I considered it a mark of adulthood the first time I bought a real pair of sunglasses. Meaning they weren't a mid-roadtrip purchase at 7-Eleven, they didn't come from the box marked "FREE" at my neighbor's yard sale, nor did they last much longer than a year. As skiers, we spend a lot of time playing outside (all year round) and being able to see well and look good are key components to maintaining our street cred. Like all gear, our sunglasses need to work, they need to last, and the need to have style. Here are seven options worth investing in.
Oakley Latch $130
Ski culture has long borrowed from the world of skateboarding—from park features to trick names, the two seemingly distant sports are like really, really close cousins. And Oakley has tapped into a skate-inspired design that lets you latch your shades to your shirt collar or pocket. It's a small detail that had me palm-to-face wondering, "Why didn't I think of that?" A hidden latch in the hinge clips gently to your shirt so when you bend over to buckle your boots or reach for that bottom-shelf booze, you won't hear the dreaded crash of your shades on the ground. They're ultra light so I usually forget about them until I need them. Best use: Upping your park rep at Mammoth Mountain. Buy here.
Smith Bridgetown $169
So you're sporty, but you also do brunch. You wear Smith's new Bridgetown frames to bridge the gap. Big and bold, these shades are a bit too wide to wear under a hat brim, but with this much coverage you can leave the cap at home. The Bridgetown frames come in a number of colorways, all of which are offered with Smith's ChromaPop technology that lets you see enhanced color and clarity. Meaning, I'm seeing more vivid sunsets and rainbows than the other guys (and they wonder why I'm in such a good mood). A great fit for a wider face. Best use: Exploring the PNW and catching a pow day at Crystal Mountain. Buy here.
Sunski Dipseas $55
Sure, maybe you're a real live grownup but dropping too much coin on a pair of sunnies just seems childish to you. Look no further. Based in San Francisco, the Sunski model is based on being affordable and accessible. They're lightweight and feel a bit delicate, but they'll take a beating as good as the rest. Made with polarized lenses (they cut glare and haze), polycarbonate frames (read: super sturdy plastic), and durable hinges, the round and retro Dipseas frames are a great fit for the hippest of ladies and gents. Best use: That sea-to-summit roadtrip you're planning. Buy here.
Zeal Memphis, Zeal Fleetwood $169, both
Made from cotton-based biodegradable material, the new line of Ellume sunglasses from Boulder, Colorado-based Zeal are so environmentally friendly they'll disappear in 18 months if you accidentally drop them in the river. Frames and lenses. Polarized and prescription ready, the Ellume dark gray lenses are ideal for the extra bright days or playing poker. Pair with the matte black Memphis frame for extra steeziness. For a smaller fit that doesn't slip off your face (but might also be too small to push up on your head), opt for the fun and funky Fleetwood frames in a bold color like rye honey. Best use: Closing-day hot laps. Buy here.
Native Sanitas, Native Eldo $129, $149
Native makes the kind of sunnies you keep on the dash of your Subaru for all-season playtime. Made from a earth-friendly resin, these frames will biodegrade in three to five years in a landfill (traditional plastic frames take 10,000 years, a.k.a. never) without sacrificing strength. The sexy Sanitas can go from backcountry to backyard BBQ with ease while the Eldo frames with their flat brow style and large impact-resistant lens will let everyone at the grocery store know you rode your mountain bike into town. Whatever signals you're sending, these castor bean-made specs are the definition of look good; feel good. Best use: Riding your bike to your favorite ski-town brewery. Better yet, riding home. Buy here.