Summer isn’t quite the same in 2020, but one thing’s for sure: come sun, clouds or showers, there’s always a risk of squinting.
Whether you’re sensibly scaling peaks, sitting distantly in parks or sipping responsibly at pubs, the in-and-out solar schedule is sure to keep your peepers guessing.
Don’t leave your eyes in the dark: prepare for the annual on-again, off-again sunglasses game with these fine specs.
From cycling shields and titanium frames to cinematic shades and recycled sunnies, there’s something in the list below to suit every face, taste and budget. Now, is that cloud blowing east or west?
Sungod Sierras (£70)
Seasonal sun-worshipper? Cream might keep the dreaded burn at bay, but it takes a different kind of deity to shield your peepers from solar harm.
For flexible protection that’s built to go the distance, stick SunGod’s Sierra shades on your face. A lesson in lightweight longevity, the featherweight polymer frames are built to bend, so even the clumsiest of sunshine stumblers should struggle to snap their specs. And if somehow you manage to do some damage, SunGod’s lifetime guarantee will see them fixed up for free.
Polish the polycarbonate lenses with the bundled microfibre pouch – made from recycled plastic bottles – and you’ll find the world a finer place: scratch-resistant, impact-proof and UV-beating, the 4KO panels filter your view for better contrast and clarity. So whether back-country or beer garden, the Sierras will improve the hues you see this summer. Unless it’s crimson, in which case you need some aloe vera.
Bird Wren (£139)
Taken up woodworking while holed up at home? Whittling spoons is one thing, but crafting a frame from twigs and twine is something else entirely. For wooden sunnies without the splinters, try these brilliant bamboo, beech and sandalwood shades.
Sustainably sourced and stunningly made, the Wren specs are stronger than standard sticks: a natty natural finish – complete with lovely visible layers – belies an aluminium core that’s as durable as an ancient oak. Add bio-acetate tips to the mix and you’ve got a striking statement in eco eyewear.
Earth and eyes aside, Bird also does its bit for people: a certified B Corp, the Devon firm’s Share Your Sun partnership with SolarAid sees a solar lamp supplied to a family in Africa for every pair sold. Which means fewer kerosene burners, healthier homes, more time to study and less CO2 released. So you can help share light while staying safely shaded.
Ray-Ban Round Double Bridge (£140)
Wayfarers. Aviators. Clubmasters. Ray-Ban’s no stranger to iconic eyewear, but even legendary line-ups sometimes need a new addition. Step up, the Round Double Bridge: the name might be less than snappy, but the circular sunnies borrow the best bits from some seriously fabled shades in an effort to create a truly timeless pair.
With a tasteful double-bridge across the top and a classy full-metal rim around the lenses, the upstart glasses channel Fifties chic and modern minimalism in equal measure.
An icon for our age? Only time will tell – but they’re certainly hot for summer.
Waterhaul Crantock (£75)
Give someone a net and they could fish for a lifetime, but discard it in the ocean and it’ll cause damage that lasts even longer. What to do with washed-up webbing? Enter Waterhaul: using nets collected from European waters, the British brand transforms trawling castoffs into fetching shades.
Made from waste they might be, but these are no throwaway shades: shipped in a fold-flat case that’s crafted from sustainable cork, the Crantock glasses are the epitome of eco cool. Each dark matte frame features a durable five-barrel hinge and a unique flecked finish determined by the batch of recycled plastic it comes from, while the laser-etched logo reveals the green pigment of the original fishing nets beneath.
Polarised mineral glass up-front ensures both maximum clarity and superior scratch-resistance – and, once they’ve served their purpose, the lenses can be recycled again and again, as can all the frame components. So not only will you intercept pollution with your pair, but you won’t be making more if they ever need repairs – which, thanks to the lifetime guarantee, will be on the house.
Oakley Sutro Tour de France (£155)
Like shaving your legs and fitting a carbon fibre bottle cage, upgrading your sunnies is unlikely to make you faster in the saddle. What Oakley’s distinctive shield can do, though, is help you see more while channelling le Tour.
Finished in the iconic colours of that oh-so-famous race, the special edition Sutro is fronted by a high-wrap shield that's straight out of the '80s. Offering a wider field of view while keeping your peepers free from bugs, Prizm lens tech also enhances colours and contrast – so the lycra of your peloton pals will look twice as vibrant as you pedal past.
Streamlined nose pads are secure yet comfortable, while the sculpted O Matter frame is sturdy without adding excess grams to your setup. Though if weight is really a worry, perhaps you should skip the post-ride pints.