I'm looking into buying sunglasses for paddling. any suggestions? Polarized vs. UV? Brands? Price ranges?

Submitted by bremeku on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 10:45am

I lost a nice pair as they sunglass strap popped over my head when I flipped. I have not worn any since. I know REI makes some that actually float but I dont know the lense quality. In a mid price I go with oakley polarized

#1 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 11:17am

Oakley Flak Jackets. Just make sure you've got a leash for them, too expensive to lose.

#2 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 11:30am

use polarized. they stop glare and UV. i know some guys that drill a hole in the earpiece and make their own strap for em.

i used a brand of polarized goggles when i used to paddleboard called Specs. they look super duper cheesy and gay. but they work amazingly well, cost 40 bucks, and float. also replacement lenses are only about 20 bucks. they are almost like goggles, but they breathe really well so they never get fogged up. they used to carry them at go bananas on kapahulu. not sure any more though.

once again, you will get laughed at for wearing these. but you will not get those crazy eyeball tumors or have dry eyes after a race ever again. worth it i say.

or try these they are about 100% cooler looking than the ones i have.

#3 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 11:55am

I was wearing oakley's but found that the salt from the water ate the mirrored finish so I would stay away from those with a mirror coating

#4 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 12:17pm

eyecatchers were awesome polarized sunglasses... they closed down last year, but i think he still has product laying around that he might sell for a reasonable price

#5 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 12:22pm

I have glasses called sea specs. They're polarized and super good they have little vents so they don't fog up and a built in strap to hole them tight. Best glasses i've found so far.

#6 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 12:30pm

The sea specs are also available as prescription glasses.
With polarized lenses it's a little harder to read the gps, but most important is to look for 100% UV protection with whatever you buy.

#7 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 1:26pm

Seaspecs are polarized, they float, they have a strap. I use them for paddling, surfing, etc.
And they're cheap, if you order 2 you get a 3rd one for free and free shipping, i.e. 3 sunglasses for 110 $.

#8 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 3:22pm

Optic Nerve, Banshee model... vented so they don't fog up, reasonably priced, three different interchangeable lenses for different light conditions, full UV protection, and they look good (at least on me). They're like $52/pair, and they don't float.

#9 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 3:39pm

polarized is definitely the way to go! not only will it provide protection for your eyes but also helps gives clarity to be able to see the water when you are paddling.

Check out the range of Kaenon sunglasses - they have some pretty good copper lenses which have different degrees of 'shade' which will suit all sorts of 'light'.

oh, and the lenses are 'soft' like oakleys!

#10 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 9:26pm

You could also try fuglies

Polerised and comfortable

#11 Fri, 05/30/2008 - 12:55am

Maui Jim's polarized.......

#12 Fri, 05/30/2008 - 6:41am

Hobie sunglasses are the best on the water-no comparison

#13 Fri, 05/30/2008 - 6:45am

Maui Jim

anyone tried Kaenon? they look kewl, but seem hella expensive and heavy

#14 Fri, 05/30/2008 - 12:36pm

Konapaddler ... I thought so too for three sets of glass Hobies 'Till I went to Maui Jim ... da bes IMHO.

Its the coatings on the INSIDE ( eye side ) that make them that much better IMO. Really, you can tell.

Cheaper but still top 3 is the Ray Ban G-15 glass lenses.

Jc9 0 and other Specs users ... Iv'e had my eye on those but not on my eyes yet .... The look perfect for body surfing and such too ...

Q: When you are exerting yourself pretty hard out of the water, do they fog up from the inside ? Does enough air circulate ? Just wondering .. thanks,

#15 Fri, 05/30/2008 - 4:52pm

Was just in town looking again tonite ...

I think above questions were for the "Aqua Sphere" ones that sort of look like goggles ...

Now confused.


#16 Fri, 05/30/2008 - 7:49pm

"I was wearing oakley’s but found that the salt from the water ate the mirrored finish so I would stay away from those with a mirror coating"

Was it just the saltwater, or were you wiping the salt crystals off the lens?

#17 Tue, 06/03/2008 - 12:31pm

never had any problem with fogging, just looking like a dork seems to be a constant problem. with or without the sunglassus.

#18 Tue, 06/03/2008 - 2:22pm

A devastatingly handsome dork, might I add.

#19 Tue, 06/03/2008 - 2:44pm

Bought the SeaSpecs (3 for $110) and they're pretty good for the cost. I tend to leave it slightly loose in the strap now instead of tight/snug like I did when I first got them. Air circulates better too.

#20 Thu, 06/26/2008 - 5:54am

I think Maui Jims and Hobies are the best, only used those two exclusively for the last 6 years.

Absolutely right. No question Hobie's Polarized are great, but I too have had trouble with the inner coating deteriorating, especially how hard I use them. I think Hobies are made in China now, so a great product, just a little less long-term durability than before. China Pegasus's, on the other hand, are ridiculously reliable. Maui Jim's are made in Europe (Spain and Italy I believe) so you can expect a little better quality.

Maui Jims are a cut above, no doubt, the Maui Jims i've used have been the best shades i've ever had. The drawback? $$$$$. Expect to spend between $160-$300+

Depending on where you live or work, Maui Jims give's discounts to alot of different industry professionals. I know here on Maui we (firefighters) get a 50% discount along with police and hospitality (hotel and resort) industry employees.

Polarized is automatic, you have to get polarized, no way around it. Another useful topic to explore if you're looking for feedback might be to ask guys what kind of tint they prefer ie. Amber, Dark, Rose, Indoor/Outdoor, etc. Shades come with tints usually from around 10-12% (really dark, probably soothing for your eyes, but lose a little detail) to around 16-20%( great detail, but a much lighter tint).

Another problem is I have a huge, bulbous head, and other brands i've tried (serengeti, arnet, oakley, bolle) don't really make shades for really large faces. Along with MJ's and Hobie, Vuarnets and Ray-Bans do somewhat, and i've also had good experiences with both of those.

I'd like to hear if anybody has feedback on Kaenon's also. They look cool as hell, but bulky and heavy. Can anyone provide some feedback.

#21 Thu, 06/26/2008 - 6:45am

I've been using Kaenon sunglasses for about a year and a half. They are comfortiable, have great optics, and are actually pretty lightweight for their size (depending on frame style).
I used to have Maui Jims and EyeCatchers, MJ's were great, although a bit flimsy and scratched easily. The EC's were really good, but had heavy glass lenses.

#22 Thu, 06/26/2008 - 9:44am

In regards to the tint, I prefer amber/brown lens more over the grey/smoke or rose ones. A bit more clearer like driving glasses when I'm out on the water in the later afternoon to before sunset timeframe.

#23 Thu, 06/26/2008 - 8:43pm

Kaenons are very good sunglasses. I bought a pair two years ago and they are still doing fine. Upd's fit the best for my fat head. Bought mine at Mauka to Makai. I try to always wear them when I paddle. They are a little on the pricey side, but well worth it.

#24 Sat, 06/28/2008 - 5:12pm

does that water getting on the lenses during a session bother anyone else?

#25 Sat, 06/28/2008 - 9:24pm

Yes, salt water getting on the lens does suck.

Anybody using anything on theirs to make it less bothersome or easy to clean while on the water?

#26 Sat, 06/28/2008 - 10:55pm

Im talking more about just the beads of water being in your line of sight. Maybe something that helps the water just run off?? Im sure im being too particular but it makes me take them off sometimes it gets so bad. Like after i huli, I know, I just shouldnt huli!

#27 Sat, 06/28/2008 - 11:06pm

Yes, that's what I meant as the bead(s) just stay there and end up drying up continuing to impede my line of sight. There's nothing with me that I can use to wipe it clean again until I go home. Maybe I should bring a small towel in a ziplock bag or other waterproof case (in case I do huli) to wipe it clean.

As for what I was thinking of putting on mine was some Rain-X. I did a search about putting it on sunglasses and I found some sites for mountain bikers and saw this posted about using it.

Is RainX safe for Eyeglasses?

I posed this question directly to the customer support representative of the RainX manufacturer. Their reply:

Rain-X is a strong Alcohol solution before applied and would be an eye irritant. Once applied, however, the polymer will not harm the eye or be toxic in any way.

Rain-X is safe on all glass lenses that don't have anti-glare coatings. If your prescription lenses have such coatings DO NOT USE RAIN-X ON THEM or they will not be coated for very long.

So I might try it on some cheap-o's to see if it works for me or not.

#28 Sat, 06/28/2008 - 11:54pm

Right on, let me know how that works for you. Ive got some cheapies I could try also. I dont know diddly about sunglasses but I wonder if polarized would react any different than cheapies. That could be a slightly more expensive experiment!

#29 Sun, 06/29/2008 - 12:47am


#30 Tue, 07/06/2010 - 12:30pm

I got the sea specs about a month after reading this thread and I think they are great for the price. Very light weight and well designed. The lenses are surprisingly good (I got the grey lenses) The intigrated strap is really easy to adjust and the glasses are shaped in such a way that they will NOT come off unless you are plowed by some heavy water in which case they might take some eyebrow with them. They have ridges around the orbits of the eye socket so they cant be pulled over and off your face without a lot of force (if the strap is snug.) They float as well, just in case. Pretty cool. 3 for 110, find a friend who need them and keep the extra pair for yourself!

As to not fogging up, sorry but they do, because they are lifted a bit off the face and due to the shape, they vent better than other glasses so they are a bit better but harder to take off if you need to clean the lense for any reason.

The styling is pretty bad, but I with my hat pulled down you dont really notice and I dont care but that shape is what keeps em on your head.

Caution, if you have a big bulbous head like me, the strap at max length just barely allows me to pull the glasses on so try before you buy if possible.


#31 Wed, 07/09/2008 - 9:01pm

Never got around to trying the Rain-X on my cheap sunglasses as I keep forgetting to buy a bottle of it.

Lately, I haven't been having problems using my SeaSpecs while I'm out on the ocean. In fact the last few days has been pretty calm so hardly any splashing on the lens.

#32 Thu, 07/10/2008 - 2:21am

Get whatever you can paddle in, if there comfortable then thats good enough, if there expensive then make sure you don't loose them.

#33 Fri, 07/11/2008 - 9:04am

Got the Rain-X and put it on my SeaSpecs. Went out to use them, but ended up just leaving them hanging from my neck as there was too much overcast to wear them.

Seems to work alright when I just spashed water on them. The water beaded off without leaving any residue or spots to block my line of sight.

#34 Wed, 07/16/2008 - 1:08am

I have a pair of Columbia sunglasses that have yet to prove me wrong. They sit on my face nice without any pressure points and they stay on my face even when I jump into the water or perchance huli. I like them a lot. I might try to use that Rain-X idea, although I haven't had any problems with fogging or water clouding my vision.

#35 Wed, 07/16/2008 - 7:23am

For the guy with the Oakleys that had the coating damage- I bet that Oakley would replace them free. I had a pair of Smiths that had the same thing happen(bubbles in the coating), and it was no sweat. Check their website.

#36 Wed, 07/16/2008 - 8:09am

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