Best Aviator Sunglasses: Sunny Days, Classic Style

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Aviator sunglasses were invented in the 1930s when WWI pilots realized that they needed to protect their eyes while flying. Manufacturer Bausch & Lomb made teardrop-shaped glasses to fully protect the pilot‘s eyes. In the 50s, celebrities started wearing classic aviator sunglasses, and Ray Ban started advertising the iconic style that still exists today.

But after Tom Cruise wore aviator sunglasses in Top Gun, they really started to take off. The classic design has changed little over the years. They look good on just about any shaped face.

Check out this list of the best aviator sunglasses for men and women.

The best aviator sunglasses

Editor’s pick: Tifosi Optics Shwae Aviator Sunglasses

tifosi optics shwae aviator sunglasses

  • 100% UV protection
  • Non-polarized lenses
  • No-slip rubber nose pieces
  • Shatterproof lenses


  • Stay put
  • Comfortable
  • Affordable
  • Don’t pull long hair


  • The frame is somewhat flexible

I have a smaller-sized head and have always had difficulty finding sunglasses that looked good on my face. My biggest issue with the most popular aviator sunglasses is the nose pieces. I wear my hair up in a bun or ponytail and loose nose pieces pull on my hair when I put my sunglasses on the top of my head.

The very first thing I noticed about these aviator-style sunglasses was that the nose pieces were connected! They still look like the classic aviator sunglasses nose pieces but they are connected to the frame instead of wiggling loose. Because of this, these are some of the best aviator sunglasses for people with long hair. The nose pads are made out of hydrophilic rubber, which is comfortable and stays put even while sweating. The sunglasses are very secure and don’t move around even during activity.

The frame is made out of lightweight metal and the lenses are polycarbonate with 100% UV protection. Plus, they come in a variety of frame and lens colors. And the best part? They’re affordable.

See the Tifosi Optics Shwae Aviator Sunglasses on Amazon

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Best overall aviator sunglasses: Ray-Ban Classic Aviator Sunglasses

ray-ban classic aviator sunglasses

  • Multiple sizes and color options
  • 100% UV protection
  • Non-polarized or polarized lenses


  • Timeless style
  • High-quality aviator sunglasses


  • Expensive

Our best overall pick comes from the undisputed king of sunglasses: Ray-Ban. Known worldwide and often imitated, the Ray-Ban Aviator Classic brings a quality that is challenging to replicate. They are a great addition to your wardrobe — the timeless style assures that they won’t go out of fashion anytime soon. Channel your inner Tom Cruise with these iconic shades.

The Ray Ban Aviator Classic sunglasses are constructed with a metal frame and crystal lenses. They come in multiple-size frames, so you can pick the size that works best for your face. They also have many color options, including classic gold frames and green lenses. You can also get the same aviator sunglasses with polarized lenses. Ray-Ban’s reputation precedes them and the Ray-Ban Aviator Classic sunglasses are unrivaled in quality.

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Best designer aviator sunglasses: Versace Men’s VE2199

versace men's ve2199

  • Medusa charms on the frames
  • Plastic frame
  • Non polarized lenses


  • Unique
  • Stylish


  • Some reviewers had issues with durability

If you want your aviator sunglasses to make a statement, this pair of Versace sunglasses could be the right choice. This unique style departs from most aviators’ classic metal frames, but they keep the aviator’s sunglass shape and brow bar. If you’re looking for designer sunglasses with a badass style, these Versace shades fill the gap.

Made in Italy, they come with a strong plastic frame, 100% UV protection composite lenses, and a protective case.

See the Versace Men’s VE2199 Sunglasses on Amazon

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Best modern aviator sunglasses: AX Armani Exchange Men’s Ax2012s Aviator Sunglasses

ax armani exchange men's ax2012s aviator sunglasses

  • Metal frame
  • Plastic lenses
  • Polarized lens option


  • Affordable
  • A modern twist on the aviator style


  • Some complaints about feeling cheap

Sold at a great price, these non-mirrored, non-polarized sunglasses offer a modern interpretation of the classic aviator style. The frames are slightly angular compared to the typical round teardrop shape. The metal frame and plastic lenses come in various colors and include 100% UV protection.

They come with a case and cleaning cloth to ensure they stay well-protected. Designed to wear year-round, this design plays on a timeless style that can be snapped up affordably.

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Best aviator sunglasses for hiking: Ray-Ban Outdoorsman 3030 Aviator Sunglasses

ray-ban outdoorsman 3030 aviator sunglasses

  • Crystal lenses
  • Wraparound ear pieces
  • Enhanced brow bar


  • Secure
  • Durable


  • Heavy

An enhanced version of the original Ray Ban aviator classic sunglasses, the Outdoorsman adds even more security and unique features. The wraparound ear pieces add extra security and adjust to your head. The wire temples and enhanced brow bar give you the old-fashioned, timeless style. The nose pads are also adjustable to provide a more secure fit.

The crystal lenses block 100% UV light and provide great visibility. The hinges move smoothly and are durable. These Ray-Ban aviators come with a gold frame and green lenses.

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Best carbon fiber aviator sunglasses: BOSS by Hugo Boss Men’s Aviator Sunglasses

boss by hugo boss men’s aviator sunglasses

  • 100% UV protection
  • Carbon fiber frame
  • Prescription lens compatible
  • Case included


  • Stylish
  • Durable


  • Some complaints about being heavy on the nose

Lightweight and high quality, these carbon fiber shades give a different twist on classic aviator styling. The frame is made of carbon fiber for strength, while rubber at the temples adds comfort. A brow bar gives these glasses a “Top Gun” look with a slight modern upgrade.

The black non-polarized lenses are made of scratch-resistant plastic. Plus, they offer 100% UV protection to protect your eyes. The BOSS by Hugo Boss aviator sunglasses are also easy to convert to prescription lenses, so you can keep that classic aviator style even if your eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be.

See the BOSS by Hugo Boss Men’s Aviator Sunglasses on Amazon

Best plastic aviator sunglasses: Carrera Safari65 Sunglasses

carrera safari65 sunglasses

  • Polarized or non-polarized lenses
  • Gradient lenses available
  • Case included
  • UV protection


  • High quality
  • Stylish


  • Large frame doesn’t fit smaller faces

These sporty-looking Carrera Safari aviators are great for everyday wear or special occasions. This remastered version of Carrera’s classic aviator style brings a unique look that come at a lower price point compared to other aviators on this list.

Choose from non-polarized, polarized, or gradient lenses. Various frame colors are also available. The oversized frame is made of lightweight Optyl and features Carrera’s iconic logo front and center, surrounded by the brow bar. A case is also included to keep your new shades safe.

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Best military aviator sunglasses: J+S Premium Military Style Classic Aviator Sunglasses

j+s premium military style classic aviator sunglasses

  • Polarized lenses
  • Multiple size options


  • Affordable
  • High quality for the price
  • Flexible for large faces


  • Some quality variability

If you hate worrying about ruining your expensive pair of aviators and just want something cheap that gets the job done, these J+S aviator sunglasses might be the perfect option. They feature a metal frame and scratch-resistant polarized lenses. They provide the Top Gun look without breaking the bank.

Choose from Medium (58mm) or Large (62mm) to find the right size for your face. Plus, they come with various color and mirrored lens options.

These aviators include UV400 protection and adjustable nose pads for comfort. They also come with a case to prevent them from getting damaged.

See the J+S Premium Military Style Classic Aviator Sunglasses on Amazon

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Best aviator sunglasses for women: Maui Jim Baby Beach Aviator Sunglasses

maui jim baby beach aviator sunglasses

  • Polarized lenses
  • Titanium frame
  • Smaller frame size


  • Durable
  • Good for small faces


  • Not great for large faces

If you’re looking for high-end sunglasses that will last a lifetime, you’ve got to consider Maui Jim. The lightweight titanium frame is one of the best materials you can find for frames and keeps its shape even after years of use. Unlike some cheap metal frames on the market, this pair of sunglasses is durable and comfortable. Designed for smaller faces, the Baby Beach Aviator Sunglasses fit most women’s faces better than some of the larger aviator-style shades on this list.

Maui Jim is known for making the best aviator sunglasses for bright light. The lenses use PolarizedPlus2 lens technology. Multiple lens color options enhance the colors you see, and reduce glare. They also include an anti-reflective coating that protects from reflected light and glare, plus a hydrophobic treatment that repels water and grease. They are even shatter and scratch-resistant.

See the Maui Jim Baby Beach Aviator Sunglasses on Amazon

See the Maui Jim Baby Beach Aviator Sunglasses on Maui Jim

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Best men’s aviator sunglasses: Ray-Ban Rb4125 Cats 5000 Aviator Sunglasses

ray-ban rb4125 cats 5000 aviator sunglasses

  • Crystal gradient lenses
  • Plastic frame
  • Attached nose pads


  • Don’t pull long hair
  • Stylish


  • Some reviewers did not receive what they expected

The Ray-Ban Cats 5000 Aviator Sunglasses are another great option for folks with long hair who are tired of nose pads pulling their hair every time they put sunglasses on the top of their head.

The tortoise-shell thick-rimmed frame and yellow-tinted lenses give them a timeless look — although they also come in various other colorways. Being Ray-Bans, they’re as high quality as they look. The frame is made from thick plastic and the gradient lenses are made from crystal, are scratch-resistant, and provide 100% UV protection.

See the Ray-Ban Rb4125 Cats 5000 on Amazon

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Best affordable aviator sunglasses: LUENX Aviator Sunglasses

luenx aviator sunglasses

  • Polarized lenses
  • UV400 protection
  • Metal frame


  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable


  • No anti-reflective coating on the inside

The LUENX Aviator Sunglasses are a more affordable pair of shades. They’re still high-quality and stylish but cost less than $20. When recommending budget sunglasses, we look for UV protection and a high-quality frame. These aviators have both. They offer polarized lenses with UV400 protection, which means your eyes are 100% protected from UV rays. And the metal frame shouldn’t fall apart easily.

These have flexible spring hinges up to 15°, making them a good fit for someone with a larger-than-average head. Plus, the metal-cored nose pads are adjustable for a more comfortable fit. The lightweight design means that you won’t get a headache after wearing them for hours.

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Best budget aviator sunglasses: MERRY’S Men’s Polarized Driving Sunglasses

merry's men's polarized driving sunglasses

  • 100% UVA/UVB protection
  • Includes case
  • Metal frame with spring hinges


  • Affordable
  • Polarized
  • Flex to fit different-sized heads


  • Some reports of UV coating flaking over time

Another budget option, these Merry’s polarized aviators come in a vast variety of lens colors so that you can have a different pair of shades for every outfit. These aviators offer an antioxidant metal frame with a spring hinge, allowing them to flex to fit various head sizes. They also feature polarized lenses that reduce glare and annoying reflections as well as provide UV400 protection, all for less than $20.

We also like that they come with a case, pouch, and cleaning cloth. These classic aviator sunglasses are affordable and worth trying out if you’re looking for a casual pair of shades for day-to-day life.

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Best pilot sunglasses: American Optical Original Pilot

american optical original pilot

  • Metal frames
  • Glass or nylon lenses
  • Polarized options


  • High quality
  • Reliable


  • Expensive

The American Optical Original Pilot sunglasses have been made since the 50s and are a favorite among military pilots. These classic aviator sunglasses are made in the U.S., plus American Optical used to have the American Air force and NASA contracts. The American Optical Original Pilot sunglasses have even been worn to the moon. The quality is what you would expect from glasses that must stand up to all sorts of conditions. The delicate metal frame and classic aviator styling look good on any gender and face shape.

Choose from AOLite Nylon or Skymaster glass lenses, with polarized options for each. The glass lenses offer superior clarity and scratch resistance, while the nylon lenses are extremely lightweight and impact resistant. You can also choose lens colors and frame options, including gold frames. You can wear the same shades worn by astronauts!

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Why trust us

I have to say, first, that I’ve never been a huge fan of aviator sunglasses. The classic aviator style never looked great on my smaller head, and the loose nose pads always pulled my hair if I put them on my head. I say this to give you background and context for this review. As someone who has never been an aviator fanatic, I am in a great position to give a reasonably objective perspective. On that note, I’ve shared my opinions, as well as the facts gathered from the manufacturers, to give you a good idea of some of the best aviators on the market.

Who this is for

If you’re looking for a pair of aviators but are getting overwhelmed by the number of options, you’ve come to the right place. You may be asking yourself, is it worth spending money on high-end brands (sometimes), or do you need polarized lenses (again, sometimes)? This guide will help you separate the truth from the noise and let you pick from the most popular aviator sunglasses.

How we picked

We picked the shades on this list by researching the best aviator sunglasses on the market and reading into what makes them great or worthwhile. Whether you’re looking for the same shades worn to the moon or the same shades worn by Tom Cruise in Top Gun, you’ll find it all on this list.

How we tested

We tested aviators while driving across multiple states, hiking, heading out to dinner, and hanging out around camp. We were surprised by how well some aviators (not specifically known as sporty sunglasses) performed even when we started to get sweaty. We wanted to ensure that the aviators we tested performed in lots of various conditions and didn’t let us down when we most needed protection.

man and woman wearing aviator sunglasses

The history of the aviator sunglasses

First developed in the 1930s for the Air Force, aviator sunglasses are arguably the first and most popular commercial sunglasses style. The first company to design them was Bausch and Lomb, which created them to replace the cumbersome and inconvenient goggles previously worn by military pilots.

This, unsurprisingly, is where the term ‘aviator’ comes from and why they are sometimes synonymous with pilot sunglasses. It was not until after World War II that they became popular with the general public.

They were designed to cover as much of the face as possible while still being comfortable to wear when soaring high above the earth. Early designs were recognizable by the teardrop shape and dark, frequently mirrored lenses, which were ideal for pilots.

The public was first exposed to aviators through celebrities such as Marlon Brando in The Wild One in 1951. This trend continued into the 80s when Tom Cruise and Top Gun immortalized the design forever and established them as a fashion accessory instead of merely something functional.

Like the success of certain sports teams, music trends, and politics, fashion is cyclical, and while some things might drop out of public consciousness at some point, it only takes one person to bring them back. Aviators are no different. The enduring appeal of aviators has made them recognized as a fashion staple, and it would be surprising if they went out of fashion completely.

They might not be remembered for serving their original purpose anymore (like the floppy disk icon or saying “hang up the phone”), but aviator sunglasses possess such a timeless, badass style that they will be welcomed and accepted with essentially any outfit for any occasion. The aviator is a safe bet if you are ever unsure about which sunglasses to buy for the summer.

Features to look for in aviator sunglasses

Frame material

Most popular aviator sunglasses have metal frames. However, some aviators on this list vary from the classic aviator styling (think thin gold frames). Plastic frames have become more popular with more modern aviators. Look for acetate (an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional plastic) or polycarbonate frames if you want plastic frames.


Choosing whether or not you want polarization depends on what you will use the aviators for. If you want to reduce glare and reflections, choose polarized. This is incredibly helpful if you spend a lot of time on the water, snow, or driving, where reflections can be distracting and dangerous. If you’re looking for other styles of polarized sunglasses, check out our guide to the best polarized sunglasses.

UV protection

The most important part of any pair of shades is to protect your eyes from harmful rays. Whether you’re set on Ray Ban Aviator Classic sunglasses or are looking for a cheap pair of aviators to get the job done, make sure that your sunglasses protect from 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays. Unless, of course, you’re just looking for blue-light aviators!

man holding aviator sunglasses

Aviator sunglasses FAQ

Q: What face shape can wear aviators?

Aviators look good on most face shapes, but not all. If you have an oval, heart, or square face, aviators will probably look good on you. Make sure you get the right size aviators for your face, especially if you have a particularly large or small face. The best way to find out whether a specific style of aviator sunglasses will look good on your face is to try them on and see. Some websites provide a way to try on new shades via video so you can get the picture without ordering.

Q: Why do aviators have a bar on top?

The bar on top of aviator sunglasses is to keep sweat or debris from falling into your eyes. This was particularly necessary given the history of aviator sunglasses — they were originally designed for pilots in World War I.

Q: Can you wear aviators to the beach?

You can definitely wear aviator sunglasses to the beach! These classic shades look good just about everywhere. However, wearing them in the water will depend on what your shades are made out of, some materials won’t be happy if they are submerged in salt water.

Q: Why are the lenses often green?

The original aviators featured gold frames and green lenses for a reason. Green lenses block out blue light, which is incredibly important for a pilot flying above the clouds. Green lenses also help reduce glare. This color lens is so ubiquitous with aviators that it’s been given its own name — G15 because they only let 15% of light in. The Ray Ban Aviator Classic Sunglasses still come in this original colorway. So if you’re looking for the most classic aviator style, go for the green lenses and gold frames.


  1. The Enduring Appeal Of Aviator Sunglasses – BBC Culture