogs.

Rudy Project Propulse sunglasses side view

Rudy Project Propulse sunglasses. All photos iRunFar unless otherwise noted.

Rudy Project Propulse Sunglasses Lenses

The photochromatic quality of the ImpactX-2 lenses is very impressive, and the Rudy Project Propulse sunglasses transition from completely clear to a protective amber hue in seconds. The experience of the lens darkening is undetectable, and at their darkest the ImpactX 2 lenses provide a soft, brown lens experience which is great for picking out details on the trail.

Technically speaking, photochromatic lenses have always made sense for trail runners who often start runs in the dark and run into and out of shady, low light environments. Over the years I’ve watched this technology advance with lenses being able to transition more rapidly and more extremely to accommodate running in the dark as well as full sunlight. To be honest, I’ve tried a lot of photochromatic lenses. The typical problems that I have with them are that the clear lenses don’t darken enough, or the dark-enough lenses don’t clear up enough for night running. After about seven years of trying different photochromatic models, I think I have found a winner for this category in the Rudy Project Propulse sunglasses with the ImpactX-2 photochromatic lens option.

Rudy Project Propulse Sunglasses Overall Impressions

I’m a bit picky when it comes to shades. Top-of-the-ear soreness, distorted lenses, cheap polarization, and sunglasses that don’t stay put won’t remain in my rotation. The Rudy Project Propulse sunglasses are an incredible, albeit expensive, solution for a lot of trail runners and ultrarunners looking for something they can wear on the trails, day and night, without worrying about them. The coverage is wide-angle, the venting works, and the lenses subtly changing all mean that you can put these on in the morning and forget about them for rest of the day—and night. While the sticker shock of these Italian sunglasses may be overwhelming, Rudy Project has a three-year warranty program and they will replace scratched lenses for a nominal fee after the warranty expires.

Call for Comments

Are you running in the Ruby Project Propulse sunglasses? Leave a comment to share your thoughts on their frame, lenses, and fit.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

Front view of the Rudy Project Propulse sunglasses

Rudy Project Propulse sunglasses.

Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.