Who doesn't love a pair of glasses that look and fit perfectly? A pair of stylish shades are ideal for nearly any outdoor activity. From driving and hiking to catching pop-ups on the field and scoring a photo op on your vacation, a great pair of sunglasses is a necessity for men and women of all activity levels.
However, not every pair of sunglasses is going to offer the functionality and fit you need. Thankfully, finding the best pair of shades for your style and sport isn't hard. We've created this sunglasses selection guide to help you determine which frames, lenses and brands are right for you.
Which Sunglasses Are Right for My Lifestyle?
You could walk into almost any store and pick up a pair of sunglasses off the rack, but why would you? You wouldn't purchase a pair of shoes without discovering how they feel, and you wouldn't buy a shirt without seeing how it looks on you. To find the best pair of sunglasses that look and feel great, you need to be able to answer the following questions:
- What type of sunglasses do you need?
- What style of sunglasses match the shape of your face?
- What features do the sunglasses need to have?
Our sunglasses buying guide has these answers and more! First, let's start with the basics and discover what makes each type of sunglasses different.
What Are the Different Types of Sunglasses?
Every type of clothing and accessory has a specific use, including sunglasses. Just as you can own different pairs of shoes for casual use, playing sports or trekking through rough terrain, types of sunglasses cater to various activities. Don't confuse the type of sunglasses with the lenses or frame style — each type may be available in multiple frame shapes, colors, etc. Let's break sunglasses down into four distinct categories.
- Casual sunglasses: Everyone has owned a pair of casual sunglasses at some point in their lives. These glasses are perfect for everyday, anytime use. You might use them as you're out and about shopping, watching a sporting event, enjoying a picnic or barbecue or hanging around outdoors. Depending on the manufacturer, most frames and lenses are not suitable for handling heavy impact or providing ultimate protection against sunlight.
- Driving sunglasses: Although you can use most casual pairs of sunglasses while driving, specific types of sunglasses can promote a more comfortable driving experience. These lenses often block UV light and cut down glare to give you a distraction-free drive. Usually, these glasses feature polarized lenses that are helpful during many times of the day when the sun is reflecting off other cars or the road.
- Sports sunglasses: A pair of casual sunglasses may be suitable for light activity such as walking, jogging and even a few low-impact sports like a relaxed round of golf or lawn bowling. However, those who are engaging in higher levels of activity require a higher-quality pair of sunglasses. The design of sports sunglasses keeps the athlete in mind, often featuring benefits like reinforced frame strength and a more comfortable fit.
- Glacier sunglasses: Glacier sunglasses, aka glacier glasses, are excellent for outdoor sports like skiing or snowboarding, but they are far more than just activewear sunglasses. Many pairs offer 100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection around the front of the eyes and the peripherals. With the intense sunlight reflecting off snow and ice, the design of these sunglasses specifically prevents temporary or permanent eye damage.
Which type of sunglasses is best for you? It depends on your activity. If you're looking for a good pair of baseball sunglasses, you should look for products from reliable sports brands. Nike baseball sunglasses, Rawlings baseball sunglasses or baseball sunglasses from Under Armour and Oakley are great choices. There are even youth baseball sunglasses from Oakley and other trusted brands. Alternatively, the best sunglasses for driving could be casual, driving or even sport sunglasses depending on the length and intensity of sunlight you experience on your commute.
Which Lens Color Do I Need for My Sunglasses?
As you compare casual, sports and driving sunglasses, you may notice the colors of their lenses are different. You may see anything from a gray, amber or brown shade to green, red, yellow or orange lenses. All these colors tint the lenses in specific ways. Some block more light, while others can either enhance or distort color. Knowing how to choose sunglasses color involves more than picking your favorite lens tint. You need to select a shade that caters to your needs and lifestyle.
- Red: Red colors will block out blue light and reduce glare. You may choose red for driving, or for indoor screen use such as long-term computer viewing.
- Orange/yellow: Yellow and orange lenses provide more contrast in conditions that have a lack of visibility due to low or disrupted lighting, such as foggy or smoky roadways. For sports, they offer great lighting contrast for snowy activities like skiing or for indoor sports with strong lighting like basketball.
- Green: Like red lenses, green can also filter out blue light and reduce eye strain. Their reduced glare and high contrast make them ideal for outdoor sports like golf or tennis that require protection from bright sunlight.
- Brown/amber: Brown lenses significantly cut glare and filter blue light to provide contrast when looking at blue or green colors found outdoors. These are excellent for outside activities like watersports, fishing, running and cycling.
- Gray: Gray lenses do reduce brightness and glare, but they also have a neutral tint that lets you perceive colors naturally. You can use these for any outdoor sport that requires you to have "true" visual perception while cutting down on light intensity. Depending on the magnitude of sunlight in your region, gray might be the best sunglass lens color for driving.
Do I Need UV Protection in My Sunglasses?
Along with understanding how tinting impacts your vision, you also need to know how different lens treatments help protect your eyes.
- Standard tints vs. gradient tints: A standard tint, like the colors above, can help you block light. A gradient tint performs a similar function. However, the lens is slightly darker at the top and lighter at the bottom. Gradient tints are more fashionable than functional and are ideal for casual use.
- Mirror vs. anti-reflective lenses: Some lenses have mirror coatings on the front that reduce light brightness by reflecting light away from the eyes. Anti-reflective coatings are treatments applied to the rear side of the lens to block light intrusion from glare. Both treatments are useful in bright, highly reflective areas like bodies of water or fields of snow and ice.
- Polarized vs. photochromic lenses: Light can reflect both vertically and horizontally. Polarized lenses feature a laminated filter that blocks horizontal light from passing through the lens, thus eliminating glare. Photochromic lenses automatically darken when exposed to glare or UV rays, making them useful for people who move from sunny to shaded areas frequently or go from indoor to outdoor settings throughout the day. Some sunglasses are also available with polarized photochromic lenses that can darken and become polarized when exposed to glare.
Do you know how much UV protection your sunglasses should have? You must remember the darkness of the tint doesn't necessarily correspond to its UV protection. Polarized lenses also do not guarantee UV protection alone, although many polarized lenses now have a UV treatment. Experts suggest looking for sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of UV radiation, which includes both UV-A and UV-B rays. Your sunglasses should also screen out almost all visible light, at least 75%, if not 90.
UV rays and blue-violet light, which includes shortwave visible light from artificial sources, can cause severe damage to your eyes and vision over time. In some cases, permanent damage or blindness can occur. Regardless of whether you are walking outside, driving or playing sports, you should always try to purchase a pair of sunglasses that provide the maximum amount of protection for your eyes.
How Does Frame Technology Impact the Fit, Grip and Coverage of Sunglasses?
Just as you'll see different lens styles as your shop, you'll find plenty of different frame variations as you look for new sunglasses. Frame construction may use materials like nylon, plastic or metal, with nylon being the most lightweight and flexible. The elements of the frames, like the nose bridge, nose pads, rims, arms and earpieces, will impact your comfort level. As you search for new sunglasses, you need to factor in how the fit, grip and coverage affects your face.
- Fit: Finding the proper fit is essential. Not only do you need the fit to maximize protection, but you also don't want an ill-fitting pair to cause you discomfort or injury. Your frames should feel snug, but not too tight or loose. The placement of the nose bridge will also play a factor in comfort. Your eyeballs should sit centered in the lenses, with your eyebrows above the frames and eyelashes not touching the lenses.
- Grip: Where the sunglasses grip your face also impacts your fit. The nose pads, arms and earpieces need to keep the sunglasses on your face without hurting you or slipping off during impact. Look for sunglasses with rubber nose and temple grips that won't slide off or harm your face.
- Coverage: The amount of coverage your frames provide is crucial. Not only can it block more sunlight from entering your peripherals, it can also prevent dirt, debris and other particles from hitting your eyes. Larger-sized glasses or wraparound frames that cover more area of your face are best. Frames that are square, tall, shielded or semi-rimless are good examples of frames that help block intrusion while keeping you comfortable.
What Should You Know Before Buying Sport Sunglasses?
Before you step into the store or browse online, it's helpful to know three more things — the shape of your face, which styles you should avoid and which brands you should consider. You can do research online, talk to a representative in the store or ask your friends for advice. Ideally, when you get ready to choose sunglasses, you should know the types of frame style that matches your face shape and the brand that will provide the most benefits.
- The shape of your face: Do you know how sunglasses should fit, and how to choose sunglasses for your face? First, you need to know your face shape. Your face may be round, oval, square, oblong, heart-shaped, diamond or triangular. Specific frame styles will complement your shape. For example, sunglasses for a round face should have angular frames, and people with square faces should look for rounded frames.
- Which styles not to buy: Now that you know a little about the construction and design of sunglasses, you can steer clear of styles that won't deliver the protection or versatility you're looking for. You never want to choose sunglasses that offer limited amounts of UV protection. If you're involved in high-impact sports, you should stay away from sunglasses that don't have the added strength, flexibility and comfort you need for high levels of activity.
- Which brands are best: Although you may prefer a specific brand, you should understand why certain manufacturers have earned acclaim for their products. Doing so is especially vital when choosing sunglasses, as you want to invest in a product that meets your needs, endures years of use and provides a warranty in the slim chance that there is a defect.
There are some differences between men's and women's activewear products, and knowing how to choose sunglasses based on male or female construction is helpful. Typically, women's sunglasses may have more curves or softer features, while sunglasses for men may be longer to accommodate larger heads and a wider face width. However, if a gender-neutral design fits your face, needs and style, they might be the perfect pair for you.
What Are the Top Sport Sunglasses?
Which sunglasses brand is the best one to buy? Although your preference does have a significant influence, some brands have gained acclaim for their craftsmanship, style and versatility. We've tested plenty of pairs from a wide variety of manufacturers, and believe these are six of the top sports sunglasses brands in the market today:
Where Should I Buy Sunglasses?
They may be small, but your sunglasses are an investment that needs to cater to your lifestyle, protect your vision and keep you looking great. There are plenty of places you can find cheap sunglasses, but many of these products won't deliver the benefits you need for your active lifestyle. Thankfully, Schuylkill Valley Sports has an impressive selection of men's and women's sports sunglasses from top brands like Oakley, Under Armour, Nike and Rawlings.
As your one-stop shop for all of your sporting equipment needs, SV Sports is ready to outfit you from head to toe in the best sportswear and accessories available. Our great selection of durable, protective sunglasses is great for baseball, golfing, softball, volleyball, field hockey, lacrosse soccer and so much more! If you need fantastic protection from UV rays, intrusive light and glare during your outdoor activity, we have the perfect pair of sunglasses in stock!