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7 Best Paddling Sunglasses Guide [Test and Reviews]

Updated April 9th, 2024

Best paddling sunglasses

Harmful UV rays and the intense glare of the sun can damage your eyes while you’re paddle boarding or kayaking. That’s why it’s important to choose a pair of sunglasses that are specifically designed for these activities. Sunglasses for paddle boarding need to be polarized, have full UV protection, and need to stay on your head while you’re on your board. Let’s take a look at the best paddling sunglasses available today.

Below are our top 3 picks for the best SUP sunglasses. Keep reading below for more detailed reviews and sunglasses guide.

☆ Top Pick

☆ Top Pick

☆ Best Value

Smith Guides Choice Product Image
Redfin Hatteras Product Image
Outdoor Master Hawk Sport Sunglasses Product Image

Smith Guide’s Choice

Redfin Hatteras

Outdoor Master Hawk

The 7 best paddling sunglasses

1 – Smith Guides Choice

☆ OVERALL BEST
Smith Guides Choice Product Image

Specifications

  • Frame Material – Plastic
  • Lens Material – Glass or Plastic
  • Polarized – Yes
  • Floating – No
  • Size – 141 x 42 mm

Highlight Features

  • ChromaPop™ polarized lenses cut glare and enhance color and contrast
  • Available glass lenses for more scratch resistance and visual clarity
  • Anti-reflective coating improves clarity and reduces eye strain
  • Lightweight, flexible and durable frame

Where to buy

Summary

The Smith Guide’s Choice Sunglasses offer high clarity polarized protection for your eyes. Smith Optics has been one of the leaders in Sunglasses and Goggles for good reason. Their ChromaPop lenses are some of the best performing lenses available today. The Guides Choice is available with standard polycarbonate plastic lenses or enhanced techlite glass lenses. The Longfin glasses have a wrap around look with side shields for extra protection from fishing hooks or anything else. They have a removable strap so you won’t lose them overboard. If you want great sunglasses, you can’t go wrong with Smith Optics Guide’s Choice.

Review

Coming soon

Smith Guide's Choice at lake

What we liked:

  • High clarity ChromaPop lenses
  • Stylish appearance
  • High quality scratch resistant glass lenses
  • Good secure feeling fit
  • Excellent view of the water without glare
  • Polarized lenses
  • Removable strap

What we didn’t like:

  • High cost
  • They don’t float

2 – Redfin Hatteras

☆ TOP PICK
Redfin Hatteras Product Image

Specifications

  • Frame Material – Plastic
  • Lens Material – Nylon
  • Polarized – Yes
  • Floating – No
  • Size – 143 x 42 mm

Highlight Features

  • LENSES BY ZEISS We only use Lenses Manufactured by Carl Zeiss Vision
  • CLASSIC STYLE FRAME The Hatteras is a modern take on a classic casual style. It is extremely lightweight with flexible spring hinges and easy under ball cap stems. 

Where to buy

Get 15% Off with code Rush15 at Redfin Polarized.

Summary

Redfin Hatteras Polarized Sunglasses are some of the best paddle boarding sunglasses available. They were designed for fishing but they work great for any water activity including paddling, kayaking, and sailing. Their polarized lenses by Zeiss Optics give great clarity and protection on the water. They feel lightweight and look great too. Redfin makes a variety of different frame shapes and lens color options to suit any size face and style.

Review

See our review of the Redfin Hatteras Sunglasses to learn more.

Redfin hatteras sunglasses review

What we liked:

  • Clear high definition view of the water
  • Lightweight feeling while wearing
  • Secure feeling frame. Doesn’t feel like it will fall off
  • No lens fogging on hot sweaty days
  • Polarized lenses
  • Protection from UV rays
  • Available in many colors and styles

What we didn’t like:

  • They don’t float
  • High cost

3 – Outdoor Master Hawk Sport Sunglasses

☆ Best Value
Outdoor Master Hawk Sport Sunglasses Product Image

Specifications

  • Frame Material – TR90 Memory Plastic
  • Lens Material – Plastic
  • Polarized – Some models
  • Floating – No
  • Size – 142 x 60 mm

Highlight Features

  • Polarized lens – protects you from the glare and greatly improves your visual experience, especially for fishing and kayaking in the harsh sunlight.
  • HD Visual Experience – By studying the structure of the human eye and calculating optical refraction accurately, we developed the first HD lens that offers a clearer view and reduces visual fatigue caused by distortion. 

Where to buy

Get 10-20% OFF with code ERO2022 at OUTDOOR MASTER

Summary

The Outdoor Master Hawk Sport Sunglasses are high performance sunglasses at a cheap price. They are available with several lens options including polarized and photochromic. They also have an HD Color Enhanced option as well. They are impact resistant and have memory plastic frames that can be crushed and pop back to shape. They have a frameless wrap around design that offers a giant field of view. If you are looking for high performance sunglasses but don’t want to spend Oakley or Smith prices, these are a great option.

Review

See our review of the Outdoor Master Hawk Sunglasses to learn more.

Polarized Hawk

What we liked:

  • Great bang for the buck
  • Comfortable fit
  • UV400 protection from UV rays
  • Available in several different lens types including polarized, photochromic and color enhanced
  • Several mirror lens colors to choose from with the revo lenses
  • Easy to swap lenses
  • Impact resistant certified to ANSI Z87.1
  • Most glasses include 2 lenses

What we didn’t like:

  • Rubber nose pads come off when swapping lenses. Can get lost.
  • They don’t float
  • Polarized lens only available in black
  • Photochromic lens not dark enough for really bright sunny days

4 – Smith Lowdown 2

Smith Lowdown 2 Product Image

Specifications

  • Frame Material – Plastic
  • Lens Material – Glass
  • Polarized – Yes
  • Floating – No
  • Size – 126 x 45 mm

Highlight Features

  • ChromaPop™ polarized lenses cut glare and enhance color and contrast
  • Stylish look ready for the beach or any outdoor activity
  • Anti-reflective coating improves clarity and reduces eye strain
  • Lightweight, flexible and durable frame

Where to buy

Summary

The Smith Lowdown 2 sunglasses are a perfect choice for any day on the lake or at the beach. They have ChromaPop polarized lenses for enhanced visual clairity. The frames are made from flexible and durable evolve bio-based plastic with carbonic plastic lenses. They have a very lightweight feel and are sized for smaller faces. They are also available in non-ChromaPop and non-polarized lenses for people looking for a good value sunglass that don’t need the extra visual clarity from ChromaPop polarized lens.

Review

Coming soon

Smith Lowdown 2 on lake

What we liked:

  • High clarity ChromaPop lenses
  • Stylish appearance
  • Scratch resistant carbonic lens
  • Light feeling
  • High claritity low distortion view of the water
  • Polarized lenses
  • Good fit for small faces

What we didn’t like:

  • High cost
  • They don’t float

5 – Oakley Split Shot Sunglasses

Oakley Split Shot product image

Specifications

  • Frame Material – Plastic
  • Lens Material – Plastic
  • Polarized – Yes
  • Floating – No
  • Size – 132 x 43.5 mm

Highlight Features

  •  PRIZM™ POLARIZED – Reduces glare and reveals details. Oakley’s exclusive Prizm™ Lens Technology with the glare-free filtering benefits of Oakley HDPolarized.
  • IMPACT PROTECTION – Oakley lenses are designed and tested under extreme high mass and high velocity circumstances to ensure uncompromising protection

Where to buy

Summary

Oakley Split Shot sunglasses are designed to maximize your performance on the water. They have a strap that holds them securely to your head during any activity. Their wrap around design offers a wide field of view and complete eye protection. They have PRIZM Polarized lenses which have some of the best clarity and definition out there. These are a great choice for any serious paddler.

What we liked:

  • Strap that holds the sunglasses securely to your face
  • Excellent clarity Oakley PRIZM lenses
  • Polarized lenses that reduce water glare
  • Stylish Oakley appearance
  • Available in many colors and sizes

What we didn’t like:

  • They do not float
  • High cost

6 – Cressi Ninja Floating Sunglasses

Cressi Ninja Product Image

Specifications

  • Frame Material – Polycarbonate
  • Lens Material – TAC (Tri Acetate Cellulose)
  • Polarized – Yes
  • Floating – Yes
  • Size – 140 mm

Highlight Features

  • Lightweight floatable frame – made light for all-day comfort and durable for your most challenging activities.
  • Tac Polarized WRH hydrophobic lenses – allow you to see better both above water and below the surface. New technology tac (Tri Acetate cellulose) polarized lenses offer superior visual and polarization clarity.

Where to buy

Summary

Cressi Ninja Floating sunglasses are great for those who have a habit of donating sunglasses to the lake. They are designed by an Italian diving company that has been making gear since 1946. The Ninja glasses float so they are hard to lose. If conditions are wavy or choppy you might have a hard time seeing them so a strap is still a good idea. They have polarized shatterproof lenses to keep your eyes protected.

What we liked:

  • Polarized lenses
  • Good optical clarity
  • Lightweight feeling for all day comfort
  • Include a hard case and lens bag
  • Floating glasses that won’t sink to the bottom
  • Comfortable to wear for a long day

What we didn’t like:

  • It’s easy to order Ninja Flex instead of Ninja Float by accident which do not float
  • Reflective coating scratches easily

7 – SeaSpecs Stealth Extreme Sports Floating Sunglasses

Seaspecs Stealth Product Image

Specifications

  • Frame Material – Plastic
  • Lens Material – Plastic
  • Polarized – Yes
  • Floating – Yes

Highlight Features

  • SeaSpecs are extreme sports sunglasses for kiteboarding, Surfing, Jetskiing, Windsurfing, Snowboarding and other extreme sports
  • Adjustable non-removable strap that is comfortable, secure and easily adjustable with one hand
  • High quality impact resistant grey lenses are polarized providing 100% UVA & UVB Protection

Where to buy

Summary

The SeaSpecs Steath Extreme Sunglasses are a great choice for SUP surfing or river rapids. They have a tight fitting permanently attached band that keeps them snug on your face. They feel more like a cross between goggles and sunglasses than sunglasses. They have a rubber seal across the top to keep water from going down over your eyes. The frames have vents to get the moisture out so they stay fog free. They float too. These are a great choice for water activities such as SUP surfing where you stand a good chance of going in the water a lot.

What we liked:

  • Attached strap keeps them on your face
  • Vented frame helps keep them moisture and fog free
  • Polarized lenses give you a good view of the water without glare
  • Good for SUP surfing and river rapids without fear of losing glasses
  • They float

What we didn’t like:

  • Strap is a bit too short for hanging glasses around your neck
  • Some people may not like the tight fit feeling

paddle boarding with sunglasses

Paddle Boarding Sunglasses Guide

Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to look at when you are shopping for a set of SUP sunglasses. Polarized lenses and UV protection are the 2 most critical things to look for.

Polarized Lenses

Polarized lenses are beneficial to paddle boarding because they reduce the glare from the water. This allows you to see more clearly and makes it easier to navigate. Many sunglasses on the market claim to be polarized, but not all of them actually are. To make sure you’re getting a pair of truly polarized sunglasses, look for the polarization test card that comes with most pairs. If you don’t see one, ask the salesperson before you buy.

UV Protection

UV radiation can cause a number of eye problems, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye). That’s why it’s important to choose sunglasses that offer full UV protection. This will help protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

There are two types of UV radiation: UVA and UVB. UVA radiation is the more penetrating type and can damage the eye’s collagen fibers. UVB radiation is the type that causes sunburns. Both types of radiation are harmful to the eyes, so it’s important to choose sunglasses that offer full protection against both UVA and UVB radiation.

Most sunglasses on the market today offer full UV protection, but there are a few exceptions. So, be sure to check the label or ask the salesperson before you buy.

Floating sunglasses and retention straps

Paddle boarding and kayaking can be rough on your sunglasses. That’s why it’s important to choose a pair that will stay on your head, even when you’re in the water.

Floating sunglasses are great because they won’t sink. Your odds of finding them in any kind of chop or surf are near zero. It’s still a good idea to use some kind of strap to keep them attached.

Some sunglasses come with either a floating strap or a retention strap. A floating strap is made of buoyant material and goes around your neck. This type of strap is best for paddle boarding, as it will keep your sunglasses from sinking if they fall off. A retention strap is made of non-slip material and goes over the top of your head. This type of strap is best for kayaking, as it will keep your sunglasses from bouncing around or falling off.

If your sunglasses don’t come with a strap don’t worry. There are many cheap options available on Amazon that will keep your expensive sunglasses from sinking.

Color optimized lenses such as PRIZM or ChromaPop

If you want the best possible visibility while paddle boarding, look for sunglasses with color optimized lenses. These lenses enhance contrast and make it easier to see in both bright light and low light conditions. The two most popular brands are PRIZM and ChromaPop. These work by filtering out shades of blue giving your sunglasses a light yellow or orange tint from the inside. This makes it easier to see especially in flat light conditions.

PRIZM is a lens technology that’s exclusive to Oakley. It fine-tunes vision for specific activities and environments. For example, there’s a PRIZM lens for road cycling, snow skiing, golf and fishing.

ChromaPop is a lens technology that’s exclusive to Smith Optics. It also fine-tunes vision for specific activities and environments. Some of the activities include road cycling, mountain biking, skiing, and golf.

Both PRIZM and ChromaPop lenses are available in a variety of different tints. They are available in polarized versions as well. You can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Wraparound frames

Wraparound frames offer several benefits over traditional sunglasses. First, they provide better coverage and protection from the sun. Second, they offer better peripheral vision. And third, they stay on your head better than traditional sunglasses.

Lens Material

Sports sunglasses are available in both glass and plastic lenses. We recommend plastic lenses as they are safer for activities such as paddling where you could hit something and potentially brake the lens. Many sunglasses are also certified as safety glasses under ANSI Z80.3. Plastic or polycarbonate lenses will act as safety glasses and protect your eyes. Glass lenses will break and could cause damage.

Skiing Author

Kate Ryan
Co-Founder & Editor

Kate days she is an expert black diamond skier and waits for no one at the bottom. She also loves hiking and biking. She comes from Taiwan where people ride scooters way more than cars. She would rather bike or scooter and only drives when she absolutely has to. Learn more about me on our About Us page.

kate@adventuregearinsider.com