What Color Lenses are Best For Running? 

Sunglasses are among runners’ go-to gear on sunny days. They come in various styles, fits, and, of course, tints. With various tint colors available for you to choose from, which one is the best for running?

In general, dark-colored lenses such as gray or brown are best for running in bright conditions. Light-colored lenses such as yellow and orange are best for low-light conditions. Lenses that improve depth perception such as red and brown are best for trail running. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of various lens colors and help you choose the best sunglass lens color for every running condition. We’ll also discuss the various factors you should consider when selecting a lens color. 


  • Dark-colored lenses like gray or brown are ideal for running in bright conditions, while light-colored lenses such as yellow or orange are ideal for dark or overcast conditions
  • Red and brown lenses are ideal for trail running, as they enhance contrast and depth perception
  • Different lens colors provide unique benefits, making them suitable for different running conditions
  • Polarized lenses are best for reflective running conditions such as snow or running near a body of water

Different Lens Colors and Their Benefits

Choosing a sunglass lens color for running isn’t a simple matter of design preference. Each lens color provides unique benefits, making them suitable for different running conditions. To make the decision-making easier for you, I’ve provided a table of the most common colors of running sunglasses, their benefits, and in what conditions they’re best for. 

Lens ColorBest ForBenefits
ClearLow-light conditions (dawn/dusk)Maximum visibility, they’re used only as protection from debris, dust, and wind
Black / GrayBright sunlight and glare, outdoor activitiesProvides maximum reduction in brightness, ideal for high-light environments, and reduces eye fatigue.
Yellow / OrangeCloudy/overcast or low-light conditions. Enhance contrast and sharpness in low-light conditions but distorts color
RedBright, sunny conditions. Suitable for trail runningReduce eye strain. Enhances contrast, and improves depth-perception
BrownBright, sunny conditions.Suitable for trail runningSame benefits as red but provides more contrast. 
BlueBright conditions, running wt conditionsProvides excellent color perception, and reduces eye strain
GreenVariety of conditionsBalanced contrast and color perception, natural and soothing effect on the eyes
A table showing the benefits of different color lenses and what conditions they’re best for.

Recommended Lens Colors for Different Running Conditions

Technically, you can use any lens color for any running condition as long as your sunglasses don’t interfere with your vision. Thus, there’s no need to buy different color lenses for every condition you run in. 

However, if you’re choosing one sunglass, I highly recommend you stick to the color that’s best for the condition you’ll likely be running in. For example, I usually run early in the afternoon when the sun is still very bright. Thus, I usually use my gray lens Bose Frames (which conveniently double as my earphones) or gray Goodr sunglasses

Running in Bright Sunlight

When running in bright sunlight, choose a lens color that reduces glare and provides excellent UV protection. Darker lenses, such as black, gray, or brown, are ideal for bright sunlight as they reduce the amount of light entering the eyes, making it easier to see. 

Red lenses are also suitable for bright sunlight as they enhance contrast, making it easier to distinguish objects and terrain. If running on reflective surfaces (like when there’s snow), choose polarized lenses as they provide excellent glare protection.

Related post: Are Polarized Sunglasses better for Running?

Running in Low-Light Conditions

Running in low-light conditions can be challenging, but a lens color that provides additional brightness and contrast can help. Yellow or orange lenses are ideal for low-light conditions as they enhance contrast and brightness, making it easier to see terrain and obstacles. 

Trail Running

The best color sunglasses to wear when trail running would be those with lenses that offer good contrast and depth perception. Red, brown, or copper lenses are popular choices for trail runners, as they enhance contrast and depth perception while still providing the protection needed. Yellow and orange lenses can also work well for trail running in cloudy or overcast conditions as they enhance brightness allowing you to see clearer.

My favorite trail-running sunglass is my red-lens Oakley Radar (link to Amazon). They provide excellent contrast, they have excellent fit, have a wide field of vision and they’re pretty light.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Lens Color

I’ve provided recommendations of what to wear in certain conditions and what the benefits are for various lens colors. However, you should be able to decide for yourself what color you should wear depending on these factors:

  • Light Conditions – bright sunlight requires a darker lens, while overcast or low-light conditions require a lighter or clear lens. Matching the lens color to the light conditions helps control the brightness, thus, improving eye comfort. 
  • Personal Preferences – aside from functionality, runners have different preferences when it comes to color. Some runners like bright, vibrant colors while others have neutral, muted lenses. As long as your sunglasses do the job of UV protection, you can choose a color that matches your personal style. 
  • Eye Sensitivity – Some people have sensitive eyes and may require specific lenses that reduce glare or brightness. Polarized sunglasses provide the best protection against glare or horizontal reflection.
  • Activity Type – Different activities may require different lens colors. For instance, running in bright sunlight requires a darker lens than running in overcast conditions. Running in low-light conditions may require a clear or lightly tinted lens to improve visibility.

Aside from the color of your lenses, you should also ensure that your sunglasses fit you well and that they don’t bounce or fall off when running. I made a list of 5 sunglasses that do just that in another article. Be sure to check it out. 

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right lens color for your running sunglasses is a crucial factor in enhancing your running experience, protecting your eyes, and optimizing your performance. By considering factors such as light conditions, personal preferences, eye sensitivity, and activity type, you can choose a lens color that provides maximum visibility and comfort. 

There are various lens colors available, each with unique benefits suitable for different running conditions. Whether you’re running in bright sunlight, overcast conditions, or low-light situations, there’s a lens color that can optimize your visual clarity and reduce eye strain. 

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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