Best Pilot Sunglasses 2017 – Buyers Guide and Reviews

Looking as cool as Tom Cruise does in Top Gun, is an amazing benefit of aviator sunglasses, we agree, but good looks shouldn’t be your only criteria when choosing a new pair of flying glasses.

As a pilot, you are exposed to higher levels of UV light which can be extremely dangerous to your eyesight. [1]

There also are dangers to using some types of lenses, as they can distort your vision, and limit you from spotting other planes.

Click here to go straight to best sunglass reviews, and skip the buyer’s guide

Aviation Sunglass Buyers Guide

Pilots Eye Health and Ultraviolet Light


Due to higher altitudes when flying, more UV light reaches you. Approximately 5% more for each 1000 feet of altitude. [2]

Ultraviolet light is categorized into three sub-categories :

  • UVC – Most dangerous, but fortunately, it’s absorbed by the ozone layer.
  • UVB – Causes skin cancer and premature aging. Some of these rays do reach us.
  • UVA – Closest to visible light, these rays of light, are the most dangerous for your eye health.

Bottom Line: Buy sunglasses that block 99%+ of UVB and UVA light rays, if you want to keep your eyesight healthy. [3]

Non-Polarized or Polarized – Which is Better for Flying?


Non-Polarized is the way to go. In some cases, polarized lenses can work, but we strongly advise against using them.

The main reason to avoid polarized flying glasses are :

  • Visibility of some instruments may be reduced or completely gone. Such as iPads and GPS.
  • Blocks reflections from other aircraft surfaces !!! This is the only reason you really need to avoid polarized glasses. Spotting nearby aircraft becomes harder, as light reflecting from other planes is oftentimes the first sign a pilot notices.
  • Interferes with visibility through an aircraft windscreen.

Bottom Line: Stick to Non-Polarized glasses

Tint Color – Colorful or Bland?


Bland is recommended, as colorful tints can distort the image. Colorful tints also make it harder to identify lights, signals and color-coded information from your flying instruments.

Unless you want to carry multiple pairs. One for flying and one when you are not.

Bottom Line: Stick with gray


Photochromic – Yay or Nay?

Photochromic lenses darken when exposed to light, and return back to normal when the light is gone.

In many cockpits, they won’t work, and even if they do, they aren’t great due to the fact of how often pilots look at their instrument, which will make the glasses transition back.

Bottom Line: No need for photochromic glasses.


Temples – What to Look For?

When it comes to temples they should be comfortable and thin, as you will be using them together with your headset. You don’t want to suffer the feeling of the headset pushing the temples against your head.

Also, they should fit you well, as you don’t want them to fall off in the sight of the slightest turbulence.

Bayonet vs Skull

Both are good.

But …

Bayonet has the benefit of being easier to remove when wearing a headset or helmet, which can be quite a handy feature for a pilot.

For those concerned – bayonet frames won’t fall off if they fit you. So, no need to worry about that.

Bottom Line: When it comes to frames, comfort, thinness, and fit are a priority.


Best Pilot Sunglasses in 2017

Now that you have a basic understanding of what to avoid and what to look for, here are our recommendations for you, to help with choosing the best pair.


American Optical (AO) Pilot Eyewear Sunglasses

Top Overall Pick and Best Value For The Money Pick

Oh my ..

Not only do these bad boys have everything a pilot needs functionality and feature wise. They also hold a strong historical value.

Used by the Air Force, astronauts, regular pilots, and regular folk who want to look cool, these are one of the best glasses you will find on the market. These are the same glasses that were worn by Neil Armstrong and went to the moon. The gold-framed ones also were worn by Don Draper, in the tv show Mad Men.

Oftentimes 2x – 3x cheaper, than other brands. Not to mention that they are made in the USA, and aren’t cheap imports.

More Info and Price


Ray-Ban RB3136 Caravan Sunglasses

Best Ray-Ban Aviators

Originally launched in 1957, Ray-Ban Caravan sunglasses are a streamlined, geometric model and an alternative to the classic sunglasses. These sunglasses boast a gold colored metal frame with grey-green non-polarised lenses. They are unisex and offer 100% UV protection. Reasonably priced for the ray-ban brand, these are one of the best pilot sunglasses.

More Info and Price


Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses

Best Oakleys

Available in 21 colors, but with a one size fits all approach, these mid-level pilot sunglasses are available to fit your mood and your color scheme. These sunglasses have a plastic frame and non-polarised lenses but offer a 100% UV protection coating. The frames are stress resistant, lightweight and easy to wear all day long. Lenses are replaceable and easy to do yourself should they become scratched or you want to change lens colors.

What would make you buy these pilot sunglasses?

  • Perfect UV protection
  • Replaceable lenses for color changes or scratch removal
  • Many colors to choose from to suit your style and wardrobe
  • Very lightweight and easy to wear
  • Stylish and durable

More Info and Price


Sources :

  1. http://www.allaboutvision.com/sunglasses/spf.htm
  2. https://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/media/sunglasses.pdf
  3. https://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/media/sunglasses.pdf

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