Hey yall; life is stressful enough without stressing out about buying the correct sunglasses. US Outdoor understands that and we have come up with a list of things for you to consider before you commit to a pair. We want you to be making an informed purchase. This buying guide should get you started off on the right foot.


     How much do you love being able to see clearly? Have you ever had sun burnt eyes? We hope you never do! Ultra violet (UV) radiation does not only affect your skin but also your cornea and other fragile parts of the eye. Sunglasses are essentially like sunscreen for your eyes and they are definitely one of the most important accessories when you are being active (or inactive) outdoors.
     UV-A and UV-B are the two types of radiation that we need protection against. When choosing a sunglass it is MOST important to find a lens that calls out its 100% UV protection. It is safe to say that every sunglass we sell at The US Outdoor store and offers that. Let us be honest; aside from looking super fly (duh), the main reason we wear shades is to protect our precious eyeballs.


     When choosing a sunglass the color of the lens makes a big difference in the performance. There are different colored tints offered for different needs. A fisherman will have different lens needs than a cyclist. What will you be doing in your sunglasses most often? Please note the lens tint has no effect on the UV protection.

Check out this list of lens tints to make sure you’re making the right choice.

Black/Grey --

  • Most versatile and common lens.
  • Best for full bright sun
  • True color perception
  • Great for most all outdoor activities

Bronze/Amber --

  • Enhances contrast and depth perception
  • Best for variable weather conditions (i.e. early morning, late afternoon, overcast)
  • Activities where the backdrop is green grass or blue skies
  • Best for fishing


Rose --

  • Highest amount of contrast
  • Increased depth
  • Reduced eye strain
  • Cycling, driving, and skiing.

Yellow --

  • Provides clarity in low light conditions such as fog and haze
  • Filters out blue light that can cause headaches
  • Reduces eye fatigue

Mirrored/Flash Coating --

  • This is generally a coating on top of a grey or bronze based lens
  • Incognito (can’t see eyes through lens)
  • Comes in an array of colors for different looks
  • Perfect for people who spend extended periods of time looking towards the sun
  • Reduces eye strain by protecting from suns glare


    When picking out a sunglass be aware that not all lenses are made from the same materials. There are a few different types of materials used that can add to and take away from quality and price. Some will be heavier than others with heightened optical clarity; and some will be lighter weight and be better for impact sports. Here is a list of pros and cons to reference for the three main types of materials used in sunglass lenses.

Optical Glass --

  • Superior scratch resistance
  • Unbeatable clarity
  • Heavier than polycarbonate
  • Could shatter or crack if struck
  • Significantly more expensive

Polycarbonate --

  • Impact protection (glass will shatter)
  • Better choice for active sports
  • Lightweight
  • Reduced clarity
  • Scratches easier

Acrylic --

  • Significantly cheaper
  • Great for a fashion frame
  • Less durable
  • Sacrifices optical clarity


Polarized-- Polarization is going to reduce the glare off of surfaces from the sun. This type of lens can be very helpful for people participating in water sports or for driving purposes. In both situations you are surrounded by glare coming up around you; polarized lenses cut that haze and glare putting your eyes at ease.
      Keep in mind a polarized lens isn’t going to be ideal in all situations involving sun; such as cycling or downhill skiing. During these activities you want to be able to see hazards in the road and/or on the mountain. A couple examples of hazards you would come across could be glass in the road or ice patches up on the hill. Polarized lenses would cut the glare you would normally see coming off those things in which case you might miss them.

Gradient-- Gradient lenses are tinted from the top of the frame down. The darkest part of the lens will be at the top blocking out overhead sunlight; the lightest will be at the bottom so you can see things like a dashboard more clearly when driving. Gradient lenses are generally a lighter lens so they would be a good option for more overcast weather or indirect sunlight.

 Photochromic-- A photochromic lens will get darker when exposed UV rays and lighter when indoors. These lenses are most commonly used in prescription glasses but the technology is seen in some polarized sunglasses as well.

ANSI Certified-- ANSI stands for American National Standards Institute. They created uniform guidelines and requirements for safety glasses. Each lens must be stamped with ANSI Z87.1 in order to be legally certified. A lot of safety sensitive jobs require you to purchase these lenses. We do stock these safety glasses from a few different brands (i.e. Oakley and Spy).


       An important thing to consider when buying sunglasses is the size of the frame. As a general rule frames are measured in millimeters (mm). The size of your frame should be pretty close to the size of your face. When reading the measurements of a frame it is pretty universal across the board; lens first, then bridge, followed by temple (57-17-137).


       Measuring your face sounds daunting but I promise it will help out greatly in finding the right frame for you. Find a friend or mirror to help out (trust me it will be easier), take a ruler and measure from temple to temple straight across in millimeters.  The number that you get is your face size.




    Now to determine what fits the face size you just measured out will involve some math (AAHHH). Find the lens width of the sunglass you are interested in and times that number by two; then take the sum of that and add the bridge width. If the number you came up with is within 2 millimeters of your face size you should feel confident that you’ve found a winner!


Plastic -- Plastic is the most inexpensive material used to make frames. There are many different types of plastics used in the making of sunglasses. Frames made of this material are generally injection molded and all one color. If there are any designs on these frames it will be painted on and could chip off over time.

Acetate -- Acetate is a plastic with other added polymers that make it much more durable and flexible than a traditional plastic frame. Cellulose acetate is made from natural wood pulp and cotton fibers. There are many different types of acetate frames that you will come across in the sunglass world (i.e. nylon, zyl). A lot of the frames made of this material will be handcrafted to add to the quality and also the price. You will also find that the color options will be broad due to the ability to embed colors into the frame rather than just coating it on the outside. \

Metal -- This material is commonly used in fashion sunglasses due to it is adjustability; metal can be twisted and turned into lots of funky shapes. These frames in addition will be harder to break but easier to bend and misshape if you’re not using a case to protect them.  Metal frames are also lighter overall because much less material is used in the makeup of the frame.

Titanium --
 Titanium is a great material to choose if you like the metal look but dislike the durability of them. This material basically needs no upkeep; titanium is impact proof. You can bend and squish titanium and it will bounce back to its original shape. Titanium is extremely light weight and unlike traditional metal frames; just fine to wear while being active as it will stay put on your face.

Are you still feeling lost or do you still have questions? Give our shop a call and you can talk to an expert who will get you all set up.  1.503.223.5937