Knockaround Sunglasses Review: Shades for the River

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by  William Barton | Last Updated:  Jun 08, 2021

When you need a pair of shades for your upcoming beach trip, you want something friendly on your wallet that’ll stand up to an intense game of volleyball. If you go with the wrong brand, you’ll end up with a nice piece of trash.

In our Knockaround sunglasses review, we put several styles from this brand to the test to see if they’re the best choice for a summer full of adventures.

Sunglasses you can take in a kayak
The Adult Man Image/Icon Image source: Knockaround

Knockaround

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Bottom line: Knockaround sunglasses are a great choice for adventurers, beach goers, boat-standers, and the budget-conscious. They’re my favorite brand for sub-$30 sunglasses, and the quality is substantial considering the price. I’m a fan because when you’re playing beach volleyball, you don’t want $200 frames on your face.

Ratings:

The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon

Pros:

  • There are tons of frame styles and color options to choose from
  • Many models have polarized lenses available for only $5 extra---well worth it, especially if you’re wearing them at the beach or while driving
  • They’re very affordable, and the build quality is better than a random pair of cheap sunglasses you might pick up from a massive online retailer that rhymes with Squamazon
  • Free shipping on all orders

Cons:

  • The styles I tried are all on the larger side, so not the most flattering for longer, skinnier faces

Did you know you can sunburn your eyeballs? 

Well, I had to find out the hard way. 

With summer on the way, armed with some hard-earned knowledge, I decided to try out some new sunglass brands. 

I tried a few from the high end (~$200), but I don’t really want to wear those when I’m going camping, kayaking, rock climbing, and frolicking amongst beachy sand dunes. And I have a lot of that planned for the next five months. 

So that left me wondering what was a good choice on the lower end of the spectrum—you know, something under $50 that looks stylish, offers my delicate baby blue’s some protection, and that I didn’t have to worry about scratching up out on the road. 

And that led me to Knockaround, the affordable sunglasses brand boasting funky styles on a strict budget. 

After trying four of their styles for a few weeks and my verdict is in. Keep reading to get the scoop. 

What Is Knockaround?

closeup knockaround sunglasses for men

Knockaround launched in 2005 down in sunny San Diego (which of course in German means a whale’s favorite pair of sunglasses). 

The premise behind the brand is in the name: affordable sunglasses you don’t mind beating up. 

The idea came to Ace Moyer one day when he was looking at his dad’s old sneakers, covered in grass stains with crackling leather after years of mowing the lawn and using for house chores. 

He’d destroyed and lost a few pairs of $150 sunglasses, and when you’re in your early 20’s, $150 can buy you five thirty-racks of PBR and two Costco pizzas, so the loss is absolutely devastating.

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Rather than getting all bummed out and deciding to live the life of a monk in favor of expensive sunglasses, Ace created Knockaround: sunglasses that look stylish and cost about $25. That way you’re not crushed when you lose them at the bottom of a river. 

Knockaround Sunglasses

I like my Knockarounds for my summer adventures, or when I’m going out for a run. If I’m on the river kayaking and my boat flips over, I need to be focused on gathering my paddle, flipping my ‘yak, and getting my head above water so I can, you know, breathe. 

But you can bet if I’m wearing $200 shades, I’m saying to myself, screw the boat and paddle---those Ray Bans cost me a small fortune. I’ll breathe when I’m dead. With Knockaround's that's not an issue.

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Things to Consider Before Buying Sunglasses from Knockaround

knockaround shades relaxed sunglasses

Knockaround sunglasses fit a niche, and as such, there’s a time and place to wear them. 

I like my Knockarounds for my summer adventures, or when I’m going out for a run. If I’m on the river kayaking and my boat flips over, I need to be focused on gathering my paddle, flipping my ‘yak, and getting my head above water so I can, you know, breathe. 

But you can bet if I’m wearing $200 shades, I’m saying to myself, screw the boat and paddle—those Ray Bans cost me a small fortune. I’ll breathe when I’m dead. 

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When I compare my Knockarounds to my Christopher Cloos sunglasses, the Cloos is made with better materials and they’re more classically stylish. But they’re also ten times more expensive and I don’t want to wear them to the beach. 

So with Knockaround, you’re getting plastic frames with decent, if slightly stiff, hinges. They’re stylish (geared toward guys and gals in their 20s), and fun to wear. That said, the quality of Knockaround is still solid, and certainly the best I’ve found under $40. 

Knockaround Sunglasses Review

Paso Robles

knockaround paso robles sunglasses face on

The Paso Robles immediately jumped out at me. I love this style of frame, so I had to try Knockaround’s version. 

It’s similar to the classic Wayfarer look, though the frame is much less bulky, which I think is more sophisticated. I picked mine up in Desert Glaze—a pleasing light amber color. 

I added the polarization option for an extra $5. I recommend everyone does that because polarization cuts down on glare, which can blast your eyeballs, especially when driving and standing around a body of water. 

knockaround sunglasses relaxed profile view

The only reason I could see skipping the polarized option is if you like to text while wearing sunglasses—polarized lenses do make it harder to see your screen. 

But I’d rather look without squinting at a beautiful four-foot wave that I’m about to absolutely smash with a boogie-board than my phone. So I went polarized. 

The Paso Robles is my favorite style—it works the best on my face shape, which is fairly long, narrow, and more squared.

knockaround sunglasses on model in bright light

Most of Knockaround’s models run a bit large for someone with my bone structure. If you’re nodding your head right now saying, I have a fairly long, narrow, and more squared head, too, I think the Paso Robles is your best choice. 

If you, too, have a smaller cranium, check out their Seventy Nines or their Classics. They’re the smallest frames Knockaround offers and should do your face justice. 

The lenses are nice and dark, which is something my more expensive sunglasses don’t offer. So the Paso Robles is my go to for rugged adventures, and those select days where the sun seems to be brighter for no apparent reason. 


Mai Tais

knockaround sunglasses profile view

I picked up a pair of Mai Tais, which I knew going in are better suited for people with a rounded face shape. 

I’m not knocking this style, but they’re not right for me. I figured they’d look good on my wife: she has a rounder face, and our children will have very balanced heads and will look good in a variety of sunglasses. They do. 

knockaround mai tai sunglasses frames

At the time of writing, there’re 14 different color combos available in the Mai Tais, and you can also create your own custom pair. 

I calculated out how many color combos you can get based on a custom front, left arm, right arm, lens, and logo: over 69 million. I’m paralyzed with choice. 

Knockaround Mai Tais

The Mai Tais are an excellent choice for anyone with a round facial structure.

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Mount Evans

knockaround aviator glasses

The Knockaround Mount Evans is a more square take on classic aviators. 

I picked them up in the classic Gold and Aviator Green color combo as it’s a throwback to the original made by Ray Ban back in the 50s. 

Again, I picked these up in a polarized option, and they’re quite dark, which is great for bright beach days. I’ll probably stick with my Paso Robles frames when doing intense activities because the metal frame of the Mount Evans is less forgiving. 

model smiling wearing knockaround sunglasses

But these look cool, and they offer a ton of protection for my eyes. All Knockaround lenses offer full UV400 sun protection. This is pretty common, even for super cheap sunglasses now, but it’s a very important box to check off. 

There’s no point in getting sunglasses that won’t protect your eyes. 

Knockaround Mount Evans

The Mount Evans is a square version of classic aviators, and I'm a big fan of the gold and green combo.

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Premium Sport

knockaround sport lilac frames

Just for fun, I went way out of my comfort zone and picked up the Premium Sport glasses in Neptune and Lilac. 

I’ve been wearing these out on my runs, and I’m a huge fan. The frames are on the large side, so they offer full coverage for my eyes. The lenses are nice and dark so I’m not squinting during mid-day, plus the added polarization keeps windshield glare at bay. 

But what makes these sunglasses special is the rubber guards on the nose bridge. This ensures they stay in place, even when I’m doing burpees on the grass. 

I have pterygiums in both my eyes, which is a growth that can build up if you’re exposed to dry heat, wind, smoke, and pollen—which, not coincidentally, is how I’d describe my childhood growing up in the desert. 

To keep them from continuing to grow, I always try to wear sunglasses—especially if I’m out running, as the excess wind irritates my eyes a lot. So having a large blocking surface like I get with the Premium Sport is awesome, even if they’re a bit large on my face. 

Knockaround Sunglasses Premium Sport

What makes these "Sport"? Delicate rubber nubbins on the bridge of the nose. It may seem small, but it'll make a huge difference on your next run.

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What do Other Reviewers Say About Knockaround?

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Knockaround is averaging a high four star rating (4.9) at the time of writing, with over 64,000 reviews on their website. It’s rare to come across a brand with this much feedback, and there’s always a treasure trove of information to scan through. 

While I didn’t muster up the motivation to read through all 64,000 reviews, I saw some of the same comments again and again. 

Value is top of mind for many reviewers. For folks looking for a decent pair of inexpensive sunglasses they can use any ol’ time, Knockaround is a fantastic option. 

Almost everyone agrees that the arms fit well on their head—I’d say that’s true, too. 

My Thoughts Overall On Knockaround

What I Like

  • With 13 frame models, each with over 10 color combos, along with customizable options—there’s basically an endless variation to choose from.

  • Most frame choices allow for polarized lenses at only $5 extra, which I think is absolutely worth it for the added sun protection. 

  • Knockaround is super affordable, and much better quality that similarly priced glasses from random brands on Amazon. 

  • All orders have free shipping, and your glasses arrive quickly.

What I Don’t Like

  • The frames trend toward a larger fit, which isn’t always the most flattering for people with long, narrow faces like me. 

Who is Knockaround for?

Knockaround sunglasses are a fantastic choice for the weekend warrior and adventure junkie who wants a stylish pair of sunglasses that offer full protection for their eyes, but they don’t want to be too precious with their frames.

The Verdict

I’m bringing my Knockaround sunglasses with me for all my camping trips, beach trips, and kayaking trips this summer. 

Why?

Because they’re inexpensive, the lenses are dark enough to offer relief for my eyes, and the full UV400 protection and polarization will block out anything damaging from the sun. 

For the summer weekends when I’m laying low and my Saturday afternoon looks like a few beers with friends at the local brewery, I’m still going to wear my higher end sunglasses (right now I’m really loving my Christopher Cloos glasses). But at $200 a pair, there’s no way I’m going to take those with me as I’m shooting through a class III rapid on the river. 

No, for that adventure, I’m wearing my Knockarounds. And I’m pumped about it.

Knockaround Sunglasses

I like my Knockarounds for my summer adventures, or when I’m going out for a run. If I’m on the river kayaking and my boat flips over, I need to be focused on gathering my paddle, flipping my ‘yak, and getting my head above water so I can, you know, breathe. 

But you can bet if I’m wearing $200 shades, I’m saying to myself, screw the boat and paddle---those Ray Bans cost me a small fortune. I’ll breathe when I’m dead. With Knockaround's that's not an issue.

Shop Knockaround Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

FAQs

Are Knockaround sunglasses good?

Knockaround sunglasses are solid quality for the price. The frames are plastic, rather than acetate, which is what you can expect from more expensive sunglasses. If you’re prioritizing quality, you should look to spend about three to five times more. But if you’re prioritizing the budget and want something stylish, cheap, and effective, Knockaround is a good choice.

Where are Knockaround sunglasses made?

Knockaround sunglasses are designed in San Diego and manufactured in China.

Are Knockaround sunglasses polarized?

Most frames offer you the option to choose polarized lenses or non-polarized lenses. Adding polarization costs just $5 extra, and it’s well worth it.

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Knockaround Paso Robles
My personal favorite frames from Knockaround
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Knockaround Sunglasses Premium Sport
Little rubber nubbins help keep these on your face
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Knockaround Mount Evans
A square take on the classic aviators
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Knockaround Mai Tais
The top choice for folks with round facial structures
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