Four large-scale sunglasses that make goggles more or less obsolete

A funny thing happens after enough transitions in a day of touring. Whether it’s out of laziness or efficiency, you begin to cut corners—not changing layers, keeping skins where they’re most handy, finding a happy medium with boot tightness to eliminate fiddling. Most of these processes aim to save time, but one also comes with a dose of style—forgoing goggles for sunglasses, which are increasingly available in commanding sizes to keep both the sun and snow out for wear while skinning and skiing. These four fit the bill.

Smith Wildcat

While the Wildcat may feel a little flimsy, the flexible frames actually make it the most comfortable of these four sunglasses, with the super-soft arms seamlessly fitting beneath a helmet or around a trucker hat or bulkier ski hat. In addition to the ChromaPop color- and contrast-enhancing lens, each pair comes with an interchangeable, clear option. Despite the full frame, the lens is wide and tall enough to put that plastic beyond the periphery, and while the large-scale coverage rivals that of Oakley’s Wind Jacket, the fit is a bit smaller—best for medium to large faces. $199, smithoptics.com

Julbo Aerospeed

Julbo’s lens technology is the absolute best in class. Their photochromic offerings—dubbed Reactiv—transition their light transmission based on ambient brightness, meaning they’re wearable from pre-dawn skinning through midday sun and are optimal for flat-light situations common when ski touring. While the Aerospeed doesn’t offer as much vertical coverage as other models, the frameless design, soft arms and nosepiece and light weight make for a barely-there feel and all-day comfort. And an anti-fog coating and the shorter vertical size enable optimal ventilation during high-output skinning. $130-$210, julbo.com

Oakley Wind Jacket 2.0

Oakley deserves a significant amount of credit for the big sunglass boom, their original Wind Jacket being among the first to be commonly worn by skiers looking for goggle-like size. The 2.0 model is, hands down, the largest of this quartet, offering maximum coverage and optimal fit for large faces. Unlike the other models on this page, the Wind Jacket comes with two adventure-focused accessories: a stretchy retaining strap that snaps into the arms and a foam sweat guard that easily connects into the brow. Oakley’s Prizm Snow technology—commonly used in their goggles—is incorporated into the Wind Jacket for enhanced clarity and contrast, and the Black Iridium style offers Oakley’s lowest light transmission (5.5%) for ultra-bright conditions. $153, oakley.com

Bliz Matrix

Bliz is a household name in cross-country skiing, and if their sunglasses can hold up to the rigors of Nordic racing, they can handle skinning and skiing all the same. In spite of being the most affordable pair on this page, the Matrix offers many of the same features as their significantly more expensive counterparts, including ventilated lenses, an adjustable (and replaceable) nosepiece and rubberized arms. Those arms, however, are a bit long, meaning they may not fit well when worn beneath some helmets. The curved shape, which all but eliminates ambient light, offers a secure fit and contributes to a narrower width that’s well suited to smaller faces. $75, bliz.com

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Comments

  1. evan freeman says:

    Julbo’s 0-3 promise is pretty empty. My SO & I both have the newest Reactiv 0-3 lensed glasses and they both go full dark and never lighten if the temperature is below about 45F. It’s a joke. I have the older Zebra ones and they are fine, but reality just doesn’t align with Julbo’s promises here. It’s a real shame.

  2. Scott Frank Wood says:

    Are there any of these sun glasses that would fit over a pair of regular glasses?

    • Tyler Cohen says:

      No, not specifically—I don’t think any would make for a great fit over regular glasses. Check out the Bliz Vision sunglasses, though. They are similarly large and are compatible with an RX insert.

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