I have a bone to pick with whoever decided that sport sunglasses have to look like they were stolen from the set of The Matrix. You know the type I’m talking about, right? They wrap around your face to shield you from the sun, wind, and any shot you had with the hottie you see every time you run in the park. Guy Fieri is always wearing them behind his head (why, Guy, why?).
For a while, the options were pretty limited for those of us who would rather have our naked retinas scorched by UV rays than rock a pair of bug-eye shades. We were trapped between wearing thick-rimmed Tory Burch knockoffs on a run—which turn your sweaty nose into a slip-n-slide—or running blindly into the sun, which sucks on a whole bunch of more serious levels.
But the times, they are a-changin’, and luckily, there are a handful of companies creating sunglasses you wouldn’t hate being seen in while being active. Whether you’re running, boating, or just love an aggressive round of corn hole, we’ve rounded up some performance sunglasses brands you can trust to stay on your face and look good too.
I’m not sure how two dudes from California who tried to start a no-spill salsa bowl company (yup) ended up with a sunglasses brand (apparently, they don’t either), but I’m glad they did. Sunski is one of the more adorable brands I’ve explored in a while.For starters, not one of their options is ugly—for real, they’re all cute. Plus, if you love the great outdoors, you’ll appreciate that the plastic frames are made with recycled materials and that they donate one percent of every sale to environmental nonprofits. The icing on the cake with these babies is that if they break (like actually break, not just get chewed on by your dog), Sunski will repair or replace them fo’ free. And if you scratch those precious polarized lenses, you can buy replacement lens kits for $12, which is how much it costs Sunski to make them.Most styles run around $55, but there are also more expensive goggle alternatives that have ventilated side paneling for more high-intensity outdoors-ing, like scaling a glacier—you know, if that’s your sort of thing.
Goodr has become insanely popular within the running community over the past few years for a couple of reasons: First and foremost, they’re insane. Go spend two seconds on the website and you’ll see what I mean. With style names like “Flamingos on a Booze Cruise” and “Bigfoot’s Fernet Sweats” (what?!), it goes without saying that Goodr is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously.Style points aside, roadies and trail runners swear by the lightweight frames and non-slip grip—plus, they’re UV400 (they block both UVA and UVB rays) and polarized (they reduce glare). Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher has a signature design of the new Runway Cateye frames called “Stop and Smell the Rosé” (which, yes please).And if you have a big ‘ol noggin, I have good(r) news: These babies come in two different frame sizes that have roughly the same features. Both the “BFG” and “Runway” frames are $10 more expensive than the standard “OG’s,” which is fair, as the larger frames aren’t just more material, they also have gradient lenses. Basically, they’re darker up top where it counts and lighter at the bottom for safety. Whatever size your melon is, at $25-$35 a pair, you’re still getting a sweet deal on some super fun, high-performing shades.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more iconic performance eyewear brand than Oakley. It’s been around since the 70s and has adorned the faces of countless pro surfers, cyclists, skiers, and golf-dads everywhere. In addition to making exceptional sunglasses and goggles for pro athletes, the brand has also developed some pretty cool-looking styles for muggles like us.My favorite is the Frogskins Lite, a semi-rimless version of Oakley’s most popular lifestyle shades, Frogskins, which is as lightweight as the name suggests. The polarized lenses include the brand’s Prizm technology, which I’m no real expert on (but this page is). What I do know is that it makes the world look really freaking clear and beautiful—even the Hudson River sparkles in the sunlight. Frogskins Lite run for $113, which sounds steep compared to Goodr, but hey—that’s what you can expect to pay an established sports brand.An awesome feature with Oakley that you can’t find in every eyewear company is the ability to Rx your sunnies to your glasses prescription. Not all of the styles are prescription-compatible, but the OG Frogskins are. Because even if they’re perfectly lightweight and grippy, what good are sunglasses if you can’t actually see out of them?
Shady Rays is a brand I was served on Instagram and couldn’t help but click through. It has awesome customer reviews and offers a super-freaking-generous lifetime guarantee—”generous” as in you pay shipping-and-handling for a replacement pair if they break or even just get lost, which is honestly too good to be true for someone like me, who is not to be trusted with nice things. The company will only do it for you twice, however. It’s a business, not your fairy grandmother.I’m a big fan of the signature women’s collection—it’s truly cute, and the polarized lenses are great for outdoorsy stuff like hiking and boating. The thicker rimmed classics aren’t as featherlight as I’d like for more bouncy activities like running, but my boyfriend is into them, so it might be a small-head thing. Besides, for the price, I really can’t complain: None of the shades cost more than $75, and with every purchase, the company donates 11 meals through Feeding America. That’s a pretty great investment, if you ask me.
I featured Roka in a recent story about activewear brands, and I’m doing it again here because, frankly, they’re worth it. I’m obsessed with the polarized carbon Phantoms for biking because they’re super lightweight and make me feel way cooler than I actually am. I don’t know what it would take to make them slip off my face, but I don’t ever want to go through such trauma to find out. I wore them for an entire day during a 100-mile bike ride, and maybe it was the four beers I had at the finish line, but they had to be pried off my face long after the sun went down.They also have a bunch of other great styles that are a hit among runners and cyclists alike (like these!), and they’re so inconspicuous that you could wear them practically anywhere. The only place I wouldn’t recommend wearing them is someplace you plan on losing them. At $150 for the cheapest pair, the price tag on Roka shades isn’t fit for drinking beers in a canoe or crushing waves on a jet ski. No, they don’t float. Definitely don’t try.
Jamey Powell is Greatist’s associate fitness editor as well as a cycling instructor, yoga teacher, and triathlete. When she isn’t sweating, she’s usually eating or trying to pet someone’s dog. You can follow her antics on Instagram.