There’s no better feeling than flying down the road behind the wheel, feeling the engine hum, and bobbing your head to your favorite tunes. But there’s no worse feeling than squinting into the sun while you do it, trying to see the road in front of you through that blazing glare. A good pair of driving sunglasses leaves you free to enjoy your drive and able to feel the nuance of your vehicle’s handling and response without any distraction or discomfort from the sun. Nearly as important, the best driving sunglasses also go a long way in upping your cool factor as well.
The Best Driving Sunglasses on The Market
While there are countless sunglasses for driving on the market, not all are created equal. We looked around for the best pairs out there and gave them a test to see if they lived up to the hype. Luckily, we found some great options to save you some web surfing. The sunglasses on our list were chosen for their ability to block out glare, their visibility, and their styling.
Aviator-style sunglasses make some of the best driving sunglasses because their broad lenses provide excellent coverage and their minimalist wireframes don’t impede peripheral vision. Spy Optics’ Whistler sunglasses make great aviators because the monel alloy and acetate frames are lightweight and comfortable, and the versatile lens works well in bright or overcast conditions.
We tested the Whistler over the course of a few weeks of running errands and taking long drives to the coast, and the bronze lens performed well in every light condition they encountered. What’s more, they were so comfortable that we’d forget we were wearing them. One tester, after a whole day of running errands, got home and realized that he wore them through every store.
If you’re looking for a super lightweight pair of sunglasses, the Legere Round is the way to go. Weighing in at a mere 17 grams, these sunnies have a sports glasses feel with styling that would fit in at the racetrack. And that lightweight doesn’t mean fragility: Legere’s proprietary UltraCarbon frame material is extremely durable and highly flexible. You can actually sit on them without having them lose shape.
And that’s exactly what we did during testing. On one of our drive test days, a tester made the same mistake we’ve all made at least once and left the Legere Rounds on the driver’s seat. Though embarrassing, it provided the perfect confirmation of durability, as the shades kept their shape and still fit like a glove. That durable frame, combined with the scratch-resistant lens coating, makes these the lightest and most durable shades we’ve seen.
Pairing classic aviator style with modern tech, the Sundance Slate from Maho is one of our favorite driving sunglasses for road trips. The acetate and stainless steel frames are feather-light and provide a clear view of the road, while the patented Zuma earpieces provide a perfect no-slip fit.
The polarized grey lenses block glare (though they do make LCD screens hard to read). They can also be fitted with prescription lenses. We tried these glasses out on rides around town and on longer road trips, and they performed well on both sunny and overcast days, providing clear vision and an excellent feel.
Our favorite thing about these sunglasses was that they have the look and feel of a high-end pair of sunglasses but cost a third (or less) than most of the sunglasses on this list. If you’re looking for a great-looking, high-performance pair of sunglasses for the road (or really anywhere you want to look cool), the Sundance Slate is a great option.
Drivers who are looking to branch out from the aviator style should definitely check out this gem from Dragon. The Vinyl LL sports a bold, square frame and is made from eco-friendly, injection-molded, plant-based resin. The Lumalens lenses cut road and reflective glare and block out 100% of UV rays.
During a road trip to the coast, the Vinyl LL provided a clear, comfortable view that felt so natural it was easy to forget that our tester was wearing them. And despite driving west into the setting sun, they experienced only a hint of eye fatigue during the multi-hour drive. Our tester reported that these glasses felt and looked great throughout the trip, from the drive and wandering the wharf to munching on fish and chips while watching the sea lions slide off the docks into the water.
Obviously, we needed to include the classics. These iconic sunglasses were originally made for U.S. aviators in 1937 and have been a mainstay in U.S. culture ever since.
Not one to rest on its laurels, Ray-Ban’s current aviators sport g-15 polarized lenses for amazing clarity. The instantly recognizable lens shape gives drivers a wide area of coverage. Additionally, the minimal wireframes allow for a wide range of peripheral vision.
Ray-Ban offers the classic aviator in a wide variety of lens and frame color combos, as well as lens width, so you can personalize your style with the perfect set for you.
The Pierce sunglasses from RAEN have an aggressive square frame. Not only does this provide a sharp, stylish look, but it also allows for bigger lenses and better sun protection, a definite must-have in the best driving sunglasses.
The lenses themselves sport tech from Carl Zeiss Vision. Carl Zeiss, a company known for its exceptional SLR and mirrorless camera lenses, builds its sunglass lenses with the same precision and quality. This provides pristine optics and top-of-the-line sun protection.
The 5-barrel hinges have embedded wire cores in the temples, and the handmade acetate frames have a polished finish.
Since their inception five decades ago, these sunglasses from American Optical have been a mainstay for U.S military pilots. And you might even recognize them as similar AO sunglasses have been featured in popular media, including the classic film “Taxi Driver.”
The minimalist wireframe maximizes visibility while driving, and the optional polarized lenses cut glare and protect your eyes while on the road. They also come in three different sizes, so you can grab the perfect pair to fit your face.
If you wear glasses and want to avoid a pricey set of prescription sunglasses, this over-the-glasses option from Fiore is a great way to go. They fit comfortably over most pairs of glasses without creating that look that will immediately label you an octogenarian.
In addition, the lenses block both UVA and UVB rays, while the polarization cuts glare. The lenses also extend around the frame to either side, allowing for a wide field of vision without exposing your eyes to the sun’s rays.
The latest version of Oakley’s classic frame, the Holbrook Mix 9 sports Mix Prizm lenses that control light transmission, enhance contrast, and increase overall visibility.
The frame has been updated with stainless steel reinforcements while retaining the comfort and style of the original. For bright days and summer driving, these lenses are ideal for providing a crystal-clear view. Plus, the styling and fit are on-point.
Steve McQueen wore these sunnies in the legendary film “The Thomas Crown Affair.” If that fact alone doesn’t make you rush out and buy these handmade Italian shades, the durable acetate frame, three-point foldability, and timeless style should do the trick.
In addition, the Meflecto tech relieves stress on your temples, which means you can rock them during your entire road trip without fatigue. And if you want to go big, they’ve also released 24-carat gold-plated lenses to celebrate this model’s anniversary (yes, you can see through them).
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one pair of Maui Jims. For driving, we like the Wiki Wiki not only because it’s fun to say but also for the minimalist wireframe as well as the warm bronze lens.
It comes in both bronze and grey lenses, but we’re particularly fond of the bronze for its ability to provide a clear view in a wide spectrum of situations. That makes these sunglasses great for varying weather conditions and cloudy days where the sun tends to disappear and reappear while you’re on the road.
They’re pricey, but the Swing’s titanium frames make it clear where your money is going. The frame is a seemingly impossible blend of feather-light weight and extreme durability.
And the Swing’s perfect balance will sit comfortably on your face for all-day comfort while you drive. The blue polarized lenses provide terrific clarity as well, so you’ll be well-equipped for everything from a drive to the store or a road trip across the country.
We had to include these Ray-Bans for anyone who has to share their ride — or their sunglasses. The Clubmaster Square sunglasses are comfortable and come with different color lenses to block light and give you clear vision during your drive.
Even better, these unisex sunglasses look good on both men and women, so you can leave them in the car and your partner can use them as well, which makes them a great fit for anyone who needs some glare protection. Note: avoid the blue and pink lenses, as they can distort colors like red and green.
If you’re shopping on a budget, it’s hard to go wrong with these $13 sunglasses from Merry’s. The aluminum frames are lightweight and the lenses come in eight different color options.
The lenses are also polarized, which is a rarity in sunglasses in this price range. You won’t find the bells and whistles that you would on some of the pricier options on this list, but if you’re just looking for a solid pair of glasses (or want to buy several different lens colors) these are a great option.
Benefits of Driving Sunglasses
Too much sunlight can cause permanent damage to our eyes. Just like skin, eyes need to be protected from the sun’s UV rays. A good pair of sunglasses will keep your eyes safe and comfortable on and off the road.
In bright conditions, sunglasses can help us see the road ahead with clarity and accuracy. Without sunglasses, our ability to perceive depth and distance can be severely impaired, especially in the early morning or late afternoon light.
Accurate vision and eye protection aside, driving in the bright sun is just plain uncomfortable. Without driving sunglasses, prolonged squinting can lead to nagging headaches.
What To Look For When Purchasing The Best Driving Sunglasses
Your go-to driving sunglasses should elevate your experience behind the wheel. When it comes time to select the best pair for you, there are several important factors to consider. In this buyer’s guide, we will go over the primary benefits of the best driving sunglasses, and thoroughly explain what you should consider before making a purchase. Don’t settle for anything less than the perfect pair of driving sunglasses.
Type of Frame
Frame Size & Shape
Before purchasing a pair of the best driving sunglasses, it is wise to make sure they are well-fitted and comfortable. Different frame sizes and shapes work better for different people. You will want a frame that will not cause discomfort or require constant adjustment. Some common frame types to check out include wayfarers, aviators, circular, rectangular, shield, and rimless. If you’re unsure what size or type of frame fits your face best, go try on some shades in person to start narrowing down your options.
Frame Type & Coverage
Glasses with wider frames and taller lens designs will provide more coverage and protection. Remember that sunlight can also enter your eyes from the side while you are driving, and it may be wise to choose a pair of glasses that provides added protection from all angles.
While frame material comes down to personal preference, you should be aware that some materials are more flexible and durable than others. Most driving sunglasses feature a frame made out of acetate or nylon. Both materials are lightweight and are able to hold their shape even in extreme conditions. Metal frames are common too, though they tend to offer less wraparound protection.
Type of Lens
A good-quality pair of driving sunglasses should have polarized lenses. When harsh sunlight reflects off of surfaces including tail lights, puddles, and stop signs, the resulting glare can be temporarily blinding. Polarized lenses can block some of this intense reflected light and make driving safer and more comfortable.
Drivers should be aware that polarized lenses can also make it difficult to see some digital dashboard displays. Before purchasing, test the sunglasses against your dash display to make sure you can still read the displays.
Gradient lenses are lighter at the bottom and darker toward the top. While driving, the darker part of gradient lenses can block sunlight, while the lighter portion of the lens will still allow you to see your dashboard and the road clearly.
Transition lenses are able to change from clear to dark depending on the light conditions. Because these lenses rely on direct UV light to work, they probably aren’t the best choice for driving as your car’s windshield filters out some of the sun’s UV light. Still, there are some great driving sunglasses with transition lenses.
Most sunglasses lenses are made from polycarbonate or glass. Glass tends to offer the best optical clarity and is also harder and more scratch-resistant. While polycarbonate lenses are not as durable, they are more lightweight and less likely to break upon impact.
The durability of a pair of sunglasses depends on materials, craftsmanship, and weight. In general, glass lenses are more scratch-resistant, while polycarbonate lenses are less likely to shatter under impact. Acetate and nylon frames strike a good balance between hardiness and flexibility. When you aren’t wearing your glasses, keep them protected in a place where they will not be scratched or damaged.
The price of a pair of driving sunglasses can vary from under $50 to well over $200. Many cheaper pairs will not be polarized or provide adequate UV protection. More expensive sunglasses may include higher quality materials and lens technology. We always recommend making your selection based on comfort and performance rather than price.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best pair of driving sunglasses?
That depends. The best pair of driving sunglasses are the ones that offer the kind of comfort and performance that you personally prefer. We recommend all of the glasses on this list, and we always recommend that you try a few different options before purchasing.
Should I wear sunglasses while driving?
Driving with sunglasses during the daytime helps you see the road ahead and prevents your eyes from becoming fatigued. We recommend always at least having a pair of sunglasses available in the car in case you need them.
What color lenses should I get?
Most drivers prefer a neutral-colored lens that is either grey or copper-toned. Neutral lenses enhance your vision without altering the colors that you see. Depending on the light conditions, you may want lighter or darker lenses that will filter the appropriate amount of light.
Do polarized lenses eliminate glare?
Polarized sunglasses can reduce harsh glare and reflected light. In bright or highly reflective conditions, many drivers successfully use polarized sunglasses to lessen the effects of glare and block harmful UV rays.
Based in Salt Lake City, Austin Beck-Doss contributes to GearJunkie, Gear Hungry, AutoWise, and more as a Lola Digital Media Staff Writer. Outside of writing, Austin can be found camping at the base of various rock climbing areas in a 2005 Honda Element.