If there’s one thing runners can learn from cyclists, it’s to slide on a pair of sunglasses before an outdoor sweat session. And not just in the summer. Even when it’s chilly or overcast, sunglasses will protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays that pose damage even when the sun is hidden behind a layer of clouds. Finding the right pair that balances protection with comfortable features can be challenging, so we tested the leading models to suss out which do it best.
Check out quick info on five of the top performers below, then scroll deeper for helpful buying advice and more of the best models available now.
Block Out More Than Just UV Rays
Ultraviolet light can take its toll on both cloudless days and when the skies are gloomy. Look for a pair of sunglasses that offers the best protection for your individual face shape, because UV rays can reach your eyes from all angles. Wraparound models offer the best coverage from side to side, but any lens shape will give you relief from common seasonal irritations. During testing, we liked every model on this list for their ability to keep glare from earlier sunsets out of our eyes in the fall, block out pesky gnats and intense sun during the summer, stop snow from hampering our vision through the winter, and cut through fog and pop-up rain showers come spring.
Lens Tint and Polarization Matter
If you’re running on roads during the day, polarized lenses can cut down on glare reflected from the road surface and cars, allowing you to relax more and focus on your run. But it’s fine, in low-light and off-road situations, to safely make do without polarization, as long as the lenses still block UV rays. (Despite what many still believe, a darker tint doesn’t necessarily offer better protection.) Look first for lenses rated UV400 or higher, then consider tint. Many sunglasses come with a rose-colored lens to improve your vision by providing greater contrast, which can be helpful on technical trails. If your daily runs are along scorching hot blacktop, you might be better suited with an extremely dark lens that can cut down on the intensity of the sun.
How We Tested
Our team of test editors at Runner’s World wear-tested dozens of pairs of sunglasses—donning them for runs and cross training but also for more leisurely pursuits around town. Each model here has earned its place based on fit, comfort, optical performance, and aesthetics. In addition, we’ve consulted product engineers on the latest lens technology and frame materials, and have spoken with an optometrist to weigh a pair’s price against its performance and features. Where we can, we’ve suggested alternatives to those more expensive models that should deliver comparable protection with a similar style. Curious about certain sunglasses that you’d like us to review? Let us know in the comments.
Goodr The OG
Weight: 22 grams | Rx option: No | Best fit for: Small to medium faces
We’ve been fans of Goodr shades since the company launched in 2015. They’re affordable, well-built, polarized, don’t bounce, and come in a ton of fun colors. The original model magically fits a lot of different head sizes comfortably, but opt for the BFG style if you have a larger noggin. The BFG comes with a wider frame and larger lenses, plus longer arms and silicone inserts at the nose and temples, so you’re ensured a more comfortable fit. (It’ll cost you $10 more, but we still think it’s a bargain.) The only drawback our testers noted was that more light leaked in around the edges of the OG’s frame compared to the BFG model. At $25, these sensible shades aren’t a liability when you’re traveling or throwing them in your gym bag—that’s why you see so many runners rocking them.
Weight: 34 grams | Rx option: No | Best fit for: Medium faces
With a name like ForceFlex, these 34-gram glasses were asking for us to try to break them. With our bare hands, we couldn’t—they really are so flexible that you can bend them 180 degrees in any direction. So then we sat on them. Then we stepped on them, jumped on them, ran them over with a bike, and threw them at a wall—no damage, not even a scratched lens. You can bend the temple arms with enough force, but they just bend back into place. The view from behind the lenses isn’t as vibrant as pricier competitors, but the shades offer 100 percent UVA/UVB protection and cut down on glare well. For $30, that’s great value.
—BEST AFFORDABLE RX—
Weight: 22 grams | Rx option: Yes | Best fit for: Small to medium faces
Not all running sunglasses have to look outwardly sporty—nor do they have to cost as much as a pair of new shoes—to offer top performance at fast paces. (Just ask pro-runner Molly Seidel, who wore a pair of the Tifosi Swank when she qualified for the Olympics at the 2020 Marathon Trials.) In our testing, we found that the Swank’s Grilamid TR-90 frame feels slightly rubberized on the temples and nose bridge, which helped the glasses stay snug without bouncing or slipping when we were sweating through strong gusts of wind. The polycarbonate lenses didn’t fog up during humid lunch runs and resisted repeated drops on the pavement, although they’re not scratch-proof. But, thanks to the rainbow of color options, the Swank can still look cool even with a few nicks.
—BEST DESIGN-YOUR-OWN OPTION—
Knockaround Premiums Sport
Weight: 25 grams | Rx option: No | Best fit for: Medium faces
It’s rare that you see celebs sporting $25 shades, but these glasses have proven themselves stylish enough to cut the glare of the limelight for stars from Snoop Dogg to Selena Gomez. That’s not the only reason we like them, though. The Premiums Sport’s sturdy build and rubberized nose help them stay secure on your face, although they’re flexible enough to work for runners with bigger heads too. “I got much more eye coverage than I expected with the square frames,” said one tester. “Plus, you can’t beat the price and all the color options.” (If you dream up a lens and frame color combo that isn’t there, you can design it yourself with the new custom builder tool.) The nose and temple pads are a soft, grippy thermoplastic compound that helps the shades stay put after you get all sweaty. With their polarized, impact-resistant lenses and UV400 protection, Knockarounds are also true to their name; these are durable shades that can withstand drops and scrapes.
Weight: 19 grams | Rx option: Yes | Best fit for: Medium faces
The Roka Oslo is our pick for runners who want shades so ultralight that they’ll forget they’re wearing sunglasses at all. The thin temple arms have hydrophilic grippers that keep the 19-gram glasses pinned without any evident pressure on your temples, and they’re flexible enough to accommodate a variety of face shapes. You also get three sizes of nose-bridge pads to dial in the fit. Our test glasses had gold mirror lenses that were ideal for bright and sunny days as well as shadier portions of trail running beneath the forest’s canopy. The lenses also appeared to enhance the contrast between the dirt and the surrounding greenery, which helped us pick out protruding roots and stumps more easily.
Similar Style on a Budget: Goodr Circle G ($25)
Weight: 38 grams | Rx option: Yes | Best fit for: Medium to wide faces
Desire full coverage, durable anti-fog lenses, and an Oakley-esque look at a lower price? Buy the Fury. These sport shades punch above their price point with a handful of lens options, including an almost clear set for low-light use. Vents in the frame prevent fogging, and a close-fitting brow bar kept forehead sweat out of our eyes on hot and humid runs. The hydrophilic rubber grippers don’t move on sweaty faces or get tangled in long hair, and our tester found the ear and nosepieces comfortable for wearing for hours at a time. The only drawback is that while the Fury’s coverage and protection is unmatched, the larger 38-gram frame may overwhelm small or narrow faces. If that sounds like it could apply to you, check out the AeroLite model.
—BEST IN HIGH HUMIDITY—
Rudy Project Propulse
Weight: 26 grams | Rx option: Yes | Best fit for: Small to medium faces
If Rudy Project’s Propulse looks familiar, that might be because you’ve seen this pair on the faces of pros like Aliphine Tuliamuk, Jared Ward, and Gwen Jorgensen. And it’s no wonder why. After thorough testing, the Propulse wins our Editors’ Choice award because we’ve used it on trail, road, and track and in direct sun and low light, and it’s excelled at all of it. Our clear-to-red photochromic lenses were ideal for golden-hour runs, blocking glare as the sun set and still letting in some light after dark. And the soft, easily adjustable nose piece and grippy temple arms kept the frames securely situated without creating pressure points. Wrap-around lenses also provide plenty of coverage for trail running, but they aren’t as close to the cheek as many oversized shades—that helps them ventilate better and not feel as hot, another plus for muggy runs under thick tree cover. Our sole complaint? The Propulse doesn’t come with the robust hard case that Rudy usually includes.
Similar Style on a Budget: Tifosi Vero ($70)
Ciele x Article One GTGlass
Weight: 32 grams | Rx option: No | Best fit for: Medium to wide faces
You know Ciele for its throwback-styled running caps. The brand teamed up with Flint, Michigan–based eyewear maker Article One to craft these aviators straight out of the late ’70s. Go with the “Red Rocks” color if you’re bold and sporty, though they come in black or tan options for more conservative looks. In any color, the sunglasses stay planted, thanks to extra-sticky silicone pads and a bendable wire frame. Need even more security? Attach the included stretchy strap to lock them to your noggin. Flat, not curved, lenses add to the off-run versatility, but a polarized coating and anti-reflective treatment on the backside of the lens make them a winning performer on pavement.
—MOST LENS AND TINT OPTIONS—
Oakley Radar EV Path
Weight: 28 grams | Rx option: Yes | Best fit for: Medium faces
Oakley owns the “it came from the future” look, and the Radar EV backs up the techy design with real performance chops. It has a large lens and an even larger frame, but you barely realize it’s there thanks to the low weight (28 grams) and a comfy rubberized nose bridge. No matter your pace, the glasses won’t slip or budge. The Radar EV has several lens options; our favorite is the Prizm Road tint, which has a slightly pink hue and makes everything look more brilliant. The tall lens offers excellent coverage when the sun is beating down from above, and during a rainy marathon it provided great protection from the elements.
Similar Style on a Budget: Tifosi Alliant ($50)
—BEST COLOR-ENHANCING LENSES—
Weight: 27 grams | Rx option: No | Best fit for: Small to medium faces
If you’re not familiar with Smith, the brand got its start making goggles for skiers and snowboarders in Colorado. Since that beginning, it’s expanded to sunglasses, helmets, and apparel for all types of athletes. Specifically geared toward runners and cyclists, the Reverb is a model we’ve been liking a lot for our daily runs. These 27-gram, TR90 frames have a wrap-around shape that provides more coverage against glare, adjustable soft Megol rubber nose and temple grippers, and hydroleophobic (moisture- and smudge-resistant) ChromaPop lenses. We found that the lenses really do amp color and clarity; our views midrun were crisp and vivid along shady trails and sun-soaked open roads. Our violet model has lenses rated at 15 percent light transmission, so we’d recommend a lighter tint if you spend a lot of time in the shade.
Similar Style on a Budget: Tifosi Tsali ($70)
Weight: 21 grams | Rx option: Yes | Best fit for: Medium to wide faces
Krewe’s Laborde showed us just how perfect sunglasses can be. We initially tried them because they looked cooler than our usual shades. The thin, matte-finish frames were an appealing alternative to chunkier Wayfarer silhouettes and wraparound styles. But then they stayed glued to our faces, and the inevitable slide down our noses never happened—Krewe’s “Fall-Off-Your-Face-Proof” grip, which we chalked up to marketing jargon, lives up to the name. The lenses also stood up to prodigious sweating, with anti-fog and anti-smudge coatings that kept moisture rolling off instead of marring our vision.
Similar Style on a Budget: Knockaround Fast Lanes Sport ($25)
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