Picking out the right shades is tough these days. It’s hard to say if what you’re buying is worth the money or not many times.
Should you spend the extra cash for name brand? What features are really worth having?
My goal today is to help you sort through all the details you need to know so that you come away with a pair of polarized sunglasses that won’t let you down.
These days it’s not hard to find decent polarized shades. We’re going to talk about why you need polarization, how it helps, and what other common features you can look for to get the best bang for your buck!
Quick Answer: The 10 Best Polarized Sunglasses For 2018
- Ray-Ban Women’s Oversized Wrap Sunglasses
- Maui Jim Womens Punchbowl Sunglasses
- Kate Spade New York Women’s Annika Sunglasses
- Oakley Womens Unstoppable Sunglasses
- Bolle Women’s Greta Sunglasses
- Ray-Ban Wayfarer Polarized Sunglasses
- Under Armour Men’s Core 2.0 Sunglasses
- Oakley Mainlink Sunglasses
- Bnus Italy-Made Classic Sunglasses
- Costa Del Mar Saltbreak Sunglasses
Let’s get right into it, here is a feature overview of my top 3 overall picks. Our guide and comparison table of the top rated polarized sunglasses will help you choose the right one for you. First we’ll cover the Women’s sunglasses with the Men’s following.
Best Polarized Sunglasses
Best Polarized Sunglasses For Women
- Plastic frames
- 100% UV Coated
- Scratch Resistant glass lens
- 60mm lens width
The Ray Ban Oversized Wraps are our Editors Choice as the best polarized sunglasses for women. These glasses have a variable tint lens and a casual style.
Their tortoise shell style lends itself more to the casual around town wear than backcountry operations.
If you’re on the hunt for something that’s got the casual look for evenings out these shades are for you. They’re one of those in-between styles that could really fit in just about anywhere from the trailhead parking lot to downtown.
That said, they have a large wrap around lens style. These are nice for blocking out light that might sneak in around the sides or tops of other smaller lens glasses. I personally prefer a full wrap style like these!
Best For: Women looking for a casual look anywhere you want to be.
- Composite frames
- Prescription ready lenses
- 100% UV protection
- Multiple colors to choose
These acetate framed lenses have a few tricks up their sleeves that really improve the overall quality of the sunglasses as a whole. Plus, they’re available in three different color schemes.
Like most good polarized sunglasses these days, you’ll get 100% UV coated lenses. This coating is important for filtering out harmful sun rays that can damage eyes over time. Plus, the polarization will help reduce glare and reflection.
While they’re a more casual frame, they are ready for prescription lenses. That means you could put in a set of photochromic lenses that adapt to light conditions and wear these all the time!
Of course, they’re not large enough to go over existing glasses. Users rate them as excellent for smaller faces and facial features.
Best For: Women with smaller faces and those with prescription needs!
- Polarized composite lenses
- 100% UV Coated
- Case Included
- Wood texture frames
While it’s actually plastic, the frames nearly look like wood with a nice style that’s modern but rustic. They’re also large enough to block out tons of light without being too overbearing.
The dark lenses on these glasses are good for bright days with lots of glare. Thanks to the polarization you’ll have less glare from other cars when driving, or reflection off the water when at the beach.
Unlike many shades, these glasses come with a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer. That’s actually pretty darn cool because most companies sell you a pair of glasses and couldn’t care less about about happens to them once they’re sold.
Best For: Women looking for the best polarized sunglasses under $100 with a classic look.
- Plastic frames
- Case included
- 100% UV Coated
Let’s shift to a set of sunglasses that are made for the outdoors. If you’re an athlete and need a pair of shades that can keep up with you, then look no further!
These Oakley polarized sunglasses have several of my favorite features for high activity uses. Rubber temples and bridges are a necessity and Oakley delivers. Rubber helps keep the sunglasses from slipping off when you move, especially when you’re sweaty or active.
I would have liked to see a bit wider lenses myself to help block out light from the sides. However, they’re a much more slim and aggressive look than the other casual glasses on our list and that may appeal well to athletes.
These glasses are also available in a ton of colors and options. By far the most versatile pair of polarized sports sunglasses on our list so far!
Best For: Women who the best polarized sunglasses for the money with lots options in color and styling in a slim athletic shade.
- Classic design
- UV Coated lenses
- Polycarbonate lenses
Now we’re going to toss it back to a versatile casual looking pair of glasses. These polarized lenses are wide and and stylish for less aggressive activities.
While these glasses seem casual, they belie a strong and rugged build. Nylon frames are durable and hold up well to flexing and pressure. Plus, the polycarbonate lenses are insanely impact resistant and lightweight.
These glasses come in 5 different styles all of which pull in elements that feel like the 1960’s smashed into modern shades.
Of course, one of the most important features is the large lenses with UVA and UVB coatings.
Best For: Women who want retro styling with protective lenses that enclose the face well.
Best Polarized Sunglasses For Men
- Nylon frame
- Scratch resistant crystal lens
- 100% UV Coated Lens
Ray-Ban is one of those ubiquitous names in sunglasses that we just can’t ignore and our Editors Choice as the best polarized sunglasses for men.
They’re always on top of style and function which is exactly where these glasses make their home.
If you’re a fan of the hipster style sunglasses look, you’ll feel right at ease with these glasses. They’re available in several color options and make an easy choice for modern, yet casual looks.
Honestly I’m not the biggest of this styling because the frame takes up a large portion of the peripheral view. However, it does help block sunlight pretty well from the sides.
Plus, you can pick from several different lens styles that will help you be comfortable in any lighting.
These are, without a doubt, casual shades. There are no rubber temples or bridges so don’t let them fall in the drink!
Best For: Men looking for casual shades that look at home in any setting.
- Rubber temples and bridge
- 100% UV Coated Lens
- 69mm lens width
Under Armour is known for their excellent sportswear. That’s exactly what we get from them in these modern wrap around sunglasses!
I’m a huge fan of wide sunglasses like these. With a width of nearly 7cm (2.7”) they really wrap and protect the eye. This helps with sticks, branches, debris, and sunlight! It’s amazing how annoying light and glare can be when it gets in around the side of a small lens!
There are several different styles and lenses you can choose from when you pick out these glasses. Just make sure to get the ones that appeal to you, because they all have the same effective function.
Best For: An affordable sporty look and shades that are ready for activity!
- Available in many colors
- Prescription ready lenses
- Case included
If the Ray-Ban glasses were casual and the Under Armour Cores were sporty, then the Mainlink glasses are right in between! These shades have the classic Oakley appeal with a blend of modern, athletic, and sleek.
These glasses are one of the best blends of athletic and casual on our list. They’ve got a mild, square design with mirrored lenses that sit on an athletic looking frame.
If you’re stuck wearing prescription glasses you can swap these lenses out for something with your perfect prescription. The lenses are prescription ready so you can have them tailored to your needs.
Best For: A blend of both worlds for the prescription glasses wearer.
- Corning Glass Lens
- Nylon Frame
- Scratch resistant lenses
- 12-month Warranty
If you want affordability with options, there’s not a better pair of sunglasses on our list! Seriously it will blow your mind when you see how many options there are.
For a pair of shades that won’t break the bank, these guys sure have a lot going for them. They’re available in 30+ colors and lens types.
You can choose from polarized or non-polarized and there’s even a high performance option as well for these UV protection sunglasses.
Honestly I would have liked to see a few athletic additions, but for the cost I can’t complain. The nylon frames hold square mirrored lenses or tinted lenses depending on your selection.
The warranty is for 12-months from sale and gives a little peace of mind when buying a lesser-known brand.
Best For: Budget conscious men looking for the best cheap polarized sunglasses to keep some cash in the wallet while picking up some great casual shades.
- Rubber bridge and temples
- Lifetime warranty
- Tons of color options
Costa Del Mar is known for their seafaring shades, similar to Maui Jim we reviewed earlier. These glasses have a special addition that makes them even better for water use, though!
There are several different lenses and frames you can pick from. However, the flagship model is designed to block out yellow and blue light to help with clarity when fishing.
By reducing these colors, Costa Del Mar gives us some sunglasses with polarized lenses that are purpose built for the angler.
There are both shaded and mirrored lenses available. All of them are 100% UV coated to protect the eyes which is even more important on the water where rays are reflected.
Overall these sunglasses, depending on the options you choose, range from sporty to moderately casual in appearance. However, all of them retain an angler’s specific array of features.
Best For: Men who spend time on or around the water with a look that can go anywhere.
Polarized Sunglasses Comparison Table
|Ray-Ban Wrap Sunglasses||Women||Composite||Glass||Scratch resistant glass lens||4.3 / 5.0|
|Maui Jim Punchbowl Sunglasses||Women||Composite||Glass||Prescription ready (Rx-able)||4.8 / 5.0|
|Kate Spade Women's Annika||Women||Plastic||Composite lens||100% UV protection||4.5 / 5.0|
|Oakley Unstoppable Sunglasses||Women||Plastic||Acrylic||100% UV protection||4.3 / 5.0|
|Bolle Women's Greta Sunglasses||Women||Nylon||Polycarbonate||100% UVA & UVB protection||4.4 / 5.0|
|Ray-Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses||Men||Nylon||Crystal||100% UV protection||4.4 / 5.0|
|Under Armour Core 2.0||Men||Grilamid||Acrylic||100% UVA, UVB and UVC||3.6 / 5.0|
|Oakley Mainlink Sunglasses||Men||Plastic||Acrylic||Prescription ready (Rx-able)||4.4 / 5.0|
|Bnus Classic Sunglasses||Men||Nylon||Corning Glass||12-month warranty||4.5 / 5.0|
|Costa Del Mar Saltbreak||Men||Nylon||Glass||Hand built and backed for life||4.7 / 5.0|
How to Choose the Best Polarized Sunglasses
- Types of Shades
- Lens Types
- Interchangeable Lenses
- Visible Light Transmission
- Lens Materials
- Choosing a Frame
- FAQs For Polarized Sunglasses
Types of Sunglasses
This is actually more important than most people give it credit for. Deciding which type of sunglasses to use will make your life easier – or much harder.
Oakley sunglasses like the Unstoppable and the Under Armour Core probably come to mind for that distinctive athlete look. They usually feature wrap around styling to keep the eyes protected. On the temples these sunglasses have rubber temples which help them grip the skin when wet or sweaty. Nose pieces usually also feature rubber for grip.
These glasses are usually concerned about looking cool and not so much about function. These styles include aviators and hipster shades which don’t necessarily protect the eyes as much as their sporty cousins. These sunglasses may lack performance features like rubber temples or nasals.
Polarized glasses are common on both casual and sport sunglasses.
Your decision should come down to fashion versus function. For running, biking, fishing, and other activities a pair of sport sunglasses will make the most sense. Around town or in the car, casual shades are just fine and often look better.
There are several different features you can look for in a lense. Depending which type you choose and which style (athletic or casual) your shades will fit a very specific purpose. Let’s find out what features you should go for!
These lenses actually get darker and lighter based on how bright it is around you! These are amazing for adapting to different lighting conditions, but they do take a few minutes to change when going from indoors to outdoors. In cases such as driving the lenses may not darken at all because the glass on the car interferes with their ability to detect the critical UVB rays to change shade.
These are the main focus of our article! They work by filtering out light rays traveling at certain angles. That’s how they’re able to reduce glare and reflections. Because light from glares and reflection are generally oriented opposite to the “filters” in polarized lenses, it can’t get through!
If you want to know for sure if the sunglasses you’re looking at are polarized, simply hold up a digital watch face. Rotate the watch face and, if the screen goes black, you have polarized lenses!
Interchangeable Lenses – Do You Need Them?
Some high end glasses have lenses that snap in and out of the frame. These are ideal for a couple of reasons.
If you are in a situation where one lens type won’t work, you can just switch for another. It may take a few seconds to switch, but for many people this is better than owning several separate pairs of shades.
If you find a frame style you love, you can swap lenses to match different situations or styles. If you want a blue mirrored lens for a sporty day of biking, go for it. Switch to a more casual rose tinted lens for an afternoon out on a cloudy day.
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) – What is it?
On most quality sunglasses you’ll be able to choose from a range of VLT lenses. Visible light transmission is usually represented as a percentage. The lower the percentage, the darker the lens.
- 100% VLT would be perfectly clear
- 90% lets through a lot of light
- 10% lets through very little light
- 0% VLT would be perfectly dark
There’s no perfect answer to how much light you need to let through. It depends on your activity and the weather conditions for outdoor use.
In bright, sunny, reflective conditions like fishing on a sunny day you may want something in the 20% or lower VLT range.
For casual afternoons and a romantic dinner, you might want something more like 40-60% VLT. These lenses allow a lot more light through so you can wear them longer as the evening gets a bit darker.
Lens Materials – Which is Best?
Not all lenses are made equal! There are several different common lens materials that dramatically affect performance and quality.
Acrylic is extremely affordable. It has perhaps the lowest durability and visual clarity of all the materials here. Best for super affordable, light use glasses.
Polycarbonate is also quite affordable but features some improved qualities. It’s highly impact resistant and has decent clarity however it’s very scratch-prone.
Polyurethane is expensive but features high quality characteristics pretty much across the board.
Glass offers some of the best qualities of any lenses. It is, however, the most expensive. Don’t worry, glass lenses are treated so they don’t harm users if or when they break.
Choosing a Frame
Frame materials are relatively straightforward. Except for a few niche frames you’ll only have two main choices of materials.
Metal is sturdy and can be adjusted to fit you by a professional (or just bent back into shape usually). Metals are going to be more prone to bending than nylon frames. Metal frames are usually slim compared to nylon frames.
Nylon is much lighter and are more durable than metal frames. They’re nearly unbreakable unless you really abuse them! Nylon is very affordable and comes in tons of colors and shapes. These are most common on sports sunglasses for their durability.
FAQs For Polarized Sunglasses
Q: Which brand of sunglasses are the best?
A: Well there are several good brands that you have probably heard of like Ray Ban, Oakley and Costa Del Mar. These sunglasses are all top quality but you will have to pay a little more.
Q: What are the best polarized sunglasses for fishing?
A: Costa Del Mar’s are well known for being excellent while on the water. They specifically block blue and Yellow light so you can see into the water while reducing glare. If you are looking specially for fishing glasses see my reviews here.
Q: Are Polarized lenses good for your eyes?
A: Well they are not necessarily better for your eyes, they do sharpen your vision and by their design they block harmful UV rays.
Q: Are Polarized lenses worth it?
A: Short answer is YES! They sharpen your vision whether you are driving, playing golf or on the beach. They reduce glare and relieve eye strain.
Q: Is Polarized lenses good for driving?
A: Yes they significantly reduce glare from the asphalt allowing you to see oncoming cars better along with other obstacles in the road.
Q: How do you tell if glasses are polarized?
You can tell if your sunglasses are polarized by simply hold up a digital watch face. Rotate the watch face and if the screen goes black, you have polarized lenses!
Q: What are the advantages of polarized sunglasses?
A: Polarized sunglasses significantly reduces glare from sun and reducing eye strain. They also sharpen your vision allowing you to see better, especially on or near the water.
If you want to get the perfect pair of polarized sunglasses for your next adventure, you need to think about what features are important to you.
Nylon frames are rugged, but maybe you want more style for around town? Or perhaps you’re an angler and spend most of your time on the water. In that case you want to block as much light and glare as possible.
Sure, you can pick up any old pair of sunglasses and they’re better than nothing. But they won’t help you catch those fish or really nail the style you’re looking for like the perfect shades you need.
Combining the aesthetic you want with the features you need is the only way to grab the best polarized sunglasses for you.
Trust me, it will make your next pair of sunglasses an item you can’t live without!