Before we get into the technical aspects of selecting a pair of hiking sunglasses, stop for a moment to consider the kind of hiking you do most frequently.
Are you buying sunglasses for trail runs or day hikes? Do you require sunglasses for the snow, in which case glare prevention is essential? Do you put style first? Budget? Do you require general-purpose hiking sunglasses or something more specialized (like biking or running)?
These are the kinds of questions you need to make of yourself before going out and purchasing a pair of hiking sunglasses.
Hiking Sunglasses Lenses
Let’s talk about lenses first before moving on to the frame. The lenses are the component of your sunglasses that matter the most out of all the options because they are the part that reflects light, UV rays, and blue light.
There are several different kinds of lenses to take into account, and I’ll explain how they differ below.
VLT (Visible Light Transmission)
The simplest kind of lens available on the market. In essence these lessen the amount of light that reaches your eyes. Because they do not block much light, high-VLT sunglasses are typically used in cloudy conditions. Low VLT sunglasses are advantageous in bright lighting because they reduce a substantial amount of light that passes through the lens.
Primarily, sunglasses are divided into 5 categories that signify the density of the lens tint:
Category 0: Typically used for impact protection, Category 0 lenses are clear or have a very light tint. A clear lens is found on many Safety Eyewear glasses.
Typically, Category 1 has a yellow or light/pale tint. Not the best in sunny weather, but acceptable in cloudy weather.
The lenses in Category 2 are typically orange, rose, blue, or red. Giving good glare protection in partially sunny conditions.
The majority of brown and gray (or “smoke”) lenses fall under Category 3, which is for intense sunlight.
Category 4 lenses are usually very dark grey or brown and are best used in mountainous or arid regions with high levels of glare from the sun. Due to the density of the tint, it is not recommended to use them while driving.
You want to purchase some UV-protective sunglasses. UVA, UVB, and UVC are the three types of UV lights. UVC is completely safe, but UVB is the one that raises the risk of skin cancer. Although there is still some controversy surrounding UVA, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Polarized or Not?
You may be wondering what are polarized sunglasses? Although they are not necessary for daily activities, I personally will never wear non-polarized sunglasses again. The purpose of polarized lenses is to block out reflected light and lessen glare. As a result, depth of field and color richness are enhanced.
In essence, polarized lenses improve the appearance of your surroundings. If you are wearing polarized sunglasses, you can look down at the water and see what is below the surface instead of seeing the glaring white from the sun. You can also observe the horizon by gazing out into the setting sun.
Additionally, since light becomes “polarized” when it reflects off a surface like water or snow, polarized lenses are essential if you plan to hike near large bodies of water or spend a lot of time in the snow.
Polarized Lens Color is largely a matter of taste. I personally prefer grey or brown hue. The most neutral color is grey, which makes everything mostly seem real. Brown lends your surroundings a clean, classic appearance.
Others might favor pink, green, blue, or purple. In the end, the choice of color is mostly subjective, though some hues will let in more or less light and may not be the best option in overcast or darker environments.
Plastic, polyurethane, and polycarbonate are the most common materials used to make lenses.
A synthetic substance called polyurethane combines the best features of glass and polycarbonate. Despite being the most expensive choice, this one has the strongest and lightest lens material.
This lens material is excellent for hiking because polycarbonate is a plastic with excellent optics and a sturdy, impact-resistant structure. Although, you should be careful with polycarbonate lenses because they are easily scratched if they don’t have an anti-scratch coating.
Since polycarbonate is high-quality but less expensive than polyurethane, the hiking sunglasses are made primarily of this material.
The least expensive option, regular plastic lenses scratch easily and are therefore the least durable.
When deciding between hiking sunglasses, consider the lens material and whether it has a coating for water resistance, scratch resistance, or anti-glare properties.
Hiking Sunglasses Frames
There are several different materials for sunglass frames to pick from, and each will have an impact on how heavy, comfortable, and practical they are.
The strongest and most flexible frame materials are nylon and nylon/plastic blends. Only plastic frames are not appropriate for challenging conditions where you might drop and break your sunglasses far from civilization. After that, the rest of your hike is spent without sunglasses.
Aluminum and titanium are also poor materials for hiking sunglasses because they become hot in the sun. Basically, seek out nylon-containing frames.
Comfort and Design
You need a pair of sunglasses that are practical, comfortable, and effective. First, think about the nosepiece and frame’s arms. Does the nosepiece come off easily? What happens when you start to perspire?
Are the arms tense enough? Do they start to feel uneasy after a few hours? Comfort is crucial because if you’re hiking, you’ll be wearing your sunglasses for hours on end.
When buying sunglasses online, make sure the seller has a return or warranty policy. To assess the comfort of the sunglasses, you should wear them for a considerable amount of time. If they don’t end up fitting comfortably, you should return them.
Next, think about the hiking conditions you’ll encounter. A wrap-around design is a great option if you need wind and rain protection, though most hikers might find this to be overkill.
Consider wearing sunglasses that won’t slide during activities like trail running, mountaineering, and rock climbing or if you intend to move around a lot. If mountaineering is your main activity, there are sunglasses designed for that purpose.
In the end, you desire your sunglasses to blend seamlessly with your face. You want them to be so comfortable that when you put them on, you hardly even notice they are there.
What are the differences between women’s and men’s sunglasses?
Are there glasses made specifically for women and others for men? This may seem like a strange question to some. Well, not just men and women, but everyone has a unique shape to their face around their eyes. Sunglasses from Quechua and Decathlon are typically gender-neutral. Now it’s up to you to select the style and color you prefer!
However, if you see sunglasses labeled “women’s” or “men’s,” it’s more of a “aesthetics” issue than an ergonomics issue. In conclusion, pick a style that appeals to you personally! The sunglasses are actually gender neutral.
What is the best brand of hiking glasses?
Sunglasses for outdoor activities in general, and hiking in particular, are available from a wide range of brands. Getting lost among their various models and ranges is quite common. For the sake of your precious eyes, it’s frequently safer to rely on standards rather than to search for THE brand. Categories of lens tint (with categories 1 through 4; 4 being the highest) and UV protection are governed by standards and must brands must adhere to certain requirements in order to be sell their sunglasses within our borders. This prevents you from falling for the allure of fake sunglasses, which are frequently very attractive but of poor quality.
• Look for the ISO 12312-1 standard on the classification of tinted lenses for their category.
• Look for the ISO 12312-1 standard for UV protection
Keep in mind to put your glasses in a case and use the proper wipe to clean them if you want to take good care of them and prevent damage. Scratches are your sunglasses’ worst enemy. It damages your lenses and strikes at the core of your sense of style. The good news is that scratches won’t make your lenses less UV-protective. If your bag is frequently full and they risk getting pushed under other items, store your glasses in a stiff case to preserve the aesthetic of the lenses.
Additionally, avoid using your regular clothes to clean fingerprints off the lenses because this could harm the lenses. Furthermore, keep in mind to periodically wash the wipe (alas, it is not self-cleaning…).
Do I need sunglasses for hiking?
Short answer: yes. In fact, the value of sunglasses for hiking cannot be overstated. They are actually not a luxury, but a necessity.
A good pair of sunglasses is necessary whether you are hiking, fishing, backpacking, biking, or engaging in water sports. Not only will they shield your eyes from the sun, but they also provide excellent defense against debris like dirt, sand, and snow that can get in your eyes.
Are polarized sunglasses better for hiking?
The light is said to become “polarized” when it reflects off a substance like snow or water. This reflected light is filtered out and glare is diminished by polarized sunglasses.
Therefore, polarized lenses are a necessity for hiking, especially if you’re hiking in snow or close to large bodies of water. Wearers of polarized lenses receive additional protection from glare from water and snow as well as from direct sunlight.
What makes a good pair of hiking glasses?
Have you ever gone on a hike wearing the incorrect sunglasses? The wrong pair of hiking sunglasses can seriously ruin your hike and have a negative impact on your eyesight down the road, whether they slide down your nose, continually fog up, or don’t provide enough protection from the glare.