A question on eyewear

I was looking for recommendations for sunglasses while being on the water. I do realize that a brimmed hat where the underside is dark will absorb glare from the water. Are there sunglasses people think do a good job for typical condition while kayaking?

I know for my cycling I have glasses with multiple lenses that I use based on light conditions. I am sure there are a lot of factors just like the difference in riding on black top or concrete which can be very reflective and glary on a bright sunny day.

Another feature that would also be nice, I also wear readers and I do have a pair of polarized sunglasses with split lens for reading from LL Bean but they are not dark enough for the water.

I expect my kayak sunglasses to be lost at times, or abused by having sunscreen smudges or salt spray wiped off on my shirt so I don’t invest a lot in them. In my case, I need a +1.0 distance correction which happens to be the magnification of the weakest readers. So I use dollar store readers with clip-on sunglasses (2-3 dollars on ebay if you can wait for shipping from China). I do have a good set of prescription sunglasses but really can’t tell much difference on the water. As you said, the wide brimmed hat is pretty critical though.

I also need readers, but don’t like the bifocal line or transition. But unless I need to look at a chart, there’s really no need to be able to focus close. So I have separate readers in a pocket and have to switch over if I need them.

POLARIZED. anything polarized.

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Agree. Polarized. And wrap around similar to this style (I use a retainer on my sunglasses. Haven’t lost a pair yet):

These are my go-to glasses for everything. At $3 each I dont cry if I drop / sit / crush / lose them.


Plus I find them very comfortable on the nose and temple, and they’re frameless. I hate seeing frames in my preferential vision.

They are not polarized so suffer from water glare, but I have antidotally heard that polarized glasses in rough water can be a disadvantage, as it makes the waves less apparent. I haven’t tested this personally though.

Cheap, comfortable, many different colors. Use them.in vehicles, kayaking, and on construction sites. Comes with a neck cord. I buy 6 or 12 few colors ever clear all give you UV protect ion. They get scratched no big deal just wing them.

Usually 6 bucks each

Cheap,but polarized. I lost a pair of nice Maui Jim’s last year because I didn’t bother to keep them tethered. Stupid and frustrating.

This year is starting off with a pair I bought online for under $20

Here in the Keys many people make their living on the water and they are out there most days. Most wear the very best costing hundreds of dollars.
Due to an injury 60 years ago I found polarized sunglasses the most comfortable.
Just look at your car windshield while driving and you will see a big difference in glare.
Brown to yellow will enhance the texture of things.


I use perscription glasses with the maximum photochromic add-on so they darken outdoors. I’m not a fan of clip-ons or any 2 sets of lenses because of the glare they create when light is from the sides or bottom.


  • When the sun sets or you come indoors, you don’t need to change glasses.
  • You don’t need to carry around sunglasses and cases.


  • Not as dark as sunglasses, although I find the darkness is “acceptable”, as my eyes don’t tire even after a whole day outdoors.
  • They don’t darken in the car due to the windshield/window’s UV block.

I see support for polarized glasses, and yes, water is probably where polarization is a big plus. Of course it has is disadvantages too, especially when trying to read LCD displays. I think I’ll definitely consider polarization again for my next glasses.

And to make me look really dorky, I use floating straps :nerd_face:

I guess that I am the outlier here but I have never lost sunglasses paddling. Not once. They are always tethered. I also value optical quality and contrast. Quality isn’t cheap.

For me, polarization on the water is a nice-to-have and not a gotta-have. Not saying that I don’t prefer polarization but not at the expense of quality optics and contrast performance. That means that for me, green and grey lenses are out on their contrast performance. Browns, ambers, roses all work for me.

I find that lenses that enhance contrast work better for me in fog and low light than anything polarized in grey or green. In bright light I do not find grey or green polarized lenses more comfortable than non-polarized contrast enhancing lenses. My eyes are happier and work less if harmful or excessive levels of light are blocked and contrast is enhanced short of something that resembles a bad acid trip.

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3 meterswell… :upside_down_face:.me too I have wet exited with hat and sunglasses on/in the surf and come up with glasses and hat still in place…everything else was all over the beach though. Yes I wear a leash for the glasses but not always.

I find it necessary to wear prescription glasses in the boat. Thus I can see the compass, GPS, and the horizon, etc. I use the photoreactive darkening prescription. I notice that polarized helps you see under water but may cause the screen of your GPS, phone or camera to darken. (turn head 90 degrees)

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After losing another pair, I went looking and got two polarized pair from different companies. Less than $25 and do the job. I use my Costas for long drives but not on the water.

(slightly off topic, but)
Oh, another complaint about the more recent Garmin GPSMap86sc - it’s difficult to read display becomes impossible with polarized glasses - the gps is 90° off.
My older GPSMap78sc (and previous 76) has no problem.

An inexpensive pair of polarized wraparound sunglasses adding stick-on readers, if needed.

Has anyone here tried Hydrotac lenses (wondering about how well they hold up)? I have another brand, affixed by the eyewear manufacturer. Having readers for my paddling glasses has been very helpful.

If you check out marine stores - West Marine or Hamilton - when they bring in new stock for the summer they usually have sunglasses with a built-in reader panel. I have occasionally found them in drugstores too, can almost always find them online. I rely on those for paddling, allows me to see both distance and read the chart.

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Maui Jim has the best polarization, but you pay for it.

If you are sure that you will always tether them and love them and hug them, they are worth it. If you lose glasses, get something cheaper, but definitely polarized.

I got some polarized over-the-glasses jobs at the drug store. Surprised that they cost ~$20, but they work fine. I also use retention straps on my prescription glasses.

I’ve tried clip-on flip-up models, but they get jostled out of place too easily, and break easily, too.

I make my living on the water, at least in the summer months, and buy quality glasses. My preference is Costa with polarized glass (not the plastic, which aren’t bad, just not as good as glass). Expensive yes (around $200 a pair), but not bad if you figure they will generally be worn 8-10 hours a day, six days a week for several months in a row. Glass lenses are a little heavier, but have better optics and are more scratch resistant than plastic or polycarbonate lenses. As for lens color, I prefer a blue mirror for the extreme reflective nature of open water (10% light transmission), and a green high contrast mirror for sight fishing in full sun. I’ll always have a pair with copper lenses for cloudy days. And yes, on the water, they are always tethered.

I’ve worn both Maui Jims and Smiths as well over the years, and they are both excellent quality as well, depending on the model

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After using polarized sunglasses my first time while cycling and not even seeing broken glass on the road—and getting a flat—I never again wore polarized sunglasses for cycling or driving. The reflections from broken objects might be visually disturbing but they serve a purpose then!

Polarized lenses also bother me when in bright snow, making me dizzy. Nonpolarized lenses don’t cause that effect.

I can wear polarized lenses when paddling, though they aren’t what I consider important.

What IS important is that the lenses have extra-high UV filtration. I’ve always preferred this grade of lens, which I’ve never found available in cheap brands. It isn’t about the color in this case. The lenses will actually have a standardized rating as to their level of light blocking.

The two that I like best are Oakley’s “black Iridium” lens (yeah, Oakley’s marketing labels make me roll my eyes) and Julbo’s mountaineering/glacier glasses. The Julbo ones I have are not black when you look AT them, yet when worn the view THROUGH them is noticeably darker than ordinary lenses. Julbo specifically advises against using these when driving.

In this land of almost-daily bright, harsh sunshine my eyes definitely feel less tired after wearing the above glasses, I do use cheaper glasses (under $75) on some days, but I think after the latest cheaper pair is too scratched up, I’m done buying those. I can always buy replacement glasses, unlike eyes.

Good point @pikabike about UV blocking, which healthwise is more important than glare blocking with polarization, which kinda just reduces some of the glitter off the waves :slight_smile:

Also good to note that while we can tell if we’re wearing cheap polarizers, we can’t tell if we have cheap UV blocking because UV-A and UV-B are invisible. So I believe wearing sunglasses without any UV protection is actually more harmful to our eyes than not wearing anything at all because blocking just the visible light with dark lenses allows the pupils to relax and dialate and take in all that UV. Yikes!

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