The Best Sunglasses for Kayaking

Portrait of a sea kayaker

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Taking a kayaking trip out onto a placid lake or through a white-knuckle, whitewater course can put a substantial strain on your eyes. Spray and glare make sunglasses a necessary part of every kayaker's kit, and the best sunglasses for kayaking have a key set of features that separate them from sunglasses used in other recreational pursuits. Polarized lenses, a floating strap and a secure fit make for a great pair of water-ready shades.

Don't Shoot Your Eye Out

Take care of your eyes, and they'll take care of you. Kayakers are at an especially high risk for eye damage due to UV rays from the sun because the glare along the reflective surface of the water can compound the amount of UV radiation that reaches your eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends wearing sunglasses all summer, especially on the water, since the sun's UVA and UVB radiation can be three times higher during the summer than during the winter. In addition, sunglasses can prevent salt water spray from getting into your eyes, which could impact your visibility when you're trying to navigate tough rapids.

Polarizing Conversation

The best sunglasses for kayakers use polarized lenses for better visibility and glare reduction. Polarized lenses use a special orientation in the lens to allow vertical light through to your eyes unfiltered, while preventing scattered horizontal light from penetrating the lens. This greatly reduces the amount of glare that is refracted into your eyes, especially on the surface of the water. Without glare on the surface of the water, you'll be able to see below the surface, which can help you spot and avoid rocks for smoother kayaking.

Float Like a Butterfly

Inevitably, most kayakers take an unexpected dip during a kayaking trip. The best sunglasses for kayaking come with a strap that has a small air pocket or foam block attached to keep your sunglasses floating within easy reach if you lose them in your frantic capsize. Look for sunglasses with stainless steel hinges as well, since these won't rust or corrode from exposure to salt water.

Everyone Needs to Vent

Vented sunglasses are ideal for summer activities like ocean kayaking, since you'll inevitably build up some heat while paddling away from real or perceived sharks. These sunglasses use perforated frames and lenses to allow cool air underneath the lens, preventing condensation on the lens and evaporating sweat before it stings your eyes. A fog-proof coating on the lens surface can also help keep your vision clear when you're really heating up your shades.