Recent Comments

Sunglasses buying guide

That rack of $10 sunglasses at the local discount or drug store? Walk right on past that thing while repeating after me: “You get what you pay for, you get what you pay for….”

Buy cheap sunglasses and you’ll get cheap sunglasses, poorly made ones that won’t offer good vision, won’t last long and, worst of all, might not protect your eyes from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun.

But buy quality ones—not necessarily pricey ones—and you’ll take care of your eyesight.

“Anytime you’re in the outdoors, especially around snow, water or rocks, there’s going to be lots of glare and reflection,” professional whitewater kayaker Brad Ludden says. “Since I spend 90 percent of my life outdoors, I’m at risk for eye problems such as establishing cataracts early on. That’s why I wear sunglasses whenever I can.”

Whether you wear shades to protect your eyes or simply to look like a rock star, here’s the good news: Sunglasses can be functional and cool—without you spending a king’s ransom. You just have to be a smart sunglass shopper. Here’s how.

Where to Shop:

“Never shop for shades on a street corner.” Ludden says. “You know, where they sell ‘Jokeleys’ (fake Oakleys).”

Sunglass-specific shops or outdoor stores usually have knowledgeable staff, and you don’t have to worry about buying fake or counterfeit sunglasses.

Plan to spend at least $30 to get a quality pair of sunglasses. Cheaper shades are likely to be of questionable quality. But don’t overdo it, either; over $100, you’re probably just paying for a trendy brand name.

croakies.jpgSport-Specific:

Before you go shopping, consider what you’ll be using your shades for. Look at your hobbies. Are you around the water a lot? Do you love to ski or hike in the snow? Is cycling your thing?

“Figure out what you want before you go in the store,” Ludden says. “Then have them show you a few that match your criteria and fit your face the best.”

mongrel.jpgThe Lens Matters:

For most outdoor sports, shatterproof polycarbonate lenses are best. Glass lenses are recommended only for low-impact activities like fishing or chilling out.

Also, make sure the lens provides 100 percent UV protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Most have a sticker on the lens to let you know.

“If you buy glasses with cheap lenses they can give you headaches, almost like a prescription that’s not right for your eyes,” Ludden warns. “It can also throw off your depth perception, and whether you’re kayaking or mountain biking or whatever, that’s really important. It’s worth spending a little extra money for better lenses.”

seaspec.jpgPolarization:

Polarization is a lens technology that reduces glare and the dangerous rays that can cause cataracts at a young age.

Get polarized lenses if you spend a lot of time around water or snowy conditions. Insist on glasses with polarization that’s sandwiched between two lenses — avoid those with spray-on polarization (it can wear off over time).”

zeal.jpgFrame and Fit: Some frames are metal, but most sports sunglasses have durable and lightweight plastic frames.

Take a look at the frame and make sure the joints are strong. The arms and earpieces should feel sturdy and stay put on your face — but not so tight that it hurts or gives you a headache. The lenses should be close to your face so glare can’t seep in along the sides between your cheeks.

For high-speed sports or extra bright conditions, look for wrap-style shades that provide maximum coverage. Too close to your eye can be bad because you’ll get the dreaded eyelash bash on the lenses.

“You don’t want to know they are on your face,” Ludden says. “You want sunglasses to be so comfortable that you forget about them.””

sherpa1.jpgRetainers:

Unless there’s a good reason not to wear a strap — say, while mountain biking, where it could snag on a limb — it’s wise to add a retainer. You paid good money for good sunglasses; you don’t want your last look at them to be them sinking to a river bottom.”

71 Comments on Sunglasses buying guide

  1. Just get a pair of aviators.

  2. I just go to my local roofing supply store because most glasses don’t have uv protection + they are safety glasses

  3. need shades to put over prescription glasses that not look dum

    • Just saw these today, “Cocoons.” A bit pricy ($35.00) but really nice; I bought a pair. Black wraparound polarized sun glass wraps. Spendy because of polarization feature and safety glasses approved. Great for fishing or walking across a snow / ice field. Composite frames so very light. Bought mine at Lens Crafters.

  4. You’re welcome!

  5. Delta Force // August 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm // Reply

    Well Sly Fox my wife and kids got me a quality pair of shades for my Birthday. I cant BELIEVE they spent $100 on sunglasses! And that was on sale! The bought me a pair called the Polarized Bottle Rocket by Oakley. And I must say, they are the nicest sunglasses I have worn in a while. They better last a few years if they spent that much money! It appears that you were mostly right, high-end shades are all around better then Wal-Mart ones… But still…one hundred BUCKS!!

  6. Look again at Ray-Ban. Because they are not the “in” brand any longer you can purchase them for a lot less and get everything you could want in eye protection.
    I use “Explorers” for most outings, especially winter treking. They are glass lensed (Less scratching than plastic) and are anti fogging. They used to cost $180.00 and now go for $65.00. That’s thrifty.
    My son’s “Dragons” that are similar in function cost him $260.00

    • Delta Force // April 24, 2012 at 6:25 pm // Reply

      wow I wish I had enough money that I could waist it on sunglasses too. anyways I had a really nice pair when I was in Afghanistan but I forget what they are called. Now I just use $15 walmart glasses. why spend $250 on glasses when you can get a perfectly good pair for 15 bucks?? sounds like overkill to me.

      • General Hammond // June 17, 2012 at 4:58 pm //

        $15.00 at Wal-mart, hmmmmm. Lasic surgery after wearing those in a sunny situation will cost those you advised this to a lot of money and pain. Much like the $600.00 paratrooper boots you boasted about, proper eye wear is even more important. Cheap sun glasses are simply colored plastic coatings and not uv protective which is what you need and the costly part of the glasses.

      • Delta Force // July 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm //

        Let me explain… whenever I buy a $15 to $20 pair of sunglasses I make sure it says “100% UV Proof” so really you have no say in this argument. It just seems pointless to buy $200 sunglasses. And as I explained to Sly Fox the Government bought my boots not I. Oh and yes I am proud of those boots, they saved my feet not once, not twice, but five times. what do I mean by saved… Well I think you can figure it out.

      • As a consumer, everyone has a say in all purchases; to buy or not.

      • Delta Force // August 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm //

        Yes that is correct. But I really dont see what’s so hard about this, let me spell it out for you. I…THINK…IT…IS… POINTLESS…TO…BUY… $150-$200…SUNGLASSES… WHEN… YOU… CAN… GET… A… UV…PROOF… PAIR… FOR…$15-$20. Do I need to say it again for you?

      • Delta Force // August 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm //

        Yes, he can say whatever he wants but if what he says isn’t true then its quite pointless isn’t it.

      • There is a point where the cost of the price out weighs the possible features that could be gained, with my budget that would be around 90$. On the flip side cheep is cheep. If you spend 15$ on some glasses that break on the trail or at camp you are without them for the rest of the week. Although it may not ruin your eyes it is definitely unpleasant and can give some of us migraines. Considering this I would spend 50$ on the low end for some shades that will last. Overall I personally would spend 50-90$

    • General Hammond // August 15, 2012 at 8:24 pm // Reply

      Excuse me! I did say what’s true. Eye ware from Wal-Mart is plastic and cheap ; check the manufactures discription. Let’s see, you want scouts to buy paraboots worth $600.00 and something scouts can’t afford or even get and then you boast about getting them for free to boot. Then you suggest sun glasses worth next to nothing. I sure hope you’re a tenderfoot with time to grow, if not you should be ashame.

      • Delta Force // August 29, 2012 at 10:26 pm //

        “100% UV proof. Made of shatter-resistant polycarbonate.” This is what it says on all the labels of all the Wal-Mart shades I have ever bought. As for my boots, I did not directly recommend them. I am aware of how expensive they are and was only trying to tell of my experiences with them and that they are a super good boot. I did not brag about getting them for free I merely told sly fox that I did not buy them.

      • Delta Force // September 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm //

        As for you accusing me of being a Tender Foot, I was the first to become an Eagle Scout in my patrol. My best friend (R.I.P.) soon followed, we both served as Para-rescue men. He gave his life for my country and because of him I can enjoy scouting today.

  7. Karate kid // March 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm // Reply

    I like the sport-specific sunglasses. Becase im going to do a tri!!!
    I can not waet !!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Really?…I know that the name-brand stores’ sunglasses are sold at at least twice their cost! Most sunglasses probably cost about $20 wholesale.

  9. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 28, 2011 at 8:18 pm // Reply

    I have a $5 pair that I go from Wal-mart works good.

1 3 4 5

Leave a Comment

Please do not use your real name.