0 Best Hiking Sunglasses
Hiking involves being exposed to harmful sun rays for several hours, and if you’re hiking in high altitude, these harmful rays are much stronger. Frequent exposure to strong UV light can cause cataracts and pterygium that can have adverse effects on your vision. Whether you hike regularly or just a few times a year, a good pair of hiking sunglasses should be part of your hiking gear. They shield your eyes from harmful UV rays, protect them from glare and snow, and keep your sight unimpeded.
With hundreds of sunglasses available in the market, it can be quite confusing to choose one. We’re making the search easier for you by comparing five of the best hiking sunglasses today. Since these tend to be expensive, we also made a list of the features you should consider so you’d know whether the pair you’re eyeing is worth the hefty price or not.
When buying sunglasses, a lot of people often look at only the style and base their decisions on how well the glasses look on them. Making a choice based on aesthetics is usually fine for sunglasses that you wear to the mall or for family picnics. However, you’d want your sunglasses to be more functional than fashionable when you’re hiking. While it’s fine to still be stylish, it’s more important to make sure that you get as much protection as you can for your eyes.
Beyond checking whether a pair has polarized lens or not, here are the things you need to consider when buying sunglasses for hiking.
Sunglass lenses are typically made with glass, plastic, or other synthetic materials. Whichever material the lens are made of, you’d also want to check whether they are UVA UVB and UVC protected, scratch-resistant, impact-resistant, anti-glare, and water repellent.
Glass lenses are scratch-resistant and have among the best optical clarity. However, they are a bit heavier than other materials and can shatter or break easily. They aren’t always the best choice for hiking and any extreme outdoor activities.
Plastic lenses are lightweight and don’t shatter easily. However, they tend to be prone to scratches and aren’t as durable. Still, they are also the most cost-effective material.
Polycarbonate lenses are made of a special plastic but features high-quality optics and an impact-resistant structure. Similar to ordinary plastic lenses, they can get scratched easily. However, they also offer 100% protection from UV light and radiation.
Polyurethane lenses are made from a synthetic material that combines the properties of glass and polycarbonate. While they are the most expensive lens material on the market, they are the most durable and the most lightweight.
Aside from the material used, there are more factors you need to consider when choosing the lens for your hiking sunglasses.
UV protection is essential so make sure that the lenses are protected against UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVB is the one that is associate with skin cancer and is also very strong in high altitudes. For hiking, get sunglasses with the highest grade, which is UV400+.
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) should also be a basic feature for hiking sunglasses. This reduces the amount of light transmitted to the eyes. Choose a low VLT when hiking in bright conditions as it blocks most of the light getting through the lens.
Polarized lenses filter out reflected light and reduce glare. They make colors appear richer and can improve your depth of vision. These are crucial if you’re hiking in snow or near large bodies of water that reflect sunlight.
Photochromic lenses are optical lenses that darken when exposed to specific types of light such as UV radiation. Without the activating light, they stay clear. They adapt to varying light conditions and save you the inconvenience of having to change glasses depending on how bright it is.
When choosing the frame material, consider its durability and weight because you’ll be using it in tough conditions and for hours on end. You should also check the hinges, which are often either a standard barrel hinge or a spring hinge. The former doesn’t overextend while the latter can overextend, so a spring hinge would be more advisable.
Plastic frames are the cheapest material but are prone to breaking easily, making them less suitable for outdoor activities.
Metal frames are usually made from stainless steel, titanium, or aluminum. While they may be more durable than plastic, they don’t react well to sweating and can get hot in the sun. As such, they aren’t ideal for outdoor sports.
Nylon frames are strong, lightweight, and flexible. This makes them ideal for sports and safety frames. Most sunglasses for sports use are made of nylon or nylon-plastic combinations.
Hikers must also consider how much of the eye area is covered and protected by their sunglasses. It’s best to choose a pair that has an ergonomic curvature instead of a flat one. Curved lenses that contour around the face have better coverage and can protect you from glare that comes from unexpected angles.
Fit & Comfort
You wouldn’t want to have to keep adjusting your sunglasses while hiking. You will want it to be snug and comfortable enough that you’d practically forget that you were even wearing a pair at all. When you fit your sunglasses, check if the nose piece slides off or if the arms are too tight above and behind the ears. Avoid getting a pair that comes into contact with your cheeks, eyebrows, and eyelashes.
You must also consider where you’ll be using the sunglasses. Will you be hiking on an easy trail at low altitude? Will it be at high altitude? Will you be using it in snow, near the water, or in extreme weather conditions? The terrain and weather conditions on your hike should determine what features you look for in your sunglasses. For instance, if you’re hiking on snow, it’s will be especially useful to get lens coated with anti-glare. If the weather will be windy, you should look for wrap-around glasses or those with side shields. If you’re hiking in high altitude, it’s crucial to get lenses that are UVB protected.
With all these features to consider, it can be daunting to choose a pair among the many hiking sunglasses available. We narrowed down the choices for you with our top 5 picks for the best hiking sunglasses today.