While high-quality sunglasses are an essential travel item for any trip to any place, any time of the year, spring—and the promise of the bright skies and long days of summer—shares an particular affinity for stylish eyewear. Now’s the perfect time to upgrade, with everything from a high-end legacy brand to a fun upstart that’ll give you full polarization for under $60.
1. Vuarnet Pilot Swing, $390; 2. Spy Optics Tackle, $170; 3. Sunski Alta, $55; 4. Remo Tulliani Envy, $285; 5. Julbo Vermont Classic, $150; 6. Zeal Optics Incline, $149; 7. Raen Norie, $225.
Our recent round-up of seven great sunglasses only scratches the surface of options—both within those brands’ library of products and within the larger landscape of sunglass choices. It’s enough to throw your hands up in despair and just grab a pair of gas station shades. Don’t do that. Good sunglasses offer a world of benefits, especially if you cater them to your needs. We chatted with the talented Remo Tulliani—the man behind … Remo Tulliani, maker of beautiful, Italian-made, hand-crafted sunglasses and other accessories—to get a few tips on how to find the perfect pair of shades.
And we know—you claim that you always break/lose your sunglasses, so why pay more? Trust us—if you have a pair that elicits your adoration (as the right pair should) you’ll discover that you’ll take good care of them.
“Your sunglass must be comfortable so that it is never a bother to wear. Therefore, multiple comfort aspects should be taken into consideration, as we do when we design Remo Tulliani styles, including the weight of the glass lens to ensure it is not too heavy on the face; using spring hinges for the perfect, comfortable fit; and a custom hydrophilic nose piece to help keep the glasses in place during any activity.”
If you envision long wear, spring hinges that let the arms flex with, rather than constrict against your temples, are game-changers. And if you’re big on adventure (read: you plan on sweating and moving a lot) consider a pair with rubber imbedded in the nose bridge and arm ends to prevent slippage.
“A sunglass must have a quality lens for your eyes safety. Better lenses mean you will be able to wear your sunglass as long as you wish. Your eyes will be never feel fatigued, while remaining relaxed and rested.”
Shape and Color
“If you see a shape or a color you like, try it… Don’t ever reject it until you have tried it on. Sunglasses are a fun way to express yourself in a fun shape or color, all while correctly fitting your face and protecting your eyes.”
“Always think about the where and how you will you will use your glasses. This will help in your perfect selection. Different features are needed for different end uses. Will you be on the water, riding a motorcycle, driving, fashion only?”
Going big in the mountains? Wrap-around temples or wider arms help block peripheral sun glare. On the water a lot? Polarization cuts down the glare and lets you dodge the reflective surface of the water. Beach-bound? Consider glass lenses, which don’t get scratched by the sand. Multi-sport enthusiast who loves the wrap-around Racer X look? Go for shades with swap-out lenses to handle variable light conditions so you always have eye protection and nominal frame structures so that they don’t steam up or let sweat pool below the lenses.
“Remember, your face is the fashion! Never buy a pair of glasses that hides your face. Sunglasses are an accessory for both eye protection and enhancing your personal style and look.”
Hide your eyes? Sure—especially after a long flight. But your shades should always be a natural extension of your appetite for life, even if that means bright reflective lenses one day, and then dark shades the next.
Main: photo by Joe Hunt, CC-BY
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Vuarnet Pilot Swing
Vuarnet's re-introduction to North America has already been covered (and with generous enthusiasm, no less), and the new Pilot Swing continues the French company's goal of creating classic premium eyewear. The aviator-style shades are incredibly light, even though they come with Vaurnet's high-quality all-glass lenses for premium clarity and polarization, along with highly scratch-resistant surface. The thin, all-titanium frames run all the way to the tips of the arms, making them durable and elegant. Go traditional with one of the modest colorways, or retro with the blue/white/red frame.
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Spy Optics Tackle
The Tackle might be designed for anglers, but even non-fishermen and –women will appreciate the functional details embedded in these sunglasses. The wide arms help block out peripheral sun glare, while the polarized lenses let you penetrate the shadows and see beneath the surface of the water. Better still, the Happy Lenses only let in the "good" rays—namely those that boost energy and increase good feelings. Snap-pin hinges deliver day-long comfort, with a small opening at the ends for a leash attachment.
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Sunski's latest model continues the company's goal of delivering stylish, polarized lenses to the masses with a retro-hip circular lens design and a burst of vibrant colorways. As with all their shades, the Altas come with lifetime guarantee and a replacement lens program where new ones run a measly $3, which you can change at home. They also participate in 1 Percent for the Planet, meaning you can drop less than $100 on a pair of solid shades and feel good that some of the money goes to a pro-environment cause.
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Remo Tulliani Envy
These Italian-made, hand-crafted sunglasses get everything right, from the sturdy monel frames and grilamid arms to the hydroponic nose pads, stainless steel hinges, and shatter-resistant rectangular lenses. Spring hinges mean they'll work on small, medium, and larger faces without temple fatigue, and the glass lenses filter out infrared and ultraviolet rays, and won't scratch under most conditions.
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Julbo Vermont Classic
The aptly named Vermont Classics evoke the mountaineering glasses of old—circular lenses, fully curved ear hooks, leather side and nose guards—along with a few contemporary features that amp their performance. Made in celebration of Julbo's 125th anniversary, they come with either a bronze-colored Cat 4 lens suitable for sports with exceptionally bright sunlight (read: above treeline), or in a variety of Cat 3 lenses (red, ice blue, or bronze), more suitable for all pursuits.
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Zeal Optics Incline
The Incline employs Zeal Optics' plant-based "Z-Resin" frame materials using a new injection process to create the lightest sunglasses in their product line, clutch for high-octane, all-day mountain adventures (or hours of museum hopping). Their polarized lenses are also plant-based, employing a blend of color filters to make the greens and blues of the outside world pop, while rubber inlays on the temple tips and nose bridge prevent slippage when things get sweaty.
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Equal parts French Riviera and Jackie O, the hand-made Norie shades have a slight cat-eye shape, with custom metal and acetate laminated temple construction and an attention to quality that can only come from a hand-made product. For real flash, opt for the flash-mirrored reflective lenses, but even if your chic leans towards the subtle, you still get 100% UVA protection, and CR-39 Carl Zeiss Vision lenses—the same mad scientists behind most of Canon's camera lenses.