If you wanted to pick out the best five sunglasses for boaters, you would have to try dozens of pairs from companies including the likes of Costa Del Mar, Oakley, Ocean Waves, Onos, and WilyX—and then try dozens of pairs from a long list of different manufacturers. It would take a lot of time, money, and effort.
Unless, that is, you’re a boating writer. In my case, sunglasses like these appear in the mailbox on a regular basis for testing and reviewing. And in the past decade I’ve tested over 30 different pairs intended for use on the water. Here are my top five picks.
1. Costa Del Mar Jose – These get a spot in the top five despite a painfully high $259 price tag, because the optics are just plain awesome. Put on a pair, and the world seems just a little more lifelike than it does to the naked eye. They’re available with either glass or plastic lenses; the plastic is lighter but more prone to damage, and to my eyeballs, the glass provides a better view in the first place.
2. Oakley Wind Jacket – The Wind Jacket model includes a snap-in gasket that turns the glasses into mini-goggles. This makes them ideal for boaters who cruise at fast speeds, since the wind can’t creep around behind them and sweep the glasses off your face. Meanwhile, they have a hydrophobic coating that prevents water streaks, Plutonite lenses with good optics, and include lenses for both bright and low light conditions. Cost is $220. Oh yes—and they look uber-cool, too.
3. Ocean Waves Boston – If I had to pick an all-time favorite, this would be it—after returning my test pair I liked them so much, I went out and bought my own. The optics are stunning, especially the blue lenses in offshore waters, and the price is reasonable. These glasses remained my favorite through 10 years of salty use and though the frames needed replacement (which Ocean Waves did under warranty) the lenses never gave out. Unfortunately, Ocean Waves stopped producing the Boston model last year—bummer—but the ($159) Kauai and ($139) Madrid are close.
4. Onos Vicious Fishing Fierce – This is a new model but Vicious Fishing makes the top five because these sunglasses offer surprisingly good optics for the low $59 price tag, are incredibly light (you’ll forget they’re on your head), and they have grippy nose-pads that keep the glasses in place but are still comfortable. But be careful with the polycarbonate lenses, they will scratch if put to the test.
5. WileyX Tactical Black Ops Slay – This is another relatively inexpensive ($75) model that makes the grade thanks to a combination of good performance and reasonable cost. They wrap around to cut peripheral glare, are extremely comfortable, and seem a bit less prone to scratching than other glasses with polycarbonate lenses.
Read more about sunglasses:
Sunglasses: How To Find the Perfect Pair
Fishing Friday: New Sunglasses for 2014
Maui Jim Sunglasses: “Pure” Forgetfulness