A Guide to Winter Sunglasses Options

Jared Ward, Olympic Marathoner and Rudy Project Athlete

Most people think of winter optics for bluebird days with the bright sun glaring off snow. Others hear the term and think of ski goggles, which do the double duty of physically protecting your eyes from the wind and snow as you head down the slopes. But the reality is everyone can benefit from sunglasses in winter weather, no matter the light level. Depending upon the lens tint and color, high-performance sunnies will heighten contrast and let you see more detail and depth no matter how weak or strong the ambient light is. Below, we’ve broken down the details behind the best sunglasses for snow, gray days, and sports.

High-Energy Winter Sports

Nordic skiers, runners, and cyclists generate tons of heat during their activities. As a result, their sunglasses must have the right balance of lightness, durability, facial coverage, airflow (into and out of the frame), and lens tints that work in all conditions. The Rudy Project Cutline fits the bill. Its wide lens keeps wind and glare out. Cut-outs in the lens and frame promote air circulation, which reduces the chances of the lens fogging up. Its adjustable temples and nose pad let wearers dial in the perfect fit, whether they wear the shades under a helmet or over a beanie hat. The Cutline also features swappable lenses so athletes can match the lens tint to conditions — orange or red for bright sunny days, ice blue for snow days, and yellow for low-light, overcast conditions. 

All-Conditions Coverage

Winter sun may appear weak, but its low angle in the sky usually means you spend more time staring into it than you would during the summer. Compound that with the reflected glare of harmful UV rays bouncing off snow and water, and it can be annoying at best and damaging to your eyes at worst. Snow blindness is a real concern. It happens when the glare off the snow and the brightness of the sun and sky are so intense that it physically hurts to keep your eyes open. Days like this are perfect for Rudy Project Kelion Sunglasses. Like the Cutline above, the Kelion features swappable lens tints, and its large lens covers the eyes from every angle, making it perfect for driving, snowshoeing, ice skating, or enjoying aprés beers on the deck.

Downhill and High-speed Winter Sports

Downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling call for purpose-driven goggles, as they offer maximum coverage and crash protection with a shatterproof lens and a snug fit that keeps the cold out while letting body heat escape. Their elastic band wraps around hair, helmets, and hats and holds them tight to the head. And like the two options above, goggles come in a variety of lens tints. With Rudy Project Spincut OTG goggles, you can opt for mirrored orange lenses on intense, bright days or lightly tinted red ones for low-light days. Both colors heighten contrast, making it easy to see shadows and bumps in the ski run or trail ahead.

The Best Sunglasses for Snow and All Winter Conditions

With Rudy Project ImpactX photochromic lenses, winter athletes can roll from shady settings to bright sun without changing their glasses. Within seconds of light rays hitting the lens, they transition from clear to just the right amount of tint. In bright sun, they turn dark black, purple, or red, depending upon the tint. And ImpactX lenses are incredibly versatile and available for all the sports performance eyewear featured above. 

Click here for a complete list of Rudy Project winter sunglasses, goggles, and lens tints.