Just about everyone owns a pair of sunglasses, and for good reason. They protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and, oftentimes, they make you look good. From sporty to casual models, there are more sunglasses on the market now than ever before.
Part 2 of our Roundup features a variety of lifestyle-oriented sunglasses. Whether for après, laying on the beach, or just looking good, these glasses feature less coverage and protection, but can still be used for a variety of activities, and all of them offer UV protection.
When shopping for sunglasses, arguably the most important factor to consider is UV protection. Regardless of whether your sunglasses have clear, yellow, or dark lenses, make sure they have 100% UV or UVA / UVB protection. Also worth considering is how much coverage a lens provides, and whether the model fits well enough to stay on your face without constant readjustment.
If you’re looking for something better suited to activities like biking, running, skiing, etc., check out our “Sport / Performance” sunglasses roundup.
Lens: Polarized / Mirror-coated
- Frame Width: 109 mm
- Lens Height: 39 mm
- Bridge Width: 17 mm
- Arm Length: 115 mm
Measured Weight: 13 g
Best For: Toddlers who want to look good and protect their eyes
Kristin (& Linden): I have a very hard time passing up an opportunity to match with my son. I know his willingness to wear matching items is going to be short-lived, so I’m soaking it up as much as possible, including on the sunglasses front.
Most adults know that wearing sunglasses is important for eye health, but it’s even more so for children, and I don’t tend to see a lot of kids wearing sunglasses on a regular basis. I know some kids (especially little ones) straight up refuse to wear sunglasses, but my son happily wears them… but somehow I don’t always remember to pack them. Sometimes just the thought of us wearing matching glasses is enough for me to remember to pack a pair of sunglasses for my son. Having a quality pair of sunglasses at a good price point also allows me to spend less time worrying about him losing them.
My son has had the Mini-Waylons for over a year now and they fit his face nicely even though he is just shy of 4 years old. They are lightweight and incredibly good-looking, or at least I think so. They don’t provide as good of coverage as the Pit Viper XS but it is easier and quicker to get the Mini-Waylons on and off thanks to the lack of rubber on the arms. When he does grow out of the Mini-Waylon’s, I plan to purchase a pair of the Junior-Waylons for him. Hopefully, he’ll still willingly wear them when I wear mine. The Waylons I have are slightly outdated, but if you’re looking for a matching set, or like the idea of the Mini-Waylons in an adult size, take a look at Vallon’s current version.
Lens: Polarized Olive
- Frame Width: 54 mm
- Lens Height: 50 mm
- Bridge Width: 19 mm
- Arm Length: 145 mm
Measured Weight: 22 g
Best For: casual wear and light activity
Kristin Sinnott: The Cary Sunglasses are a new edition to the Glade lineup for 2022. The dual-bridge design and the honey color were what initially attracted me to these sunglasses and once I put them on, I liked them even more. They are as good-looking as I hoped, lightweight, and quality made. Glade has a reputation for offering quality eye protection for a reasonable price and the Cary sunglasses don’t deviate from that standard. With frames that are designed in Breckenridge, Colorado and handcrafted in Italy, the price point is impressive, especially for polarized lenses. Glade’s direct-to-consumer approach is one of the ways they are able to make it all work.
While the direct-to-consumer approach helps keep prices low, it can be hard to purchase anything without being able to try them on, especially sunglasses. But Glade does offer a 30-day return so you can try them on at home, and if you don’t like the fit, simply return them.
All Glade sunglasses are made from what’s listed as ”GRILAMID BTR 600 LS NATURAL,” which Glade says is composed of 58% biomass and plant material. Their lenses are polarized with a hydro / oleophobic coating, and while they don’t have rubber inserts on the nose and arm pieces, I’ve worn the Cary sunglasses running, biking, hiking, and rafting and they tend to stay in place.
The Cary Sunglasses have a casual look about them, but I find myself wearing them more and more for outdoor activities. If I had to choose one pair of sunglasses to have with me on a vacation where I planned to explore urban areas and play pretty hard in the mountains, the Cary sunglasses would be my first choice. They are lightweight, their design is flattering, and they provide plenty of coverage.
Frame: Matte Black
Lens: ChromaPop Polarized Gray Green
- Lens Width: 60 mm
- Lens Height: 49 mm
- Temple Length: 145 mm
- Bridge Width: 16 mm
Measured Weight: 31 g
MSRP: $179 (as tested; varies by lens)
Best For: Large faces & everyday use
David Golay: The Lowdown XL 2 (there’s also a smaller Lowdown 2) is a personal favorite everyday option for folks with larger faces — they look great, offer a ton of coverage, and come with a bunch of lens options to suit a range of preferences.
I’ve been using the ChromaPop Polarized Gray Green lenses and I’ve found them to be a very good all-around lens. At 15% stated light transmission, they’re dark enough to work in bright, direct sunlight, but are maybe even better for slightly overcast conditions or partial sunlight. On my (again, larger) face, the Lowdown XL 2 is comfortable to wear all day and does a respectable job of staying put. However, they aren’t my first choice for really high output activities, where they can start to slide down a bit.
For overall daily use though, the Lowdown XL 2 is great, and they’re absolutely up to road biking and mellow trail riding too. In super bright sunlight, their more squared-off profile (as opposed to a more wraparound style option) can let a little glare in over the top corners, but a hat takes care of that, and I’m probably wearing one if I plan to be outside in the sun for long anyway.
Frame: Matte Black
Lens: Dark Carbon Polarized
- Lens Width: 56 mm
- Lens Height: 44 mm
- Temple Length: 140 mm
- Bridge Width: 17 mm
Measured Weight: 27g
Best For: Super secure fit in a casual look
David: The feature that stands out the most on the Roka Kona is actually its hinges — instead of just opening to a fixed width, the sunglasses snap into a “default” position, but can then spread wider, with a bit of spring action. That, plus some nicely sorted out rubber grippers (Roka calls it their “Geko Fit and Retention System”) make for an extremely secure and comfortable fit, even when wet and sweaty, and one that feels like it should adapt to a wide range of head shapes quite effectively.
Unfortunately for me (but probably fortunately for a lot of you reading this) the Konas are a bit narrow for my wide face, mostly just from an aesthetic perspective. They still fit comfortably — again, the Geko system is really impressive — but look a little pinched and narrow on me, and the lower outer corners of the frames enter my field of vision a bit more than I’d like. My face / head are definitely on the big side, though, so it’s easy to imagine the Konas working great for a lot of people with more average proportions.
The optics are solid, with no notable distortion or other weirdness, and the Dark Carbon Polarized lenses that I’ve been using are a nice neutral tint with stated 12% light transmission — best suited for fairly bright, direct sunlight. Roka offers a bunch of other lens tints for a variety of uses, and if you’re after sunglasses that look a bit more casual but do an especially good job of staying put under more demanding use (and you have a narrower face than I do), they’re well worth a look.
Frame: Matte Black
Lens: Happy Boost Bronze Polar Ice Blue Spectra Mirror
- Frame Width: 140 mm
- Lens Height: 42 mm
- Temple Length: 145 mm
Measured Weight: 36 g
Best For: Lifestyle, everyday use, preferable for larger faces
Kara Williard: The SPY Discord recently became my everyday sunglass for driving, getting around town, etc. I have become a huge fan of SPY “Happy Boost™,” which I have now tested in goggles and glasses. The color vibrancy and contrast enhancement that the “Happy Boost” lens provides is quite noticeable, and it works when it comes to delivering an optimized visual experience when taking in natural beauty. That said, some might find it to be a little more “tinted,” providing a filter that is slightly more dramatic than your average pair of sunglasses.
The Discord is a medium-large frame that could easily be worn as a unisex frame. It’s not super elegant or soft. In fact, it’s blocky and square, but it’s also been softened in the corners to still offer a rounded look. I think my favorite feature of this frame is that they are quite robust and durable while not being ridiculously heavy. For a daily sunglass, I specifically seek out something that is going to withstand being tossed in my purse, accidentally tossed on the ground, intermittently lost, etc. So far, the Discord has proven to hold up against all of this.
Frame: Matte Tortoise
Lens: Polarized Brown
- Lens Width: 54 mm
- Lens Height: 51 mm
- Bridge Width: 20 mm
- Temple Length: 140 mm
Measured Weight: 27 g
Best For: Casual Use
Luke Koppa: Back at the 2022 Blister Summit, Glade’s head of product and sustainability, Michael Barker, was wearing a pair of circular-lens sunglasses that caught my eye. And in the Blister Summit Brand Lineup video I recorded with him, he included a little teaser about what they were — one model in Glade’s first line of sunglasses.
I’ve now used the Glade Apres sunglasses for close to two months, and I’m a fan for a few reasons. First, I just really like the feel of the (made in Italy) Matte Tortoise frame I have, which is made of 58% bio-based Grilamid. Second, the polarized brown lenses do a great job of not only brightening up the summer greenery, but they’ve also done a good job of cutting through the water of the lakes and rivers around CB while I’m out fishing.
The other main thing to note with the Apres is that it’s a pretty large frame; I have a rather large head / face, so that’s appreciated. I also like that, for how nice the optics and overall build quality is, the Apres comes in at a much more reasonable price point than many other made-in-Italy frames. The Apres isn’t what I’d pick for activity more strenuous than walking / fishing — it’s a light frame, but it lacks any grippy parts — but I’ve been loving it for everyday use. For a similar silhouette in a smaller-coverage frame, I also love the Sunski Dipsea.
Lens: Brown 12
- Lens Width: 51 mm
- Lens Height: 43 mm
- Bridge Width: 21 mm
- Temple Length: 139 mm
- Frame Width: 142 mm
Measured Weight: 24 g
Best For: Lifestyle, lounging & light activity
Kara: I just discovered Kaenon sunglasses, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have been pleasantly surprised with the Avalon frame after testing it the last couple of weeks. While I wouldn’t use these sunglasses for activities, they work great as a simple lifestyle frame that is a little dressier and fancier than my other, more sporty sunglass options. Functionally, they work well for both protection and fit. The Avalon is a smaller frame than I am used to, but they are certainly more elegant and less sporty than every other pair of glasses I own.
Kristin: I’ve also been wearing the Kaenon Avalon Polarized glasses and have found them to be a great fit for my medium-sized face. They are lightweight and they aren’t too tight on the temples. They don’t stay in place as well as other glasses that have rubber on the arms, but for casual wear, they work fine. I’ve done some running and hiking in them and they didn’t move around much at all, but I would be reluctant to wear the Avalon biking due to the lack of a ‘stickier’ arm and because the frame itself doesn’t provide as much coverage as most of my other sunglasses.
Luke: I’ve now included the Topeka in several of our sunglasses roundup, but I’m just gonna keep including it because I still really like it, and it’s held up well after ~4 years of use (arguably more impressive is the fact that I haven’t lost my pair…).
But, to reiterate what I’ve said in the past, I think the Topeka is a great option for those who want a casual-looking pair of sunglasses that can handle some light activity. Despite its understated looks, the Topeka actually does a pretty good job of staying put while hiking and biking, primarily due to its low weight and grippy silicone pads at the nose bridge and the end of the arms. However, those grippy parts aren’t so sticky that I find them pulling / catching on my hair, and mostly, I just forget about the Topeka when wearing it.
In terms of fit and silhouette, I’d call the Topeka a “medium” size frame, with moderate coverage and a silhouette that I think will work for lots of face shapes / sizes. In my mind, its silhouette is like a more rounded / circular Wayfarer style.
Like all of Sunski’s sunglasses, the Topeka comes in at a pretty reasonable price, is made of recycled plastic, and has a lifetime warranty. If you want a casual-looking frame that doesn’t bounce and slip like crazy when you’re getting fairly active, it’s one of my top recommendations.
Luke: In a similar vein as the Glade Apres, I’ve been using the Sunski Dipsea a whole lot over the last few weeks as one of my go-to everyday sunglasses. I’m a fan of the classic circular-lens style, with the Dipsea being notably smaller than the Apres. Both fit me pretty comfortably, and choosing between the two mostly comes down to whether I’m wearing a hat, want more coverage while on the water, or just how I’m feeling that day.
Sunski’s Amber polarized lens does a good job of cutting glare while fishing, and brown tends to be my favorite lens color for everyday use since it brightens up greens, and I rarely feel like any sunglasses are not dark enough (but if you have sensitive eyes, know that the 15% VLT Amber lens isn’t the darkest).
I’ve turned to Sunski for sunglasses a few times now, mostly because they’re not very expensive (I’m not particularly nice to my sunglasses), and I appreciate that their frames are recycled and that they offer a lifetime warranty. I reach for the Sunski Topeka if I want a pair that can handle light biking or extended sweaty hiking, but the Dipsea has become one of my favorites for less strenuous activities.
Frame: Tortoise Brown
Lens: Clarity Road Silver Mirror Cat 3
- Frame Width: 142.3 mm
- Lens Height: 49 mm
- Temple Length: 140 mm
Measured Weight: 22g
Best For: Medium to large faces, versatile active-wear
David: The POC Require is another option that’s meant to look more casual than full-on bike-specific glasses, but they don’t skimp out on performance. They wouldn’t be my first choice for aggressive mountain biking or anything like that, but for a mix of around town use and road or mellow trail riding, they’re a nice option.
As I’ve noted, my face is on the larger side, and while the Require isn’t especially large or wide coverage, they work well for me while still seeming like they’d be a viable option for a lot of folks with smaller heads, too. The Require features small rubber grippers on the non-adjustable nosepiece and at the very tips of the temple pieces.
The one notable downside of the Clarity Road Silver Mirror lenses is that they show fingerprints and other smudges especially clearly — from the wearer’s perspective they’re no worse than most other smudged up lenses, but the mirrored finish is unforgiving aesthetically. They’re much more strongly mirrored than the images on POCs website would suggest, but POC offers some other non-mirrored options if that’s not your style.