Tips For Choosing The Best Sunglasses For Boating?
As we fully enter the intense summer heat and glorious boating season, you might start thinking about a quality pair of sunglasses. Of course, we often remember to coat sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun’s steamy rays, but what about the importance of protecting your eyes? It might be time to purchase a pair of quality sunglasses before taking the boat out on the water, leaving you asking, “what are the best sunglasses for boating?”
Don’t worry; we have compiled some excellent tips for choosing the best sunglasses for boating.
Choosing a pair of sunglasses for a day on the water is a different story than selecting a pair for the neighbor’s backyard barbeque later in the evening. The ideal pair of sunglasses for boaters must protect your eyes from UV radiation while improving visibility and comfort out on the water. If you boat in sunny areas, then polarized sunglasses are a necessity. Let’s talk about why!
It is no secret that the combination of direct and reflected sunlight is more intense out on the water than on land. Light reflected off flat surfaces like windshields, water, bright white decks, and sails give a harsh unfiltered glare that impairs your visibility – a safety hazard, anyone? When your eyes experience an intense glare, they squint and fatigue. The result is discomfort and headaches, and who wants a headache while enjoying a day out on the water? Most sunglasses reduce light intensity through dark-colored lenses. However, colored lenses are not enough to protect boaters!
A polarized pair of sunglasses cut back on the number of rays hitting your eyes and eliminate the glare from the water without compromising the detail of the beautiful landscape and waterways around you. In addition, a pair of polarized sunglasses help your eyes differentiate between water color changes in shallow and deeper waters, preventing you from running aground.
In addition to polarized lenses, look for glasses with a coating that blocks 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays. Ultraviolet rays cause a myriad of problems, including snow blindness, cataracts, pterygium, and different types of eye cancer.
Colors, Colors, Colors!
Lenses come in various colors, and contrary to what some may think, the different colors are not just for style but serve different purposes. Generally speaking, opt for lenses that fall between 15-30% on the visible light transmission scale for boating. After selecting a lens that meets this requirement, select a color based on your needs. Opt for a lens that falls on the lowest visible light transmission (the darkest color) on the sunniest of days. See our list below for what color is best for each weather situation.
- Gray: Gray lenses are neutral and a perfect all-around, all-purpose color. Gray lenses reduce the glare while providing excellent contrast and no color distortion. They are ideal for water and land, so you can wear them for your drive to the lake and ride on the lake!
- Amber/Brown: amber/brown lenses will increase the contrast in most light conditions. They offer excellent protection and contrast in bright sun and magnify the light on overcast or rainy days.
- Purple/Rose/Red: purple/rose/red lenses will strengthen your visual acuity and enhance color (especially with objects set against a green or blue background). They deliver the brightest field of vision and are an excellent choice for sight fishing, inshore fishing, bass fishing, sport shooting, extreme sports, and skiing.
- Green: green lenses sharpen your vision, so they are an ideal choice for situations like sight fishing or multi-purpose, everyday use.
- Yellow: yellow lenses are perfect for hazy or foggy conditions. They are often the choice for snowboarders and skiers as they reduce the blue part of the light spectrum, improving visibility in the snow.
Remember that sunglass lenses must be shatterproof to best protect your eyes from injury in case of a wild ride. Opt for lenses made of polycarbonate vs. glasses. Polycarbonate is very durable yet light. They are also impact-resistant and shatterproof! In addition, they naturally block 100 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Finally, you can purchase lenses with a waterproof coating that allows them to repel water, making them easy to clean.
Let’s Re-Frame The Issue
Not only do you want a frame that compliments your facial features, but you also want one that meets your needs. Generally speaking, opt for lightweight, flexible, and durable frames. Frames made using nylon, propionate, or acetate (also called Zyl) are your best options. While metal frames are stylish, but quickly corrode to an unsightly green in a saltwater environment.
Fisherman frames have tiny windows on both sides so that the frame’s arms do not compromise your vision. Your eyes are still protected from the sides without limiting your view.
Designed to fit snugly around your face, wraparound frames ensure no light enters your eyes from any direction! These are perfect if you have sensitive eyes and need total eye protection.
Aviator frames are a classic look – Top Gun, anyone? They have wireframes and a teardrop-shaped lens that follows the curve of the cheek. Aviator frames look good on almost anyone and perfectly balance function and style.
Opt for a pair of clip-on sunglasses if you already wear prescription glasses and still want to protect your eyes without needing contact lenses. Clip-on sunglasses easily attach to your existing frames. You can also flip up the sunglass lenses, so you don’t need to take them off.
They Look Great, But Do They Fit?
Your sunglasses should fit your face, not just to look good, but so they work well! When trying on a pair of sunglasses, keep in mind the following:
- Do they sit (and stay) high on your nose? If they slip downwards, the optical center of the lenses does not match your center of focus resulting in distortion.
- Do they feel too heavy? If the glasses feel too heavy, the result will be headaches on the water.
- Do they fit snugly without pinching? If the nose piece is pinching your nose or the frames are pressing on your head, they don’t fit right.
You Get What You Pay For
While that saying is often overused, it rings true with your sunglasses. Think of your sunglasses as an investment, saving you heartache, bills, and potential health problems down the road. A pair of high-quality coated polarized glass lenses with a sturdy frame will run on the more expensive side. However, while a quality pair is the best route, any pair is better than nothing!
Protect Your Investment
Now that you have these guidelines, you are ready to purchase the perfect pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes on your boating days. Of course, you want to ensure your investment is well taken care of, so here are a few tips to keep your sunglasses stylin’ all season long.
- Never use strong cleaners or harsh disinfectants on your sunglasses. Strong chemicals will damage the coating on the lenses and frames.
- To properly clean your sunglasses, rinse them with warm water and use mild soap to wash the lenses if needed.
- Only dry the lenses with a soft, absorbent, clean cloth.
- Never use paper-based products to clean your lenses as they often cause scratches and can contain added lotions that leave a film on them.
- Store your sunglasses in a hard case to prevent them from accidentally getting smooshed.
- Wear a tie or strap (sometimes called croakies) that wraps around the back of your head and connects both of the frame’s arms to prevent your shades from accidentally slipping into the water.
We at Rocket Marine believe in helping you have the best time on the water! We promote travel safety by providing professional boat trailer maintenance and quality boat trailers. In addition, we love to help educate our customers on choosing the best boating accessories to meet their needs. So we hope you can now confidently find the best sunglasses for boating for you!
Here’s to helping you get out on the water!