Sunglasses are designed to protect your eyes from sunlight. The black tint darkens the view and reduces the brightness to the level you are comfortable with. As a result, it’s not dazzling anymore, see the surroundings more easily, and avoid eye fatigue from prolonged exposure.
However, there is an issue with the use. You cannot wear them all the time. In some cases, when you get into a darker area, it must be taken off. Otherwise, it can blind your view and even endanger you.
Photochromic sunglasses come to solve the problem. This kind of sunglasses is able to darken and return to normal by themselves depending on the surrounding light. When it’s shiny, it darkens. And when it’s cloudy, it lightens. So, you don’t need to take it off and on. It keeps sticking on your face throughout the day.
People wear photochromic sunglasses in various moments such as driving, piloting, riding, cycling, mountain biking, skydiving, shooting, boating, fishing, and many other outdoor activities.
Photochromic sunglasses can be a very critical accessory when it comes to extreme sports such as skydiving. In this case, you cannot change the lens to suit the unstable weather while performing. At the same time, keep wearing it is dangerous for sure.
If you come to this page to search for a pair of photochromic sunglasses, then you are in the right place. In this article, you could read comprehensively our top 10 selection of the best photochromic sunglasses and the reviews. You could read our guidance as well. In the following table, you’ll have a quick look at our top 10 picks.
Top 10 Best Photochromic Sunglasses in 2023
1. Gatorz Magnum Inferno Photochromic Military Sunglasses [for Skydiving]
Gatorz Magnum is the excellent sunglasses you will have ever owned. It’s not only photochromic but also comes with complete features such as an adjustable aluminum frame, anti-fog coating, anti-scratch coating, anti-reflective coating, UV protection, and broad lens.
What we mostly highlight is the adjustable frame which is beneficial to fit exactly your face contour; something you cannot get from the other sunglasses. Thanks to the Billet Aircraft Aluminum material that makes the frame unbelievably bendable yet remains strong, you can now use your hand to bend it bit by bit to shape as you want. No less important, it’s also lightweight. So, it sticks on totally comfortably.
It’s not only about nice fitting but also about the amazing features. It comes with anti-fog coating; the feature that you will highly need when it’s impossible to wipe out the fog on the lens during the activity. Simply, this coating repels water as the fog is actually condensed water. Sports such as skydiving requires this lens. Otherwise, it can endanger the users by blurring the vision.
Another is the anti-reflective coating. It will eliminate the light that reflects from the lens. As all the light now effectively passes through the lens, then it means no color that loses. As a result, it will generate a better vision.
There are a lot of other benefits obtained from these best photochromic sunglasses such as oleophobic (oil-repellent/anti-fingerprint marks), UV protection, double hinge, and anti-scratch coating. All of those will surely give a bang for your bucks; ends up no hesitation to purchase.
Overall, these sunglasses are highly recommended for skydiving, also riding, and hunting. Even, this is a great use for shooters and soldiers. In comparison with Gatorz Wraptor, this Gatorz Magnum has broader eye coverage which best fits for most people and better eye protection.
- Adjustable, nice fitting and great comfort
- High-end features
- Broadly covers the eyes
- Double hinge
2. Oakley Flak 2.0 XL OO9188 Sunglasses [for Cycling]
If you are looking for sunglasses for sports activities such as road biking, snow skiing, etc, then Oakley Flak 3.0 XL photochromic sunglasses are great to wear for those purposes.
It provides excellent clarity and sharp vision due to its patented Hight Definition Optics technology on the lens which surely things that you highly need during biking. In addition, the large lens coverage also gives you an extra-wide view so that biking now is so much enjoying.
Most importantly, it’s photochromic. Oakley Flak 2.0 XL sunglasses notably come with several different color lenses. And one of them is the clear black iridium photochromatic. This photochromism has the capability to transmit 23% of light when activated or exposed to the light. So, it’s fairly dark for outdoor sports. The lower the percentage, the darker it is.
At the same time, it provides UV protection as well. Therefore, although the lens turns back to be normal, it still blocks the UV rays. Whenever you start going while the sun is shining, it darkens. Vice versa, it lightens but still able to shield you from harmful UV rays. You are completely no need to take it off and on during your activity.
- Extreme clarity
- Wide view
- Faster lens reactive is needed when used for mountain biking
3. RockBros Photochromic Sunglasses [for Cycling]
This RockBros is the best cycling photochromic sunglasses for the budget. It is lightweight, photochromic, frameless (broad view), and UV protected. It’s also unisex which means suitable for men and women.
We love the lightweight and rubber nose bridge which generates great comfort for the users. As you know that cycling takes hours and comfortable sunglasses are absolutely required.
Moreover, it’s frameless which generates a more free view. Cycling needs a good focus on the track. So, this feature would help you enjoy hours of cycling.
How fast is it? According to the product instruction, it could change the color within 2-3 minutes depending on the weather. If it’s winter, it can take 3 minutes to adapt. While in the summer, it only takes 2 minutes.
Here is the specification. The lens height is quite long 5 cm. The lens width is awesome 2.56″ inches. The nose bridge is 2.5 cm. It comes with a rubber nose as well. And the temple length is 14.3cm.
- Photochromic and UV400 protection
- Frameless for a wider view
4. Serengeti 6826 Aviator Sunglasses [for Driving and Piloting]
Serengeti 6826 Aviator is a popular sunglasses due to its quality yet interestingly mid-priced. Its classic style is also considered the most preferred for driving and piloting.
Serengeti 6826 is a photochromic non-polarized sunglasses that are great for driving. The view is so much real; will barely distort the real color due to the lens quality. Due to the non-polarized lens, it will not disrupt your vision to see LCD screens on your car dashboard. Also, you’ll never experience such a rainbow pattern appears on the window that disturbs your view of the surroundings. In terms of you are in the car, the common windshield will not barry the lenses from adapting the light changing.
For pilots, indeed, these sunglasses are absolutely critical. The weather could be either so bright or cloudy. Plus, the windows are exactly surrounding. There are also a lot of flight instruments with LCD screens. Wearing these non-polarized photochromic sunglasses will help enhance visual acuity and guarantee safety.
In summary, if you are a driver or a pilot or aircrews, this is the best choice for you. It comes in medium size to fit most people. In terms of comfortability, it’s lightweight despite the lenses are made of glass. The adjustable nose pad and spring hinge also adds up comfort during the use.
- Great for driving and piloting
- Comfortable and durable
- Medium price
- The photochromism is active in spite of inside the car
- None so far
5. Julbo Aerospeed Segment Photochromic Sunglasses [for Running]
Julbo Aerospeed Segment deserves to get into the list because of its comfort, greater range of VLT, lightweight, and wide lens coverage. We cover it here as the best photochromic sunglasses for running, mountain climbing, and cycling.
As for running, it fits on the face and doesn’t bounce up. The temples and nose pad are designed to hold its position in place despite you are moving and even sweating. Also, thanks to its quality temple flexibility, its grip on your head is neither too tight nor too loose; making it comfortable despite hours of use. In addition, it’s unbelievably only 26 grams which makes it super lightweight. Unsurprisingly, you could be forgotten that you are wearing it.
The photochromism is absolutely outstanding. The VLT is rated at 12-87% which is highly flexible and adaptable to allow you with no worry to face shiny or cloudy weather; dawn or midday or dusk. In the bright day, it can be so dark (only let 12% of the light passing through). And the darker weather, it can lighten (allows nearly 90% of light). So for hours of long trail running, this is absolutely what you need.
In the case of cycling and mountain biking, this is ideal as well. For cycling, the broad lens functions to protect your eyes from harmful materials or bugs or other insects without limiting your view. While for mountain biking, it’s pretty fast to adjust the tint to get darker.
It’s also equipped with an anti-fog coating at the internal side and oil-repellant coating at the external side. The frame construction also allows the wind circulates freely to combat fog together with anti-fog coating. Running for hours can be so much enjoying because the lens keeps clean and clear.
If Serengeti provides for driving and piloting, Julbo seems to focus on sports. If you want to look for the other Julbo photochromic sunglasses, make sure you pick up the one with the Reactive Performance lens. Be aware because there is a lot of choices; you may take the wrong one.
- Lightweight (26 grams)
- Dark; great photochromism
- Great for running
- Get darker fast
6. Oliver Peoples Indigo Photochromic [for Hanging Out]
Do you want a high-quality stylish look photochromic sunglasses? This one is for you.
The first impressions that you will notice are the frame that is crystal colored and the lens that is made of glass. These two parts make these sunglasses look so cool and luxurious. In case of hanging around, you can wear this on with confidence.
Whether it’s a sunny day or cloudy, you don’t need to take it off because it is photochromatic which means it will become darker when exposed to sunlight and then turn to normal again when there’s no sunlight. Even when you enjoy a glass of coffee inside a coffee shop, just let it stick on.
- Great for hanging around
- Only one size
7. Goudi Polarized Photochromic Aviator Sunglasses [for Boating]
Another activity that needs photochromic sunglasses is boating. On the sea, shiny sunlight can fatigue your eyes. Photochromic sunglasses can relax your eyes as it’s adaptive to any light condition. Goudi sunglasses work best for this.
Another thing when boating is the light reflection on the water surface that dazzle eyes. Sun glitter can make eyes difficult to see what happens on the water surface clearly. It doesn’t just impair vision but also causes fatigue in the long run. This Goudi is polarized, so it eliminates glare and dazzle.
Further, sunlight on the sea contains full of hazardous UV rays which can cause health issues. Exposing eyes to this type of light can potentially cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and even cancer around the eyelids. Fortunately, these sunglasses are also equipped with a UV protection coating. Along with its wide lens coverage, you are totally protected.
Goudi aviator is comfortable as it comes with spring hinge. These sunglasses also receive a load of good feedbacks from the buyers which indicates it works as expected. Moreover, it comes at an affordable price. Hence, we handpick it on this list.
- Great for boating and even fishing
- Not for driving due to polarized lens
8. TJUTR Photochromic Polarized Sunglasses [for Fishing]
Our next favorite photochromic sunglasses are from TJUTR. Similar to Goudi sunglasses, this one comes as photochromic, UV protected, and polarized sunglasses. Therefore, it’s ideal to use for fishing and boating.
The photochromic lens performance is good. It works out. Although it doesn’t matter with the changing speed, it only takes about 3 minutes to darken from sunny outside to inside.
Overall, TJUTR sunglasses is the one that absolutely works out. There are several models that you could choose from. Each model comes with different frame color which permits you to choose what you like.
About the specification: the temple length is 5.20in, the lens height is 1.61in, the lens width is 2.68 in, and the bridge width is 0.51in. The frame material is a metal made from aluminum-magnesium that is lightweight.
- Polarized / anti-glare
- UV protection
- Not prescription lenses
- Not interchangeable lenses
9. Tifosi Seek FC Fototec Wrap Sunglasses [for Running]
Another choice to buy for running is this Tifosi Seek FC carbon; a brand name of US-made sunglasses. Be careful to not choose the next model Tifosi Seek FC metallic red because it’s not photochromic.
It has rating 25-75% VLT which is not as dark and sharp as Julbo above. When the lens is activated, it looks smoke tint rather than black tint. However, it actually works out. Even in some cases, people like this because it’s standard for them. The price also makes sense.
In terms of comfort, it comes with a rubber nose piece and rubber temple which are the critical parts of running sunglasses. It’s adjustable so that suits any nose type. So, this is good for Asian runners. The rubber also makes it not slippy despite sweating. In addition, the rubber temple also contributes to the stability of the sunglasses during the running despite you are sweating as well.
Furthermore, it’s lightweight as the lens is made from a polycarbonate material and most importantly photochromic. All in all, it’s stable on the face. You wear it and eventually forget about it.
- Non-slip; so it’s great for running
- Not really dark
10. Sunglasses Photochromic Polarized Aviator [for Riding/Night Driving]
Perhaps, the Serengeti and Ray-Ban aviator impress you so much but the affordable one is what you need. In this case, we found the Sunglasses aviator is best as the cost alternative.
These sunglasses come with some benefits. It is photochromatic, polarized, and UV400 protection.
It’s reliable to use in the desert and snow. And even, you could use it either in the day or night. No need to take it off, it’s totally sticking on along the day. In terms of UV400 protection, surely it’s a helpful feature to protect your eyes from dangerous sunlight UV rays.
In terms of performance, never overlook this one. One said (Madison K. on October 7, 2019) that it can darken in only one minute. Of course, it’s considerably faster than the other photochromic sunglasses. The metal frame is also lightweight to ensure comfort.
Keep in mind that it is polarized. On one hand, there might be issues when seeing anything with LCD screens in your car dashboard such as cellphones, GPS panels, etc. On the other hand, it’s ideal for bikers who don’t interact too much with LCD screens.
- Photochromic and UV protection
- Polarized; can cause some issues for driving
Photochromic Sunglasses Buying Guide
When buying photochromic sunglasses, there are things you have to take into account.
1. How Fast It Reacts
Most people expect a significant transition speed of their photochromic sunglasses. But, the speed actually varies. Therefore, it’s important to know their speed before buying.
Even though the brand claims their products can adapt in fast, you need to be more active to see what others say.
When it comes to mountain biking in which transition speed is highly considered, 3 minutes is too long. You have to buy the faster one. Remember that this sport needs extra focus on the rough track which is extremely challenging. Imagine if you are entering areas covered by trees (dark area), meanwhile, the track is terrible and your sunglasses are too long to adapt. We don’t want it to happen to you.
The speed of reaction determines how best a certain photochromic sunglasses. The faster it is, the more versatile it is.
2. How Dark It is?
It’s important to know how dark it is when it darkens. If you are exposed in under strong sunlight, then getting a really dark lens is necessary. To get over this consideration, simply read on the VLT rating. It shows the maximum and minimum limit of light that can get through the lens. The lower the minimum limit, the darker the lens. As the lens gets darker, it’s more comfortable to use in strong sunlight.
3. UV Protection
We highly recommend you buying sunglasses that come with a UV protection rating. UV rays are everywhere when we are outdoors. Even though the photochromic lens provides protection against UV rays, always double the protection.
A polarized lens is extremely beneficial to eliminate glare. Under a shiny day, this lens can be extremely needed to improve vision. Wearing a photochromic and polarized lens will create a better visual experience throughout the day.
However, it’s necessary to be aware that this feature is not suitable for all conditions. Polarized sunglasses don’t work well when you are dealing with LCD screens. That means it’s not recommended for driving, flying, and piloting.
When it comes to fishing and boating, this feature works great. Moreover, when you hang around at the beach to see under the water clearly, it’s the pair of sunglasses you need.
5. Nice Fit / Specification (Size)
Things such as lens width, lens height, bridge, dan temple length should be also considered. It determines how comfortable it is on your face. If the lens is too wide, surely it won’t fit on your face and end up with an unpleasant look. Similarly, if too small, the fit is tight and not comfortable.
The lens should be lightweight, gives good clarity, shatterproof and durable. In addition, there is no magnification so the vision is real. In terms of the material, some lenses are made of polycarbonate and some are made of glasses. Polycarbonate is lightweight and shatterproof but less clear than glasses. While glasses are clear but have a tendency to be weightier.
7. Spring Hinge
Ensure the sunglasses are equipped with spring hinge. Because you purchase it online, the problem may come to the size. Spring hinge makes it possible to fit various people.
8. Available in Prescription
It’s impossible to wear two eye-wears at the same time. Therefore, some products offer photochromic sunglasses with prescription lenses. This will allow magnification while enjoying photochromic sunglasses. However, it seems that you need to contact the company.
The FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: What is VLT?
A: VLT stands for visual light transmission that describes the percentage of light passing through the lens. This is a kind of rating that determines how dark and bright a photochromic lens. It’s commonly scored in percentage.
For example, X photochromic sunglasses offer 25-75% VLT. The X sunglasses are able to limit and only allows 25% of the lights that gets through. As a result, the lens becomes darker. Meanwhile, it’s able to maximize up to 75% only and becomes lighter.
The smaller the minimum limit, the darker it will be. Meanwhile, the higher the maximum limit, the lighter it will be. An X sunglasses with 9-75% VLT will be darker than 25-75% VLT when they are in darkening mode.
Photochromic sunglasses are an awesome pair of equipment you have to purchase right now. It adds up comfort and better visual experience that allows you to put it on your face along the day no matter the light condition changes.
It’s also a critical tool in certain moments such as while skydiving; the condition where it’s impossible to change the lens, at the same time, your vision must be good and not impaired. In this case, getting a more expensive sunglasses with features such as photochromic is reasonable as long as it gives bang for your bucks.
If you do these activities: driving, golf, cycling, running, mountain biking, skiing, boating, fishing, etc, then you are the one who needs this kind of eyewear. Even when you just backyard hang-out with friends, this should be not forgotten.
On the list above, you must have read the entire reviews. You see each pair is suggested with certain activities; it means one pair of sunglasses is not suitable for all activities. Hopefully, it gives you a better idea to buy which one that suits you most. Thank you!