Introduction – Why Good Sunglasses Are Essential For Surfers
As an avid surfer myself, I know firsthand how important it is to have a good pair of sunglasses when out on the waves. The sun’s glare off the water can be downright blinding, making it nearly impossible to see what’s around you. And when you’re zipping along on your board at high speeds, the last thing you want is your vision obscured.
So what makes for great surfing sunglasses? There are a few key factors to consider.
Polarized vs Non-Polarized Lenses
Polarized lenses are a must for any serious surfer. They work by filtering out glare reflected off flat surfaces like water or sand. This results in improved clarity and reduced eye strain. For surfers, polarized lenses make it easier to spot upcoming waves and identify potential hazards.
Non-polarized lenses don’t offer the same benefits. They may be okay for casual beachwear but aren’t ideal for water sports. Go with polarized lenses if you want the best surfing experience.
Lens Tint – Which Are Best For Surfing?
While color doesn’t affect polarization, lens tint can enhance your surfing in other ways. Gray, brown, and amber tints are popular choices that work well in sunny conditions. I prefer amber lenses when surfing as they heighten contrast and improve depth perception.
Mirrored lenses might look cool but aren’t the most practical for surfing as they can distort colors. Instead, stick with tints that balance light filtering with color preservation.
UV Protection – Why 100% UV Blockage Matters
Make sure your sunglasses provide 100% UV protection. The sun’s rays bounce off the water, increasing exposure. Without proper UV blockage, your eyes could get burned.
Long term, UV damage raises your risk for conditions like cataracts. It also leads to faster visible signs of aging around the eyes. So don’t skimp in this department – always choose lenses that block 100% of UVA and UVB.
Frame Material – Plastic vs Metal vs Composite
Most quality surf sunglasses will have frames made of plastic, metal, or composite materials. Which is best? It depends on your priorities.
Plastic frames are lightweight and often cheaper. But they can become brittle over time. Metal frames are extremely durable but also heavier. And composites like nylon or carbon fiber combine strength with lightness.
I prefer composite frames for surfing. They hold up to wear and tear without adding much weight on your face.
Frame Fit – How Sunglasses Should Sit On Your Face
A proper frame fit is crucial for staying comfortable and keeping sunglasses secure while surfing. Here are some tips:
- Frames should align with your facial contour without pinching.
- Lenses should be large enough to protect from peripheral glare.
- Aim for adjustable nose pads and arms to get the right fit.
- Retainer straps are great for keeping sunglasses on in the waves.
Take the time to find a frame style and size that fits your face. It makes a huge difference out there.
Lens Size – Bigger Isn’t Always Better
It’s natural to think bigger lenses provide more protection, but large frames aren’t necessarily better for surfing.
Oversized styles can obstruct peripheral vision, which is dangerous when maneuvering on waves. They also catch wind more easily and are heavier.
Aim for lens sizes that balance coverage with flexibility and visibility. Wraparound lenses help reduce glare while allowing you to retain awareness of your surroundings.
Top Brands For Surf Sunglasses
When shopping for surf shades, you can’t go wrong with reputable brands known for quality and performance. Some top names to look for include:
- Oakley – Innovative lens technology and durable yet lightweight frames.
- Costa Del Mar – Offering superior polarization and eye protection.
- SPY Optic – With happy medium lens sizes and secure wrap styles.
- Electric – Featuring versatile mix of frame materials and lens tints.
While pricier than no-name pairs, these brands invest in research to engineer top-notch surfing sunglasses.
Budget Options – Great Sunglasses Under $50
Don’t want to spend a small fortune on shades? You can still find high performing, polarized options for under $50. Brands like Suncloud and Pacific Coast make great budget-friendly pairs. Or look for discounted models from pricier brands.
The most important thing is checking that budget sunglasses still offer full UV protection and polarized lenses. Never compromise on those core features just to save money.
High-End Picks – Premium Sunglasses Over $100
At the top end of the market, you’ll find advanced sport sunglasses loaded with features. Brands like Maui Jim, Smith Optics, and Nike all offer high-end models.
Expect things like microphone ports, hydrophilic coatings that repel water, and extra durable frame materials. Lenses also tend to have more sophisticated polarization and anti-reflective treatments.
While pricey, these premium options can really optimize and elevate your surfing experience.
Most Durable Sunglasses
To handle all that waves and sun can dish out, you need durable sunglasses built to last. Here are signs of quality:
- Sturdy composite frames like nylon or carbon fiber.
- Fortified lenses like polycarbonate plastic or Trivex.
- Scratch-resistant and anti-reflective lens treatments.
- Reinforced hinges.
Oakley Frogskins and Costa Del Mar Fantails are two excellent durable options to check out.
Most Fashionable Surf Sunglasses
Just because they’re functional doesn’t mean your shades can’t be fashionable too. For good looks on the waves, go for these stylish picks:
- Salt Optics exhibits cool retro vibes.
- SPY’s Happy Lens collection has fun color pop options.
- Electric offers many stylish angular frame designs.
- O’Neill mixes sporty performance with laidback styling.
You have lots of choices that blend both form and function.
Sunglasses For Narrow Faces
Those with narrow face shapes should choose frames that add visual width. Styles like aviators, wayfarers, and cat-eye all compliment narrower faces. Minimalist frames without heavy temples also help broaden bone structure.
Some great narrow face picks include Oakley Holbrook, VonZipper Clever and ROKA Oslo. Look for adjustable features to fine tune the fit too.
Sunglasses For Wide Faces
On the other end, people with wide faces want styles that add length. Rectangular frames tend to complement this face shape best.
Options like the Electric Knoxville, Smith Guider and SPX Chop Top work well. Avoid oversized round or aviator shapes to prevent accentuating facial width.
Those with wide faces may also benefit from glasses with nose pads, which help balance proportions.
The most important thing is choosing sunglasses tailored to your unique facial structure. With so many options out there, you can definitely find frames that complement you.
Finding the perfect pair of sunglasses for your surfing needs takes a bit of effort. But once you discover shades that fit right, protect properly, and enhance your vision – you’ll be shredding those waves in style.
Types Of Lenses – Polarized vs Non-Polarized
When it comes to lenses for surfing sunglasses, polarization is by far the most crucial factor. But what exactly makes polarized lenses so beneficial? Let’s break it down.
Polarized lenses have a special chemical filter that helps block intense reflected glare. This glare comes from sunlight bouncing off flat surfaces like water, sand, snow and pavement. For surfers, cutting through the blinding glare from the ocean surface is critical.
Non-polarized lenses lack this polarization filter, so they don’t combat reflected light as effectively. At best, they simply darken what the wearer sees. But they don’t selectively filter light waves to eliminate distortion and haze.
Here’s an easy way to visualize the difference. If you look at your dashboard or a window screen through non-polarized lenses, you’ll still see a lot of glary reflections. But with polarized lenses, those reflections largely disappear from view. It’s like having glare-blocking superpowers!
This improved clarity is a total game-changer for surfing. Polarized lenses enhance your depth perception, making it easier to gauge wave size and distance. They also boost color and contrast, so you can spot ocean hazards like rocks or other surfers more easily.
Non-polarized lenses simply can’t compete. At best they offer mediocre glare reduction and muddled vision. The compromise in optical quality just isn’t worth it.
Now you might be wondering…is there any downside to polarized lenses? A few minor ones:
- They may interfere with viewing LCD screens like car dashboards or your smartwatch display. Tilting your head usually fixes this though.
- They can cause rainbow distortions when looking at certain angled or crystalline surfaces.
- They may intensify ultraviolet light exposure in some cases, requiring extra sun protection.
But for surfing, the visual clarity polarized lenses provide completely trumps these small drawbacks. Their ability to eliminate blinding ocean glare simply can’t be replicated by any non-polarized lens.
Premium Polarized Lenses
While all polarized lenses reduce glare, some are more effective than others. Higher quality polarization utilizes advanced filtration to optimize visual acuity in bright, wet environments. Premium options also better preserve color realism while quelling reflections.
What makes a polarized lens “premium” grade? A few telltale features:
- Multi-layer polarization filters for enhanced glare elimination.
- Light-responsive tints to dynamically adapt to conditions.
- Precision manufacturing and quality testing.
- Hydrophobic coatings that repel water, oil, and smudges.
Brands renowned for their top-tier polarized lenses include Maui Jim, Costa Del Mar, and Oakley Prizm. While pricier, these lenses offer best-in-class clarity and color rendition that can really elevate your surfing experience.
Budget Polarized Lenses
You can also find very capable polarized sunglasses at lower price points in the $50-100 range. Brands like RIVBOS, DUCO, and Joopin make quality budget-friendly polarized options.
The polarization filtration may not be quite as nuanced as what you’d get from an Oakley or Maui Jim. But these value-priced sunglasses still markedly improve glare protection compared to non-polarized pairs. They make great starter polarized glasses for new surfers or kids.
Just be sure to vet the build quality carefully with cheaper polarized shades. Cutting costs can sometimes mean flimsy frames or lack of coating durability. But there are many hidden gems out there that offer impressive performance without the sticker shock.
Viewing Angle Considerations
Polarized lenses aren’t necessarily effective at all viewing angles. Their light filtering works best when your sightline is parallel to the reflecting surface.
At steep viewing angles, you may get more glare leakage as polarization efficacy drops off. Fortunately for surfing, your sightlines tend to align fairly horizontally to the water’s surface, where polarization works best.
But it’s something to keep in mind for versatile sunglasses meant for multiple sports. Consider lenses optimized for both horizontal and vertical plane polarization, like Oakley Prizm or MauiPure polarization.
The bottom line for surfers and ocean enthusiasts – go with quality polarized lenses to get the visual clarity you need. Non-polarized options just don’t provide the same glare-cutting performance critical for surfing. With so many polarized lens choices out there today, you can find a pair that fits both your needs and budget. Your eyes will thank you the next time you paddle out!
Lens Tint – Which Tints Are Best For Surfing?
While polarization knocks out glare, the right lens tint fine-tunes light transmission for your environment. For surfers, amber, brown, and gray tints tend to work best.
The ideal sunglass tint improves clarity while preserving natural color rendition. Darker tints like black or mirrored don’t meet that criteria since they severely block light transmission across the color spectrum.
Here’s an overview of popular sunglass tint options and how they compare for surfing:
Of all the tints, amber is arguably the best suited for surfing. It provides excellent glare reduction while still allowing a fair amount of light through. This enhances clarity while maintaining sufficient brightness to see ocean features.
Amber also heightens contrast, boosting depth perception. And it filters blue light, helping pick out objects in hazy waters. Amber lenses really optimize visibility when surrounded by so much blue scenery.
For surfing, I’d recommend a medium to dark amber shade. Light amber may not cut glare enough on sunnier days. But too dark causes more light loss than needed.
Gray is another versatile option that works well for surfing. It delivers solid glare protection across the visible spectrum without drastically altering color perception.
The natural transmission profile of gray allows you to see colors fairly truthfully. And it won’t overly darken or distort the visual field like some other shades.
For surfers, a dark gray is ideal to combat ocean glare. Just steer clear of nearly black grays that block too much light to see clearly.
Similar to amber, brown lens tints filter excess blue light while preserving other colors. This heightens visual clarity while keeping things bright enough.
Brown also enhances contrast well. And it feels a bit more stylish than basic gray lenses for some.
For surfing, a brown shade on the darker side will cut through reflected glare efficiently. I’d likely opt for amber over brown for optics, but brown works great too.
Here are a few other tints and their pros/cons for surfing:
- Yellow – Good glare protection but can be over-brightening in sunny conditions.
- Green – Also effective for glare reduction but color distortion is a downside.
- Rose/purple – Stylish but not ideal optically for water sports.
- Mirrored – Look awesome but sacrifice too much visible light transmission.
While not perfect for surfing, these tints could work well for other sports like cycling, running, or golf.
Some advanced sunglasses have lenses that reactively lighten or darken based on conditions. Brands like Oakley Prizm and Transitions Optical offer these adaptive tints.
They work great in theory, optimizing shade from dawn til dusk. But the tint change can be a little slower than ideal for surfing’s quickly changing light environment.
Still, reactive lenses are worth considering if you surf at varied times of day. Just bring a backup tinted pair in case the reaction speed lags.
Another option is sunglasses with swappable lenses. This lets you tailor tint (and polarization) for changing scenarios.
Models like the Oakley Holbrook, Spy Helm 2, and VonZipper Slappy let you pop lenses in and out. I keep a bronze lens for sunnier days and a yellow one for lower light surfing. It really optimizes my vision for any condition.
Just be careful when swapping lenses to avoid damage. Carry them in a protective case and clean before inserting into frames.
Boosted Color Tints
Certain tints go beyond basic filtering to actively enhance color and contrast. Oakley Prizm lenses boost specific hues to improve depth, clarity, and detail.
Prizm’s boosted color realism can be advantageous for accurately identifying objects in the water. Maui Jim’s HCL tints also heighten colors in a natural-looking way.
The added visual pop comes in handy when trying to spot that perfect wave. Just don’t expect coral reefs to actually look fluorescent – the color boost is more subtle.
In the end, amber, brown, and dark gray are foolproof tints for surfing. But don’t be afraid to play around with other hues – you might find a tint you love that wasn’t even on your radar before!
UV Protection – Why 100% UV Protection Matters
When you’re out in the sun and surf, protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays is incredibly important. Many surfers overlook wearing proper protective eyewear, but the dangers of UV exposure are very real. Without adequate protection, long-term exposure to UV radiation can result in a number of health problems and permanent damage.
How exactly does UV radiation affect your eyes? There are three main types:
- UVA – These rays penetrate deep into the eyes and increase your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and growths on the eye.
- UVB – Exposure causes photokeratitis, snow blindness, and eye surface damage.
- UVC – The most dangerous, but mostly absorbed by the ozone layer before reaching us.
When your eyes take in UV damage day after day, it accumulates over time. Once the damage is done, it’s irreversible. The results include vision problems, distorted or hazy sight, loss of visual acuity and contrast sensitivity, and increased sensitivity to light and glare.
For surfers, the sunlight reflecting off the water makes UV exposure even more intense. The risks are amplified when surfing for hours at a time. Protecting your eyes should be a top priority.
Choosing 100% UV-Blocking Sunglasses
So how do you choose sunglasses that fully shield your eyes? Here are the key factors to look for:
- UV400 rating – This means the lenses block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Anything less, like a UV380 or UV390 rating, leaves your eyes vulnerable.
- Polarized lenses – This filters and reduces glare from reflective surfaces like water. Glare causes eye strain and fatigue.
- Dark tint – Lenses with darker tints like grey, brown, or green work best for surfing. The tint controls brightness while keeping colors balanced.
- Curved lenses – These wrap around the face better for full protection from peripheral light.
- Durable frame – Pick sturdy frames made from material like nylon, TR90, or polycarbonate. They’ll hold up to impacts from drops and waves.
You’ll also want to find sunglasses specifically designed for water sports and surfing. They’ll have hydrodynamic features that repel water, ventilated frames that resist fogging, and a secure wrap-around fit.
Recommended 100% UV-Blocking Surf Sunglasses
Based on the criteria above, here are some of the top-rated sunglasses for surfing with complete UV protection:
- Sun and Surf Sunglasses – Offer total UV protection, polarized mirrored lenses, curved shape, and waterproof floating frames designed for surfing.
- Surf ‘N Sport Polarized Sunglasses – Have polarized polycarbonate lenses to reduce glare, 100% UV protection, and flexible sport frames with rubber nose pads.
- Surf & Sport Sunglasses – Feature polarized tri-acetate lenses to block UV and glare, with an adjustable wrap-around frame in bold color options.
- Surf N Sport Sunglasses – Provide 100% UV protection and impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses. Designed specifically for surfing with a wide temple design.
- Surf Sport Sunglasses – Offer total UV blockage and polarized lenses in either mirrored or vintage colors. Designed for water sports with buoyant frames.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these top surfing sunglasses. Just be sure to verify they offer 100% protection against UVA and UVB before purchasing. Don’t settle for anything less than UV400 rating lenses.
It’s also a good idea to get your eyes checked annually for early signs of UV damage. And limit your exposure by taking breaks in the shade when possible. Protecting your sight for the long run means being proactive about UV blocking!
Frame Material – Plastic vs Metal vs Composite
When it comes to finding the perfect pair of sunglasses for surfing, one of the most important factors to consider is the frame material. The frames need to be durable enough to handle the rigors of surfing, while also being lightweight and comfortable for all-day wear. Plastic, metal, and composite materials each have their own sets of pros and cons for surf sunglasses. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:
Plastic frames are a popular choice for surf sunglasses. They tend to be very lightweight and flexible, providing a comfortable fit that moves with you. Plastic materials like nylon, polycarbonate, and acetate are impact-resistant and durable while also being affordable.
On the downside, plastic frames may not feel as sturdy or substantial as metal options. Over time and exposure to sun, saltwater, and sweat, they can become brittle and degrade. Plastic also scratches more easily compared to metal. However, new coatings and treatments like polarized or mirrored finishes can add extra protection and durability.
Sunglasses with metal frames often feel more solid and durable than plastic. Stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium are corrosion-resistant, strong, and long-lasting. A metal frame won’t get brittle from sun exposure. The material shapes well to the contours of the face for a secure and comfortable fit.
The drawbacks of metal frames are that they can get bent out of shape if impacted and they conduct heat, feeling hot or cold to the touch depending on the temperature. They also tend to be heavier than plastic. Newer shapes and alloys continue improving metal’s durability and comfort.
Composite frames combine plastic and metal together to get the best of both worlds. By embedding thin metal wires or cores within plastic, the frames gain strength and flexibility. Brands like Maui Jim use a blended nylon and metal “Grilamid” material. The resulting sunglasses are impact-resistant with a comfortable, custom fit.
Being part metal, composites can be susceptible to corrosion and bending if abused. But they tend to hold up very well for most surfing conditions. The plastic provides protection for the metal components. Composite frames have quickly become a go-to choice for many surfers and athletes.
Lenses & Coatings
Don’t forget the lenses! For surfing, look for impact-resistant polycarbonate or Trivex lenses. Polarized lenses will cut glare off the water for improved vision. Mirrored coatings also reduce glare while looking cool. Green and brown tinted lenses enhance contrast in the water. And hydrophobic lens treatments repel water, smudges, and scratches.
Finding the Right Balance
At the end of the day, frame material choice involves balancing durability, flexibility, weight, and cost. Plastic frames might make the most sense for surfers on a budget or those who tend to be hard on their sunglasses. Metal could be ideal for those wanting a nearly indestructible frame. And composites strike a useful middle ground. Consider your priorities and surfing style to decide which frame type is right for your lifestyle.
No matter which material you choose, be sure to get sunglasses specifically designed for water sports. Look for rugged construction with integrated hypoallergenic nose pads and temple arms that grip securely when wet. Lenses should seal tightly within the frame to keep out errant light and water. A retaining strap or lanyard connects to the frames as an added safeguard against losing your shades in big surf.
With the right sunglasses, you’ll be ready to catch those waves while protecting your eyes in style and comfort. The frame material is one key to finding that perfect pair of shades for all your surfing adventures. So consider plastic, metal and composite options to see which one suits your needs and budget best. Your eyes will thank you!
Frame Fit – How Sunglasses Should Fit On Your Face
Finding the right fit is crucial when selecting sunglasses for surfing. If they don’t fit properly, your shades could easily fly off in the waves or let in glare, wind, and water. Follow these tips on frame size, shape, adjustable parts, and trying on different pairs to end up with well-fitting sunglasses that stay secure.
Choosing Frame Size
Sunglass frames should be proportional to the size of your head and facial features. Measure the width of your face across the cheekbones to determine the ideal lens width for you. Standard sizes are around 50-55mm for small faces, 55-60mm for medium, and 60-65mm for larger faces. The goal is to have the frames align with the widest part of your cheeks without extending past them.
For the frame height, make sure lenses are tall enough to adequately shield your eyes and prevent sun at the tops and sides. Measure from your temples to just above your eyebrows where the frame should end. Kid-sized frames are usually too small for adult protection and comfort.
Consider Frame Shape
The shape of sunglass frames also factors into fit. Square and rectangular frames with sharp angles provide the most coverage and peripheral vision. Round frames don’t wrap around as much but can feel less bulky. Teardrop shapes are narrower at the top and wider at the bottom to protect without totally engulfing your field of view.
Base frame shape on your face shape for a complementary look. Oval and long oval faces suit rectangular frames while round and heart faces balance well with round or curved shapes. Square faces align with rounder frames for contrast.
Many sunglasses include adjustable components to help achieve a customized fit. Adjustable nose pads allow you to position the frames so they sit directly across your cheekbones. You should be able to pinch the pads with light pressure to conform to your nose bridge.
Similarly, adjustable or bendable temple arms/stems let you tweak the angle the arms join the frames for an ideal over-ear grip. Rubber temple tips also create friction to prevent slipping.
Trying on Different Pairs
There’s no substitute for physically trying on multiple pairs of sunglasses to assess fit and coverage. When wearing the sunglasses, your eyes should be centered in the middle of each lens. If the frames press on your temples or feel too tight, they’re too small. Gaps letting in light mean they’re too big.
For surfing, shake your head around while trying on shades to see if they stay put or tend to shift and slide. Pressing the frames against your forehead ensures secure grip. Good fitting sunglasses should stay on without squeezing too tight.
Getting a Proper Seal
In addition to fit, it’s vital your sunglasses seal tightly to your face for surfing. Foam gaskets around the lenses block light and water from leaking in. Close-fitting wrap styles wrap securely with wide lenses and curvature embracing the face.
Nose and temple pads should sit flush against the skin. You don’t want any gaps that let in wind, spray, and glare off the water. Properly fitted and sealed sunglasses are less likely to let you down at a critical moment.
For the ultimate tailored fit, consider made-to-order custom sunglasses. You can get frames shaped specifically for your measurements with optician-quality build quality. Though more expensive, custom gives you an exact match for your facial contours.
Finding well-fitting sunglasses that stay on and protect your eyes is key to surfing comfort and safety. Take the time to consider size, shape, adjustability, and fit when selecting your shades. With so many styles available today, you can fine-tune both the look and functionality of your surfing eyewear.
Lens Size – Bigger Isn’t Always Better
When shopping for the best sunglasses for surfing, you’ll see many options for lens size. Larger shield or oversized styles certainly look cool. But bigger lenses aren’t necessarily better lenses for activities like surfing. The right balance of coverage, weight, and field of vision differs for each person. Here’s what to consider when evaluating lens size for your surf sunglasses:
Peripheral & Downward Vision
Larger lenses, up to 3 inches wide, do allow more peripheral and downward vision. You can spot waves and hazards approaching from the side without major head turning. Upward vision to track incoming sets can require tilting your head back less. But for smaller faces, oversized frames can obstruct or distort peripheral view.
Weigh visibility needs vs. comfort, stability and weight. Lenses only need to be big enough to adequately track your surfing environment without creating blind spots.
Clarity & Distortion
Larger lenses can also increase optical distortion. Images warp more toward the edges and curves of oversized shield shapes. The ideal lens width for clarity maintains curvature close to the face without protruding too far side-to-side.
Optical quality matters more than sheer size. High grade, lightweight polycarbonate or Trivex lenses prevent fish-eye effects while enhancing contrast and depth perception.
Consider typical weather conditions too. Larger lenses excel at blocking glare on sunny days. They provide more coverage preventing squinting and watering. But in foggy or overcast conditions, smaller lenses can be easier to keep defogged while retaining crisp vision.
Larger shield or wraparound sunglasses provide greater facial coverage. More of your face stays shaded and protected from harsh sun exposure. Just take care the frames don’t interfere with getting a good cheek-to-board seal when duck diving under waves.
Greater coverage also reduces chances of sun sneaking in from indirect angles. Stick with medium to larger size lenses if intense sunlight is typical.
Reduce Frame Movement
In terms of fit, bigger lenses distributing weight over more surface area tend to grip better. With less shifting on the face, correctly sized oversized frames move less on steep drops or big aerials.
But lenses should never protrude so far they bump your cheeks. Stick with sizes that still feel balanced and secure on your bone structure.
Weighing Your Options
Consider your sport, conditions, and facial structure when choosing lens size. Smaller lenses around 54-57mm wide suit many surfers well, offering clear vision with less wobble. Larger lenses up to 62-65mm help larger faces get full sun protection.
Try sizes in person or buy from retailers with good return policies to experiment. You want confident vision without uncomfortable distractions while surfing. Balance optimal spotting ability with a secure, stable fit.
While bigger lenses can enhance performance, don’t assume you need the maximum coverage. Let comfort and visibility be your guide when selecting the ideal lens size for any surfing adventure.
Brands To Consider – Top Brands For Surf Sunglasses
With so many sunglasses brands on the market, it can be tricky finding just the right pair for surfing. But some companies stand out for making high-quality shades designed specifically with water sports in mind. Here are some top brands to consider when shopping for your next pair of surf sunglasses:
Oakley is one of the most respected names in performance sport sunglasses. Many of their designs excel for activities like surfing. Oakley uses proprietary polycarbonate and composite lens materials for clarity and durability. Their Prizm lenses enhance contrast in ocean environments.
Many frames feature Unobtainium earsocks and nosepads for a secure grip even when wet. And innovative wraparound shapes provide a protected field of view. Popular models like the Turbine, Radar EV Path, and Crossrange give surfers proven performance.
Costa Del Mar
Founded in Florida, Costa Del Mar pioneered sunglasses built for life on and around the water. Their patented 580 lens technology selectively filters light, enhancing colors and visibility. Durable nylon co-polymer frames resist salt and UV damage.
Costa frames feature integral hinges, adjustable rubber nose pads, and Hydrolite temple pads. Models like the Blackfin, Brine, and Rock Cove satisfy both fashion and function for all-day comfort.
Maui Jim is another leader in polarized sunglasses for water sports. Their proprietary PolarizedPlus2 lens tech enhances color and clarity while blocking glare. Durable Grilamid frames stay flexible even in high stress activities.
Many Maui Jim models include a rare earth magnetic bi-pin hinge system for secure open-close performance. And non-corrosive spring hinges prevent overextension. The Peahi, Hookipa, and Makaha frames work great for surfing.
SPY Optic takes a stylish, edgy approach to performance eyewear. Many of their frame models work well for surfing thanks to sturdy construction and quality optics. Patented Scoop ventilation eliminates fogging even after duck diving.
SPY lenses come in a range of tints from yellow to rose to enhance water views. And their Happy Lens technology filters specific color wavelengths to improve mood and alertness when surfing.
Owned by Oakley, Dragon Alliance makes high-end technical sunglasses geared for surfing, skating, snow sports, fishing and beyond. Frames come in stylish wrap shapes constructed from tough polycarbonate. Dragon’s XL lenses optimize peripheral vision.
Proprietary Lumalens technology clarifies colors and depth perception in ocean environments. And hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings repel water, oil, and smudges when surfing. The Rogue and NFX2 models work especially well.
When searching for your next set of shades, look at proven brands that design sunglasses optimized for water wear and ocean sports. Keep these leaders in surfing eyewear in mind.
Budget Options – Great Sunglasses Under $50
You don’t need to spend a fortune on shades to get solid performance while surfing. Many great budget-friendly sunglasses under $50 offer protection, style, and durability. Brands like Roka, Eyeshields, and Goodr offer quality at affordable prices.
Roka started out making triathlon gear then expanded into stylish performance sunglasses. Many of their frames work very well for surfing at prices between $40-$100. The Akaso model has a co-injected rubber frame for no-slip grip even when wet.
Roka lenses come polarized to reduce glare or mirrored for max flash. Or you can upgrade to photochromic lenses that adapt to changing light conditions. The Traverse, Osprey, and Falcon frames are great surf choices.
Eyeshields make sports sunglasses designed specifically for surfing, sailing, and paddle sports. Durable polycarbonate polarized lenses have hydrophobic and anti-fog coatings ideal for water. Flexible co-molded frames conform to different face shapes.
Classic wrap styles like the Malibu, Pacific Beach, and Oceanside sell for $25-$45. You can often find sales offering extra discounts. Eyeshields prove you can get specialized function on a tight budget.
Goodr sunglasses start at just $25 for basic sport styles with polarized lenses. The affordable pricing comes from direct-to-consumer distribution that cuts out retailer markups. Simple polycarbonate frames keep weight down.
Mirrored and photochromic lenses cost more but still only $55-$75. The Runnings, OGs, and Wayfarers suit a wide range of face shapes. Grab a couple pairs in different tints to suit any surf session.
Best known for laidback footwear, Sanuk also makes quality sunglasses from around $40-$60. Grilamid frames resist salt and UV damage while staying flexible. Sanuk sources top-grade polycarbonate polarized lenses for clarity.
Styles like the Lazy I, Pismo, and Krissy provide eye protection you can rely on during warm water sessions. Sanuk’s chill vibe shines through in their eyewear designs.
Life is Good
Popular lifestyle brand Life is Good uses crisp polarized lenses in their budget-friendly sunglasses. Most frames cost $35-$50 with nylon, polycarbonate, or propionate construction. Mirrored options run under $75.
The Skipper, First Mate, and Captain styles take inspiration from coastal living. Life is Good also features kids’ models to get the whole family outfitted.
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for flimsy shades prone to breaking or losing their polarization. Any of these brands can keep you surfing in style without breaking the bank.
High-End Picks – Premium Sunglasses Over $100
While you can find quality surf sunglasses at lower price points, stepping up to premium high-end pairs over $100 brings more advanced features. Cutting-edge lens technology, ultra-durable materials, custom options and pro-level performance come with the higher cost. But serious surfers may find these splurges worthwhile.
Maui Jim Mavericks
Named after the famous big wave surf spot, Maui Jim’s Mavericks model justifies its $299 price. The ultra-thin pure titanium frame withstands heavy saltwater abuse. Cushioned rubber nose pads prevent slippage mid-ride.
Maui’s proprietary PolarizedPlus2 lenses deliver unmatched clarity even in heavy glare. Added treatments enhance scratch resistance, hydrophobic properties, and durability making them ideal for surf.
Oakley’s Overdrive mixes performance and style for $196. The lightweight C-5 alloy metal frame features an aviator-inspired teardrop shape. Unobtanium earsocks and nosepads grip securely even after duck diving.
Prizm Dark Golf lenses filter specific wavelengths to sharpen vision of ocean contours. And the glare-cutting polarization prevents squinting to spot sets sooner.
Ray-Ban Wayfarer Polarized
A timeless icon, the Ray-Ban Wayfarer gets an upgrade with polarization for $203. Durable acetate frames maintain the classic shape in solid or transparent colors. Polarized crystal lenses banish distracting glare.
While not specifically made for surfing, Wayfarers work fine for mellower shorebreak sessions. And you still get that inherent old-school cool factor.
Randolph Engineering Aviators
Randolph Engineering has made aviator sunglasses for the U.S. military for decades. That history shows in the $169 Concorde’s rugged build quality. Stainless steel frames and saltwater-grade acetate lenses stand up to heavy surf abuse.
Large teardrop lenses optimize peripheral vision ideal for tracking ocean conditions. You’re investing in heirloom-grade eyewear built to last years of surf trips.
Costa Del Mar Jose
Costa Del Mar’s $219 Jose shares a name with surfing superstar Carlos Burle who helped design it. The lightweight nylon frame offers all-day comfort through marathon sessions. Rubber nose pads prevent slipping.
Costa’s signature 580 lens technology enhances clarity and cuts glare. And the broad shape amplifies side-to-side field of view to spot nearby waves sooner.
While pricey, Costa Del Mar and other premium brands give dedicated surfers the pinnacle of performance and protection out in the waves.
Best For Protection – Most Durable Sunglasses
When riding big waves, sunglasses take a beating from saltwater, UV rays, flying boards, and plain old hardcore use. Cheap frames and lenses can warp, fade, shatter, or fall apart after a few heavy sessions. That’s why prioritizing protection means investing in ultra-durable sunglasses built to endure heavy surf.
Oakley’s Frogskins have protected pros and hardcore shredders for over 30 years. The tough yet flexible O Matter frame material withstands crashes and saltwater corrosion. Plutonite lenses block 100% of UV rays.
Multiple Iridium lens tints handle varying light conditions. And Oakley’s High Definition Optics ensure clarity from all angles. The Frogskins refuse to quit after all these years.
Costa Del Mar Brine
Costa Del Mar built the Brine model specifically for surf and action watersports. The co-molded TR-90 nylon frame stands up to sun, salt, and pressure. Spring loaded hinges prevent over-rotation.
Hardened mineral glass lenses stay scratch-free during wipeouts. Anti-reflective and hydrophobic coatings repel water and oils. Expect decades of use thanks to the Brine’s rugged reliability.
Smith Lowdown ChromaPop
Smith Optics designed the Lowdown frame geometry for a secure active fit. Composite construction makes them ultra-light yet strong. Adjustable nose pads keep the view stable.
ChromaPop lenses optimize light transmission for bright, crisp vision. Carbonic lens components boost impact resistance. Grab the Lowdown for surf days at rocky reef breaks.
Spy Optic Bravo
Wraparound shapes like the Spy Optic Bravo block glare and debris from every angle. Made from tough propionate, the Bravos withstand crashes and pressure dents during powerful carves.
Spy’s Happy Lens tech filters blue light and boosts colors for improved mood. The lenses even come prescription ready. Go big and stomp landings with the Bravo’s sturdy specs protecting you.
Dragon Alliance NFX2
Drag-Addict technology gives the NFX2 a supple but secure grip to stay put in churning surf. Monel alloy integrated hinges can withstand over 6,000 cycles without failing.
Lumalens technology enhances vision through diffuse lighting. An anti-fog coating keeps vision crisp after duck dives. The NFX2 builds your confidence to go for it in imposing surf.
When sunglass durability is a priority, you have many high-quality options. Just be sure to compare lens and frame construction to maximize protection.
Best For Style – Most Fashionable Surf Sunglasses
Just because sunglasses are designed for surfing doesn’t mean they can’t be stylish too. Many frames balance performance features with fashionable shapes, colors, and details to complement your look out of the water. Here are some of the most fashion-forward sunglass styles built to handle surfing:
VonZipper adds flair to the classic wayfarer shape with the Feenom’s bold angles and oversized silhouette. Tortoiseshell or translucent patterns make a statement. Tri-gel nose pads grip securely.
Mineral glass lenses stand up to scratches. And optical quality nylon lenses remain distortion-free across your field of view as you scan for the next wave. The Feenom brings bold attitude to the lineup.
Combining vintage elements with modern performance, the Electric Knoxville channels classic surf style. The round polycarbonate frame comes in retro-inspired colors like tortoiseshell, crystal opal, or translucent azure.
Despite the retro vibe, the lenses utilize cutting-edge technology. Die-cut double-gradient polarization and anti-reflective treatments enhance depth perception. The Knoxville brings surf cool to everyday wear.
Smith Lowdown XL 2
Slim, lightweight frames give the Smith Lowdown XL 2 a sleek, streamlined look. Understated rimless styling maintains a low-profile aesthetic. Adjustable nose pads keep the view stable.
Smith’s patented tapered lens technology cuts peripheral distortion for crisp clarity. And the scratch-resistant coating protects during wipeouts. The Lowdown XL 2 brings refinement to active eyewear.
Quiksilver Happy Hour
The Happy Hour from Quiksilver combines fashion and function in one sharp package. Simple but bold frame fronts accentuate the circular lens shape. Contrasting temple pieces provide a dash of color.
Textured rubber grips keep them in place even after duck dives. And the polycarbonate lenses maintain optical clarity and cut harsh glare during marathon surf sessions.
Billabong’s Sundancer channels ’70s retro vibes reminiscent of old surf films. Flat lenses and thin metal frames create a flattering teardrop silhouette. Vibrant transparent colors give off a summery vibe.
Despite the chill appearance, Air Foam temples and nose pads grip securely on the face. And hardy polycarbonate lenses withstand scratches and impact. The Sundancer brings coastal cool with next-level performance.
Today’s top sunglass brands understand you want shades that look as great up on the beach as they function out riding waves. With so many choices available, you can easily find frames that fit your personal style.
For Small Faces – Sunglasses For Narrow Faces
Having a narrow or small face shape can make finding well-fitting sunglasses tricky. Many frames look too bulky or oversized on petite facial structures. But certain styles and proportions specifically flatter narrow faces. Here are tips for choosing the best sunglasses if you have a slender face shape:
The key is balancing proportions between your face and the frames. Avoid styles wider than your cheekbones, which can overwhelm your features. Find frames equal to or slightly wider than the broadest part of your face.
For temple piece length, choose arms that extend straight back just past your earlobes. Temples that are too short can pinch behind the ears. Too long and the sunglasses may slip down frequently.
Square frames with clean 90 degree angles help add visual width to a narrow face. The straight lines contrast with your facial curves for a balancing effect. Try squarish styles like classic wayfarers, browlines, and aviators.
Accentuate Your Jaw
Frames drawing attention to the jaw and lower face also complement narrow face shapes. Try underframes that sit below your brow ridge or styles with bold, thick bottoms. Cat eye shapes can also widen the look of your jawline.
Placement plays a role too. Frames that sit high on your cheeks make your face appear shorter. Make sure the top frame line sits at or just above your brow ridge. Oversized aviators and wayfarers work well.
Avoid Small Round Frames
Steer clear of narrow circular frames that widen at the bottom. These can dwarf your features. Stick to clean rectangular, geometric shapes. Round or oval lenses in a squarer frame work better.
For surfing, wraparound frame styles help secure sunglasses on narrow faces. The extra curve and angles grip the side of your head. Just ensure the frames aren’t so oversized they stick out beyond your cheekbones.
Brands like Oakley and Maui Jim offer wraparound models designed specifically for smaller, narrower faces. Seek out proportions optimized for petite structures.
With some searching, those with narrower face shapes can certainly find great sunglasses for surfing. Keep proportions and geometry in mind, and don’t be afraid to shop around until you find the perfect fit.
For Wide Faces – Sunglasses For Broad Faces
Having a wide face shape comes with its own challenges when choosing sunglasses. Many frames can appear too small or narrow on broad facial structures. But certain styling tricks and proportions can help those with wide faces find flattering surf sunglasses.
Counterintuitively, wider frames actually balance a large face rather than exaggerating width even more. Look for styles as wide or slightly wider than your cheekbones. Overly narrow frames will look undersized and awkward.
Go for larger, squarer shapes. But avoid frames extending beyond your face’s natural width. The goal is proportionality to complement your natural structure.
Cover Your Eyebrows
To minimize a wide jawline, choose frames that cover your eyebrows and extend higher on your face. Rectangular designs and aviators both add verticality this way. Visually drawing the eye upwards helps counterbalance jaw width.
Sharply angled frames tend to accentuate facial width even more. Softer lines and rounded edges help reduce the appearance of width. Try round, oval, or aviator frames to diminish hard edges.
Temple Arm Positioning
Pay attention to where the temple arms join the fronts of the frames. Arms that attach at the furthest edge of the frames enhance width. Look for styles where arms join closer to the bridge for a slimming effect.
Bold Cateye Styles
For a retro look, oversized cateye frames with strong angles add balance. The exaggerated corners contrast with a wide jawline. But take care the frames don’t extend past your natural cheek width.
For surfing, go for wrap designs to maximize coverage and stability. Just be cautious with oversized wraparounds, which can overpower wide faces. Seek out proportions that complement your structure.
With some discretion and knowledge of ideal shapes and proportions, those with wide faces can certainly find great sunglasses. Frames don’t need to be tiny – just keep widths in balance with your facial structure.
Conclusion – Find The Perfect Pair For Your Surfing Needs
With so many factors to consider from lens tint to frame durability, finding ideal surfing sunglasses can seem daunting. But keeping your individual needs and surfing style in mind helps narrow the choices. Consider lens technology, shape, fit, features and budget to select shades tailored to you.
Assess Your Needs
What do you need most from your surf sunglasses? Glare reduction, impact protection, hydrophobic treatments, polarized or mirrored lenses? Make a list of must-have features so you can compare models effectively.
Try On Different Shapes
Head into shops and try on various sunglass shapes to determine what compliments your face shape best. Pay attention to comfort, coverage and grip when testing different pairs.
Compare Brands and Models
Research specific sunglass brands and models that excel for surfing. Costa Del Mar, Oakley, Spy Optic and more all offer great options designed expressly for water sports. Compare construction and components.
Look For Sales
Even premium sunglasses go on sale. Sign up for brand emails and check retailer sites for discounts. Buying last season’s styles can mean big savings on performance shades.
Read User Reviews
Check out customer reviews on retail sites to hear unbiased opinions on comfort, durability and clarity of lenses for models you’re considering. This can reveal potential issues.
Confirm Return Policies
Buying online is convenient but doesn’t allow you to try frames on. Make sure sellers accept returns so you can exchange if needed. Try to buy from an authorized dealer.
For expensive sunglasses, insurance can be worth it, covering loss, theft and damage. Read the policy terms to understand what’s covered and the replacement process.
Finding that perfect pair takes effort and research. But with persistence, you can discover surf sunglasses with the right blend of performance, comfort and style tailored specifically for you. Protect your eyes and look stylish riding waves this season.