Sometimes you want super sport-specific sunglasses—aero bike masks that are perfectly designed for time-trialing. But sometimes you just want some shades that will cover you across a variety of activities, so you can move seamlessly from beach to run to BBQ (back when BBQs were a thing) to the gym (back when gyms were a thing). Fortunately, the sunglass technology has caught up to the triathlete lifestyle and a number of companies now offer pairs designed for your versatile lifestyle.
Here are some of our go-to classics and new favorites across a range of prices, styles, and activities.
Goodr: Bosley’s Basset Hound Dreams
Goodr’s $25 glasses have become a cult favorite for a very simple reason: they’re $25 and they’re fun. In the last few years, the company has pioneered the idea of well-made inexpensive casual sports glasses. You can wear them to the beach and you can wear them through an ultra—I’ve seen people do both. While the company offers a wider variety of frame shapes and sizes now than they used to, the Bosley’s Basset Hound Dreams (and, yes, they all have silly names) are the classic model and my favorite. They’re comfortable and don’t slip even when running. They’re polarized and scratch-resistant—though my only complaint is I do sometimes find the lens shape can cause glare when going from sun to shadow to sun. But these are an all-around great deal for going from running to drinking beers after running. And part of the reason they’ve become so popular among runners is you don’t have to worry about anything that might happen to them during your adventures the way you might be concerned about dropping a more expensive pair. Are the $200 glasses nicer? Sure. Are they eight times nicer? No.
We tried both the Tifosi Swank and the Swank SL with its rimless lens—but the rimless frame on the SL combined with the photochromatic lenses made me feel a little too Inspector Gadget. The big upgrade to the Tifosi Swank line are the photochromatic lenses, which mean they change with the light—getting darker as the sun gets brighter. This is either something you really like or really hate. These are very similar to the classic Goodr glasses: solid plastic frames that look good and hold up to a wide variety of activity. Tifosi, however, has invested slightly more into their lens technology. They’re designed to be shatterproof and scratch-resistant—though we didn’t a take hammer to them to find out for sure. The polarized lenses are also designed to increase clarity using a color-enhancing technology. Prescriptions also available. I found them comfortable and solid when running or biking and saw with highly defined clarity, though they did get slightly fogged up with a mask—a hazard of 2020.
Earlier this summer Rapha got back in the eyewear game with some entries that can be seen as direct competitors to Roka’s dominance of the high-end casual cool market over the last few years. In addition to these Classic glasses, the line also included three other sportier frames designed for cycling specifically. All the frames come with a new technology they’re calling Rider Optimised Surface Enhancement, which is designed to heighten the contrast between light and dark and between colors in order to allow you to see clearly. They also come with water-phobic coating and “military grade” anti-fog tech—which they claim will prevent the glasses from fogging even if you breathe directly onto them. I have to say this isn’t totally accurate—the lenses do fog slightly if you breathe directly on them, but they then very quickly clear. I did, however, find them to fog up some and get slightly sweating when hiking in heavily humid conditions, especially when wearing a mask. Despite this, these have become my go-to glasses. The frames are solid, but bend slightly to fit your face perfectly (and come in different sizes for different size faces). They look cool in a very Euro Rapha way. And they work for a wide range of activities. The only downside is I find myself saving them for casual wear instead of adventures, because I worry about breaking an expensive pair.
100%: Kasia Aviator
Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that a company with its roots in motocross makes such retro stylishly functional glasses. Along with casual cool accessories, the company also makes cycling and mountain biking gear and eyewear—which are much more sport-specific than these. These Kasia aviator glasses (and the men’s version, the Konnor) seem almost flimsy at first—but they ended up being one of my favorite pairs we tested. The slightly hipster, slightly aviator, slightly sporty vibe looks good on most people. And the rubber-y frame and no-slip pads stay well in place even for fast running (no bouncing around) and are fairly lightweight. The lenses are UV protected, scratch-resistant, provide high visibility, and are treated to repel water and oil—which seemed to work. They didn’t fog or smudge. You can also get them with prescription lenses if you never want to have to take off your cool glasses.
Roka has come into the eyewear space in a big way in the last few years, with a wide range of sports frames, regular day-to-day prescription glasses, and a number of casual sports sunglasses that can do both. In some ways, the Kona is their iconic model—what they call their performance glasses (which come in an extra very nice case for your use as a perk of paying $200 for sunglasses). The price tag is steep and, at first, it seemed like there was no way this pair was worth that money. At just 24g, the frames are almost comically lightweight and don’t seem durable—but they actually are. They’re the only pair here that have hidden springs in the hinges, allowing the frames slightly more give and flexibility with fit. The patented pads stop them from slipping or moving around even when you’re sweating heavily or wet. And the lenses come with all kinds of anti-scratch, anti-fog, anti-reflective, hydrophobic coatings designed to be even fingerprint resistant. (Those coatings, however, do not hold up to sunscreen fingerprints, fyi.) Prescriptions also available in all Roka frames. There’s a reason, though, these glasses have become the standard for a lot of pros wanting to move easily between workouts and recovery. And there’s probably a reason my husband has taken them from me. They’re expensive, but if you can afford it these are really nice glasses. Just don’t lose them.