Choosing the right pair of sunglasses is no easy task, and it’s usually big-name companies that you hear about. When we picked out the five best sunglasses for boaters, you saw easily recognizable brand names like Costa Del Mar, and Oakley.
There are also a number of lesser-known brands out there that make excellent sunglasses for boating. If none of the names in the headline of this article jumped out at you, take note—all of these sunglasses have attributes that make them particularly valuable to the nautically inclined.
Extreme Glare sunglasses aren’t polarized. Instead, the lenses are made from molten polycarbonate injected with filters, UV inhibitors, and glare-reducers. Then they get a metalized mirror coating in a vacuum-chamber. The final product cuts UVA rays by 98 percent, and UVB and UVC rays by 95 percent.
Why not stick with regular polarization? Because when you try to look at the fishfinder or chartplotter from an angle, your polarized sunglasses cause the LCD screen to black out.
Extreme Glare sunglasses were developed to solve this LCD dilemma, but when I first heard about them, it set off my BS alarm in a big way. So I had them send me a test pair, which I used on the water several times. And my alarm was mistaken—these glasses work great, and don’t inhibit LCD screen viewing in any way, shape, or form. Cost varies radically (ranging from $65 to $245), since you can order the lenses with frames from multiple suppliers (Serengeti, Bolle, etc.), in both prescription or non-prescription. You can also order them in Extreme Glare frames. Find out more by visiting Extreme Glare.
Haleakala is certainly an unusual name, but we’re cheating a bit here—these are made by Maui Jim. The new model will be of particular interest to boaters for two specific reasons: they’re ultra-light, and the lenses are ultra-tough. Put a pair on, and these things are so dang light you’ll forget you’re wearing them. Seriously.
Credit goes to Grilamid frames and polycarbonate lenses. Toughness comes from their “Clearshell” scratch protection, a silicon-based, optically correct coating that’s applied to both the front and back of the lenses. If you’ve ever dropped a pair of polycarbonate-lens sunglasses onto a fiberglass non-skid deck, you know why this is important—most lenses will get scratched on first contact. In fact, many polycarbs I’ve tested through the years haven’t survived their first season. With the Haleakala, this won’t be a problem.
The downside? Cost is on the high side, at $229. On the flip side, you do get a cool Hawaiian-print protective satchel as a bonus. Visit Maui Jim for more info.
Native Eyewear is popular with hikers and outdoorsy folks, and now these shades are making their way onto the water. First, the basics: lenses are poly crystal carbonate, block 100-percent UV, are polarized, and come in a wide range of colors. Frames are co-injection-molded, are very light, and every pair of Natives is covered with a lifetime warranty.
So, what makes them special for we water worshipers? Check out the model called Andes: wrap-arounds that are vented to prevent them from fogging-up. If you have a boat with an air-conditioned cabin, you’ll love your new-found ability to go in and out of the controlled climate without having your vision impeded by the usual blinding blanket of moisture. Cost ranges from $129 to $149. Visit Native Eyewear, to learn more.
Salt Life makes sunglasses? Yup—and for 2015 they rolled out the Fiji, which is a wrap-around Italian-made TR90 frame supporting a pair of polarized Zeiss polycarbonate lenses. Scratch-resistance on the front of the lenses comes via a protective coating, and the backs of the lenses get a five-layer anti-reflective coating.
I tried wearing a pair during several fishing trips, and give the Salt Life Fiji a big thumbs-up. The inset nose pads are comfy but don’t protrude from the frames (which often creates a light-entering gap); they’re light and comfy; and they make my ugly mug look less ugly.
What sets them apart from other marinized shades? Why, the cool Salt Life logo on the frames, of course! Cost: $169. To learn more, go to Salt Life.