Polarized Sunglasses

I usually buy cheap polarized sunglasses for paddling, but have never felt that they perform very well. I’ll sometimes hit submerged rocks that I can’t see because they’re obscured by glare, especially in riffles and rapids. It’s worse in the winter months when the sun is lower. I want to buy someting better and there are zillions of choices, so I thought I’d ask for recommendations. I’d like to spend less than $100, and lens color doesn’t matter. What’s important to me is maximum glare reduction and the ability to see “into” the water. Thanks for any advice.

I’ve been using a pair of 'Julbo’
sunglasses with polarized, photochromatic lenses and love 'em for paddling. They also have a cord retainer that is removable, at I believe $98 even.

Not sure if
more expensive ones are better, but check this site out: http://www.polarizedoptics.com/ I got a pair of clipons from them. Not enough experience to rate.

Polarized!! YES!!!
I wera prescription glasses…

I consider one of my very kayak purchases, to be my prescription, polarized Ray-Ban semi-wrap arounds in Polycarbonate.

I compared Polarized w/ non-Polarized in the store, looking at reflective roof tiles across the street. Polarzed was MUCH better!!

At $250 after discount, they weren’t cheap, but I have had them through WW and on lakes, and wouldn’t ever go back.

I use the Chums w/ Chums floater, but they have never come off, as they fit my head great.

Eyewear is an important piece of kayakers gear…

I think sometimes we are lied to about
polarized sunglasses.

I had a pair of prescription polarized sunglasses that were absolutely fantastic for looking below the surface of the water.

This past summer I unfortunately lost them while surfing at the beach.

The following day I went to Wally World and bought a pair of el cheapo clip on “polarized” ones to go on my regular prescription clear lenses, and they absoulutely sucked.

I have since got a new pair of prescription polarized ones, and they are every bit as good as the ones I lost.



Big difference in quality…
… between different companies lenses.

I also swore off anything but cheapos for paddling use, but I have a pair of polarized Oakley’s I wear on land that are fantastic. Far above what the cheap polarized do. The glare reduction (along with eyestrain I didn’t even know I had) is amazing. They have me seriously considering another pair for on the water.

Expensive way vs Cheap way
I’ve tried paddling with sunglasses both ways. A couple of years ago I decided to “style” and when it was time to get new glass I got 'em with all the “bells and whistles”-tinted, polarized, bifocals, etc. $400.00 worth out of my pocket. Spend another $15.00 on a quality strap.

Third time on the water with 'em an “experienced paddler” was in front of me on a river and let a tree limb loose and before I could grab it my hat, glasses, and strap were on the bottom of a muddy creek.

Lesson was well learned. Next pair of glasses were the same without the tint and polarization and cost me only $150.00. Bought another “quality strap” plus a set of clip-on/flip down, polarized,shades for under $15.00.

I now have the best of both worlds. Went I get into an area where it is too dark and I just flip up the clip-ons. Also, most times I leave them in the “up position” and they act as a sun shield for my eyes.

Any day on the water is a great day,


Polarized Prescription
pair that I have are fantastic. I paid a lot for mine. Scratch resistant and titanium frames. If I ever lose these, I’d buy another pair the next day. I put mine on whenever I’m outside.



Now you guys got me thinking
Which brand of fit-over, polarized sunglassess do you recommend?

No brand is recommended
for clip-ons. Get one that you’re comfortable with and one that will fit your particular pair of glasses. It’s all about fit and comfort.

Thanks Everyone
Your replies have convinced me that the extra money spent for good polarized glasses is worth it. What prompted my initial question was a C-I trip I took yesterday. Paddling into the low afternoon sun while wearing my el cheapos, I was all but blinded by the glare off of the water. I couldn’t see many of the rocks until I was almost on top of them (literally). I also received a private email suggesting that brown or grey color lenses are best. That has made me think about buying glasses with interchangeable lenses.

Thanks again for your responses. Happy paddling.


Also remember that different
color lens work in different light situation.

for polarized glasses i would check out Native eyewear. super good quality, and they have a really sweet lifetime warranty. if you break them , you can send them back in and if it was not a warranty issue you could essentially geta new pair for like 20 bucks

i used to wear polarized but i found myself getting a bit sea sick when i was being splashed a lot. as soon as i took my glasses off i felt instantly better

the salt water left a film on the glasses and was distort the polarization and throwing me off

i have switched to non-polarized smiths and have not had the same problem since.

more on native
The replacement is now $35 with the original receipt.

Also, don’t go for the Natives that have interchangeable lenses. Only one set of lenses is polarized, the other are just plastic. I also find the polarization and glare reducing coating better on Costa Del Mar sunglasses.

campmor or sierra trading post for good prices.

Native again…
Nice optics and crash cushioned… I Know.

I use the gray lenses… under $100 on EBay…

They make some for watersports use
One day I realized that my eyes were always a bit dry, tired, and achy after being on the water. I sprang for the black Iridium lenses (nonpolarized) and found that my eyes felt much better afterward.

Later, after hearing a friend rave about polarized lenses, I bit the bullet and bought a pair with both the polarization and the black Iridium lenses. Can’t remember the name of these but they are wraparounds with vent holes top and bottom, and they come with an integral head strap and neck cord. (Some other company makes a cheaper knockoff, so beware of imitations.)

In this ultrasunny environment, they are worth the high price. I find the nonpolarized black lenses good enough for general wear but prefer the polarized for kayaking.

Now all I have to do is go back to manatee country and look for underwater critters.

“Black” is beautiful
These are an extremely dark grey made by Oakley. If you check their brochures, they provide a detailed table of tints and light filtration info. The black Iridium blocks the most light.

I don’t need them but my eye doctor said it is possible to get prescription Oakleys. But you can forget about the $100 limit even for nonprescription “blacks.”

I have same lenses…
… on my land specs (also had regular which are great and upgraded to the polarized which are markedly better).

Don’t really like those big crazy Water Jacket frames (and most of their heavier plastic frames don’t quite feel right on me)

Hey, since you have a pair of Water Jackets (those polarized are $$$ - ouch!), you should have the hydrophobic solution they come with too. Does it work? Worth bothering with?

I may opt for something more sedate and rig my own strap. Maybe a pair of Bottlecaps. They fit just right in the store (right meaning “like they’re not there”), and the open frame is less restricting for downward vision, but I will need to order custom to get black iridium polarized and boring matte black frames.

Call me old school, or just old, but I’m just not into rootbeer, tortoise, glossy, or crystal frames - and like my black iridiums too much to experiment on other lens colors. Sun’s pretty bright here most of the time so the darker lenses are best.

Custom order gets pricey fast though, so I may be sticking with cheapos a while longer…