9 best running sunglasses suitable for all types of unreliable British weather
Come rain or shine, get yourself a pair of sunnies that can change with the seasons
Let’s face it, running doesn’t require much gear – that’s one of its great allures. However, just like sun cream for your skin, sunglasses shouldn’t be overlooked if you’re doing frequent or long runs outdoors in the sun. When making your choice, think about the following:
UV protection: This is the most important consideration, so check out the quality and protection offered by lenses, and what light conditions you’re likely to be out in. Sunglasses will be categorised into a UV rating system between 0-4, where 0 is a totally neutral lens (eg reading glasses) and 4 is for exceptionally bright circumstances. For running, in low light these will go down to 1, and for running in full sun conditions, go for a 3 rating. Ensure they’re 100 per cent UVA and UVB rated too.
Polarized: An absolute must if you’re likely to be running in situations with high glare or water reflection.
However, if you’re going to be out running for extended periods (eg marathons or ultra marathons), this added level of protection for your eyes is never a bad thing. Polarized lenses do come at a bit of a premium sadly, which is around 20-30 per cent more than the same sunglasses with standard lenses.
Frame shape: Wrap arounds are no doubt the most protective choice as they will cut out more of the UV rays than others so better for longer runs, or in the early morning or early evening when the sun is very low. Rectangular frames will allow sun to come in via the gap on the sides, however rectangular frames will have dual use as they’re good for everyday leisure wear too, plus the style conscious may prefer to run in these. Wrap arounds vary – some will have no frame, typically the ultralight options, and some will have half frame – this is more of a personal style thing than anything else.
Interchangeable lenses: This will extend not only the different scenarios you can use them in (low light, cloudy, full sun), but also the life of them as if they get scratched, you can easily – and cheaply – replace with a new lens.
Photochromatic: In low levels of light, photochromic lenses will automatically become clear (or nearly clear), then outdoors and in sunshine they will darken in response to the UV. They’re a great option if you might be running in dusk / dawn scenarios and then right on through the day.
We have tested all the below running in a range of different light conditions in typical british summertime – a mix of sun, partly cloudy and fully overcast.
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Bolle bolt sunglasses: £85.99: RX Sport
A no-nonsense and solid excellent multipurpose pair of sunglasses which are a great wrap around option for all types of summer activity or even social use. They’re not too “geeky” and running focused in their design, helped by being a half frame option. They fit perfectly – no gaps on the side, and with properly adjustable nosepiece customisable too (which isn’t always the case). The frame is made from a great quality and nice feeling nylon – a nice bit of flex in it.
They have interchangeable lenses so you can replace if damaged or switch for lower light / adjustable one (nb, it doesn’t come with additional lenses) which makes them more future proof, plus a special treatment and coating on the outside of the lens means any grease, rain or dust will struggle to settle ensuring good visibility. These are polarized so good around water and high glare too.
DHB Omnicron triple lens sunglasses: £35, Wiggle
Weighing just 30g, these are a really light and great fitting pair of glasses. They come with three interchangeable lenses too (across category 1, 2 and 3), making them suitable in a huge range of conditions – full mirror for super bright sunny conditions, part tint yellow for cloudy – daytime and almost clear for low light / night. They feel very secure and perfectly fitted on the face – no gaps on the side at all, even for a narrower face. When worn on top of the head, the nose piece feels a bit noticeable at first, but they can be forgiven this as they’re a great all round well built package at a phenomenal price.
Smith Rukus chromapop sunglasses: £155, Smith Optics
Sitting very firmly at the premium end of the range, as soon as you lay your hands on these, they feel the real deal. Slipping onto your face, they grip it perfectly, with just the right amount of flex but nicely secure in all positions. They look fantastic – the frame detailing around the lens makes them noticeable in a good way, and the rubber nosepiece and ends of the arms mean they’re really comfy. In the box, you’ll be armed with 2 interchangeable lenses – one for full bright sun and the other low light, so great for full sun as well as dawn or dusk. Changing the lens couldn’t be easier and it’s very secure when in place. Lens quality is top class – these are an exceptional choice, and will cross over perfectly for other sports such as running too.
Cebe s track vario s1-3 sunglasses: £70.36, Alpine Trek
Developed specifically with runners in mind, these offer the most stable and secure fit of any in this line up – they won’t budge an inch even if you were to try. The photochromic mirrored lenses cover you in low light, right through to full sunshine (category 1-3), and with anti fog and scratch resistant coatings they’re good and durable too. If you’ve got a narrow face, you’ll have a slight gap on the side (albeit still totally snug secure fit) and they’ll be great for large faces. A tried and tested option that’ll work in all English conditions, and a fair price for this brilliant pair of running sunglasses.
Julbo aerospeed sunglasses: £89, Julbo
For those serious about their kit, these Julbo sunglasses will be for you. Equipped with reactiv photochromic lenses, meaning they’re almost totally clear in low light (down to 75 per cent) and then in sun they automatically darken to full rated for strong sunshine (12 per cent and category 3) – this is a huge range and you’ll struggle to find that elsewhere for photochromic lens. They weigh a featherlight 26g – combine this with their generous sized lenses offering a super full wide undisturbed field of vision – you’ll very quickly forget you even have them on. They’re a slightly wider fit, so those with a narrow face will have a gap on the sides, but for the more serious runner who wants to use in all light conditions, these are a top choice.
Rudy Project spinair 57 carbonium sunglasses: £104.39, Shade Station
Rudy Project have a plethora of quality full wrap around options too, but the spinair are a super cool looking option if you’re after an eye-catching design that doubles up as lifestyle pair too. They’re ideal for running in full sunshine, as the mirrored lens is quite dark tint – so they’re not for lower light conditions. The rubber nose pad and adjustable rubber ended arms means they’re a really secure and comfortable fit and they don’t shift around. They’re a wider shape with generous sized lenses, so good for a bigger face, although still secure – both on and resting on the head – on a smaller face.
Sungod renegade sunglasses: £45, Sungod
Not only is this a super affordable and well built choice, if you’re a more style conscious runner and looking to customise your sunglasses, look no further than Sungod where you can choose from six frame colours and six lens colours to fit with your look. The renegade are a great lifestyle sport crossover choice (they do also have wraparounds too), meaning they’re a really versatile choice. They also come with a lifetime guarantee, so if you break you’ll have a new replacement pair sent out to – a neat touch. They’re wider fitting so consider this if you have a narrower face,but even then they’re a very stable fit and don’t move around when running. If you’d prefer a polarised lens, they are £70 a pair, but we found the quality of the regular lenses good and, quite frankly at this price, a steal.
Oakley radar ev path sunglasses: £160, Oakley
The radar style is a tried and tested popular design worn by runners (and sports people of many disciplines) the world over. With it’s straight and super grippy rubber arms, they’re totally secure when in place on your face as well as on top of your head. They’re not the most minimal feeling (the Oakley zeros are your choice if that’s what you’re looking for) – they are a half jacket after all – but they’re a bullet proof design that’ll provide years of loyal service and will be totally stable.
Oakley’s most popular running option is likely to be the flak 2.0 (great for customising for prescriptions etc), however it’s more of a personal style on what you like, and we find flak’s design a little less slick than the radars. These particular models have 35 per cent light transmission prim lenses so are good for middle light (opt for a higher option if you’re likely to be using in blazing sun), ideal in typical British weather.
Tifosi brixen fototec single lens sunglasses: £59.99, Tredz
As a more minimal style of running sunglasses, these are a thoroughbred choice and the kind you’d likely see on serious runners in the know. With their lightweight frameless design, they offer a great field of vision and they’re lightweight with highly adjustable nose piece and ear pieces mean they’re comfortable and secure. Equipped with an adjustable photochromatic lens (from 13.5 per cent – 35.5 per cent) these are good in low light through to a variable cloudier type light – so note, they’re not suited to full sunny days. The lens is interchangeable with the rest of the brixen range, so you can get other lenses for full sun if you wished. At this price, they’re one of the more affordable photochromatic options – they’ll fit all face sizes and are a great option for running in the British weather.
When all is considered – reasonable budget, polarized good quality lenses, great build quality and materials, nicely weighted, perfect fitting and good looking – the Bolle bolt sunglasses are a fantastic all rounder. But, if money is no object, the Smith rukus chromapop sunglasses are a fantastic option – top quality lens, super comfortable and securely fitting, plus you’ll also look the part too.
If you’re looking for a super versatile pair of sunglasses (from almost zero light through to full sun) the Julbo aerospeed sunglasses are fantastic, offering unrestricted and featherlight design.
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