The best trail running sunglasses 2024: clarity and protection

Collage of the best trail running sunglasses
(Image credit: Future)

The best trail running sunglasses really begin to come into their own with the coming of spring. As we lace up our trail running shoes and hit the hills, coast paths and mountains more regularly, we obviously require protection against the ever more intense sun.

That's not to say you don't need protection from UV in the winter, you do. However, as the warmer seasons are ushered in, the sun's UV becomes more intense due to the tilt of the Earth towards our parent star. The need to protect our eyelids, lenses, corneas and retinas from this damaging light becomes more and more important.

The best trail running sunglasses are designed with exertion in mind, with features that help them ventilate and stay secure as we bound along in our trail running shoes. It's these features that set the best trail running sunglasses apart from everyday pairs.

Our testers have been hitting the mountain trails in the 11 pairs featured here to bring you this guide. We rate the Dynafit Ultra Evo as the very best trail running sunglasses thanks to their high levels of protection and grippy frame.

The quick list

This is the quick list, a snapshot of the best trail running sunglasses available in 2024. To delve deeper into the features and qualities of each featured pair, see our more detailed reviews further down the page in this guide.

The best trail running sunglasses 2024

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The best trail running sunglasses overall

best trail running sunglasses: Dynafit Ultra Evo Sunglasses

Ultra lightweight wrap-around sunglasses with protective high-contrast visor-style lenses, for runners comfortable with a bold look  (Image credit: Future)
The best trail running sunglasses overall

Specifications

Weight: 31g / 1oz
Category: 3
Frame colors: Black / Blueberry / Burgundy / Frost / Pink
Lens colors: Gold / Storm blue / Hot coral / Dawn / Glo blue
Materials: TR 90 SL 360° frames with an Evo lens
Lens options: Polycarbonate Lens
Size and gender options: One size / Unisex
UV protection: 100%
VLT: 14–16%
Extras: Large, rigid carry case, plus a soft pouch
Suitability: Trail, road and track running

Reasons to buy

+
Highly protective
+
High definition lenses
+
Vents to avoid steaming up
+
Grippy frame 
+
Digital-device friendly

Reasons to avoid

-
The look isn’t for everyone
-
Pricey

If you can pull these glasses off, they’re an excellent, ultralight tool to protect your peepers from flying insects, grit, mud and everything else the trail may well throw out you out there. But that is quite the ‘if’. Because these sunnies are "brash and bold" according to our expert tester, and you need to have something about you to style them out. Those who don’t naturally have this hard-to-define ‘something’, will spend quite a bit of time feeling very self-conscious whenever there are other people around. 

But, on remote trails and quiet coastal tracks, even we have to admit that – while the style is a bit out-there – the Ultra Evo are excellent running glasses. They’re fantastically light, and the minimalist, top-only frame is completely invisible when they’re on your face. There are vents at the top and bottom of the excellent lenses, which allow air in and prevent fogging. The lenses themselves supply superb high contrast, so you can see every bump and trip hazard on the trail. And the frames are very grippy, keeping the sunnies firmly in place, without being uncomfortable. They come with a big zip-shut rigid case to keep them safe, and a little pouch made from a material you can use to clean the lenses.

Read our full Dynafit Ultra Evo sunglasses review

The best trail running sunglasses for color contrast

best trail running sunglasses: Oakley SubZero running sunglasses

Super lightweight, high-performance sunglasses for running, riding and other active pursuits (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
The best trail running sunglasses for color contrast

Specifications

Gender: Unisex
Polarized: No – but Prism lenses offer excellent definition
Weight: 24g / 0.85oz
Frame colors: Matte black / Planet X blue / Carbon fiber
Lens colors: Ruby matte / Sapphire / Dark golf
Extras: Rigid carry case

Reasons to buy

+
Unbelievably light
+
Excellent Prism lenses 
+
Secure, comfy temple and nose grips
+
100% UVA and UVB protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Large nose grip visible to wearer
-
Bug look not for everyone
-
Expensive

Oakley has just re-released its SubZero shades – a classic design, which was originally launched in 1992 and, despite being discontinued three years later, became iconic among runners. The big boast of these glasses was that they weigh under 1oz – which isn’t less than zero, of course, but let’s not split hairs, because it is very, very light, and was especially so back in the early 90s.

On test, we found that the grip is excellent at the temples and nose, and we were able to shake our heads around or look down as much as we liked without fear of them falling off. The ‘no-slip’ Unobtainium nose grip is pretty chunky, however, and while you might not feel that it’s there, you can see that it’s there, which some people might find a little distracting. Oakley’s Prism lenses are superb, coping well with changing light levels and providing amazing definition and color contrast, as well as complete protection from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays.

They're statement sunglasses – there’s no getting away from that, from the prominent (and cleverly design integrated) logo to the overall chic. In terms of performance, though, our reviewer says that "these are fantastic trail running sunglasses for taking on any active pursuits."

Read our full Oakley Re:SubZero trail running sunglasses review

The best trail running sunglasses for versatility

best trail running sunglasses: adidas SP0057 Sport Sunglasses

Style and technology combine here, to produce the ultimate sport sunglasses (Image credit: Kim Fuller)
The best trail running sunglasses for versatility

Specifications

Weight: 32g / 1oz
Category: 3
Material: TR90 wrap frame
Lens options/types: Mirror / polarized / photochromatic
Size options: Unisex one size
UV protection: 100%
VLT: 15%
Suitability: Trail and road running, cycling

Reasons to buy

+
TR90 wrap fame is very lightweight and flexible
+
HDC lenses highlight colors and contrast for all light conditions
+
Adjustable nose pads make for a more comfortable fit
+
Sport-focused technology with fashion-forward style
+
Aeration system prevents lens fog

Reasons to avoid

-
Opaque mirrored lens options aren’t ideal in low light
-
Wide variant in price range with lens type

"It’s hard to find a pair of sport sunglasses that seem to do it all" says our expert tester. Yet in the adidas SP0057, she may have found just to pair. Whether you want to run, bike, ski tour or simply seem stylish, these check all the boxes. This is especially so with the style known as 02L, which are photochromatic, with lenses that adjust to variations in light conditions.

Marcolin, an international eyewear company founded in Italy, was specifically chosen by Adidas to design and be the officially licensee of Adidas eyewear because of their ability to access premium materials. And this quality is very apparent in all the Adidas eyewear we have tested. A frame material from Marcolin, known as TR90, is ultra-lightweight and flexible. On test, during a morning trail run in Sedona, we found the lightweight frame stayed put, with no bounce. The adjustable nose pads and flexible temples with rubber on the interior make for personalized comfort and a grip that doesn’t give way. The aeration system of the SP0057 sits right above the nose near the center of the brow line with nine holes to prevent fogging. 

Switching to the adidas SP0057 sport sunglasses with the 92Z style mirrored lenses for mountain biking, we found them perfect for shielding the bright sun and staying put as we bounced and rolled over red rocks.

Read our full adidas SP0057 Sport Sunglasses review

The most understated trail running sunglasses

best trail running sunglasses: Julbo Montebianco 2 / Monterosa 2 running sunglasses

Comfortable, versatile shades for running, fastpacking and hiking (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
The most understated trail running sunglasses

Specifications

Gender: Male (Montebianco) / Female (Monterosa 2)
Polarized: Optional (more expensive)
Weight: Men’s: 28g / 1oz; Women’s: 26g / 0.9oz
Frame Size: Standard
Frame colors: Black / Dark blue / Gray & red / Gray / Blue & orange / Blue, gray & yellow / Black & grey / Dark blue, mint & blue / Black, blue & white / Dark blue & black / Orange & black / Dark purple & pink (W) / Dark blue, pink & White (W) / Pastel pink & gray (W)
Lens colors: Dark / Grey / Orange tint / Green tint / Yellow tint
Extras: Soft carry pouch and silicone cord

Reasons to buy

+
Removable side shields
+
Lightweight
+
Comfortable
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
Standard Spectron 3 lenses too dark in tree cover

The classy looking Montebianco 2s are lightweight, hardwearing sunglasses for use on mountain trails, whether you’re running or hiking. On test, we found the fit was extremely comfortable, no matter how long we wore them, and the low-profile, shock-absorbing nose-grip was non-invasive and invisible to the wearer. They feature subtle, but very effective side glare shields, which are easy to remove when not required and equally simple to put back on.

The Montebianco 2’s frame is flexible and robust, and can "put up with a bit of rough-and-tough trail treatment" according to our expert tester. It withstands getting knocked around in a backpack or pockets – just make sure you protect the lenses with the material pouch that comes with the glasses.

There are three choices of lens quality: the standard, non-polarised Spectron 3 lenses are the cheapest, and are perfectly adequate for adventures on open terrain; the Spectron 3 polarized lenses reduce more glare and offer better definition when you’re looking at water and skyscapes; while the considerably more expensive Reactiv Polarized glare-control lenses are photochromic, dynamically adapting to the light conditions wherever you’re running and providing optimum visual performance.

Read our full Julbo Montebianco 2 / Monterosa 2 running sunglasses review

The best trail running sunglasses for moisture management

best trail running sunglasses

A style-forward design and exceptional lens make these shades worthy of a higher price tag (Image credit: Oakley)

5. Oakley Flight Jacket

The best trail running sunglasses for moisture management

Specifications

Gender: Unisex
Polarized: No (But available with Prizm Polarized lens option)
Frame Size: Medium/Large
Frame colors: Matte White, Matte Black, Matte Navy, Matte Steel
Lens options and colors: clear to black iridium photochromic / Prizm road / Prizm sapphire / Prizm clear / Prizm jade / Prizm black / Prizm trail torch / Prizm low light

Reasons to buy

+
Unique performance-oriented shape
+
Exceptional lens options
+
Great air and moisture management

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively expensive

One of the keys to a pair of the best trail running sunglasses is simply being able to see the terrain below you and the features around you. The lenses of the aerodynamic Flight Jacket model have a large surface area and an open-edge brow to optimize a wide scope of vision. The nose bridge and ear pieces were specially designed to allow maximize air flow and reduce fogging during high-intensity, high-sweat activities on warm days. On test, we found they did exactly this, no matter the level of exertion.

The Flight Jacket comes with numerous different frame colors and three styles of high-impact protective lens options — Prizm, Prizm Polarized and Photochromatic — that can adapt to ever-changing light conditions. It’s hard to beat the performance and style of the Flight Jacket.

It’s built for high-performance running and cycling and our expert tester confirmed that "it’s one of the best of the bunch". Whether you want to invest a big chunk of money is perhaps something you’ll have to put up for debate. You definitely get what you pay for, and that’s a top-tier pair of shades that won’t let you down.

The best trail running sunglasses for brand aftercare

Shady Rays Velocity trail running sunglasses

These wrap-style, half-frame glasses are ideal for trail running and fast-packing (Image credit: Shady Rays)

6. Shady Rays Velocity

The best trail running sunglasses for brand aftercare

Specifications

Gender: Unisex
Polarized: Yes
Frame Size: Medium
Frame colors: Matte Black, Gloss Clear
Lens colors: Ice blue mirrored lenses with amber tint

Reasons to buy

+
Close-to-face, wrap frame design
+
Premium polarized lenses
+
Great value and replacement guarantee

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as durable as some glasses

Built for fast-action sports, the Velocity sunglasses move with you as you’re bobbing up and down during a trail run, shield the sun and, on test, we found they didn't inhibit our field of vision. The premium ice blue mirror lenses are polarized, shatter-resistant, anti-reflective and offer 100 percent UV protection. The flexing temples and rubberized nose pads keep these shades in place, while the rimless bottom provides an unobstructed view of obstacles and debris on the trail. Intended for a small-medium fit, "the Velocity sunglasses look as good as they perform" according to our expert.

Shady Rays burst on the scene as an Internet startup brand offering affordable sunglasses. Those kinds of brands are plentiful but most are hawking cheap, disposable glasses. The difference is that the quality, performance and style of Shady Rays sunglasses, which are on par with much more expensive models. Shady Rays will even replace your shades if you break them.

The best trail running sunglasses with an urban aesthetic

Zeal Optics Manitou trail running sunglasses

The Manitou are high-performance adventure shades with urban style, highly advanced lenses and exceptional optics (Image credit: Zeal Optics)

7. Zeal Optics Manitou

The best trail running sunglasses with an urban aesthetic

Specifications

Gender: Unisex
Polarized: Yes
Frame Size: Medium
Frame colors: Maple / Matte Black / Ash
Lens colors: Auto sun

Reasons to buy

+
Optimal lens for changing light conditions
+
Casual styling 
+
Best-in-class optics

Reasons to avoid

-
A higher price tag

The small town of Manitou Springs, Colorado, is tucked between the sprawling city of Colorado Springs and the purple mountain majesty of Pikes Peak. It’s a trail running mecca and the place where we tested the Colorado-made Manitou shades. There’s no place better than experience Zeal’s AutoSun lens technology – which combines with photochromatic variable light capabilities and polarized protection – "ideal for long mountain runs full of partly sunny and partly cloudy moments" according to our expert. 

The superlight frames are made from an eco-friendly bio-resin that’s as durable as plastic but much better for the environment. And the best feature might be one of the smallest: the grip pads at the tips of the frame actually get tackier when they get wet from sweat or rain

 There’s high value and performance packed into the Manitou, and yes, the price tag is higher than some other polarized shades. But they feature best-in-class optics and are versatile enough to wear trail running, mountain biking or an afternoon relaxing at the pub after a day of high-velocity adventures.

The best trail running sunglasses for aesthetics

District Vision Nagata Speed Blade trail running sunglasses

Sunglasses that serve up exceptional functionality, performance and looks (Image credit: District Vision)

8. District Vision Nagata Speed Blade

The best trail running sunglasses for aesthetics

Specifications

Gender: Unisex
Polarized: No
Frame Size: Medium / large
Frame color: Black
Lens color: D+ Sports Yellow

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning aesthetic appeal
+
Superior lens and field of vision

Reasons to avoid

-
Twice as expensive as other models
-
Unique shape might not appeal to everyone

Although the Nagata Speed Blade was wear-tested on the streets of New York City, it was designed with distinctive Japanese style and engineering. District Vision says it was developed using the methodology of Kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement. It’s clear from the sophisticated design, with a bottomless, retro-styled frame and advanced lens technology that a lot of meticulous effort went into the design of the Speed Blade.

But perhaps equally as notable was the wear-testing done by hundreds of New York City runners who tried out prototypes in all kidns of weather, light and running conditions, because as cool and stylish as they look, these shades are also "one of the best performing models we tested out on the trails" says our expert tester. The temple tips are made with titanium cores and titanium screws with uniquely styled turned up tips, making it as light and comfortable as possible without sacrificing strength of structure.

On test, we found wind and sweat were no issue. However, it’s the high-transmission, low-glare D+ Sports YellowLens that we found most appealing. District Vision says it’s constructed from a proprietary form of shatterproof polycarbonate with anti-reflective coating on the interior and an exterior treatment for to make it water- and oil-repellant. Is the price tag hefty for a pair of shades? For most of us, yes, it certainly is. But we think this is the cream of the crop.

The best photochromatic trail running sunglasses

Julbo Aero trail running sunglasses

Featherweight sunglasses with optimal ventilation and field of vision (Image credit: Julbo)

9. Julbo Aero

The best photochromatic trail running sunglasses

Specifications

Gender: Unisex
Polarized: No
Frame Size: Small/Medium
Lens and frame combination colors: Black and red / Blue and grey / Black and green

Reasons to buy

+
Photochromatic lenses adjust to light conditions
+
Fully adjustable nose pads allow near-custom fit
+
Wide field of vision with mono-lens design

Reasons to avoid

-
Can feel fragile, especially in windy conditions

The Aero is a super-light pair of high-performance shades with a dynamic photochromatic lens technology that can adapt to low-light or bright conditions, which we found makes them especially good for trail running when it is continually changing from sunny to cloudy to shady.

The unique frame design with a singular suspended polycarbonate Spectron 3CF lens allows for a comfortable fit, exceptional visual clarity and optimal ventilation. The flexible, vented ends of the temples feature a soft, elastomer material that keeps the glasses in place with comfort and a bit of stylish flair.

Considering a pair of Aero glasses is a classic case of cost versus benefit. Will your trail running benefit from investing a little bit more in a pair of shades? Absolutely. On test, we found the photochromatic lens technology was exceptional and ideal for running in variable weather conditions, running in the mountains, running near the coast and, really, as our expert put it: "running anywhere".

The best trail running sunglasses for close-to-the-face design

Nike Windshield Elite trail running sunglasses

Sleek wraparound-style sunglasses with a wide, one-piece lens, Nike Windshield Elite allow full-throttle performance (Image credit: Nike)

10. Nike Windshield Elite

The best trail running sunglasses for close-to-the-face design

Specifications

Gender: Unisex
Polarized: No
Frame Size: Large
Frame colors: Matte clear / Matte dark / Thunderblue / Matte Wolf grey
Lens colors: Turquoise mirror / Low Light tint / Silver mirror

Reasons to buy

+
High-end, race-day model
+
Exceptional optics

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit too much for casual trail runs
-
Pricey

When you’re moving fast and running all-out, you need your gear to become a part of you. That’s especially true when you’re trail running, because even the slightest distraction can lead to a head-over-heels tumble. The Nike Windshield Elite feature a sleek, close-to-the-face design and a wide, one-piece, wraparound lens that ultimately disappears once you put them on. They offer top-quality optics. 

On test, our reviewer found they "gave a full range of vision and all of the comfort and functionality we could need in high-performance situations". The unique design adds ventilation both above the nose bridge and on the top of the frame to help reduce fogging. The floating nose pad helps optimize airflow and absorb impact, while cushioned rubber temple tips add grip and provide long-wearing comfort. For all of those reasons, the Windshield Elite are ideal for race-day efforts and fast workouts.