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Published Jun 10, 2022 2:25 PM

A glint of brass outlining clean aviators to the glare-cutting polarization every angler needs: It seems like there are more styles of sunglasses in the world than there are squirrels in the Great Smoky Mountains. So finding that particular pair that’s just right for you is impossible to find, hidden amongst a trillion others. You might be shopping for budget, brand name, or protection: Whatever it is that drives your decision, it can be useful to narrow down your search to just one or two marketplaces. The best places to buy sunglasses offer a wide selection of shades tailored to your needs. 

Some of the best places to buy sunglasses are large general-purpose retailers that carry thousands of brands and products and might carry budget-priced glasses as well as famous brand names. Other retailers are small boutiques or mid-sized companies that make sunglasses and prescription glasses and will offer the best in-store experience as well as a solid online storefront. 

I looked at the top retailers and evaluated each for their selection, return policy, and user experience. Read on for a look into where to buy sunglasses, whether you’re shopping for a pair of sunglasses that look straight off the set of Catch Me If You Can, something to keep your eyes safe on that next ascent up Shasta, or some shades that will help you spot the fish of a lifetime.

How I Picked the Best Places to Buy Sunglasses

I know how essential sunglasses can be. After failing to pack sunglasses on a three-day backpacking trip around a snow covered glacier in the Three Sisters Wilderness, my hiking buddy and I staggered forth from the end of the trail half snowblind, with the trailhead swimming before us. There are some situations in life where sunglasses are simply mandatory. 

To assemble this list of the best places to buy sunglasses, I factored the experience I’ve garnered as a long-time gear reviewer and outdoors enthusiast, as well as my interest in contemporary fashion and streetwear, honed through years of living in NYC and camping all over the country. I researched multiple retailers and dived deep into their offerings. This list aims to be inclusive, including some of the best-loved retailers for outdoors gear and some focused on style. The picks on this list also run the gamut on price. Below is a breakdown of some of the criteria I looked for in my picks.

Average Price

Some retailers focus on cheaper shades, while some brand-name boutiques get quite expensive. I made sure to include both and highlight their price points.

Prescription Lenses 

Prescriptions aren’t always available directly from all retailers. I made sure to include a few eyewear services specializing in prescription opticals and do a good job catering to prescription needs.

Return Policy 

The return policy can make all the difference as to whether you’re comfortable buying from an online retailer. I made sure to highlight return policies. Some companies even go further and make returns a cornerstone of their business, shipping trial glasses to you de facto, with the expectation that you’ll try more than one on and ship the rejects back.

Brands 

The number of brands can be quite broad or quite narrow at given retailers. I highlighted a few direct-to-consumer brands and a few larger retail marketplace that carry many brands.

Best Overall: Amazon

Amazon

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Key Features 

  • Return Policy: Generous, most items eligible for free return with exceptions
  • Marketplace or Direct: Marketplace
  • Prescriptions: Limited
  • Number of Brands: More than 100
  • Try Before You Buy 

Why It Made The Cut

With super fast shipping, a generous return policy, and thousands of options from both A-list brands and budget picks, Amazon is the most powerful platform for hunting for shades. 

Pros

  • Super fast and cheap shipping, especially with Prime
  • Usually free to return items
  • Over 30,000 results for “sunglasses”

Cons

  • Clunky for prescription lenses

Product Description 

The biggest online retailer has stacks of options to find the best pair of shades for you. Whether you’re looking for premium shades that scream luxury outdoor lifestyle or an Affordable pair, Amazon has it all. While most retailers on Amazon don’t prepare lenses for your prescription, you can find shades that ship with lenses made for common prescription types. 

Amazon offers some attractive options that make it an especially easy place to shop for sunglasses. With Amazon Prime, you get free 2-day shipping on Prime eligible items and free same-day delivery on specific items in some geographic areas. If you’re ordering lots of sunglasses you can even elect to have them all shipped on a chosen “Amazon day,” which will reduce the packages your products come in. Deliveries can also be arranged for pick up at common Amazon hub locations. 

There are lots of convenient return options, especially for Prime. Most sunglasses delivered within the country are eligible for free returns. Prime eligible sunglasses are held to the same return policy as sunglasses shipped from Amazon, even if they’re from a third-party seller (so look before you buy). For eligible items (generally non-perishable items shipped directly from Amazon), drop-off returns at hub locations are always free within 30 days of shipment for un-tampered items. This is a great alternative to shipping back returns, as shipped returns will generally deduct the shipping cost from your refund. However, if you’re making the return because of a mistake on Amazon’s part, they will generally wave shipping costs.

All in all, Amazon has some of the best selection and delivery options out there. Amazon’s Try Before You Buy program makes the selection process even easier, allowing you to pick out up to six sunglasses (or shades and a matching hat), then ship back what you don’t want to keep in a resealable box. With free return shipping, Try Before You Buy is a great way to find the sunglasses meant for you.

Best for Outdoors: Backcountry

Backcountry

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Key Features

  • Return Policy: Full refunds on unused gear with paid label
  • Marketplace or Direct: Marketplace
  • Prescriptions: Limited to none
  • Number of Brands: 30

Why It Made The Cut: With free shipping on orders over $50 and a generous return policy, Backcountry caps off an excellent lineup of shades with an easy to use marketplace.

Pros

  • Great selection of outdoors shades including outdoor sports shades
  • Solid shipping and return policy
  • Generous lowest price guarantee policy

Cons

  • Not the most budget friendly

Product Description 

Backcountry is both an online retailer and storefront. Making its home in the Western United States, Backcountry is focused on brands that cater to outdoor enthusiasts. While their offerings touch all sides of outdoor gear, they do an excellent job with sunglasses. 

Backcountry is an easy-to-use platform that offers free shipping on orders over $50 in the US. Their return policy is decently generous, offering full refunds for returns on most unused new items at any time and returns on used items within 30 days for credit. A non-freight return label is $6.99. While Backcountry doesn’t have locations all over the United States, if you live in a town with a store front, they offer one of the best in-store shopping experiences for sunglasses. They also offer a lowest price guarantee policy that will beat prices on gear from any non-third party seller (not Amazon) by 5%. The Expedition Perks loyalty program is another solid marketplace feature, giving you excellent rewards for things like birthdays and return buys. All in all, Backcountry deserves a look from anyone serious about outdoor shades.

Best for Prescription Sunglasses: Warby Parker

Warby Parker

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Key Features

  • Return Policy: Free returns, free trial system with 5 frames
  • Marketplace or Direct: Direct
  • Prescriptions: Yes
  • Number of Brands: 1

Why It Made The Cut 

Warby Parker offers a free try-out service that sends five options to your door, a virtual App-based try-on system, stylish frames, and prescriptions available for your shades.

Pros

  • Free shipping and returns
  • Order five frames to try on and send back the four you don’t like
  • App lets you virtually try different frames on your face
  • Eye exams are available in-store

Cons

  • No budget options available

Product Description 

You don’t have to be a hipster to rock Warby Parker shades, you just have to appreciate style and convenience. Warby Parker is the quintessential direct-to-consumer eyeglass brand of the digital age. Their reputation for quality, style, and ease of use is well deserved with a strong lineup of good quality shades that are all had for a moderate price point, which scales based on the feature set.

The Warby Parker online retail space comes with some innovative practices. Warby Parker offers a free trial service:

  • Pick five frames and have them shipped to you.
  • Try them all on at home.
  • Make your decision.
  • Ship back the rejects.

The company also offers an app-based virtual try-on service that allows you to apply different frames to your face instantly. Together, these tools help you pinpoint exactly which glasses will look good on you

Perhaps most importantly, Warby Parker is also good at prescriptions. Not only are all their shades available for prescription, but they also offer progressives and simple reading lenses—even as sunglasses. If you’re not sure what your prescription is, head to a Warby Parker store and get checked out, they offer affordably priced eye exams in store. All in all, Warby Parker is a great choice for stylish prescription shades, whether you’re shopping online or heading to their brick and mortar.

Best for Fishing Sunglasses: Cabela’s

Cabela’s

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Key Features

  • Return Policy: Refunds or exchanges in most cases, can be returned to Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops
  • Marketplace or Direct: Marketplace
  • Prescriptions: No
  • Number of Brands: 11

Why It Made The Cut 

Cabela’s has a great selection of fishing sunglasses and the tackle to go with them. 

Pros

  • Free shipping on orders over $50
  • Products are easy to return and exchange at Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops
  • Great selection of classic outdoors gear

Cons

  • Not much help for prescription sunglasses

Product Description

Cabela’s and its sister company Bass Pro Shops are some of the best-known names in outdoor gear. Whether it’s timeless Ray Bans that look straight out of the war chest of a 1940s RAF pilot, or a set of Oakleys that will have heads spinning at the boat ramp, Cabela’s has the classics on lock.

Sunglasses are one of the best fishing gifts, and Cabela’s is an especially great place to buy a gift. Cabela’s has a policy that says all online sales can be returned in person to any Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops locations for exchanges. Since exchanges are accepted in person at both sister retailers, it’ll be easy for the angler to drop into a Cabela’s and pick out something just right—even if you buy online. 

All in all, Cabelas is a leading place to buy outdoor gear, with a great selection of the best polarized sunglasses for fishing. If you’re looking for something for your daily commute, for long days spent angling, or for an afternoon on a cliff ascent, Cabelas has your back. Cabela’s also has a selection of the best shooting glasses

Best Budget: Etsy

Key Features

  • Return Policy: Depends on seller
  • Marketplace or Direct: Marketplace
  • Prescriptions: Generally not, depends on seller
  • Number of Brands: Over 238,000 search results for “sunglasses”

Why It Made The Cut

With thousands of retailers on the platform, Etsy offers budget prices on unique sunglasses, and the marketplace makes it cheap and easy to shop too.

Pros

  • Lots of unique options
  • Support small businesses
  • Etsy works towards sustainable practices

Cons

  • Return policies can be harder to navigate than some

Product Description 

Etsy is full of unique options for eyewear, whether it’s vintage, stock sourced from other countries or oddities created by small businesses. Whether you’re looking for a great budget deal or something unique that stands out from the mainstream, Etsy is a great place to buy. With a quick search, you’ll find vintage 80s stock sunglasses, thin and slim shades, and vibrant sunglasses that’ll look at home on your vacation to Miami beach. 

Since Etsy aggregates many small independent sellers, the marketplace isn’t as unified in terms of shipping time and return policy as some. Sellers aren’t required to provide returns or exchanges. Most sunglasses on Etsy don’t offer the option of prescription lenses, though many frames bought on Etsy are compatible with prescriptions. The marketplace is also always an excellent place to shop for unique frames for your prescription sunglass lenses. 

Things to Consider Before Choosing Where to Buy Sunglasses

Before you go to pick out that brand new pair of shades, you might want to hone in on where the best places to buy sunglasses.

Technical Outdoor Gear

There are a lot of ways to enjoy the outdoors. When some say they’re going camping, it means pulling up to a county park site they booked online and setting up a tent next to the car for a barbeque and some fun with the family. For others, it might mean backpacking 18 miles into an alpine pass alone and setting up a tent. 

However you enjoy the outdoors, you’ll need sunglasses that match your passion.

Prescriptions

Not many third-party marketplaces offer prescription lenses for sunglasses, yet for many, prescriptions can make all the difference. If you have an astigmatism and shoot hoops, you’re nearsightedand you like to birdwatch, or you’re farsighted and you spend your days planting in the garden, prescription shades can change your experience of the outdoors. Rather than relying on contact lenses with generic shades or clip-on shades for your everyday opticals, consider finding a sunglass retailer that can fulfill your needs for custom prescription sunglasses. Some marketplaces facilitate this feature, but this type of service is often easiest to find at a direct-to-consumer optical service.

Shopping Perks

When shopping for shades, it’s often a good idea to look for some of the perks that make a given marketplace or digital storefront stand out. Many retailers will offer nice features such as free shipping on orders over a specific price, points toward special deals for repeat purchases, seasonal sales, free shipping on returns, and other such perks. Some have a virtual try-on service built into their website or offer this feature in an app. Before choosing a market to shop in, consider what perks will benefit you. 

FAQs

Q: What are the best brands of sunglasses?

The best brands of sunglasses come in many different forms. Warby Parker makes style-forward sunglasses that are easily outfitted with prescription lenses. Ray Bans offer some of the most classic style out there, while their quality has proven the test of time. Baijo and Costa offer some of the best fishing sunglasses. 

Q: Are polarized sunglasses worth it?

Polarized glasses are completely worth it for those who benefit from them. Since they help protect against glare from horizontal surfaces, polarized glasses can make all the difference for sunny days by (or on) the water, long days of driving, or sandy landscapes.

Q: Which is the best site for sunglasses?

Amazon.com remains the best overall site for sunglasses. Because of its wide selection of brands and generous shipping practices, Amazon has something for (almost) everyone. 

Q: How do I buy sunglasses that fit online?

Some websites offer convenient features to find out your fit. Warby Parker offers an app that helps you virtually try on sunglasses, this can be a great tool to use to find out what type of shape and size works best for your face. Many brands also feature breakdowns as to how their shades fit.

Final Thoughts

Whether for charm or protection, your eyes will benefit from a great pair of sunglasses. If you want all the options, Amazon still has the best overall selection with budget prices next to top brands. Try on a few favorites with Amazon’s Try Before You Buy program. Whatever you choose, keep your eyes protected this summer.

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