Whether you’re hiking in the alpine, paddling on the ocean, or skiing some backcountry powder, a pair of polarized sunglasses is a must for protecting your eyes.
In this article, we are breaking down the benefits of polarized glasses and how you can pick the perfect tint lens to suit your desired activity.
What Are The Benefits Of Polarized Sunglasses?
Polarized or not, sunglasses are essential if you want to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure. But, what exactly are polarized glasses, and why are they good for use on your adventures?
Basically, polarized sunglasses feature lenses that have a built-in filter that can reduce or eliminate the total amount of reflected light that reaches your eyes. Polarization has a number of benefits, including:
- Added Comfort. Polarized lenses can eliminate the negative effects of glare on your eyes. This makes for a more comfortable visual experience when you’re outside.
- Extra Protection. When you opt for polarized glasses, you get more effective eye protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Improved Colors. Polarization helps to intensify the colors of the landscape around you and can also improve contrast, which makes it easier to see in complex environments.
- Clearer Vision. Since polarized lenses can reduce glare, they make it easier to see clearly while you’re hiking, climbing, or paddling.
Important Features To Consider In Polarized Glasses
There are hundreds of different polarized sunglasses out there, so finding the right pair for your needs is all about knowing what to look for. Here are some of the most important features to remember as you shop:
Sunglasses come in a wide range of different shapes. In general, sunglasses shapes are a matter of preference and style, though models that provide more wrap-around coverage are preferred in very sunny environments.
This wrap-around coverage means that light is less likely to enter your eye from the sides, especially if you’re spending a lot of time in snowy environments or on the water. In these situations, having glasses with good side-protection is critical.
Traditionally, glasses lenses were, well, made of glass. These days, lenses are actually rarely made of glass unless you purchase high-end glasses. This is how each type of lens stacks performs in the real world:
- Glass. Good ol’ fashioned glass is the best when it comes to clarity, but they are heavy and can easily break.
- Polycarbonate. This kind of lens is impact-resistant and provides good optical clarity. In general, they’re quite affordable, though they tend to scratch quite easily.
- Polyurethane. Polyurethane lenses are very impact-resistant and offer top-notch clarity. While they are very lightweight, though, they are usually more expensive.
Sunglasses lenses come in a whole host of different colors, each of which has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Here’s what you need to know:
- Blue/Purple. These lenses are useful in flat light or on overcast days because they offer some good contrast to your environment. You’ll often see them on glasses designed for boating, fishing, and kayaking, such as the Oakley pair that I own.
- Yellow. Yellow lenses aren’t as good at blocking light as some other options, but they are effective at increasing contrast, especially in low light conditions. They’re a fan-favorite for golfing and shooting.
- Green. This lens color is most commonly found in sports lenses (particularly baseball and tennis) because they provide lots of contrast but minimal color distortion. However, they’re not great at blocking blue light.
- Grey. Grey lenses are perhaps the most popular option because they don’t distort color and they are good at cutting down on glare in bright conditions.
- Brown. Similar to grey lenses, brown lenses are good for everyday use because they enhance contrast without distorting color. They are particularly useful in variable light conditions.
- Rose/Red. Red and rose colored lenses are effective at blocking out blue light but they also significantly distort color. This kind of lens is most commonly found in cycling glasses.
You generally have two options when it comes to frame materials: metal and plastic/nylon. Metal glasses are durable and stylish but are often quite heavy. On the other hand, plastic frames tend to be lightweight and impact-resistant at the same time.
Polarized sunglasses are an essential piece of gear for any outdoor pursuit. They offer excellent eye protection from the sun’s harmful rays while simultaneously reducing glare. Choosing the right pair is critical for enjoying any sun-filled outdoor adventure.