This Is How To Find The Best Sunglasses For Your Sport

Sorry, Maverick, your aviators have lost that lovin' feelin'.

Kirsten Curtis |

This may come as a surprise, but just like you wouldn’t hit the squat rack in your favourite pair of jeans (you, wouldn’t, right?) the sunglasses you wear lounging poolside are not good for outdoor workouts. Sporty sunnies are as fit for purpose as running shoes or a moisture-wicking t-shirt. And like the rest of your workout gear, the pair you choose depends on the activity you’re going to be using them for. We asked Deon Ebel from sunglasses manufacturer Maui Jim to give us the low-down on what to look out for when shopping for active eyewear.


As with most fitness accessories, when you’re working out, lighter sunglasses are your friend. Yes we know you can bench your bodyweight, but when you’re fighting for breath eight kays into your 10-kay, even something as trivial as the weight of your sunglasses on your face can feel like it’s holding you back.

READ MORE: This South Africa guy took on an endurance horse race that’s straight out of Hidalgo. And lost a whole of weight in the process.


There are few things more annoying than feeling your sunglasses slipping off your face every five minutes. Look for arms that fit snugly but don’t dig into your head. Don’t feel shy about jumping up and down a bit in the shop to test their staying power. NOTE: If you opt for head-banging, you need to post that video and tag us.

Nose Pads

Probably not what springs to mind when you think about your ideal pair of sunglasses, but comfy nose pads make a massive difference when you’re exercising. Scratchy plastic, in the presence of sweat, creates a sting that feels like slow torture. Instead, look for silicone pads.

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We know that every time you put your sunglasses on, the Top Gun theme song is playing in your head. And we respect that. But for exercise, aviators won’t cut it. Your sunglasses need to wrap around your face, protecting your eyes from both debris and glare. Yes, even for beach volleyball.


Look for lenses that offer 100% UV protection (not all do!), are polarised and designed to reduce glare. Polarised lenses reduce eye strain and help you see colours more vividly and objects more crisply. You can also look out for anti-fogging technology so they don’t mist up when you start sweating, scratch resistance in the event you drop them while you’re out on a run and water repellant qualities if you train in the rain. This won’t stop them getting wet, but instead of the rain beading on the lenses, it will run off.


This light box shows how polarised lenses affect how we see the world. The image on the left is the box as seen with the naked eye. The image on the right shows the box through a pair of Maui Jim polarised sunglasses.


When you’re choosing sunglasses for exercise, this isn’t just about what looks the most manly (Morpheus mirror-coated black, obviously). Different lens colours affect how you see the world in different ways. There are four main colour options to consider. Here’s how to choose the best one for your sport.

Your sport:  Playing touchies or club cricket on the weekend.

Go for: Grey

This neutral colour has the highest light reduction factor so it’s a good option if you’re usually out during full, bright sunlight and have sensitive eyes.

Your sport: Golf or hiking

Go for: Rose

Also good for soothing and relaxing the muscles of your eyes, lenses this colour enhance contrast. So they’re great on the golf course and for hiking, as you’ll perceive colours more vividly, while reducing the strain on your eyes. Pus you get to see your scorecard through rose-tinted glasses.

Your sport: Running or cycling

Go for: Green

If you typically run or cycle in the early mornings, these are a good option as green lenses allow you to see in lower light conditions, but will still provide good UV protection as the sun rises higher. Yellow lenses are also great for low light, but they won’t offer the same UV protection as green lenses after sunrise.

Your sport: You like to mix it up with a bit of everything.

Go for: Bronze

Best for all-rounders, these have light reduction properties like neutral grey lenses, but also offer some of the depth and contrast qualities that you’ll find in rose lenses.

Looking for more? Check out our cover guy’s tips on mixing up your training for better gains.

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