Best Places to Buy Sunglasses in 2022



Published Jun 10, 2022 11:53 AM

The best places to shop for sunglasses offer quality selections and a variety of styles to fit personal needs and preferences. We want sunglasses that protect our eyes from the sun, but that doesn’t mean we should have to compromise how they look or feel while we use them. 

For activities like fishing, hiking, or hunting, getting a durable and long-lasting pair of sunglasses is a must. We spend a lot of time outdoors, and we want our sunglasses to protect our eyes the entire time. To help you find the right pair of sunglasses for your sunny adventures, we picked a few of the best places to buy sunglasses in-store and online. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Sunglasses

Before you head out shopping, there are various things to consider before buying fishing sunglasses, or any sunglasses for that matter. From your intended use to the quality of the lens, it helps to know a few terms and narrow down personal preferences. 

Intended Use

Like anything you buy, understanding and identifying the intended use can help you choose the ideal option to fit your needs and lifestyle. The intended use is often tied directly to the type of sunglasses. This can mean differences in shape, fit, and lenses. Two of the most common types of sunglasses are:

Casual: Casual sunglasses are what they sound like. You may be able to group designer sunglasses here. They are intended for daily use for general activities like driving, lounging outdoors, or more laid-back outdoor activities like walking or light yard work. 

Sport: Sport sunglasses are designed for activity and movement. They are often lighter weight and may have a snugger fit on your face. They may have additional features such as grips or interchangeable frames/lenses. Some sport sunglasses may also double as safety glasses depending on the design. These glasses are designed to provide eye protection during intense exercise like running or biking. 

Within the sports styles of sunglasses, you can group more technical varieties like glacier glasses. These won’t generally be used for daily use because they are designed for use at high altitudes and to block intense light coming in from all angles. 

Lens Type

Most of the value will come down to the type of lens and the lens features. Sunglasses generally fall within three lens categories: 

Photochromatic: These are the sunglasses that adjust the tint of the lens according to the amount of light. That means they’ll darken with more intense light and then lighten as the light becomes dimmer. While these tend to be effective most of the time, they won’t always work when driving in the car or in cold weather. 

Polarized: The best polarized sunglasses are designed to reduce the amount of glare. A similar effect can be achieved with mirrored lenses. Polarization works well when you are on the water or in the snow, where glare is more common. They don’t always work well for driving as the polarized lens can react to the windshield tint.

Interchangeable: Multi-lense systems allow you to change the lenses to have different features and tints. These provide many of the benefits of photochromatic lenses but tend to be higher performing and more reliable.

Other lens features may include things like prescriptions, but even prescription sunglasses can have additional features to help them function better. 

Visible Light Transmission

The lens coatings, color, and lens thickness can impact the visible light transmission (VLT) of your sunglasses. VLT is a measurement used by most manufacturers to identify how much light can move through the lens and reach your eyes. 

This will be listed as a percentage within product specifications most of the time. The lower the percentage, the better it is for bright, sunny conditions. For instance, if the sunglasses are listed with a VLT anywhere from 0-19%, they will be best for sunny environments. Something in the range of 20-40% VLT will still work well in most weather but tends to be more versatile.

Lens Color and Coatings

The color of the lens is also referred to as the tint. The color can dramatically change the VLT passing through to your eyes, so it is important to note it when shopping. Because of this, the colors can vary overall visibility and how well you can see in different settings. 

For outdoor activities or areas of high glare and sun, darker colors work best. These will be shades of green, gray, or brown. Brown-colored lenses may distort colors slightly, but green and gray should not. The lighter colors like gold, rose, or yellow work well for low light and sometimes moderate light conditions. Depending on the shade, they can be suitable for snow sports, improve visibility, and make surroundings seem brighter. 

Coatings can also influence the amount of VLT allowed to pass through the lens. Standard coatings you’re likely to see include: 

Hydrophobic: repels water

Anti-Scratch: improves lens durability and longevity 

Anti-Fog: great for humidity and activities that involve exercise

Mirrored or Flash: reflective film applied to the lens to reduce glare

Higher-end sunglasses or specialty sunglasses may have several layers of coatings. The types of coatings included on the sunglasses reflect the intended use. 

Lens Materials 

The lens material will be a significant cost factor because it impacts the weight and durability. How easy it is to see and the lens’s overall clarity is partly due to the materials but can also be affected by the lens color and tint. Common lens materials include:

Polyurethane: can be expensive, but it is very flexible and lightweight. Used for a lot of outdoor or exercise sunglasses because of the impact resistance. 

Polycarbonate: more affordable than polyurethane while still offering decent impact resistance and optical clarity. It isn’t as scratch or impact resistant as polyurethane, but it is very lightweight and can be lower profile than other materials. 

Acrylic: best for casual sunglasses and not sport glasses due to the lack of durability compared to other materials. They may have some image distortion and won’t be quite as clear, but they work well for glasses you don’t often wear or only use for causal activities like driving.

Glass: provides the best optical clarity and will be the most scratch-resistant. Glass sunglasses can still be quite durable. Still, they are also heavier and “spider” when dropped or impacted, whereas other materials may chip or shatter. The clarity and durability level makes them a more expensive material, and they aren’t always the most effective for outdoor sports. 

Frame Materials

Although the frame materials don’t impact how well you see, they can influence how the glasses fit, your comfort level, and the types of activities they are best suited for. Common frame materials include: 

Caster-based polymer: a very durable and lightweight material made from castor plants. It is a non-petroleum-based material making it more sustainable than many other options. 

Nylon: often used for sports sunglasses due to their durability and high impact resistance. Nylon is a relatively inexpensive material, lighter and more durable than metal. They aren’t very adjustable if solid nylon but can be made adjustable if they have an internal wire core specifically designed to make them adjustable. 

Acetate: frequently used for designer or popular-style glasses. They are made from various plastics and are available in many colors. Sports style glasses won’t use acetate since they tend to be less flexible and durable than other materials. 

Metal: a more expensive material, metals like aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel can work well for casual sunglasses. They are easily adjustable and are quite durable. Since metal can get hot with extended exposure to the sun and aren’t as durable as other options, metal is not popular for sports sunglasses. 

Other than the frame materials, some frames may have additional features like a sunglasses lanyard, nose/ear grips, or interchangeable features. 

Best Overall

Why It Made The Cut

With over 1600 stores in the United States, an online store, and on-site eye exams for prescription sunglasses, Sunglass Hut is our top pick for the best places to buy sunglasses. 

Key Features

  • Online or In-Store: both
  • Prescription: yes
  • Types of Sunglasses: casual and sport

Pros

  • Wide variety of styles
  • Specialty discount offerings 
  • Easy online ordering 
  • Customizable options
  • Accepts returns with proof of purchase

Cons

  • No international shipping
  • Inconsistent customer reviews for the quality of  in-store service

Starting as a mall kiosk, Sunglass Hut has grown into an international brand with over 2,000 stores worldwide. Of all of those stores, around 1,600 of them are located in the United States. Owned by Luxicotta Group, they sell genuine designer brands and have prescription sunglass options. 

Along with the storefronts, they also have a website for online orders. You can also search for stores nearby on the website if you want to try some styles on in person with the help of a sales representative. 

Sunglass Hut also has a customizable glasses offering that allows you to build and design frames. With some on-site eye exams, you can also quickly get prescription lenses. While customer service may vary from store to store, Sunglass Hut is still an excellent option to shop for and find a variety of styles to fit your specific needs.

Best Online: Zenni

Best Online

Why It Made The Cut

Zenni is one of the best online places to buy sunglasses with excellent customer service, an extensive selection, prescription options, and virtual try-on. 

Key Features

  • Online or In-Store: online only
  • Prescription: yes
  • Types of Sunglasses: casual and sport

Pros

  • Affordable options
  • Virtual try-on
  • Easy to order 
  • Customizable

Cons

  • Can take up to 3 weeks for delivery 
  • Does not accept insurance for prescription glasses

Zenni really is the “eyewear for everyone.” With customizable glasses options, it is easy to see why. While they are likely better known for their prescription glasses, they have a wide range of sunglasses available. What makes them incredibly unique is that they offer most of their sunglasses with the option to make them prescription glasses (with the exception of some sports glasses and goggles). 

Since they are a completely online shop, the only try-on options are virtual. While this may not be as effective as trying them on in person, their virtual try-on system is pretty slick and gives you a good idea of how the glasses will look. 

With all of the glasses being unique, they are individually crafted. You have to expect the delivery time to be slower than an online retailer like Amazon. Despite this, they still deliver glasses to your door within two to three weeks. Their online platform is straightforward to navigate; they have a wide selection of sunglasses and have affordable prices. 

Best for Prescription

Why It Made The Cut

Warby Parker is a well-known and affordable online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses featuring free at-home try-on before purchasing, with a few in-store locations. 

Key Features

  • Online or In-Store: online only
  • Prescription: yes
  • Types of Sunglasses: casual and sport

Pros

  • Variety of options
  • Easy try on process
  • Very affordable for the quality 

Cons

  • Only a few stores across the US (mostly online)
  • Carries very few name brands

Warby Parker is an affordable and easy-to-use retailer for prescription glasses and sunglasses. Since they are primarily online, they provide a unique try-on program that allows you to select up to five styles of glasses to be delivered to you, try on, and then send back for free. There are a few stores you can go to in select cities if you’d like to try on more options. 

The try-on program helps you find the right shape, style, and fit. They offer several lens colors and tints for sunglasses, making them easy to customize for your needs. While most of the selections are separated by men’s and women’s, they also sell unisex varieties. 

They may not have many name brands to choose from at Warby Parker, but they have a wide range of styles. The affordable price doesn’t always mean low quality either. Many of their glasses and sunglasses are very durable, but they can still break. Unfortunately, there is no warranty for these glasses, but their customer service is excellent, and they have been known to replace broken glasses in certain situations. 

Most Affordable: Amazon

Most Affordable

Amazon is the most affordable store for sunglasses.

Why It Made The Cut

Amazon is a well-known online retailer with a wide selection of sunglasses styles at affordable prices with fast delivery. 

Key Features

  • Online or In-Store: online only
  • Prescription: reading glasses only
  • Types of Sunglasses: casual and sport

Pros

  • Seemingly endless options
  • Affordable prices available 
  • Fast delivery time 
  • Very convenient

Cons

  • Not always very good quality 
  • No try on option

Amazon is one of the most convenient and affordable places to buy sunglasses, but it may take time to find a quality option. Unless you purchase a name brand that you trust, sunglasses on Amazon are often low quality. If you are strictly looking for a fast, easy, and cheap pair of sunglasses, it is an excellent choice. 

There is a wide range of options and styles on Amazon, including some name brands. Although there are other affordable shopping options (like Walmart or Target) for sunglasses, they won’t have as many options, and they may not be as convenient. 

The biggest downside to shopping for sunglasses on Amazon is that they do not have a try-on option. Returning items on Amazon is relatively easy, but it is better to find the right pair in person before you buy. 

Best for Sports and Outdoors: Backcountry

Best for Sports and Outdoors

Why It Made The Cut

Backcountry is our favorite place to find sport sunglasses for any outdoor activity from fishing, hiking, skiing, and beyond.

Key Features

  • Online or In-Store: both
  • Prescription: no
  • Types of Sunglasses: sport

Pros

  • Options for specific sports and activities
  • Youth sunglasses available
  • Easy to return items
  • Several name brands

Cons

  • Limited causal or designer options

If you’re looking for the best fishing sunglasses, look no further than Backcountry. While they have a few retail locations in the United States, they are better known for their quality online shopping experience. 

Since they are an outdoor retailer, you can sort according to activity or brand online. This helps narrow down your selection process according to intended use relatively quickly. Along with standard sunglasses for sports like fishing, they also have select options for goggles and potential glacier glasses. 

It is easy to sort through and find sunglasses for your specific outdoor needs on Backcountry, and their prices are relatively reasonable. They run sales throughout the year, so it is easy to find high-quality sunglasses and affordable prices.

How We Made Our Picks

When choosing the best places to buy sunglasses, we first need to start by identifying the intended use. Once you’ve done that, it is much easier to narrow down where to start shopping. 

To choose the best places to buy sunglasses for this list, we tried to find retailers with quality options and some name brands. Other factors that influenced our choices included if you could try on sunglasses, return policies, personal experience shopping in stores or online, and customer service. 

FAQs

Q: What are the best online sites to buy sunglasses?

The best online sites to buy sunglasses include many of the options we listed in our top picks. From Sunglass Hut to Warby Park and Zenni, most stores that sell sunglasses have online offerings. Some options listed are online only. 

Q: What is the best place to buy prescription sunglasses?

The best place to buy prescription sunglasses that we’ve chosen is Warby Parker. However, other places such as Zenni and your eye doctor will have several options as well. 

Q: Where is the best place to buy Oakley sunglasses?

The best place to buy Oakley sunglasses is directly from Oakley. You can buy Oakley sunglasses from several other retailers like Dicks Sporting Goods and even online at Backcountry.

Q: How much do sunglasses cost?

How much sunglasses cost depends on the quality, features, and the name brand, which isn’t always correlated appropriately. The price range of sunglasses can be anywhere from $10-700 but can range higher, especially with prescription options. 

Q: Where is the best place to buy Ray-Ban sunglasses?

The best place to buy Ray-Ban sunglasses is directly from the manufacturer. There are other quality places to find Ray-Ban sunglasses, such as Sunglass Hut and other major retailers. 

Q: Should I purchase sunglasses in-person or online from retailers?

We recommend you purchase sunglasses in person when possible, but buying online is still an excellent option. Certain retailers, like Warby Parker and Zenni, offer try-on and return options to try the styles on and then choose the ones you like. The only real benefit of shopping in person is that you can see how they look right away. Shopping online has its advantages, though. When you’re online, you have a much wider selection of sunglasses and can often find better styles for prescription glasses. 

Final Thoughts

The best places to buy sunglasses vary and change according to your needs and personal style. Simply having the widest selection of sunglasses doesn’t make them the best, though. Look for places that offer quality over quantity. Sunglasses that will stand the test of time and effectively protect your eyes from the sun aren’t always cheap. With new online options, quality sunglasses have become more affordable and accessible.



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