The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
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Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Julbo Race Sunglasses: Built for Speed
Posted on: June 4, 2008
Kudos to Julbo for their innovative Zebra(R) NXT Photochromic Lens that makes these sunglasses both more dynamic and lighter than the rest. Adapting rapidly, these little beauties excel in variable conditions. When moving from shadow to sun, the lens can darken to 50 percent of capacity within thirty seconds. In tech terms, that's a range from a nearly clear 43 percent light transmission to a dark 3 percent. In practical terms, that translates to quick clarity and visibility when moving from deep forest to blinding glacier.
I had the chance to test the Race this winter on the slopes working ski patrol and this spring clocking miles on my road bike. They are by far my favorite everyday sunglasses. The large, wrap geometry of the lens give an exceptional field of vision and protection from wind at high speeds. Humping up approaches and peddling up Red Mountain Pass generated plenty of sweat, but the Race never fogged up, which is rare in my experience. For such a large lens, Julbo seems to have eliminated this problem with two features: GripTech temples and nose inserts that keep the glasses in place and off the face, and air flow vents on the sides of the lenses.
While digging deeper to find out more about the technology behind these sweet lenses, I learned that Julbo's (French, of course) NXT lens material is the same used in cockpit door windows! These lenses are lighter than glass, yet stronger than polycarbonate and extremely scratch resistant. I have abused mine and they show little, if any, sign of wear. They also have a lifetime antifog coating that is actually laser-etched on the lenses so it will never wear off.
As part of their Speed Series the Race is a great choice for high-speed activities such as skiing, biking, running and for windy mountain conditions. In addition to the range of brightness the Zebra(R) Lens can accommodate, they have a pleasing yellow tint that is comforting to the eyes. For pure glacier travel I'd choose a darker lens designed to block out more light, but for everything else I don't think this Zebra(R) Lens can be beat.
Included with the sunglasses is a super beefy elastic cord that reminds me of something my mom used to wear playing racquetball. I took the cord off and found I didn't need it to keep the sunglasses snug on my face with the wrap construction of the earpieces. The case that the glasses come in might be overkill, but it's certainly protective. Being so bulky, it's not the ideal case you'd want to pack in an alpine sack.
If you are looking for one pair of sunglasses that are going to do it all, I highly recommend the Julbo Race.
Pros: Light; adaptive; don't fog up; comfortable; good for speed freaks; case is highly protective.
Cons: Bulky case; unnecessary elastic cord.
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