Spring Trail Shades for Every Budget


As days get longer and brighter, it’s important to protect your eyes from harmful glare and other elements. This spring we’ve been using three models that combine classic styling with the necessary protection you need.

Tifosi Swank SL ROKA Barton Electric JJF Knoxville Sport
Weight (g) 22 24 26
Frame color options 7 4 3
Total lens width 125mm 135mm 139mm
Lens size (h x w) 43mm x 55mm 44mm x 56mm 48mm x 60mm
Lens options 5 4 3
(tested model)
$50 $145 $220


Tifosi Swank SL

Tifosi positions itself as a brand that provides affordable yet technically advanced eyewear for enthusiasts of multiple sports and outdoor activities. They include design elements that are not commonly seen on discount sunglasses, chief among them being shatterproof, scratch-resistant polycarbonate lenses and a glare guard coating to reduce eye strain. The Swank SL comes in a number of eye-catching frame and lens colors, although we tested a fairly conventional-looking woodgrain model with brown polarized lenses. It’s worth noting that not all Swank SL lens options are polarized, but the unpolarized versions are offered at an even lower $25 price point.

Two design elements we appreciate most about the Swank SL are its lightweight construction and stability during high intensity activity. The frames are constructed from Grilamid TR-90, a very lightweight yet durable nylon compound that resists chemical and UV damage. They stay in place at the nose via hydrophilic rubber nose pieces that increase their adhesiveness with increased sweat production. The main drawback to these glasses is that they feel somewhat narrow for large faces, and don’t provide peripheral cover when the light is coming from an angle.

Tifosi Swank SL glasses are available at www.tifosioptics.com.


ROKA Barton

In ROKA’s hometown of Austin, TX, the easiest way to stay cool when the weather gets hot is to hang out at Barton Springs, a 3-acre municipal pool filled entirely with natural spring water. Similarly, ROKA Barton glasses give you cool style in sunny conditions, thanks to fashionable design and lightweight construction. They have rectangular frames that are reminiscent of Wayfarers, but with larger lenses and performance features that can handle high-intensity aerobic activity. We tested the polarized lens version which are recommended for best contrast in sunny conditions, but this model also comes in a black non-polarized version for $95, and a gray frame with mirror lens for $125.

The lightweight plastic frames on the Barton feel minimalist on your face – almost to the point that you forget they’re there – but they also have nice flexibility to prevent them from breaking if they are stuffed in the front pocket of your hydration pack for a few hours before the sun comes up. Each pair comes with three different size nose pads to customize the fit on the width of your nose, and once they are in place, non-slip Geko pads at the nose and temples hold them steady. The lenses are sweat resistant as well as fingerprint resistant, and they seem to clean up easily when wiped instead of getting smeary like many other lenses.

ROKA Barton glasses are available at www.roka.com.


Electric JJF Knoxville Sport

Electric’s brand identity is skate/surf culture meets high fashion and high performance. The San Clemente, California-based company exudes a chill attitude, but they don’t cut corners with design or construction. All of their glasses are designed in SoCal but constructed in Italy, in the same factories that supply designer shades to many of the world’s fashionistas. Every pair of Electric shades also feature melanin-infused lenses which protect the sensitive skin around your eyes while also providing 98% blue light protection, sharp color perception, and crisp visual clarity.

The JJF in the name stands for pro surfer John John Florence, an Electric athlete partner who contributed to the styling of this offshoot model. The Knoxville is historically one of Electric’s most popular sellers, and the Sport version provides the identical style with a “sport upgrade” of lighter weight frames, performance grips at the bridge and temples, and a double action hinge system that locks into place securely. The JJF version adds some design accents to the frame, and also crates cool frame/lens pairings like the black frame with bronze polarized lens combo we tested. Although there is a clear emphasis on style, the JJF Knoxville Sport is definitely comfortable and rugged enough to hang with your all-day trail outings.

Electric JJF Knoxville Sport glasses are available at www.electriccalifornia.com


About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, California native, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 25 years of experience in endurance sports. He was a collegiate rower at UCLA, then dabbled in marathons and Ironman-distance triathlons before falling in love with ultras in the early 2000s. His favorite locations to run include Marin County, CA, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and he loves exploring America's National Parks. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

1 Comment

  1. What!? How could you leave out Goodr? Polarized, no slip, no bounce and only $25-$35 ! And they come in several styles with pretty much any color combo you could ask for. 🙂