If you’re a triathlete you have spent serious money on a great bike, the best running shoes and the latest sports watch.
Do you want the best sports sunglasses? Don't you deserve that too?
Triathletes research what bike to get, the best watch and running shoes but rarely think about their eyes. I think your eyes are very important and the best sports sunglasses should be an essential part of your equipment.
The problem is there is a lot of nonsense written about sports sunglasses and you have to wade through piles of ‘marketing hype’ written by public relations specialists before you get to a person who actually knows what their writing about.
I am a keen triathlete and have completed several ironman events and shorter distance triathlons and I produce my own sports sunglasses brand called AMO, so I will admit I have my own interests. But here are my views and you can decide for yourself whether you believe me.
There are 5 tips for buying sports sunglasses for triathlon that I would advise any triathlete to think about before buying a new pair of sport sunglasses:
1. The best sports sunglasses for triathlon ...have adjustable nose pieces and temple arms
Don't you hate it when your sunglasses slide down your nose on the bike when in the Tri aero position? When this happens sunlight enters your eyes before you push them back up your nose and you have to take your hands off the cycling handlebars, putting you and others in danger.
Triathletes spend a serious amount of time on the bike and protecting your eyes from the sun and from debris is really important.
Firstly, you want a pair of sunglasses that are sticky. When riding in the aero position on the aero bars with your head down you want sunglasses that say in place.
Good sports sunglasses will have soft rubber and fully adjustable nose pieces that make them stick to your face and head. If they have nose pieces that are not adjustable then forget them. And even if they fit well in the shop, they still need to be adjustable so that you can tighten and loosen them when your face heats during long workouts.
'Stickiness’ is also affected greatly by the temple arms. These too should be fully adjustable so that you can mould them to fit your head. This is a real plus.
2. The best sports sunglasses for triathlon ...have larger-sized, wraparound lenses
Let's face it the reason you’re wearing sunglasses is to protect yourself from the the suns harmful UV rays. I am not going to talk about UV protection as even the worst sunglasses should offer this.
For me, sun protection means not letting stay sunlight entering your eyes from the sides. That means a wraparound style with larger lenses. The larger lens also means when your head is down you have clear views of the road ahead.
Bigger, wraparound lenses also prevent stray sunlight from getting in the sides of the sunglasses and into your eyes.
3. The best sports sunglasses for triathlon ...have no bottom rim
I hate it when the bottom fame of my sunglasses obscures my vision of the road and a bike computer. There is simply no need for this if you get a frame style with no bottom rim.
Bottom rimless frames are also lighter, adding to your comfort. And they have a higher centre of gravity which means they are less likely to slide down your nose.
The final and very important feature is the bottom frame does not act as a sweat catcher allowing sweat to accumulate at the junction between the lens and the bottom frame.
4. The best sports sunglasses for triathlon ...have multiple lens options
Triathletes train in all weather conditions and and at all times of the day. The very best sports sunglasses for triathlon are those that are versatile!
Choose a pair of sports sunglasses that come with multiple lens options. For triathletes, I would recommend to have at least three lens types:
1. A low light lens for riding in the morning and dusk.
2. A darker category 3 lens. Triathletes are more exposed to the sun on the bike and runs than (say) ultra runners who can run in trees and the surface they run on is much smoother, which means higher reflected light. For this reason I would recommend a darker lens: this will be more comfortable.
3. The third lens can be a bit more sexy. For me I would go for a Revo colour. Triathletes like to stand out and Revo lenses are very distinctive!
There are also photochromic lenses and polarised lenses, which I’ve written about in the past: a photochromic lens changes its tint depending on the level of exposure to UV, reducing the need to change lenses, and a polarised lens will reduce reflective glare and is more comfortable on the eyes. If you live in a very sunny climate and spend time on long smooth surfaces or training near water, go for a polarised lens. If you live in a more changeable climate then go for a photochromic lens.
5. The best sports sunglasses for triathlon ...have polycarbonate or Trixex® NXT lenses
Let's face if you’re passionate about your sport you deserve the best.
There is a lot of nonsense written about the best sports sunglasses lenses. In truth there are only two types of lens material worth thinking about: Polycarbonate and NXT. A top quality polycarbonate is almost as good as NXT but the problem is that the quality of the polycarbonate, from manufacturer to manufacturer, is variable.
Just about anybody in the world can make polycarbonate lenses and, depending on the raw material and on the manufacturing process, the quality can be variable unless you go to a reputable sports sunglasses company like AMO. With NXT, the manufacturing process is patented and comes from one source, so there is no variance in quality. NXT quality is simply superb.
Polycarbonate lenses are lightweight, super strong and more impact-resistant than most other lens materials, however NXT lenses beat polycarbonate in all these categories.
If in doubt, go for NXT lenses or buy polycarbonate lenses from a reputable, high quality sports sunglasses company.
These are my views. Think about these before you buy your next triathlon sunglasses. If you have questions or other tips and views on sports sunglasses for triathlon please comment below.
As a reward for reading this far, AMO sunglasses are offering you an additional 10% discount if you purchase a new pair of AMO sports sunglasses. Just enter discount code "BLOG108" at the AMO Shop.
AMO produces three different sports sunglasses series, each is designed for triathlon.
Above. Transformer Series - Ironcatcher model: available online at www.amosunglasses.com/ironcatcher.
Tim Hallworth is a triathlete, adventure racer and ultra marathon runner and together with his wife Fenny is the co-founder of AMO Sunglasses.