Although sunglasses typically conjure up visions of palm trees and balmy weather, they’re even more important on the piste — where you’re more exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, and snow and sun amplify each other. The best sunglasses for skiing filter 100% of damaging UV rays with shatterproof lenses and a full-coverage frame to protect against glare, wind, snow, and debris when you’re heading downhill. It’s worth investing a little extra if you’re looking for specific features, but budget-friendly sports sunglasses often come with a lot of the essential specs.
A wraparound lens shaped like a shield provides the clear field of vision you need on the slopes. For 100% UVA/UVB protection, look for a UV400 rating; some high-end pairs will also eliminate UVC rays.
The amount of visible light your glasses let through — and, therefore, how dark they’ll be — is often be listed as a percentage of VLT (visible light transmission): for bright days you might only want less than 25% of light through; conversely, on cloudy days you'll want 50% or more of light through. A polarized lens cuts down on reflected glare, and many sports sunglasses offer interchangeable lenses that let you adjust based on the current conditions. For less hassle, photochromic lenses will automatically adjust to ambient light for visibility in almost any condition.
As for the frame your lenses are set in? Your safest bet is a wraparound frame made from materials engineered to bend instead of break, like ultra-flexible TR90, built into an aerodynamic curve. Thermoplastic resin, or TPR, is a good budget alternative with similar properties. You’ll also want anti-slip rubber or silicone on the nose (and, ideally, the temples) to keep your glasses in place, and nice pairs will have targeted ventilation around the lenses or stems to help reduce fog.
From top-of-the-line sunglasses built for performance to the budget pairs that rival Oakleys, these are the pairs worth keeping next to your lift tickets.
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1. These Sports Sunglasses With Interchangeable Lenses For Every Lighting Condition
These convertible sports sunglasses were built for activity in all types of lighting conditions with a set of interchangeable lenses. You can swap out the included mirrored lenses shown here with dark polarized specs or yellow for night vision. Scratch-resistant polycarbonate lenses offer UV400 protection, and the TR90 frame ensures they're impact-resistant. A rubberized nose pad keeps them in place, and ventilation channels along each temple create a bit of extra airflow that helps reduce fog. They're backed by a lifetime warranty, and reviewers were thrilled to report that the brand stood behind it 100%. "Given the reasonable price-tag, I was surprised by the quality," one fan remarked. "Comparable to sport sunglasses that sell at some places for close to $200. If you want high quality eye protection from the sun without breaking the bank, these Torege sport sunglasses are tough to beat."
- Available options: 20 (some options available with photochromic lenses)
2. These High-Quality Performance Sunglasses With Advanced Lenses
A bit of a price hike compared to the first pair, but these Julbo sunglasses are worth every penny. Their top-of-the-line category three lenses filter out 87% of visible light (that's a VLT of 13%) and block 100% of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays; plus, but within the same listing there are photochromic lens options available that instantly adjust to ambient light. A dedicated anti-fog coating on the panoramic lens and sliced airflow channels ensures maximum clarity across your entire field of vision. Both nose pad and temples are adjustable for a truly custom fit. A full polycarbonate frame and lens keeps them impact-resistant for life, with a warranty that lasts just as long. If you'll be at higher altitudes, you might want to consider splashing out on Julbo's category four sunglasses — the darkest lenses on the market with opaque side shields, they're made with serious adventurers in mind. "Got these for both mountain biking and backcountry skiing," one shopper commented. "They have absolutely lived up to expectations."
- Available options: 7
3. These Affordable, Full-Coverage Shield Sunglasses That Rival Oakleys
These great sweatproof sports sunglasses have a bit more coverage than the first pair at an equally budget-friendly price. Their wide-angled, polarized shield lens provides excellent visibility and protection in crystal-clear polycarbonate with UV400 protection. A flexible TR90 frame is lined with anti-slip silicone nose pads and temples keep them firmly in place, and they're adjustable in a way that's similar to more expensive pairs. If you want a photochromic lens but aren’t ready to shell out for Julbo sunglasses, there’s an option here for that, too. "As a former sponsored Oakley racer, I thought I would see just how good or bad these [...]really are," a reviewer wrote. "These are as close as you will get for a fraction of the price."
- Available options: 11
4. These Stylish Sunglasses With The Right Specs
If you're a casual skiier who just wants to keep the sun out of your eyes without going all-in on the Terminator look, these Suncloud Sentry specs are impressively good for a fashion pair. They're built on a deep eight-base curve that provides almost totally clear peripheral vision with polarized polycarbonate lenses and 100% UV protection. Visible light transmission varies depending on your lens color. Their proprietary frames are a hybrid of high-tech TR90 nylon and natural polymers that result in a strong yet flexible fit, and a hydrophilic nose pad keeps them right where you want them. "I've owned the top of the line sunglasses for outdoor activities from skiing to tennis and for an all around set these are very nice," a shopper praised.
- Available options: 6
Also Nice: A Best-Selling Pair Of Over-The-Glass Goggles For Prescription Wearers
These budget-friendly ski goggles slip over your prescription glasses to protect your investment and your vision in one go, but even shoppers with 20/20 vision will appreciate their full range of features. The lenses are double-layered polycarbonate treated with anti-fog coating for enhanced clarity, and offer multiple options for visible light transmission from 10-60% — all with UV400 protection. They're set in a flexible TPU frame and a foam border for comfort, with universal helmet strap compatibility and extra-long elastic for a guaranteed fit. "They basically never fogged up except in BLIZZARD conditions at the top of the mountain, the tint was PERFECT for a sunny and cloudy day, and they were SO comfortable to wear on my face and slid up to rest on my head when not in use," a fan raved. "My husband says that when he tried them out, they even worked and fit just as good, if not better, than his $40 Smith goggles."
- Available options: 17