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Hiking Sunglasses Buying Guide

Hiking to peaceful areas is the best way to reconnect your soul with nature. Long hikes allow you to distance yourself from the stress and pressure of your regular life. So, to experience a comfortable and relaxing journey, you need to pack all your essential supplies.

Hiking sunglasses come to be a crucial gear for your journey. The item saves your eyes from harmful rays and allows you to enjoy the aesthetics of mother nature.

However, you need to select appropriate glasses to save your eyes properly. For this, you have to consider every feature of the product carefully.

A comprehensive buying guide presents all the necessary information on critical factors of the product. These factors have a great deal in defining the usability of the glasses. With detailed knowledge of these features, you will be able to funnel down the best product quickly.

But before moving forward with this guide, you need to understand the importance of the product. Let us start with its brief introduction.

What do you mean by Hiking Sunglasses? Why is it important to have them?

For all the hiking enthusiasts out there, you must own a quality pair of sunglasses or shades for eyes explicitly designed for hiking in higher altitudes. These regions have extreme exposure to sun rays, which accompany them with harmful UV rays.

Your eyes need special protection and optical clarity in situations like these.

If you are still wondering why you would need to spend the time, effort, and money looking for hiking sunglasses, here's why:

  • Hiking is a minimum of two-hour exposure to unwarranted light, which can cause interference with vision if not protected. Several eye hazards can result from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
  • If you go hiking quite often, you become increasingly vulnerable to sun exposure. Even if your skin is protected by sunscreen and clothing layers, your eyes require special protection too. You need to look for apt SPF in sunglasses too.
  • As the hike gets elevated to higher altitudes, the sun exposure keeps getting more and more harmful. If you plan to go hiking on taller mountains, hiking sunglasses are essential.
  • Even if you already wear spectacles with prescribed power, you need not worry. These sunglasses can be custom-made to accommodate your prescribed power. It will help your vision to remain unhampered while the UV protection is also offered.

Why should you refer to a buying guide before selecting suitable glasses?

With several options available in the market, you have to consider different aspects to make a suitable purchase. There is no fun in making a quick move with proper research and then regretting it all the way to your destination.

Reading an extensive guide allows you to wrap your mind around all the essential characteristics of the product. With proper knowledge, you will be able to strike down the best product.

So, without any further delay, let us dive into this detailed guide.

Essential Points To Look Into While Purchasing Suitable Hiking Sunglasses


Hiking, as an activity, is not free of hassles. It is tiring and can become exhausting if you have to wear heavy hiking sunglasses. The weight of your hiking sunglasses, thus, should be taken into serious consideration. Take into account that you will have to wear them throughout your hiking trip, which can go on for hours.

If your sunglasses are heavy, the situation will become uncomfortable and force you to remove them. It will leave you exposed and vulnerable to harmful sun rays that accompany UV lights.

However, most modern sunglasses consider eyewear's weight to make your experience comfortable. You can choose lightweight material for a comfortable fit. Plastic frames are said to be the most preferred option to fit these criteria.

Lens Material

The lens' material that your chosen pair of sunglasses use should meet all traits. They should greatly determine quality, durability, vision clarity, and even whether or not they can accommodate prescribed power. You must factor in all the needs to see whether or not the lenses fulfill them.

There are five types of lens materials that you can choose.

  1. Glass

Once upon a time, these lenses were the only type of material option for any type of spectacle. They have served the sunglasses industry very well for quite long because of all the right reasons. They are, for the most part, the most scratch-resistant. This also enhances visual clarity since scratches may ruin that.

However, they are extremely easy to break. They can shatter beyond repair with one strike, and so durability is low. They are also the heaviest of all options, which contributes to discomfort.

  1. Plastic

If you are not willing to spend much on hiking sunglasses, especially if you rarely hike, plastic lenses are your best bet. They are inexpensive and quite durable, apart from being lightweight. They can, however, scratch very easily, so the optical clarity is distorted.

  1. Polycarbonate

This is a type of plastic, but with several enhanced qualities that plain, old plastic lenses do not possess. They are much more lightweight, which means that they are quite comfortable to wear all day long. Their durability is also very high because they are designed to resist impact.

  1. Polyurethane

This material combines the best characteristics of glass and polycarbonate. This means it is quite effective in bearing impact without deformation or breaking. Also, it will be scratch-resistant to the maximum extent. They are lightweight, facilitate clear vision, and extremely durable.

  1. Trivex

Quite similar to the polycarbonate lens, these lens materials fall in the high-end category. They are extremely expensive, but for the right reasons. They are lightweight, scratch-resistant, impact-resistant, durable, and offer optical clarity.


For your hiking sunglasses to be of the highest quality, they need to provide you with optical clarity. It will know that your vision is not distorted. Scratch resistance is an important factor that needs to be considered to end up with a suitable pair.

Your use of sunglasses in an activity like hiking and their storage mid-hike, may not always be ideal. They are likely to come in contact with rough stuff that may scratch the glasses. If so, and the lenses cannot resist such damage. Moreover, optical clarity and protection capability are hindered.

Some lens materials like polycarbonate and polyurethane provide scratch resistance. It is best that you opt for such lenses to save yourself the trouble of vision distortion. Another alternative is a scratch-proof coating that you can apply on your regular lenses. Use this only in case you do not want to spend a fortune on the expensive lens material.

Frame Design And Comfort

A bad frame may cause discomfort while wearing your hiking sunglasses with an uncomfortable fitting. With a difficult trail ahead of you, you do not want any other type of hassle. Thus, choosing the right frame structure that provides you full protection without disrupting comfort is essential.

The first consideration to address the comfort of the frame design is the nose-piece. Make sure that the glasses sit comfortably on your nose without sliding. Check for traction-support for slip prevention even when you are sweating.

Next, check whether the arms of the frame are comfortable. If they expand excessively or are too tight around your face, they are not the right size frame, and you need larger sunglasses. Keep in mind that the sunglasses you purchase will have to be worn for several hours of hiking.

If you aren't able to try on the glasses to ensure if they are comfortably designed, you can look for them on websites that allow refunded returns. This way, you can order some pieces that you think might be comfortable. Also, try them on to make a choice, and return the rest. Comfort is of utmost importance, so make sure that you make a sound decision. Along with this, keep all the constraints like hiking conditions, long hours, sweating, etc. in mind too.

UV Rating

The essential feature of hiking sunglasses is UV protection. Without apt UV protecting capabilities, you might as well not wear them. So, you must ensure that you choose hiking sunglasses that provide you with the best of the UV protection to keep your vision intact and prevent cataracts or other such permanent or temporary vision impairments.

The UV ratings are basically divided into four categories.

  1. Lens Category 0

It is the lowest UV rating on any hiking sunglasses that fail to protect against 80-100% of UV rays. They are not preferred and are mainly found in glasses that aren't meant for protection but only fashion.

  1. Lens Category 1

A step-up from the 0 category lens, these lenses protect only 20-50% of UV rays. These, too, aren't a wise choice, especially for a sunny hike. It may be favored by those who hike on overcast or cloudy days only.

  1. Lens Category 2

With UV protection of about 60-75%, this category is well sought after. This is because it provides adequate protection while being relatively affordable too. They offer enough protection to get you by on days with minimal sun exposure.

  1. Lens Category 3

These lenses only let in 8-18% of UV lights and, thus, provide protection against more than 80% of UV rays. This is preferable for hiking in the sun as it provides much protection.

  1. Lens Category 4

These lenses provide the highest protection. Only a minimum of 3-8% UV light is let in so you can rest assured with these lenses that you can hike on the brightest days. Due to extreme protection, they should only be used in severe conditions like very high altitudes. They are not designed for daily use.


When you are investing anything, you want to get the maximum of your money's worth. Checking for durability is the most important measure to ensure that the product you buy will last long. And that, you will be saved expenses on repairs or replacements.

When you buy hiking sunglasses, you can be assured about its durability on the basis of its lens material, frame material, and types of coating used. For maximum durability, your sunglasses should be impact-resistant and should withstand wear and tear. That means it should not shatter in the face of a few knocks and bumps.

Most sunglasses designed for activities like hiking are designed to be sturdy and not break easily. Warranty on sunglasses also gives assurance of quality and durability for which you can hold the manufacturers accountable.

Hiking Style

Take into consideration the type of hiking you usually engage in. It is because that will help you narrow down your choices for a suitable pair of hiking sunglasses. The type of trails you choose and the amount of time you usually hike are important factors to be taken into account.

If you only go for casual hikes once in a while, you would not want to spend a fortune on hiking sunglasses. You may want sunglasses that will provide apt protection in average day-to-day conditions. But if your hiking involves running, your frame structure should allow non-slip features and lightweight comfort.

Snow hiking must come with the appropriate protection against snow glare. It will ensure that your eyes are not vulnerable to the light directed at you from snow while having perfect optical clarity. Thus, the type of hiking will provide you with specific demands that your sunglasses will need to cater to.

Frame Material

The material used in the making of your frame will determine the durability, flexibility, weight, comfort, and field of vision. Make sure to make a sound choice of the material of the frame. Make sure that it is compatible with the type of lens you choose and the type of hiking you do.

One category of material for frames is metal – steel, aluminum, and titanium. These are aesthetically pleasing and are a great choice for fashionable eyewear. But when it comes to hiking, these may not be the wisest choice because of their significant weight and discomfort that comes with it. They may react poorly to extremely sunny weather and are also not quite sturdy.

Synthetic materials like plastic, nylon, and acetate are preferred because they negate all the metal materials' flaws. They are sturdy, lightweight, and are also quite inexpensive.


The visual aspects of a quality pair of hiking sunglasses are as vital as UV protection. You want your sunglasses to provide as much optical clarity and field of vision as possible with minimal errors and distortions. This is ascertained by the curve of the lens.

Your peripheral vision should not be blocked, and your optical clarity should be maximized with good quality lenses. This is possible if the lenses are curved both horizontally and vertically. Look for wide lenses that are curved generously to provide for maximum field of vision with maximum protection.

Additional Protection

While UV protection is a basic minimum requirement for hiking sunglasses, there are some manufacturers that go the extra mile for supplementary protection features. These may range from lateral cover portions that can provide wholesome protection of eyes from sun rays from any direction. It can also include features that can prevent sweat from running into the eyes.

In hiking, it is common for small bits of debris like dust, small rocks, and pebbles to come your way. Some sunglasses also provide protective features that prevent such bits from reaching in the vicinity of your eyes.


In order to land a quality pair of such sunglasses, you do not need to burn a hole in your pocket. The most expensive option is not the only one with quality features and durability. You can easily set a budget for yourself and find affordable sunglasses that provide you with apt protection and clarity.

Do not opt for the cheapest ones also as they are likely to not serve you for long. As you go up the ladder of prices, you are sure to find a middle ground between quality and price. The more expensive sunglasses often come with warranties and guarantees. They can assure you of quality, so spending on a quality pair may be a one-time investment, but it is a good one.

Prescription Glasses

If you are worried about being unable to wear hiking sunglasses because you already have to wear prescribed power spectacles, wipe the worry off your forehead. Several brands of hiking sunglasses offer the feature of accommodating prescription power in the lenses of the sunglasses.

A type of lens called a photochromic lens is your best bet for getting good quality prescription sunglasses. They can then be used for hiking as well as day-to-day use. They, however, are quite high-end and often cost a fortune.

A cheaper alternative is to look for glasses that are specifically designed to be worn over regular spectacles. Apart from being bulky, they are often sought after by hikers who have eye power.

Lens Types

  1. Visible Light Transmission

These are the most basic lenses that provide the bare minimum protection of eyes against the sun's light. The degree of this type of protection also varies. Some types of lenses are able to reduce only a little amount of light transmitted to the eyes. Others have a higher level of reducing light transmission.

For outdoor activities, a lower level of visible light transmission is preferred. It is because it facilitates vision in extremely well-lit sunny conditions while also protecting your eyes from the transmission. But if you plan to hike in overcast, higher visible light transmission is preferred.

  1. UV Protection

The level of protection that a pair of sunglasses is essential, as discussed before, in the" UV Protection" section. The higher the protection, the better is the quality. And with this, one is less likely to incur permanent damage to the eyes.


The polarisation of sunglasses refers to the lens's ability to prevent glare from being directed at your eyes. More than a necessity, polarisation is an added perk to high-end sunglasses.

Polarisation basically improves optical clarity by reducing glare, so that you can watch colors more vividly. If you are into hiking to explore the beauty of nature around, only polarised lenses will allow you to do so while also providing protection against harmful sun rays.

Especially if you are planning to hike in the snow, polarisation becomes vital. Unlike plain ground, snow can reflect the sunlight, so you cannot look at the snow directly without squinting if it is not for polarisation.

Polarised color lenses are also a choice rather than a necessity in most cases. People choose the color depending on personal preferences and the type of weather in their place of hiking. The colors affect light transmission. So, you must look into whether you are hiking in sunny or overcast weather to choose the optimum color.

Lens Size

The size of the lens you choose for your hiking sunglasses is often more of a personal preference than a technical choice. Larger lenses do provide you with a larger field of vision and better peripheral vision. However, they also cover most of the area around your eyes. It is done so that maximum protection from lights of all directions is assured.

Smaller, form-fitting lenses are also often chosen. But more than practicality, it is more for fashion and aesthetics. Your choice will ultimately depend on what you prioritize in your hiking sunglasses.


1. Why do people go for a polarized lens more?

Being developed by NASA, Polarized Lens caters to the main purpose of safeguarding the eyes of harmful rays. For a long time, these lenses are used by hiking sunglass manufacturers to protect the hikers' eyes from bad rays.

2. How to maintain hiking sunglasses?

Taking care of such sunglasses is extremely important to use them for a long time. Thus, you need to buy a case that is not too hard and takes excess space and not too soft that it breaks in a jiffy. A good case is a key to getting the best care for your sunglasses on your hiking tour.

3. Which is the best affordable and durable lens material?

Polycarbonate is considered one of the most lightweight and budget-friendly materials. It can withstand scratches and offers fairly higher durability than others. Thus, you can comfortably wear them for long without any hassle.

4. What is the lens category for regular hikers?

Regular hikers are considered to fall in category 3 and 4 of UV ratings. It is because they have high exposure to sunlight and require high protection. The Category 3 rating allows UV light of only 8-18%. Moreover, the category 4 rating is best suited for all extra-bright days as it allows only 3-8% of UV rays.

Summing Up

All you need is to select suitable hiking sunglasses, and you are all set for a memorable experience. Here in this guide, we have pointed out all the critical factors to look into while choosing the product.

Evaluate all your requirements with these elements and make an informed decision. Choose an elite pair of glasses that complement your style and save your eyes appropriately. / - © Copyright 2020