Gear Review: Maui Jim - Makaha polarized sunglasses

Maui Jim Makaha (photo from Maui Jim sit
As a sunglass addict and avid fishermen, I tend to find myself shopping towards the higher end of the sunglasses market and demanding polarized lenses. I have heard people raving about Maui Jim sunglass and that their polarization was one of the best on the market. As a result, when it was time to buy a new pair of glasses, I found myself at the Maui Jim case of my local sunglass retailer. 

My style preference for glasses is pretty limited to "frameless" and oval shaped lenses. I am not a fan of the aviator style or the thick framed look that seems to be all the rage lately, so that eliminated most of their style options. I liked the look of their ultra flexible titanium framed ones, but just couldn't help my dislike for the feeling of flimsiness that oozed out of them when you help them in your hand.

Initial impressions

With that, I settled on the Makaha in gloss black frame with natural grey lens. They fit the shape and style I liked, seemed to be relatively strong in the store, and were initially pretty comfortable.

Short term impressions

Once I got them out of the artificial store light and into the real world, I was excited to see if the polarization lived up to the hype. While I was generally satisfied, I didn't think that they were any better than some other high end brands that I have used. In their defense, I was still in the parking lot and couldn't definitively conclude anything yet; I knew that the real test would be on the water.

Long term
Overall fit and feel: Over the next week of wearing the Makahas, I was no longer sold on the sturdiness of the glasses. While you should never treat a pair of higher end glasses like a cheap pair of gas station glasses, I felt like I had to be overly careful with them. They were creaky and flimsy whether I was putting them on, taking them off, or cleaning them. I honestly couldn't imagine these holding up for more than a few months.

Lenses: I held out hope that the lenses would make the flimsiness seem like a small detail. I was finally able to get out and fish about a week after my initial purchase to put that hope to the test. Like my conclusion with the frames, I was disappointed. Sure, the colors were crisp and they did a decent job at cutting down on glare, but I couldn't see into the water nearly as good as I felt I should. Determined to see if my hunch was correct, I headed back to my truck to grab my old pair sunglasses to do a side by side comparison and sure enough, the old ones won.

If you have never had a nice pair of sunglasses, these might be an OK option for your first pair. I think that your satisfaction level could be pretty hit or miss depending on your expectations. For me, they fell quite short and based on that I would say you can find better for the same money or just a hair more.

Editors note
The glasses that I compared the Maui Jims to were a pair of Ray Ban's that had lasted almost two years at that point. The reason they were replaced is due to a small scratch on the lens directly in front of my eye that was rather annoying. After returning the Maui Jim glasses, I opted to go back to Ray Ban and went with the carbon fiber Tech series. These glasses have been going strong for almost two years of daily use now and I can easily see another two from them. 

If any sunglass manufacture thinks they can beat the Ray Ban's, feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to put them to the test. 


  1. Great Review man. Well told and I appreciate the honesty on the disapproval of these shades. I needs to get me some new shades. The Berkley ones I use are only 5 bucks and trashed. Seem to help though. Thanks for sharing. Tight lines.

    1. Thanks! No point in doing reviews if they aren't honest!

      I used to by those cheap glasses as well and they do help. A buddy let me try on a pair of his high end polarized glasses and I was blown away. Still - the thought of buying a pair of glasses that cost more than $200 was absurd to me.

      About 8 pairs of cheap glasses over the course of a few months, I started thinking...I spent around $90 on these cheapo glasses so far - that's a lot of money for crap that breaks all the time. Maybe a better pair will lost longer.

      So, I took a baby step and bought a $60 pair of glasses to see if they really lasted any longer. Sure enough, I managed to get around 13 months out of them.

      Once I retired those, I bought a pair of glasses that cost $220 and got over 2 years out of them of daily use. I actually still have them, but there was a small scratch right in front of my eye that bothers the heck out of me so I use them as a back-up (4 years later).

      So, I have concluded that paying more can buy you better quality that lasts a long time. It also forces me to take better care of them because I am generally quite cheap.

  2. Brook
    Sunglasses are downfall when it comes to fishing--I always go for the Wal-Mart brand, and end up paying the price later--I have got to get better in this department.

    1. Thanks, Bill. Read my response above to Trout MaGee - I used to be just like you!

      The $220 pair of glasses I mention above are a pair of Ray Ban Polarized. I replaced them with another Ray Ban glass that is has a carbon fiber frame and polarized lenses. I am going on the two year mark with this pair and they fell just as solid as the first day I bought them. I can easily see another two years from these.


  3. Thanks for the great review. I have been looking for some new polarized glasses.

  4. Don't force yourself on using those sunglasses that your eyes don't feel comfortable with. Wear those suit you best. These pair are obviously cool though.

  5. Replies
    1. if you got them out of the artificial store light and into the real world, I was excited to see if the polarization lived up to the hype. While I was generally satisfied, I didn't think that they were any better than some other high end brands that I have used.

  6. While I am not trying to discount your review,I would like to add that the makahas are more durable than they feel/ appear. I wear my makahas on a daily basis as well and while playing sand volleyball and have not yet experienced failure. I do however prefer my Oakley flaks because sweat and water just rolls off the lenses rather than streaking, but the makahas are a bit more comfortable. Thought I would throw in my two cents worth.

    1. A differing opinion/experience is never discounting! While they may be more durable than they appear, they just didn't feel like it when I wore them. I prefer a snug and positive fit, these just didn't work for me.

  7. The anti glare coating on the front of the £150.00 Mau Jims I bought, and returned within the hour, and the reflective coating on the front leave a potential rainbow effect on the windscreens of oncoming vehicles.
    For a pair of top class polaroid's to have rubbish coatings that create this colour distortion is astonishing. Is it saying that the polarisation isn't up to the job? Or has someone with too much time on their hands dreamt up this nonsense so that more blurb than necessary can be handed to a customer, only for him to have to return them as they were unusable. Ray Bans any time.
    I think once people have paid a lot for their top end glasses there is an automatic feeling for most that they must be good. Needing a coating on a top cost lens says to me that the lens isn't up to it. Also the coating will scratch easily reflecting unwanted rays via the scratch.
    Maybe this is a good way to get people to spend money re coating their lenses, when they shouldn't need a coating in the first place.


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