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Gear Reviews

The 4 Best Sunglasses of 2021

Enjoy the sunshine with these shades.

These products are featured in Backpacker’s 2021 Gear Guide. For the full product reviews—and a ton more perks—become an Active Pass member today. We take our responsibility to provide readers with fair and accurate gear advice seriously, and when you make purchases based on these reviews, we may earn a commission.

Glade Prospect

Best Overall: Glade Prospect

Quality, style, and a reasonable price: These sleek and durable shades have a lot going for them. The Prospect’s polarized, scratch-resistant lenses are made from an organic bioplastic polymer, and after a summer of hiking and biking around Colorado, they’re as unscratched as the day we got them. Buy Now / Read the Full Review

Zeal Optics Avon

Most Versatile: Zeal Optics Avon

Thanks to its comfort and functionality, the Avon quickly became our jack-of-all-trades for a full season of outdoor multisporting. Polarized lenses filter out 95 percent of destructive, high-energy blue light wavelengths (the only lenses in the test to do so), which improves depth perception and gave us the confidence to charge down boulder-strewn trails in Colorado’s Eldorado Canyon State Park in variable light conditions. Buy Now / Read the Full Review

Rheos Coopers

 

Best Value: Rheos Coopers

When we want to really put sunglasses through the wringer on land and water, we send them out with a guide. Our tester wore the Coopers while leading paddling trips in the Maine backcountry, and they proved plenty reliable for hard daily use. They’re the only floating sunglasses in the test, so we didn’t have to worry about losing the lightweight composite frames when jumping in for a dip. Buy Now / Read the Full Review

Smith Lowdown 2 Core

Most Eco-Friendly: Smith Lowdown 2 Core

If we have one problem with these shades, it’s keeping them away from pilfering hands. The Lowdown 2 Core drew the envy of our hiking buddies thanks to polarized lenses that gave us crystal-clear views and classic-looking frames that work with a wide range of face shapes. Buy Now / Read the Full Review