Summer running is here at last! If you’re looking for warm weather gear to get you through the summer months, a pair of the best running sunglasses might be top of your list. Good running sunglasses will do a lot more than just shield your eyes from the sun’s rays — they’ll improve your depth perception, enhance the colors you see, and reduce potentially blinding glare from reflective surfaces. Even if you don’t typically find yourself squinting under bright conditions, popping on the right pair of running sunglasses can boost your efforts and make for a better — and safer — run.
Running sunglasses are built differently than the shades you’d wear in the garden or on the beach. Designed with performance and high-intensity activity in mind, they’re engineered to stay secure and in place while the miles accumulate. Their lenses can be curved to a greater degree in order to diminish the amount of light that leaks around the edge, and they can be tinted in varying colors to best suit your running environment. And since running sunglasses are usually constructed from more pliable and flexible materials, they weigh less and fit more comfortably than typical sunglasses.
There are almost as many kinds of running sunglasses as there are running sneakers, so selecting the right pair for your circumstances is essential. Whether you’re looking for the highest level of coverage, frames that will accommodate your face shape, or something you can wear for both a half-marathon and a friend’s wedding, we’ve found the best running sunglasses for every runner on the road (or trail).
Running in the summer? Check out the best running hats to protect your face from the sun’s harmful rays. Looking for more running tech? We’ve found the best running shoes, the best running phone holders, and the best women’s running shoes here.
What are the best running sunglasses?
The Rudy Project Propulse tops our list because of its innovative design and lightweight feel. Small vents on the Propulse’s lenses and frames, along with a vent control system that adjusts airflow, prevents fogging and misting in any kind of weather. Paired with a flexible frame and a wide, full-coverage lens, the Propulse is an excellent choice for runners of all levels.
Quirky and fun while still protective and functional, the Goodr OG is our choice for runners on a budget. Polarized lenses and thick, sturdy frames make this quality pair of shades feel a lot pricier than they actually are. And with plenty of lens and frame color options, there’s an OG to match any condition or style preference.
If you’re more likely to hit the trails than the treadmill, you’ll want to invest in a pair of Oakley Flak 2.0 XLs — the best running sunglasses for trail runs. Thanks to Oakley’s trademarked “Prizm” technology and “Trail torch” lenses, trail runners will see colors, contrasts, and potential hazards with more clarity and acuity.
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The Rudy Project Propulse is a nearly perfect running companion. Weighing in at one ounce with condensation-inhibiting vents on the front chassis, temples, and lenses, you may forget that you have the Propulses on in the first place (a sure sign of a fantastic pair of shades).
Despite feeling lightweight, the Propulse isn’t what I would consider fragile — the frame and temples are constructed from a relatively heavy-duty plastic with a pliable, rubbery arm. This malleability allows the Propulse to fit a variety of face shapes, although they’re best suited for a small or medium sized head. They stayed solidly in place on my average-sized skull, without producing enough pressure to create a tension headache. However if my head was a lot bigger, I think they would feel too tight.
Venting directly on the lenses and frames is a design choice I’d not seen on any other pair of running sunglasses, so I was eager to test them out in conditions where a fogged-up lens was all but guaranteed. On my initial test I noticed the smallest amount of misting near the top of the lens, but it wasn’t enough to distract me or require a wipe-off. To be honest, I was still very impressed with the Propulse’s performance — similar weather conditions would fog up other sunglasses I owned within seconds, and I’d have to wipe them off while still trying to maintain pace.
When I popped the Propulses back on for the following afternoon’s run, I took advantage of the Rudy Project’s vent control system — the ability to adjust the lens within the frame, creating an altered airflow pattern. The minimal fogging I had experienced the previous day was absent. A very minor problem, solved.
Initially, I assumed that the downside to these lens and frame vents would be that they’d allow some unwanted sunlight in, especially if I was running on light concrete. Surprisingly, this was not the case — the Propulse’s base-8 curvature (a measurement of the lens’ degree of wrap-around effect) paired with a wide lens resulted in almost flawless coverage wherever I ran.
Bottom Line: You’d be hard-pressed to find a better pair of running sunglasses than the Rudy Project Propulse — a fantastic choice for most runners.
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It would be hard to compile a “best running sunglasses” list without including Oakley at least once. The brand has long been synonymous with high-quality outdoor sporting apparel, and frequently leads the pack with their technical advances and performance-centric designs. For the most part, Oakley’s updated Radar EV Path is no exception.
According to Oakley, the Radar EV Path’s taller lens leads to increased viewing range in the upper peripheral region of your vision. Initially, this was an aspect that I didn’t anticipate noticing on my runs. Once I got out on the road however, it was very apparent — instead of my eyeline hitting the top of the frame when I glanced forward, I’d hit nothing but the lens. The taller lens, paired with the Radar EV Path’s wrap-around design, actually made a much bigger coverage difference than I thought it would.
Speaking of lenses, I tested a pair of Radar EV Paths with Oakley’s “Prizm” technology that increases contrast and enhances colors. While my surroundings seemed a bit brighter and more detailed (without too much glare, despite a lack of polarization), these features stood out less than the Radar EV Path’s lens length.
Even with a taller lens and a wide frame, the Radar EV Paths are relatively lightweight due in part to Oakley’s trademarked “O Matter” material construction. Thanks to another Oakley innovation, the Radar EV Path stayed put for the entirety of my runs — nose pads and temple arms made from “Unobtanium” kept the sunglasses comfortably secure with each mile that passed. After the runs however, the nose piece kept coming off — something that surprised me given Oakley’s reputation and price point. Luckily, replacement nose pads are included with the Radar EV Path, along with a protective carrying case.
Because of its wide and solid frame, the Radar EV Path is best suited for men (or runners with larger heads and faces). I appreciated the various technical features during testing, but at the end of the day, I felt like the frames were just simply too big and overpowering. That’s not to say women runners can’t benefit from the Radar EV Path, but several other pairs on our list are designed to be a better fit for smaller faces.
Bottom Line: Oakley’s updated Radar EV Path is a performance-centric choice best suited for male runners.
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I hate to admit it, but the aesthetics of running sunglasses are very important to me. I know my focus should be on the specs, but if the most cutting-edge pair of running sunglasses make me look as if I’ve just beamed down from a UFO (and honestly, a lot of them do), it’s highly unlikely I’ll wear them that often. That’s why my eyes and ego are grateful for the Nike Skylon Ace.
The Skylon Ace has a more neutral look than most wrap-around sunglasses — both the frame and lenses are free from severe angles or drastic cuts, its overall silhouette is clean and simplified, and its design is aerodynamic without feeling too aggressively masculine. These aspects make the Skylon Ace a fantastic option for women runners who want a little more versatility from their running sunglasses. They may not be as fashion-forward as a pair of designer shades, but you wouldn’t feel too out-of-place wearing them to the grocery store.
While the Skylon Ace may look a little simpler than many running sunglasses, that doesn’t mean it lacks in any technical specifications. With a base-8 curvature and interchangeable lenses for varying degrees of sunlight, the Skylon Ace provides full coverage for the roads or the trails. During my testing of the mirrored red lenses, I had clear depth perception and vision with virtually no light leakage. Ventalized rubber nose bridges kept the lenses from fogging too badly, and paired with textured temple arms, comfortably secured the frames to my face.
Interchangeable lenses are fantastic if you like to run in different light conditions, but actually changing the lenses on the Nike Skylon Aces proved to be rather difficult. I was eventually able to remove them with some force, but not without worrying that I’d damage both the frame and lens. On the plus side — you’ll never run the risk of losing a lens mid-run.
The Skylon Ace’s temple arms do have some flexibility, but they aren’t as malleable as other sunglasses on our list. After around 30 minutes of wearing them, they started to dig into the sides of my head a little. It wasn’t incredibly uncomfortable or even really that noticeable, but it might have been if my head were any bigger.
Bottom Line: With a simple yet effective design, the Nike Skylon Ace is a fairly versatile, full-coverage choice for women runners.
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Given the almost unbelievably low price of the Goodr OGs, I was very skeptical of their quality. I’d purchased tons of low-cost sunglasses before (the key word here being tons — I’d always have to replace them when they broke after a few weeks), but none of them had ever worked for my run days. They’d slide off my nose, or the lenses would fog, or they’d bounce so much I’d start to get vertigo around mile two.
But the Goodr OGs shocked me in the best way possible. Not only did they stay put for an entire 5k, a feat that no model without nose padding had been able to accomplish, they held up in my purse and gym bag without bending or breaking (and without me worrying about them bending or breaking).
Unlike some of the costlier models on our list, the Goodr OGs have a much thicker frame and a classic, Wayfarer-esque design. This kind of a build has several advantages — the sturdy and robust temples are way less susceptible to snapping in half, the lenses are fully encased and protected by the rim, and they easily transition to more general usage (with lens and frame options for nearly every occasion).
The major downside to this shape is coverage. While I still felt the Goodr OGs did a decent job of blocking rays, because the lenses don’t wrap around the eye as much as other running sunglasses, you’re guaranteed to get some leakage around the edges. Honestly this didn’t affect me too much, and I have very light-sensitive eyes. Still, it’s something that should be noted, especially if you run in very sunny environments.
Another disadvantage to the Goodr OGs is their size — while they fit my head perfectly, they may prove to be a little snug on those with larger face shapes. Fortunately, Goodr offers the “BFG” model that features longer arms, wider frames, bigger lenses, and silicone nose pad inserts. They’re $10 more than the OG, but still substantially cheaper than the majority of other sunglasses on our list.
Bottom line: For those of us who don’t want to spend the equivalent of a car payment on running sunglasses, the Goodr OGs are an amazing find.
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Sometimes trotting the trails is a lot more appealing than pounding the pavement. When you want your runs accompanied by bird chirps instead of car horns, slip on the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL and see your surroundings in more vivid detail.
You’ll need appropriate footwear for trail running (check out the best trail running shoes here), and the same goes for your eyewear. Oakley makes its second appearance on our list thanks to their aforementioned “Prizm” lens technology, which improves contrast, depth perception, and color vibrancy in various environments. I tested the Flak 2.0s with “trail torch” lenses (an amber-hued lens that’s designed specifically for activities like running and biking in the woods).
Almost immediately, I could tell the difference in my vision when wearing the Flak 2.0s — greens and blues appeared far brighter, and the roots, rocks, and holes on my path were clearer and more defined. I usually trip over at least one of these things, so both my eyes and ankles were grateful for the assistance.
Many sunglass brands will design a few variations of a popular model, to best fit an array of heads and faces. Oakley ups the ante with six different versions of their Flak 2.0 — XXS, XS, XL, Beta (which features interchangeable lenses), Low-Bridge Fit, and Beta Low-Bridge Fit. I tested the XL, and felt it worked well for the most part. I didn’t experience any slipping or bouncing, but since I’ve been told I have a low bridge, I’d be curious to see if wearing that model would have made any discernible difference in performance.
The Flak 2.0 XL fit comfortably on my average-sized head, largely because of Oakley’s lightweight “O matter” frame construction. But despite lots of flexibility in the temple hinges and arms, I felt a little bit of built up pressure on the sides of my head towards the end of my runs. The XL seems to be the largest option Oakley offers in the Flak 2.0, so that’s something to keep in mind if you have a bigger face.
Bottom Line: Enjoy a safer trail run with the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL, featuring “Prizm Trail Torch” lenses.
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Ask any runner and they’ll tell you — items carried on a race will get exponentially heavier as the miles pass. That’s why a lightweight pair of shades is crucial, and you won’t get much lighter than the ROKA Phantom Titanium.
At just over half an ounce, the ROKA Phantom Titaniums are virtually weightless. I slipped them on before a run, and could barely tell I was wearing anything at all. This stayed true for the entirety of my workout, where ROKA’s patented GEKO nose and temple padding kept the sunglasses secure but not annoyingly tight. After I walked into my apartment to stretch and cool down, it took me a few minutes to realize they were still on my face.
The ROKA Phantom Titanium owes its feather-like qualities to the “titanium” part of its name. This ultra-lightweight alloy retains a relatively high level of tensile strength and resists corrosion, so while the frames and temple arms may look a little fragile, you can rest assured that they’ll hold up for all of your outdoor efforts. The drawback to this construction is flexibility — there is none, really. So if you have a larger-than-average head or face, you’ll want to look into the Phantom Titanium’s “XL” sizing.
Besides that, the Phantom Titaniums just look so effortlessly cool. Their sleek and shiny aviator design made me feel like I’d stepped onto the set “Top Gun” whenever I wore them (I’m sure having “Danger Zone” on my running playlist helped to create that imagery). They also switched to more casual usage very easily, and garnered plenty of complements at a bachelorette party I attended. ROKA offers a decent range of frame and lens color options for the Phantom Titanium, so finding a pair that works for your running routes and your social calendar shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s nice to have that versatility, especially considering that the Phantom Titaniums are the most expensive sunglasses on our list.
While aviators are stylish, they lack the full-coverage properties of many popular running sunglasses. This is true of the Phantom Titanium — I definitely experienced light leakage at the top and around the sides of the frame. It didn’t prove to be too much of an issue for me, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Bottom Line: The ROKA Phantom Titanium is a stylish (and high-end) pair of running sunglasses that feel virtually weightless.
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“Durable” is an adjective that gets thrown around a lot, but it’s not usually a quality I bestow upon sunglasses. I’ve managed to break most of the pairs I’ve ever owned, so I was curious to see whether the ultra-flexible ForceFlex FF550 would live up to the ultimate challenge: me.
After a week of testing, I’ve determined that there is no way to destroy these sunglasses. I sat on them. Twisted them. Bent them in half. Threw them in gym lockers, bags, and purses. Sat on them again. At one point, they even fell off the top of my head and onto the sidewalk. And yet they’re still beautifully intact, with not a single scratch in sight. The patented design, anti-scratch lens coating, and military grade impact protection rating helped the ForceFlex FF550 pass every potentially destructive test with flying colors.
But even if you tend to handle your running sunglasses with kid gloves, the FF550s are a great companion for your sunny day efforts. The curved, rectangular lenses provided full coverage on all of my routes, and despite not being polarized, I didn’t experience a lot of glare.
Yes the frames are durable, but their flexibility comes with another plus side — they can fit a variety of head and face shapes comfortably. The FF550s worked quite well on my average sized noggin, but they could also fit a head much larger than my own.
However, the FF550s started to slide down my nose once the miles (and the sweat) started to build up. It wasn’t a huge annoyance, but I’ve tested glasses that stayed put for the entirety of my runs. The nose bridge is a little wider than other models on our list, so if you have a larger-than-average bridge, you may not have an issue. There aren’t any frame color options for running fashionistas, nor lens color options if you find yourself pounding the pavement in varying degrees of visibility. Still, the black on black combo works well for most conditions (and outfits).
Bottom Line: If you tend to be rough on sunglasses, the nearly indestructible ForceFlex FF550 is your best bet.
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Unless you have the same fashion sense as a robot, most running sunglasses don’t transition from the roads to your next brunch very well. That’s not the case with the Knockaround Fast Lanes, which proved to be protective on an early morning 5k and stylish when I met up with friends in the afternoon.
Thanks to a square frame and lens, the Fast Lanes look similar to any number of sunglasses from high-end retailers. It’s a design that never really goes out of fashion, and that flatters most face sizes and shapes. Because of this simple yet classic look, the Fast Lanes make an appropriate accessory for both casual and formal settings.
Further adding to the Fast Lane’s versatility is Knockaround’s wide range of customization options. In fact, “wide range” may be putting it too lightly — there’s literally nothing about these glasses you can’t design to your liking, down to the color of Knockaround’s logo on the temple. Customization adds a little extra to the price, but compared to most of our other selections, they’re still incredibly affordable. If you’re not so creatively inclined, you can choose from one of 49 pre-designed frame and lens combinations.
Sure, the Fast Lanes look good, but we’re testing running sunglasses here, so I was eager to try them out on the pavement. I tested the “sport” model of Fast Lanes, which include rubber padding on the nose bridge. This padding was crucial in keeping the frames in place as I ran — if it wasn’t there, I have to imagine I’d experience a lot of bouncing and sliding. It’s important to keep this in mind, as not all Fast Lanes have a “sport” designation.
The Fast Lanes look like a close cousin to the Goodr OG’s, so I expected some significant sunlight leakage around the sides (it’s inevitable with a non-wrap around design). It definitely happened, but I wouldn’t categorize it as distracting, and it didn’t impede my running performance. Unlike the Goodr OGs, the Fast Lanes’ frames felt a bit cheap and flimsy. That being said, they held up very well on my runs and against the treacherous territory of my purse.
Bottom Line: Whether you’re out on a run or out on the town, the Knockaround Fast Lanes are comfortable and protective without sacrificing style.
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Built as a more compact version of the brand’s best-selling frames, the Tifosi Vero proves that good things can come in smaller packages. This is welcome news for petite runners, who may struggle to find sunglasses that both fit and flatter their faces.
Tifosi shortened the temple arms (from 130mm to 119mm), narrowed the lens width (from 72mm to 64mm), and shrunk the lens height (from 43mm to 39mm) of their Veloce model to create the Vero, without reducing quality or coverage. Interestingly, the distance between lenses is wider on the Vero (14mm) than it is on the Veloce (10mm). While that seemed a little counterintuitive to me, the measurement didn’t seem to affect performance drastically.
I don’t consider myself to have noticeably small features, but the Tifosi Vero fit my face and head like a glove. Of all the running sunglasses I tested, they felt the most secure and comfortable on all of my outdoor efforts. Hydrophilic rubber nose and ear pads held the Veros solidly in place once the sweat started pouring in, and venting between the lens and the frame kept my vision clear and free from fogging.
Included with the Vero are 3 interchangeable lenses — a traditional “smoke” or gray lens, an “all conditions red” lens, and a clear lens. Considering the Vero’s relatively mid-range pricing, and the fact that replacement lenses can sometimes run you up to $100, this is an incredible bargain (if you want those lenses to be polarized however, you’ll need to shell out an additional 35 bucks — almost half of the Vero’s cost). The Vero’s protective case even comes with separate compartments for each of the included lenses, which is an impressive indication of Tifosi’s attention to detail.
While Tifosi claims that the Vero’s nose and ear pieces are fully adjustable, I had some trouble manipulating them. And when I was able to adjust, the result always rendered a tighter fit. If you’ve got a larger-than-average head or face, you’d be far better off purchasing the Veloce.
Bottom Line: Tifosi shrunk their best-selling frames to create the Vero — perfect for runners with smaller features.
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The name “Deckboss” is an appropriate moniker for these solid sunglasses from Smith — with large, thick frames, full wrap-around lenses, and rubberized temple tips, wearing them made me feel like the kind of boss you’d have to defeat at the end of a video game.
Because of an above-average lens height and an base-8 curvature, the Smith Deckboss provided the best coverage of any pair of running sunglasses on our list. Even with some gapping between my face and the frame, there was zero light leakage on any of my runs. If you run in super bright environments, the Smith Deckboss may just be your new best friend.
On the subject of lenses, Smith’s trademarked ChromaPop technology claims to filter the crossovers between red, green, and blue light — something the retina has trouble doing on its own. The result? Enhanced color definition, contrast, and clarity, which ultimately translates to a safer run (the more you can see in detail, the more you can avoid things like bumps or holes in the pavement). I tested the Deckboss with blue mirrored lenses, and while I did notice that colors appeared a little brighter than when testing other pairs on our list, the difference wasn’t staggering.
Ultimately though, the Deckboss is best suited for those with bigger heads and faces. They stayed on my average-sized face relatively well during testing, but started to slide down my nose every so often, and as I mentioned, there was some gapping in between my face and the frame. Neither of these aspects proved overly distracting, but I think if my face and head were bigger, these problems would have been non-existent.
The Deckbosses aren’t the lightest sunglasses on the market — at 1.2 ounces, they tip the scales compared to most of our other selections. This shouldn’t necessarily be a deal breaker but it’s an aspect to consider, especially if you’re doing any distance training.
Bottom Line: For runners with bigger heads or face shapes, the Smith Deckboss provides a comfortable fit.
How to choose the best running sunglasses
When deciding on a pair of running sunglasses, you’ll want to take a few factors into consideration: your face and head size, the kinds of conditions you’ll be running in the most, and your desired level of coverage.
While it’s likely that any pair of sunglasses you purchase will “fit,” not all frames are created equal. Temple arm length and flexibility, nose bridge width (sometimes referred to as “DBL,” or distance between lenses), and lens height can all vary greatly between models. Many brands will suggest their best options for different sizes of heads and faces, but it’s always a good idea to measure a pair of sunglasses that you currently own for comparison.
You’ll want to think about the weather and environments you run in as well. Lens colors can help with visibility in varying levels of light exposure — black or gray lenses are great for general usage or very sunny days, blue or purple tinted lenses can enhance colors while offering protection from reflective surfaces (like snow or water), and amber or brown lenses will reduce glare on overcast days and improve contrast between green landscapes and blue skies. Polarized lenses will also drastically reduce glare, but they’re typically more expensive. If you run in areas without a lot of sunlight, it might be safe to skip them. You’ll also want to note a lens’ VLT, or Visible Light Transmission. Lenses with a lighter tint will have a higher VLT percentage, indicating that more light will travel through the lens into your eyes.
Coverage is another important factor. If you want lenses that curve and don’t let much light leak around the sides, you’ll want to pay attention to base curve measurements. The higher the base curve measurement, the more the lens wraps around your face. Generally, a base curve measurement of 8 or higher will provide full wrap-around coverage.
Finally, remember that you’ll be running in these sunglasses, so features like rubberized nose pads and temple arms may help to reduce bouncing and slipping while keeping the frames comfortable and secure.
How we tested the the best running sunglasses
We tested each pair of running sunglasses on short to mid distance outdoor runs (2 to 6 miles), in varying weather, temperature, and light conditions. All sunglasses were tested on road runs, with the exception of the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL, which was tested on short distance trail runs.
All sunglasses were evaluated for several factors, including performance, comfort, and coverage during use, durability, and versatility for non-running related usage.