The 7 Best Running Sunglasses of 2021, According to a Pro Runner

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the best running sunglasses of 2021
Goodr The OGs
Smith Optics Ruckus
Roka Matador Air
Oakley Sutro Lite
Article One x Ciele Active
District Vision Keiichi
Nike Windshield Pro Course Tint
The right pair of running sunglasses will take your run to another level (and protect your eyes, too).
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Sure, the best running shoes and stellar workout shorts can help you level up your runs. But running sunglasses could be the game-changer you need to really crush your next set of miles.

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After all, bright lights and squinted eyes can scrunch up your whole face. That means tighter muscles through your neck and shoulders — and less energy and focus to devote on your runs.

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But what makes a good pair of running sunglasses? And can you get a style on a budget that still looks good?

We talked to Allie Buchalski, a pro runner with the Brooks Beasts, about exactly what to look for in your running glasses. Plus, the seven best running sunglasses of 2021.

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1. Best Budget: Goodr The OGs

  • Polarized:​ Yes
  • UV Protection:​ Yes
  • Material:​ Plastic
  • Colors:​ 25+

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For the price, it's essentially impossible to beat Goodr's sunglasses quality. They're no-bounce, polarized, scratch-resistant and only $25.

Equally important, they look as good as they feel on, Buchaliski says. These Goodr sunglasses come in zillions of colors, shapes and styles. Want to express yourself with some neon? Or be easier to spot on the race course?

Buy it:REI.com; ​Price:​ $25

2. Best Basic: Smith Optics Ruckus

  • Polarized:​ Yes
  • UV Protection:​ Yes
  • Material:​ Plastic
  • Colors: 7

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These are without a doubt the best running sunglasses if you're looking for a streamlined, classic look. Made with all-day comfort in mind, this Smith pick comes with two interchangeable lenses — one great for daytime miles and another perfect for lower-light strides.

The frame itself is flexible, meaning it sits comfortably on the face and moves with you. "Some sunglasses can create pressure points around your nose or dig into the sides of your head," says Buchalski. "So you want a pair that sits comfortably without irritation."

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Plus, this pair has AutoLock hinges, making them easy to remove with one hand in a (literal) pinch.

Buy it:Amazon.com; ​Price​: $219

3. Best for Triathletes: Roka Matador Air

  • Polarized:​ Yes
  • UV Protection:​ Yes
  • Material:​ TR-90 nylon
  • Colors:​ 2

Ideal for sunny or overcast conditions, this pair of glasses increases the contrast on the trails and roads — meaning that the lens brightens green and yellow colors.

At 25 grams, they're also super lightweight. "You don't want to think about your sunglasses on the run," says Buchalski. "So a lightweight pair makes them like a second skin."

Plus, this style will fit perfectly alongside a bike helmet, making them a great choice for a triathlete.

Buy it:Roka.com; ​Price:​ $225

4. Best Oversized: Oakley Sutro Lite

  • Polarized:​ Yes
  • UV Protection:​ Yes
  • Material:​ Nylon
  • Colors:​ 12

The Oakley Sutro is statement pick that will 100 percent get you noticed.

"Rectangular styles are my favorites," Buchalski says. "I think they normally look good on most face shapes and are versatile enough for everyday wear, too."

An added bonus to frames on the larger side? They offer more coverage from the sun in every angle. Expect the bottom of the lenses to sit close to your cheeks.

Buy it:Oakley.com; ​Price:​ $150.69

5. Best for Style: Article One x Ciele Active

  • Polarized:​ Yes
  • UV Protection:​ Yes
  • Material:​ Plastic
  • Colors:​ 3

Expect to get a ton of compliments when you wear these polarized running sunglasses. The frames are super durable and the back side has an extra anti-reflective coating to counteract any unwanted reflections.

Plus, they come with a retainer strap, making them easy to remove post-workout without fear of losing them as you take a sip of that post-sweat coffee.

Buy it:ArticleOneEyewear.com; $275

6. Best for Competition: District Vision Keiichi

  • Polarized:​ Yes
  • UV Protection:​ Yes
  • Material:​ Nylon and titanium
  • Colors:​ 7

Tested in New York City, this frame is a popular pick and splattered across marathon starting lines around the globe.

The anti-fog glasses are made with what the brand refers to as "Calm-Tech" — a porous lens that absorbs moisture, including fog and rain droplets, to make things look more clear. This ultimately reduces eye strain, allowing runners to really focus on the effort at hand.

Bonus: These polarized running sunglasses comes in seven different lens and frame combinations.

Buy it:DistrictVision.com; ​Price:​ $220

7. Best Nike: Nike Windshield Pro Course Tint

  • Polarized:​ Yes
  • UV Protection:​ Yes
  • Material:​ Plastic
  • Colors:​ 3

Nike's running sunglasses are so popular they get their own category.

This Nike go-to is built with strategic ventilation in mind, complete with contoured lenses that provide that Goldilocks fit that runners crave when they're cutting corners and moving fast. You won't have to deal with any blind spots in these.

Buy it:NikeVision.com; $169

5 Things to Consider When Buying Running Sunglasses

Whether you're picking up the pace or simply heading out for a long walk, protecting your eyes from the sun's rays can be imperative — regardless of the season.

Aside from safeguarding you from damaging UV rays, the best sunglasses for running can also help protect your eyes from dirt, dust and wind. And on stormy days? Rain, too. There are a few credentials that make a great pair of sunglasses ideal.

1. Stay-Put-Ness

"You need them not to budge on your face," Buchalski says. "This can be difficult with all of the jostling that happens when you run."

Fortunately, a lot of brands have a "megol" at the nose bridge — a soft rubber that provides a comfortable, no-slip fit. You can find that same grip on the glasses' temple pads for additional support during your fastest miles.

2. Durability

"These glasses will reap a little more wear and tear than regular ones do," Buchalski says. "So perks like anti-scratch lenses and a strong frame will go a long way. Keep the case on you for when you take them off and throw them in your bag, though!"

A strong frame can come in many different materials. Whereas your classic, non-sport sunglasses may be made with metals, most sweat-friendly pairs are made with weight in mind — engineered with plastic and infused with nylon.

3. Tint

Also of importance: The lens. Running sunglasses come in different tints, which means that whatever you're looking at may appear in a different hue when you wear them.

Grey/Black:​ Darker tints may help cut down on the intensity of the sun. Grey and black shades provide true color perception, and are good for all-purpose wear between runs.

Yellows/Tans:​ These glasses help to filter out blue light that can cause eyestrain, making them perfect when moving at a fast clip and trying to focus. Note: These may distort colors from what you'd see when you're glasses-free.

Blue:​ Blue lenses boost the colors in the scenery around you. They're ideal for misty or foggy conditions, and also reduce glare.

Red/Pink:​ A favorite for snow runners, pink and red lenses are great for increasing your overall depth of field. This makes it easier for eyes to adjust to contrast between light and dark.

4. Polarization (Sometimes)

Polarized running sunglasses are made with a special chemical treatment that enables them to filter light differently. As a result, they cut down on unwanted glare (like from roads and passing cars) and make whatever you're looking at look a bit clearer.

Granted, polarized styles often come with an additional cost and may not be necessary if you're sticking to trails or looking at screens.

For example, if you're running on slick roads, you may want a non-polarized pair so you can spot the glare from ice that could otherwise go unseen.

5. UV Protection

For a pair of sunglasses to say it provides UV protection, it has to block out between 75 and 90 percent of visible light. It also must offer both UVB and UVA protection to block 99 percent of UV radiation.

Just because a pair may have dark lenses doesn't mean it checks those boxes. Make sure to read product descriptions carefully, and always give a label a cross-check when you're at a store.

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