A 10-year yachting career has meant I have dropped more pairs of sunglasses overboard than I care to remember. It has also meant that I’ve tested almost every brand out there.
Here are the best sailing sunglasses that you can currently buy. Had I known about these at the beginning of my career, I may have avoided surfer’s eye!
Eye protection at sea is one of the most overlooked aspects of sailing gear and apparel. Typically you think of the harmful UV rays caused by direct sunlight. But indirectly, the sun’s glare from sails, other white surfaces, and the water can also cause considerable harm.
Long-term exposure effects are well documented, and most sailors know about proper sun protection. But did you know that things like surfer’s eye can also occur if you don’t protect your eyes?
So on that note, let’s get into this!
🏆 Best Overall Sailing Sunglasses
Maui Jim sunglasses are premium eye protection products. This pair of Waterman Wraps is what you should get if you want the absolute best sunglasses for sailing.
Granted, they are expensive, but if you take proper care of them, they’ll last a lifetime. The hallmark of Maui Jim has always been its lens polarization techniques. The Waterman Wraps use their patented PolarizedPlus2 lenses, which cancel 99.9% of the glare and 100% of harmful UV rays.
Another premium feature of these sunglasses is the bi-gradient mirrored lenses which effectively means the glasses perform the act of squinting for you, allowing your retinas to relax and stay protected fully.
Many yachting professionals, including myself, who own a pair of Maui Jim sailing sunglasses report this feeling of having relaxed eyes in even the harshest sunlight.
The Waterman Wrap also features an anti-reflective coating and scratch-resistant transparent shell so that they stand up to a working sailor’s requirements.
With adjustable nose pads and nose bridge, these are a unisex fit secured by the adjustable strap. Removing the worry of losing these overboard.
⛵ Best Sunglasses For Dinghy Sailing
You need a few vital features from a pair of sunglasses that you’ll use for sailing dinghies and lasers. The first is that they float, and the second is that they have an adjustable back strap.
These Sea Specs check both boxes and at an extremely affordable price tag. In addition, the fit is unisex, and there is a wide range of colors to choose from.
With polarized lenses and a UV400 protection rating, these are perfect for sunny days racing around the bay. They are also vented at the top and bottom to prevent fogging up for the days of colder weather sailing.
The secure strap keeps the lightweight frames in position and provides all-day comfort. If they did fall off and into the water, they are designed to float so you could quickly retrieve them.
🌊 Best Sunglasses For Ocean Sailing
Vallon Heron Ocean Polarized Sailing Sunglasses
Summon your inner Bernard Moitessier with these classic Heron Ocean sunglasses from Vallon.
Taking inspiration from Alpine Glacier sunglasses, the Heron Ocean features side shields made from leather and a removable centerpiece to block out the sun’s glare while protecting your eyes from wind and spray.
The Heron Oceans have polarized lenses that intensify colors and provide you with UV400 protection from harmful UV rays. In addition, they are coated with a special hydrophobic layer to eliminate condensation building up against the lens.
A simple but functional unisex frame made from plastic is durable and lightweight, providing excellent comfort for long days of an ocean voyage. In addition, the temples are fully adjustable, so you’ll find the ultimate fit no matter your preference.
Vallon is so confident in their product that they’ll allow you to try them risk-free for 30 days or your money back. Add in their 2-year warranty and free shipping; you can’t beat the offer.
🔎 Best Prescription Sunglasses For Sailing
If you wear prescription glasses, you typically require a glass lens. But for sporting sunglasses, you’ll need polycarbonate lenses.
The Anaconda series from Bolle are ideal for prescription sailing sunglasses. In addition, they are wrap-around with extensive curvature to provide you with the best possible transition from your prescription reading glasses to your sports pair.
Unlike cheaper anti-fog coating techniques, the Anacondas use a hydrophobic coating applied to the lens without needing spray or dip coating. The result is that the anti-fog properties are retained for much longer than cheaper alternatives.
So you’ll get years of high performance from them in addition to the polarized lenses that give your eyes up to 100% UVA/UVB protection.
They are lightweight, durable, and give you all-day comfort thanks to the rubber nose and temple pads. And Bolle’s trademark Thermo grip material has hydrophilic properties making it even more grippy when wet, keeping the frames comfortably in place, even during extreme conditions.
😎 Best Polarized Sunglasses For Sailing
An iconic frame style from Oakley. Their Fuel Cell Wrap sunglasses have been in production for years. For good reasons, they are affordable, comfortable, and last for years.
I’ve owned a few pairs over the years and found the best-performing lens color to be blue for ocean-going scenarios.
In their price bracket, the PRIZM polarized lenses produced by Oakley are arguably the best on the market.
Oakley’s PRIZM technology customizes lenses to suit the environment better. This allows for increased detail and enhanced performance, safety, and experience.
Sunglass lenses that enhance the colors we want to see in our surroundings make it more tolerable to view those colors. They also usually have the same effect on colors that interfere with our perception.
Oakley PRIZM filters out any disruptive light that could interfere with vision while enhancing the colors needed for optimal performance.
If you need a good all-rounder, look no further and get yourself a Fuel Cells by Oakley!
🕶️ Best Oakley Sunglasses For Sailing
A similar design to the Vallon Heron Ocean but in my option the better option because the side guards are made from plastic instead of leather.
Oakley terms them as unobtainium side shields, but maybe they have been watching Wolverine too much. Either way, they are interchangeable, and the bridge blocker is removable.
Another factor that makes the Oakley Clifden’s one of the best pairs of sailing sunglasses on the market is the integrated yet removable, coated woven steel leash that secures them from falling overboard.
Oakley’s Plutonite lenses filter out all UVA, UVB, and UVC rays and harmful blue light up to 400mm. Plutonite is a lightweight lens material that offers superior comfort, clarity, and protection from impact and UV radiation. The Clifden’s also feature the option of interchangeable lenses.
Polarized tungsten Prizm lenses are designed for medium to bright light conditions. They enhance color vividness and increase contrast.
Oakley’s patented high-definition optics give you superior clarity, block 99% of reflected glare, and provide sharp vision from every angle. In addition, the micro bag included helps you keep your sunglasses clean and stored away.
🪙 Best sailing sunglasses under $50
With these floatable shades, there’s no need to worry about losing your sunglasses to the sea again. You also don’t have to put unsightly floating straps on your glasses.
Polarized lenses are essential if you spend any time on the water. They help you see below the surface when you’re fly fishing, sailing and watching for ripples of light gusts. Plus, they let you enjoy not being blind.
These sunglasses are so light and comfortable that you’ll forget you’re wearing them! They can be worn all day without any discomfort.
The lenses on these glasses have a special coating that repels water and oil. This means that when you are out on the water, you won’t get splashed as much in the face, and if you do, the water will bead up and run right off. The coating also repels oil, so your fingerprints won’t smudge the lenses as much.
But the most significant selling point of the WindRiders is the price. At around $45, you can’t beat the value for money you get with this pair of sailing sunglasses.
🎖️ Our recommendation process
Between myself and Craig, we have nearly 20 years’ worth of experience within the yachting industry. As a result, we have used (and lost) numerous pairs of sailing sunglasses from Maui Jim, Oakley, Costa Gill, Helly Hansen, and Henri Lloyd.
The recommendations we share are 100% impartial and bias-free. We only offer genuine advice on what we have come to know as the best and most reliable sailing gear. And we also strongly advocate that Maui Jim and Oakley make the best sailing sunglasses on the market today.
🧾 Buyer’s Guide To Sailing Sunglasses
Most sailing sunglasses should tick off all these boxes if they are suitable for the discerning sailor to look for in the best pairs of sailing sunglasses.
The intense light produced when sunlight reflects off a surface can be difficult and uncomfortable to look at. Wearing polarized lenses is essential in filtering out the light that can harm your eyes.
Polarized lenses are necessary for protecting your eyes from UVB and UVA rays that can reduce visual sharpness while also causing degenerative eye diseases such as snow blindness, photokeratitis, pterygium, cataracts, and various types of eye cancer.
The lenses of sunglasses for sailing are usually less angled to preserve the contour and contrast of objects. However, they may not be as resistant to glare and might not offer the best visibility.
Flat lenses generally do not reflect harmful UV rays away from your eyes. Curved lenses will keep sunlight from reaching your eyes, but they also offer worse sharpness.
Type of Material
When choosing sunglasses for sailing, selecting a pair made from durable, high-quality materials is essential. In addition, the sunglasses should be able to resist corrosion and be shatterproof to protect your eyes from injury in the event of a collision or impact.
The most common material for sunglasses is glass, but polycarbonate is a better choice. It’s very light and has many features. It also doesn’t splinter or shatter, so it’s safer if you’re in an accident. And it’s easy to clean.
🗣️ Final Words
Ultimately, the price will separate most sailors’ buying decisions regarding the best sunglasses for sailing.
However, if the price is no object, I suggest getting yourself a pair of Maui Jim Waterman Wrap Sunglasses or Oakley Clifden Round Sunglasses. For more in-depth reviews, visit our website’s sailing gear and apparel section.