Sunglasses are an extremely important item to have when you’re hiking. No wonder that on every variation of the “10 Hiking Essentials” list I’ve ever seen, sunglasses are always included.
When you’re out on a hike, trail run, backpacking trip, camping trip, or other outdoor adventure, you’ll want to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet light. Just like you need to protect your skin with sunscreen and UPF apparel, you need to make sure that your eyes are protected. If you hike in the mountains, or are a mountaineer doing peak climbing, you absolutely will need a good pair because in alpine conditions the ultraviolet rays are even more powerful.
Additionally, if you are near water, snow, glaciers, or ice, the reflection of the UV light makes your eyes even more prone to getting sun damage. Lastly, don’t be deceived by cloudy days…your eyes still need protection.
Women’s Hiking Sunglasses Shopping Tips:
- The top features I look for when buying women’s hiking sunglasses:
- Lightweight (so my nose doesn’t hurt after wearing them all day)
- Durable (so they don’t break if I drop them on a rock!)
- Full eye coverage (see below)
- Interchangeable lenses (I guarantee you’ll want to have the ability to swap out to a lighter shade lens when you’re headed out for a fall hike on a cloudy day.
- Find a pair that provides coverage around the sides of the eyes. Sunglasses that provide this kind of coverage are sometimes called “wrap-around sunglasses.” These protect the sides of your eyes, plus the delicate skin around your eyes, which can get sunburned easily.
- If you are alpine hiking or spend a lot of time in high elevations, get a pair of “glacier glasses.” These are specially designed for those of us who like to hike in the mountains. For example, in the Sierra Nevadas in California, snow is still on the mountains in July, glaciers are there year-round, and there are lakes everywhere you turn. Therefore, glacier glasses are a good bet, especially if you snowshoe and hike in the winter!
- Make sure that you can barely see your eyes when you look at yourself in the mirror with the sunglasses on. If you can easily see your eyes, the lens is too light and you need a darker pair to provide adequate sun protection.
- Get a strap to attach your sunglasses to your neck. The Native Hardtops mentioned below come with 2 different straps, but if you buy a pair that doesn’t have straps included, pick one up because then you won’t have to worry about losing your sunglasses on the trail. I have found it particularly helpful when backpacking.
Hiking Lady’s Favorite Women’s Hiking Sunglasses:
|Native Eyewear Hardtop Polarized: These Native sunglasses are lightweight, provide very good coverage, and fit well (at least on me!). I’ve had my pair for awhile now and love them. Like Oakleys, it is very easy to switch out lenses, and this pair includes 3 different lenses. Definitely a great value.|
|Oakley Flak Jacket Sunglasses: They may be called “men’s sunglasses”, but they are unisex, and provide excellent coverage and sun protection. Oakley lenses are extremely good, and what is nice about the Flak Jacket is that different lens shades can be swapped in and out, based on the sun conditions. The only drawback is that the extra lenses are sold separately.|
|Julbo Bivouak Glacier Sunglasses: Julbo is the leading manufacturer of glacier glasses, and this pair is very high tech and will provide excellent coverage. Next time you head to Everest you’ll want a pair of these… or if you want to make sure you don’t get snow blindness on your winter snowshoeing or hiking trip.|