Polarized sunglass are one of the most essential pieces of gear an outdoorsman owns. They protect your eyes from the sun (and errant fish hooks), allow you to cut through the glare of the surface of a trout stream, and they help you look cool, too. These nine pairs of sunglasses range in style and pricing, but all of them will perform well in the field and on the water.
Revant, a new sunglasses company that launched this year, sticks to three models of sunglasses, and they make all three of them damn well. The F1L has a rugged frame that blocks peripheral glare and is made to protect against heavy impact. Add in impact resistant lenses with strong polarization, and you have a versatile pair of shades. Revant sunglasses are made in the U.S. and offer four varieties of lenses.
Costa makes some of the best sunglasses specifically tailored for anglers on the market. But that doesn’t mean they don’t care about hunters. They’ve teamed up with Realtree to produce their Blackfin shades in a slick camo design. The sturdy frames are adorned with blaze-orange logos and come in a rugged camo carrying case.
The retro-style, square-framed Spektor shades could be dubbed “lifestyle” sunglasses because they look so good. But that doesn’t do justice to the features that make them ideal for sportsmen. The frames are curved to fit your face and block peripheral glare, and the quality of the polarization is comparable to other sports sunglasses in the same price range.
The Bristol is one of the models in Optic Nerve’s new HydroGlare series. The Bristol is an ideal pair of sunglasses for saltwater fishermen as they feature a proprietary hydrophobic coating that repels water and prevents corrosion. The Bristol has a tough, lightweight frame, and offers good bang for buck.
These shades perform equally well in the field as they do on the river. The Norfolk features a broad frame that comfortably fits larger face-types. Compared to higher-end shades, their polarization is relatively weak, but with a killer camo design and a low price tag, these shades are a great bargain.
For 43 years, Oakley has made high-quality sunglasses, and this September, they’re launching their first-ever pair of shades designed for water sports. The Oakley Split Shot features a high-wrap design, which is ideal for blocking peripheral glare. They also have several useful features that set them apart from Oakley’s other typical sports sunglasses, including an integrated woven steel leash, a modified brow meant to fit well with hats, and an “Unobtainium” (that’s word that Oakley made up) nose pad that securely holds the frame in place. Add in Oakley’s signature Prizm Technology lenses, and you have a great pair of fishing shades.
The Strike King S11 Pickwick is a solid all-around pair of polarized sunglasses. They are a step up from your budget option but are still priced well below high-end shades. They feature good polarization, hydrophobic coating, a bi-gradient mirror treatment that further reduces eye strain, and are scratch resistant.
The Costa’s new Pescador is a serious pair of fishing sunglasses. Made out of recycled fishing nets, Pescador’s large frame is sturdy and rugged. Like the other high-end polarized shades on the list, the polarization is top-notch. The Pescador comes with side shields, which effectively eliminate side-glare. For the serious fisherman willing to shell out for a pair of primo sunglasses, this is a great option.
Any roundup of sunglasses wouldn’t be complete without a pair of Smiths. The storied optic company’s new Highwater sunglasses wrap closely to your face with a heavily-curved frame. Made in Italy, these shades also feature ChromaPop polarization, which gives you enhanced clarity and color in tandem with strong glare reduction. A pair of Highwaters is pricey but well worth it if you spend a lot of time on the water.