The Ocular JuJu of Julbo Eyewear

Post by blogger | January 29, 2013      

Louie Julbo

Louie on Stevens Pass wearing Julbo Explorer.

Snow glare and high altitude sun can zap your eyeballs faster than a defibrillator wielding paramedic. Julbo has long been famous for their glacier glasses, first giving protection to crystal hunters in 1888. 125 years later the company, still family owned and headquartered in the Jura Mountains of France, is making sunglasses and goggles that blow us away with how effective they are for mountain sports.


The first Julbos made by Jules Baud for Cristalliers in 1888.

Over the past year, we’ve been wearing Julbos during our mountain pursuits and they’ve earned the WildSnow 5 star stamp of approval. They pamper our eyes better than a chilled bottle of Visine. At the Outdoor Retailer show this January, we eagerly descended on the Julbo booth to check out what’s new and noteworthy.

Interchangeable lenses are a hassle to switch out in the backcountry, so we’re anxious to test out Julbo’s photochromic ski goggles. Four styles offer fast response to a wide variety of light conditions. A sign of the times, Julbo offers a lens selector app at their website to help customers pick the right lens for their situation. We’re intrigued with Zebra Light which goes from category 1 (almost clear) to category 3, making it a goggle we hope will work for days that start or end in the dark


Julbo offers Zebra Light lense in four models: Orbiter, Meteor, Revolution, and women specific, Luna.


To celebrate their 125 year anniversary, Julbo is offering a limited edition of the classic Vermont, first introduced in 1950.


Eastcoaster Joe relates to the Vermont.


My favorites, the Bora Bora.


The Kaiser wearing the Kaiser.


Louie looks slick in the Slick.


Joe channels his inner brohawk with Epik & Peak, designed by Glen Plake.

We wear our Julbos all over the world, in places so stupendous that it would be a crime to view them through the haze of a crummy lens. Here’s proof:


Two Lous on the summit of Denali, Louie wearing Julbo glacier glasses.

Lou glacier

Lou and his Julbos skiing in the Dolomites.


Monterosa: women's specific with removable light blue side shields.


The youngest WildSnow Girl, Laurie tested the Booba on high alpine hikes in Colorado this summer. She was smiling all day long.


Four hours on a high alpine lake and these two fish finders suffered no eye burn.

Jeepers creepers, where’d ya get those peepers? Now you know. Get your own pair here. Some of our favorites are even on sale.


One last plug -- with good shades I notice, and capture, the beauty of light more often, like this day on a ridge, Valhalla Mountain Touring.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


34 Responses to “The Ocular JuJu of Julbo Eyewear”

  1. Iain January 29th, 2013 9:20 am

    That bottom photo is fantastic, way better than the view out of my window in London 🙁

  2. Rob S January 29th, 2013 9:25 am

    Nice post, Lisa…and the last photo is a beauty! For those who say, “You can’t look at the world through rose-colored glasses”, I say, “Why the hell not??”

  3. Lisa Dawson January 29th, 2013 9:35 am

    Iain – you have our sympathy.

  4. Tim January 29th, 2013 9:44 am

    I love my Explorers, one thing to note is that it’s quite easy to get them in prescription as well

  5. Mike January 29th, 2013 9:46 am

    Please ask Julbo to make larger glasses with photochromic lenses. I think these lenses are a great idea, but the Bivouak and MonteBianco are too small to effectively cover my eyes. Glad to see they are introducing photochromic lenses in goggles as well.

  6. Sue January 29th, 2013 9:48 am

    “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset.” Tagore

    It’s all about perspective. Yes, look at life through rosé colored glasses!

  7. Lisa Dawson January 29th, 2013 9:53 am

    Sue – nice!

  8. Lisa Dawson January 29th, 2013 9:55 am

    Tim – have you gotten prescription lens thru Julbo? What was the turn around time?

  9. Tim January 29th, 2013 10:09 am

    Lisa, I get them from Opticus( based out of the front range. I’ve had 3 glasses done by them and they do a very good job. (No affiliation other than satisfied customer)

  10. Tim January 29th, 2013 10:11 am

    I recall the turn around time being a couple of weeks, but give them a call for specifics.

  11. Lisa Dawson January 29th, 2013 10:22 am

    Thanks Tim!

  12. Jay January 29th, 2013 10:48 am


    What is your go to Julbo model for touring? I tried on a pair of the glacier glasses and they fit my face well but I am worried the lenses are too dark for normal touring use (lower altitudes, potential for variable light). As usual, I welcome your thoughts.

  13. Lou Dawson January 29th, 2013 10:54 am

    Jay, I wouldn’t use the glacier glasses unless it’s hot out or for some other reason they don’t fog. I used them on Denali because the altitude makes a darker more protective eyeglass essential if you’re not using goggles. Instead, I’ve been using a Monte Bianco with Camel photochrom lens, or at least I think that’s what they are (I’m not a big sunglasses geek). Main thing I like is a bigger lens that’s more open from my face, to prevent fogging. If I get too much light in from the sides, I add side shields or a tab of tape. Lou

  14. Greg January 29th, 2013 10:56 am

    I’ve tried on a number of their glacier glasses, and as with regular sunglasses, I’ve run into the problem that I can’t find any that ‘seal’ against my cheeks – there’s always a noticeable gap that I can look down through, and thus sun can reflect up through. Anyone else have this problem, and have any solutions (other than ski goggles)? Or am I worrying about nothing?

  15. Charlie January 29th, 2013 10:57 am

    Another vote for Opticus for prescription glacier glasses. Pricey, but the the lens quality is excellent. My pair from ’07 is in my pack daily.

    When the earpieces on a pair of Colorados wore out, Julbo’s customer service was fast and helpful.

  16. Dan January 29th, 2013 11:17 am

    I wear prescription glasses with transition lens. When skiing (skinning) they become VERY dark in both sunny and cloudy/stormy conditions and I lose some resolution and vis, which is a challenge in the NW where poor vis is about normal. So, I just wear my sunglasses (in all conditions) for the up and prescription goggles for the down. Also, the transition lens is very slow to revert back to clear from VERY DARK when it is cold (my experience anyway). This can be a problem at the end of the day when descending through a forest.

    Does anybody know how fast the Zebra goggles go from dark to clear (in the cold)? Do they become too dark when at altitude all day, or is the “darkest” shade really fixed?
    Lots of very cool shades available now. Too bad I need prescription lens.

  17. Tim January 29th, 2013 11:22 am

    @Dan. I got a pair of Photochromatic Explorers from Opticus. They go from something like 70% density at the lightest to 90% density at darkest.

    This is enough for marginal light and tree skiing, and definitely dark enough for 14ers and Denali(but not dark enough for higher than Denali).

    They can adjust the darkness to suit your needs

  18. Lou Dawson January 29th, 2013 11:41 am

    Tim, my main problem with all the chromatic stuff is it doesn’t go light enough… When I want dark I usually just pick something super dark that’s not photochromo… personal preference.

    Also seems like a lot of the glasses turn dark too easily, for example in a storm with lots of UB but not much visible light.

    I’ll check out Opticus.


  19. Tim January 29th, 2013 11:47 am

    Lou, I agree about it going dark when visible light isn’t fully there. If I didn’t need prescription I’d like to try the Camel lens by Julbo. claims that it will not darken based on temperature as all other photochromatic lenses I’ve used do.

    I do the same, but on the other end of the spectrum. I’ve got a pair of prescription yellow glasses that I often bring along for very early or late day and nighttime in addition to my general purpose darker photochrom glasses. I find this combo to work for pretty much every situation where I don’t need goggles for blowing snow.

  20. Lou Dawson January 29th, 2013 12:04 pm

    Indeed, for years now I’ve used some Smiths for traveling that have lenses I can swap. They’re quite good, the Tracer model I believe…

  21. Lou Dawson January 29th, 2013 12:07 pm

    All, I’ve been tweaking our comment moderation settings. I’m suspecting we were 100% blocking some comments we didn’t intend to. Apologies if you’ve made comments over past months that never got published. Turns out we might have never even seen them! Would be useful to know if anyone had this happen…

    We still have a spam block and stop word moderation set up for the comments, but hopefully with way fewer false positives.


  22. Caleb from MT January 29th, 2013 1:20 pm

    Well this is a long shot but if there are any readers who happen to be hiking the whale creek trail in the north fork of the flathead in mt, keep an eye out for my julbo explorers. I lost them last fall while trail running. There still in the tan case and it has my name on it. Drop em off at RMO if you find them. Thanks. Great blog post and site as always!

  23. Kim January 29th, 2013 2:05 pm

    Greg, I have the same problem with too much gap between the lens and cheeks. I am really happy with the Oakley Flakjacket XLJ. The XLJ lenses are a little wider and longer than the normal Flackjackets and I find them excellent for touring.

  24. Daniel January 29th, 2013 3:23 pm

    I wear Julbo Race w/ Zebra 2-4 lenses for all my ski touring, mountain biking and mountaineering. Fit is almost gapless, no fogging, excellent vision and unobstructed peripheral vision. Lenses seem to work perfectly for Skiing, maybe a bit slow from dark to clearer when enterjng a forest on a mtb. For my purposes, the perfect ski sunglasses from glacier bluebird to medium snowfall. Hardly ever need goggles these days.

  25. Fernando Pereira January 29th, 2013 11:40 pm

    Like Daniel, Julbo Race with Zebra lenses are my main ski touring, trail running, and mountaineering glasses. I add prescription lens inserts with bifocals for when I need to see detail and read stuff (maps, watch, GPS, …). For goggles, Zeal Link SPPX (spherical, photochromic, polarized) have worked great for several years in all conditions.

  26. TobyG January 30th, 2013 4:52 am

    I highly recommend the Julbo Dirts with photochromic lenses. Perfect for early dawn starts (practically clear – they keep the tears out of your eyes on early morning cold ski runs). By mid day they offer plenty of full sun protection. Used on a recent Rainier trip in full sun and really liked them. Also use them mountain biking. Full eye coverage with no side leaks. Replaced my Oakleys with these and feel like the lenses are clearer. Wife has adopted them, so looking for a new pair.

  27. Mara January 30th, 2013 6:42 am

    Since my eyes are very sensitive to light, I needed sunglasses that would shield my eyes from the top and side as well as the front, which the Monterosa Julbo do. They fit very well and are LIGHT! They’re super clear and haven’t scratchef like cheaper glasses. I wear them as much around town as on the mountain. I never take the side shields off so I super glued them in. Only neg is that sometimes they catch a few hairs, but I’ve had that problem with other glasses.

  28. edward January 30th, 2013 9:20 am

    I too am a Julbo freak. I work in a gear store (in Colorado) and have too many sunglasses.

    HOWEVER! and it’s a big one- the 2-4 photochromic need a back-up pair if you do BC skiing in them. They go dark with UV, so on a cloudy day at 11,000 ft in Utah (yeah, they do get cloudy days!) the lenses went dark and thus I could NOT see the snow conditions.

    I keep telling Julbo to make me a pair Ultra’s with the fantastic Falcon lens (perfect tint, right darkness), but alas, it seems to be more then just throwing the right plastic into a mold 🙂

    Last year, on my birthday rafting trip, a buddy dove off the raft and lost his sunglasses. Suddenly realizing I had taken many swims I suddenly panicked that I had lost my Bivouc’s. After 20 seconds i realized that they were still very much on my face. I had been for many swims and completely forgot about them. Any sunglass that stays on your face when you jump into the Colorado River gets my vote.

  29. Joe John January 31st, 2013 4:52 pm

    I’ll have to add a pair of Julbos to my wish list …my current side sun blocker, duct tape, tends to leave a residue on the frame if I forget to remove it.

  30. Chris Coleman March 14th, 2013 12:32 pm

    I contacted Julbo last year about reissuing old-school glacier glasses and was thrilled when they wrote back to tell me about the Vermont Classics to be released on January 30th, 2013. I quickly ordered a pair and I absolutely love them.

    The classic retro-style fits my personal tastes well, and the leather side shields and nose bridge are extremely comfortable. The Spectron 4 lenses are perfect and distortion free. These are just like the glacier glasses I remember wearing in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Excellent eye wear for those who have an affinity for the past.

  31. David June 3rd, 2013 1:03 pm

    There are so many Julbo lenses that it’s not easy deciding on the correct one for ski touring. I like the idea, in theory, of the Zebra lenses that go from cat. 2-4, thus great for variable conditions. However, Edward (a few posts above) warned of the dangers of darkening in overcast, high-altitude conditions. He then went on to enthuse about the Falcon lenses, but didn’t describe why. These are marketed as “driving” lenses, while the Zebras are marketed for the mountain. Anyone care to comment on the Falcon lenses for touring? Thanks!

  32. Dean November 8th, 2013 8:41 pm

    I have yet to find a pair of glasses that fit tight around your eyes that will not fog when performing high output activities unless they are accompanied by a built in fan.

  33. Ziggy March 23rd, 2014 9:35 pm

    IIRC somewhere on the Julbo US website is mention of the time needed for a photochromic transition: in the order of 22 seconds. That’s quite a lot.

  34. Boris August 2nd, 2014 2:42 am

    Do you kwon where i can find Vrmont classic in London? Do you kwon a shop? Thank in advance for some help.

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