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How to choose sports sunglasses for running and jogging

Real sports sunglasses for daily jogging, marathon, duathlon, biathlon, triathlon or the IronMan

This article is about selecting sports sunglasses for running and jogging. Most inexperienced users choose and buy sports sunglasses based on their looks and how it matches the shape of their face. Most sports sunglasses have “UV protection”, with lightweight plastic frames and plastic mirror lenses.

In fact, some users assumed expensive sunglasses mean that $250 sunglasses is 10 times better than $25 sunglasses. Unfortunately, that is not the truth based on real-life experience, and you do not pay for what you get all the time. 

Perhaps you got some additional features that you paid for, but that extra 90% of the money that goes into those features is useless or unreliable, while the manufacturing cost is very expensive. In such cases, you are better off buying $25 sports sunglasses that still serve your needs.

Even with UV protection, high prices cannot guarantee sufficient protection, as there are no studies that proved the correlation between high prices and increased UV protection. A 1995 study reported that “Expensive brands and polarizing sunglasses do not guarantee optimal UVA protection. – Sunglasses, Wikipedia.

Read more: Sweat Resistant Sports Sunglasses Designed for Running 

Design Criteria for Sports Sunglasses

The following is a list of requirements for a good pair of sports sunglasses for jogging or running under the sun. Such sports may include jogging, marathon, duathlon, biathlon, triathlon, or the IronMan.

  1. Impact-resistant: The sports sunglasses must not shatter or crack on impact as the fragments may get into the eye.
  2. UV protection: This is the main reason sports sunglasses has the word “sun”.
  3. Lightweight: This is most important for sports such as running and jogging so that the sunglasses will stay on the nose without “hopping” or falling off.
  4. Scratch-resistant: An ideal but difficult requirement for sports sunglasses to be scratch-resistant as they are to be used for outdoor sports.
  5. Heat-resistant: By heat resistant, we do not expect any sunglass to survive when thrown in the flame. However, it is not too much to ask for sports sunglasses to withstand the heat of the sun, regardless of the duration. How long can the scorching sun last every day, 8 hours? Alright then, good sports sunglasses must be able to withstand the heat from the sun in the hottest of the earth for at least 8 hours daily.
  6. Sweat-resistant: This is important as the subject of our discussion in this article as they often overlook this specification in high-end “sports” sunglasses.

Polycarbonate

Out of the above list of ideal design requirements, the two most common specifications are UV protection and impact resistance because that comes inherently with the material most commonly used for sunglasses, polycarbonate.

Polycarbonate has very high transparency and has better light transmission than many kinds of glass. This makes polycarbonate suitable for use as eyewear lenses, as it can also block out more than 95% of UV rays.

Polycarbonate also has strong impact resistance, which offers physical protection for the eyes during sports activities.

Rudy Project Graphene Coated Frame

Rudy Project has a new graphene-coated frame which we know is a very strong material, however, does very to make the sports sunglasses any better. We would rather pay less and not have this coating, which has nothing to do with sports sunglasses.

This is an example of why we do not pay $250 for a pair of sunglasses to have technology that does not provide any tangible benefit for a simple run. Do you need to block a bullet with this frame or just looking for sports sunglasses for running and jogging?

Lighter than carbon but stiffer than diamond, Graphene boasts unique multifunctional molecular properties: ultra resistance, anti-scratch superiority and exceptional stability while achieving a superb semi-polished deep grey finish naturally obtained during injection moulding. No paint is needed, irregularities and patterns in the mass are proof of the unique process, making every single piece one of a kind.

UV Protection

The inherent ability of the polycarbonate material can block a substantial range of UV rays from 1nm to 380nm. The only part of the spectrum that is not covered in the 381 to 400nm.

  • UV-A is 315-400nm
  • UV-B is 280-315nm
  • UV-C is 200-280nm

In order to close up the gap, there is a UV 400 polycarbonate for protection up to 400nm on sunglasses to complete the full protection from UV-A. We can find the details of the benefits and harmful effects of UV lights on Wikipedia.

The polycarbonate material itself is not resistant to ageing effects caused by UV light, and manufacturers added UV stabilizers to the polycarbonate resin during production.

Impact Resistant

Polycarbonate is inherently impact-resistant and highly durable and is thus common material for structures such as roofing, and security applications such as bullet-resistant glass.

Lightweight

The polycarbonate has a density of 1.2g/cm3 which is even less than half of aluminium’s 2.7 g/cm3. As such, the entire sunglass frame can also be made with the material because of its lightweight and impact resistance.

So if your sunglasses are made entirely of polycarbonate, then it has already met at least 3 out of the 6 design criteria that we mentioned at the beginning of the article. 

Scratch-Resistant

The difficult specifications to meet are scratch-resistant, and polycarbonate is the least helpful in this aspect. In fact, polycarbonate has very weak scratch-resistant, which makes it very important for eyewear to have a strong coating to protect the aesthetic look of the polycarbonate lenses.

So if you are paying $250 for a pair of sunglasses that has good looking mirror finishing that is not scratch-resistant, you are better off paying just $25 for any other sunglasses as long as they look great.

It is very hard to achieve scratch-resistant for transparent glass or plastic, with or without coating. Even with a smartphone glass display for the latest Corning Gorilla Glass Victus and Apple Ceramic Shield, they are not entirely scratch proof. Even military-grade lenses used in gun scopes are not scratch proof.

As expected, we have yet to see any manufacturers who can offer scratch-resistant sports sunglasses for running and jogging.

Heat-Resistant

The polycarbonate material has a very high glass transition temperature of 147 °C, which far exceeds what we encounter during sports by at least 3 times.

So by heat resistance, we are referring to the coating on the polycarbonate lenses that gives it the mirror finish, colour tint, extra UV protection or scratch protection.

Original Oakley Radar Lock Peeling

Oakley M2 Frame Spiderweb after one run

The above is likely due to manufacturing defects from a particular batch, but Oakley said that the lenses are not designed to withstand the sun. But Oakley is used by many in races like the Ironman that lasts more than 7 hours. We feel that many users are denied the warranty claim that we are entitled to.

Oakley in Triathlon, Source: Jon Frodeno

We have yet to see any manufacturers who can offer heat-resistant sports sunglasses, but if there is going to be any recent development in sunglasses, the manufacturers need to focus on this.

Sweat-Resistant

We have dedicated an article entirely to discussing the problem with sweat resistance.

Read more: Sweat Resistant Sports Sunglasses Designed for Running

We have yet to see any manufacturers who can offer sweat-resistant sports sunglasses. While most have 10 or more keywords “sports” on their webpage, no one dares to write even a single word “sweat” in their sales pitch.

Perhaps they are referring to winter sports without sweat, and the sun coming through a clear polycarbonate roof in well air-conditioned rooms.

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