Julbo Aerospeed: shades (or not) for all seasons
The newest ski touring and splitboarding gear is careening into warehouses all over the country. Everyone has a gear review and an opinion to offer, but precious test snow is still months away from falling. The Julbo Aerospeed sunglasses are one piece of gear that does not need winter conditions for testing. Whether it’s snowing in zero degrees or blasting sun in the nineties, the Aerospeed transition with the conditions year round.
Night skiing was a lot safer back in my New York days of ripping groomers and ice bumps under the bright lights of Bristol Ski Resort. Now my winter evenings are often spent suffering uphill with pale illumination sputtering out of a Black Diamond 100 lumen headlamp long overdue for fresh batteries. My God-given extra long eyelashes (that all the girls used to try to trade me for on the 7th grade school bus) will flutter, frantically trying to beat back extra large Colorado snowflakes flooding my vision. The night runs of my youth have been replaced by maniacal courses through trees and over logs and refrozen snow as I chase after competition in our local town series skimo rec races. That is, that’s how my nights used to be spent until the Aerospeeds.
When I got my hands on my first pair the night before last season’s Elk Mountain Grand Traverse, they enjoyed a 40 mile inaugural tour, even if I did not. Unboxing my Julbo Aerospeed glasses a mere 12 hours from the midnight start of the race, I was pleased to see they were 100% clear. Later that morning, after touring the first six hours in complete darkness, the sunglasses began to darken as the sky lightened. Finally, only one pair of sunglasses that needs to be kept track of for all ski touring conditions.
After months of spring ski tours that led into midsummer mountain bike missions and trail runs, my conclusion is that these glasses are the real all-season deal. They should be considered by any skier who knows the first step of being fast is looking fast — or at least having the tools ever-available to help you train to be fast.
The Julbo Aerospeed comes in a variety of lenses, including non photochromic lenses with a very dark spectron 3, a variety of Zebra reactive spectron 1-3 rating lenses, and the new and improved 0-3 version used in this testing. For many other sunglass manufacturers, the photochromic feature is achieved by a coating applied to the lenses. Julbo, on the other hand, cooks this right into the glass. This process allows for the impressive range and keeps it from scraping off with abrasion. Julbo claims the lenses are also fingerprint resistant, though they haven’t proven to be able to resist my grubby fingerprints. Beyond that, these shades are perfect for the skier looking to get the most out of their workdays. They will transition with you as the sun rises or sets depending on when you are trying to squeeze in your precious tours.
These lenses will stay clear even on cold nights. Although they work in a wide spectrum of brightness they will have the tendency to change darker than ideal in filtered light. For truly terrible flat light days, lenses designed for contrast will have the performance edge.
In addition to the quality of Jublo’s lenses, this model sports several other features that make it ideal for ski touring. The lenses are oversized so they can be used while it is snowing. The glasses are also super light (26 g) so you can forget they are on, even as they transition. They did not rattle off and stayed on my face better than many glasses I have tested and lost to the snow previously. One of the most important features for an overheated ski tour is that the frameless design keeps the glasses off your face and helps them to no fog up (an anti-fog treatment does as well). Added bonuses: the rubber nose piece is adjustable and replaceable, ensuring a secure fit no matter how small or wide the bridge of your nose is, and the Air Link Temple system and soft grip on the arms doesn’t grab hair or pinch for all-day (or night) comfort, even with a helmet.
Perhaps one of my most notable qualities as a sunglass reviewer is my inability to hold on to a pair for more than a few months at a time. If I do, they usually look like they fell into rock tumbler as my avalanche shovel seems to have a magnetic ability to pull eyewear out of it’s case. Because I always keep these on my face instead of frantically stashing and retrieving them from my pack, they are still in great condition. From ski tours to bike rides to trail runs — even bar runs when other ‘cooler’ glasses were MIA — these glasses have done great thus far. With months left of staring at my skis in the garage and lonely nights wearing my new touring kicks on the couch, the Julbo Aerospeeds are one piece of gear sure to also transition with the season.
Doug Stenclik is an avid skimo racer and ski mountaineer who lives for sharing the amazing sports of ski touring and splitboarding. Since his first time on skins he was hooked and the obsession has taken him all over the United States and the world pursuing the human powered ski turn. He founded Cripple Creek Backcountry in 2012 and took over the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Race Cup in 2014 to spread knowledge and the love of the sport. In 2019 he took a step back from the ski shop and race promoter life to become a publishing partner with WildSnow.