Running Sunglasses Overview

running sunglassesAfter all the great contributions to trail shoe and sock discussion posts, iRunFar is calling for your suggestions and reviews of running sunglasses. Since y’all were so good at articulating the often minor differences between socks, you should have an easy time describing a product group in which differences are more easily seen. Read on for more information on running sunglasses.

This topic is near and dear to iRunFar’s blogger-in-chief as he faces the following challenges, which many of you may also encounter:

  • He requires prescription eyewear, but will not wear contacts;
  • Loves to run outside, but gets terrible sun headaches;
  • Often begins or ends long runs in low light conditions; and
  • Is SOL when his glasses fog up.

Luckily, these problems are often solved by the many technologies now incorporated into athletic eyewear. The bigger difficulty lies in choosing between the many available options. Making things more difficult is the fact that the various brands of performance eyewear aren’t often found together and the prescription versions can’t truly be tested without throwing down a couple hundred dollars at a time.

In choosing sunglasses, one first needs to figure out what options are most important. Which of the following are most important or vital to you?

  • Looks
  • Fit
  • A prescription version
  • Polarized
  • Photochromic (color density changes with brightness)
  • Types of UV protection
  • Anti-fog characteristics
  • Interchangeable lenses

While the runner-in-chief loves his pair of polarized prescription Oakleys, he’s willing to take a look at any of the brands out there. Some of the brands we most commonly see or hear being worn by trail runners include: Julbo, Oakley, Rudy Project, Ryder, Smith Optics.

It may be worth noting that even if a manufacturer does not offer prescription lenses, an outside company often provides prescription services. For instance, Opticus makes prescription lenses for Julbo and Adidas sunglasses while Sports Vision Bend does the same for Smith Optics.

Here’s what a contact at Smith Optics had to say about photochromic lenses:

A lot of people are interested in a lens that changes tint for trail running, but I like to point something out. The change in the lens does take a little time. On average, it could take anywhere between 60-90 seconds to adjust to the light condition. So for example, if you are running in and out of shade or trees – the lenses may not change fast enough. We do have a lens, Ignitor, that seems to give the best versatility. Many runners wear it as the primary lens. I personally use it, as do a number of trail runners I know. It gives great clarity and depth perception and you can “read” the trail better than with the naked eye.

Below is a list of some running sunglasses and sunglass technology reviews iRunFar has collected over the recent past. A tip of the sweaty hat to TrailRunningSoul for originally identifying a few of these reviews:
Rudy Project Ekynox Sx

Also check out these broader sources of information on performance sunglasses:

  • Outside Magazine sunglasses review page, includes:
    • Each of its many sunglass reviews from 2004 through 2008;
    • Gear Features covering sunglasses; and
    • Gear Guy entries on sunglasses
  • Backpacker Magazine review of multiple sunglasses (March 2008), including:
    • Zeal Tensai, Rudy Project Jekson 2.0, Tifosi Ventoux, Julbo Trail, Native Ignition, Smith Trace
  • About.com running sunglass reviews, including:
    • Adidas Gazelle Polarized Sunglasses, Oakley Half Jacket Polarized Sunglasses, Nike Odeon Sunglasses, Bolle Bolle Vigilante Sunglasses, Oakley Thump Pro 256MB MP3 Sunglasses, Smith Toaster Slider Sunglasses, Adidas Shield Sunglasses, Oakley Minute Sunglasses