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Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Julbo Contest Sunglasses > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

Julbo Contest Sunglasses

Initial Report - June 23 '10
Field Report - Oct 5 '10
Long Term Report - Nov 30 '10

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
Age: 42
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 197 lb (89.40 kg)
Torso: 19" (48 cm)


I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I am currently getting into condition to summit some of the higher peaks in Washington, Oregon, and California. I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I normally use a bivy sack for shelter. My current pack is around 30 lbs (14 kg), not including consumables.

Product Information


Julbo, Inc.

Year of Manufacture:


Manufacturer’s Website:


$US 160.00
 Weight: Listed: [not listed]
Measured 1.4 oz (39 g) without case, 4.1 oz (116 g) with case


Frame Width 5.5 in (144 mm)
Temple (hinge to tip) 4.5 in  (114 mm)

Image courtesy of Julbo USA
Image courtesy of Julbo USA

Product Description:

The Contest sunglasses come from the Julbo Performance collection of eyewear. They are labeled as “All-terrain Vision” on the web page and described as “the ATV of sunglasses” on their downloadable specifications sheet. They come in 4 different configurations: Mat black frames with 3 sets of interchangeable lenses, White with Zebra antifog lenses, Black with Zebra antifog lenses, and Orange with Octopus lenses. The glasses come with shock absorbent nose grips and curved gripping temples.

Initial Report

The glasses arrived in a tan semi-rigid clamshell styled case with a zipper closure. The frames are black with yellow rubber trim on the temples (temples-the part of the glasses attached to the sides of the frames and extending over the ears of the wearer) and nose grips. The sides of the glasses are decorated with thin white lines in a somewhat random pattern and a silver “J” logo on both sides. The lenses are a very pale amber with the word “Zebra” stenciled on the top of the right lenses. The frames and lenses are the close fitting wrap-around style that I prefer.  The frames are wide over the temples (to help block light from the sides) and thin out over the ears.Case

The first thing I noticed upon examining the glasses is that they are heavier than I expected, at least they are noticeably heaver than my old glasses. However upon putting them on, they fit snugly but comfortably and they don’t feel heavy when I am wearing them. When I have an option I normally choose a larger size of sunglasses, and these seem to fit my face. The second thing I noticed was how light the lenses are. Out of the box they are a very pale yellow (think Bono from U2), with maybe a hint of gold to the color. I normally wear very dark lenses for bright sun and like amber lenses for flat light and/or monochromatic conditions (e.g. fog, snow, etc).  The hinges feel tight and secure but not stiff, they are easy to open/close but don’t move on their own. The nose grip appears molded directly to the frame. This could be an advantage if it makes them more durable, but it could also be a problem if they become damaged and are not replaceable (for me this is the part that most often has failed with other glasses I have owned and so is something I watch for).  Overall the frames give the impression of quality and being well constructed.

Glasses in caseWhen exposed to sunlight the lenses darkened somewhat and the gold color and metallic sheen became more pronounced. Even at their darkest, I found my eyes were still slightly visible, making these lighter than I prefer for bright sun, but about what I like for moderate sun conditions and driving. The lenses are described as having a light protection Index of 2-4 with 2 allowing 18%-43% of visible light to pass through and 4, 3%-8%. The specifications indicate that the reaction should take 22-28 seconds. [Note: the Julbo specifications state that an index of 4 is not recommended for driving] The description of the lenses did not mention them being polarized so I assume they are not.

Something I noticed the first time I took them off was that fingerprints on the lenses are very visible, but I also found they are easily removed with a soft cloth. One oddity is that the outside of the lenses feel very slick and smooth while the inside surface feels a bit rough when wiped with a cloth.

Julbo website lists their products as having a warranty against defects for the life of the original owner, and includes a downloadable/printable warranty return form. Under the Service, Warranty and Repairs page they have a link for replacement parts. I noticed they do not list parts for the Contest sunglasses, but there are instructions to e-mail or call them if the product you are looking for is not listed. I contacted the manufacturer at and found that I can purchase replacement or different lenses for the Contest frames via phone or PayPal. Julbo offers a 30 day refund/exchange policy on all their products in the event the purchaser is not satisfied with the product.

Field Report

Field Report - Oct 5 '10
  • 1 day hike Umptanum Creek Washington (clouds, bright sun, and heavy rain)
  • 2 night family camping trip Trout Lake Washington (Lots of driving, 1 day hike, 1 short canoe trip)
  • 3 day trip to climb Mt Adams (used the entire trip, sun up to sun down. I did not even bring my glacier glasses)
  • 2 day trip to climb Mt St Helen’s (used the entire trip sun up to sun down)
  • 2 night family camping trip Central Washington (1 short canoe trip on the Snake River)
  • 4 day solo hike in the Ingalls Creek valley (Central Washington at the base of Mt Stuart)
NOTE: I have literally worn these glasses every day since receiving them, ranging from 1-2hrs to over 16hrs.

These glasses are wonderful for driving. sun, shade, rain, overcast, and even twilight. They keep the sun out of my eyes even when driving west directly into a setting sun, and they keep the AC/wind from drying out my contacts. They react quick enough to handle transitioning from direct sun to shade. On a few occasions I have managed to wear the glasses during long drives, up to 16hrs, without taking them off.

Little Mt SiCanoeing
They worked well when transitioning between sun and shade better than any glasses I have ever used. The wrap around style keeps the wind and water out of my eyes. The lenses are not polarized so glare off of the water was noticeable, but not a problem.

Hiking /Backpacking
Often hikes take me in and out of the sun. With non-changing glasses I find I remove them when I enter the shade and put them back on when I am back in the sun. I rarely lose my glasses, however on one trip I did lose a rather expensive pair of brand new sunglasses when I hung them on my pack while hiking through a forested area. With the Julbo Contest glasses I find I put them on and rarely need to remove them, sometimes I remove them out of habit only to put them right back on. This has helped keep my contact lenses from drying out and in at least a few occasions protected my eyes from leaves and branches while navigating through some undergrowth where I would normally have not been wearing my sunglasses. Another issue I have with some glasses is fogging. I normally make it a habit of carrying an anti fog cleaning fluid so I can help minimize this. Since receiving these I have followed the recommended care instructions and have used nothing but water and a soft cloth (when I have one available, my shirt or bandanna or whatever is available the rest of the time) to clean them. With the exception of some very extreme conditions, where I was sweating profusely in chilly conditions the glasses have not fogged up. I am very happy with how they perform under these conditions.

Glissading on Mt St HelensIn general, I like wrap around glasses as they tend to help prevent my contacts from drying out but with some my eyelashes brush against the glass and I find that highly annoying. These wrap snugly around my face but my eyelashes do not touch them. While initially I was concerned that they might be a bit snug, I have found I can wear them comfortably for extended periods.

I have found only three things about the glasses that may be less than ideal (and I am really nit-picking here). First as I mentioned in my initial report is how easily the glasses pick up smudges and fingerprints. I find myself wiping smudges off the lenses all the time. On a positive note, despite the constant rubbing of the lenses with whatever cleaning material I have handy (shirt, napkin, bandanna, etc) the lenses are showing no sign of wear. I was concerned that this much rubbing might scratch the lenses or wear away the coatings, but so far I have not seen any indication of this. The second thing is that in bright sun, the lenses not quite dark enough for me and so I find myself squinting despite wearing the glasses. To be fair, I like VERY dark lenses, so this is most likely a personal preference. And while I would like them to be darker in bright conditions I would not trade that if I meant they would be darker all the time, so what I am asking for may be impossible: just as light at their lightest but darker at their darkest. I have checked with the manufacturer, and found that the lenses for these are replaceable, and that they sell a dark lens (US$20 + US$2 shipping) that I will probably purchase at the conclusion of the testing for use in very bright conditions. Last (and by far the least) is that sometimes I have been distracted by catching the logo printed on the far left of the glasses in my peripheral vision. At first this would occur a few times a day, and now almost never. So my preference would be to not have the logo there, but in reality it is hardly worth mentioning, and I only do so because I can find so little else about these glasses to complain about.

So far, the frames have held up well, despite lots of use. The hinges are showing no signs of loosening and I see no signs of wear anyplace on the glasses.


Opportunities for improvement

Snug but comfortable fit

Lenses could be darker for bright sunlight

Hinges solid and firm but not stiff

Lenses pick up fingerprints easily

Lenses clear and appear distortion free Bridge guard not removable/replaceable
Resistant to fogging

Long Term Report

Long Term Report - Nov 30 '10
  • Daily use
  • 3 days camping/snowshoeing in the Eastern Cascades
  • 5k fun run

I think I have only had one or two days since receiving these sunglasses that I have not worn them. Besides continuing to wear them each day, mostly while driving, I wore them while snowshoeing in the Cascades and for an after Thanksgiving 5k fundraiser run.

When I was snowshoeing, the temperatures were just below freezing with calf deep fresh powder. While it was mostly cloudy with some snow, there were brief periods of sun. I really like amber lenses in flat light conditions (overcast, rain, snow, etc) as they tend to enhance contrast and detail. These glasses worked well for this and only fogged up partially when I worked up a good sweat.

3K into my 5K runAnticipating cold temperatures (27F / -3C) and snow for the after Thanksgiving run, I wanted to be absolutely sure the glasses did not fog during the run so I cleaned them with “Cat Crap” (anti-fog lenses cleaner). It is the only time I have used anything other than water and a cloth to clean the lenses. I was pleased that the lenses did not fog up at all throughout the entire run despite me dressing just a bit too warmly and working up quite a sweat.

I see virtually no indications of wear on the glasses. There are a few very tiny scratches in the lenses, less than I would have expected given the use they have endured and the fact that I have not had them in the case once since receiving them. The frames look new and hinges show no indications of loosening.

To summarize, I really like these glasses. As noted above there a few minor details about these glasses I found less than ideal, but these are VERY minor and given how well these have performed almost not worth mentioning. Now that this test is over and I have the option to go back to using my previous glasses or replace these, I see no reason to do either and will continue to wear these. As mentioned previously I am still considering purchasing a dark (non-changing) set of lenses for very bright light conditions (e.g. alpine climbing, beach, etc), but for the majority of my sunglasses needs I will continue to use these as is.

This concludes my Report. I would like to thank the folks at Julbo USA, and for the opportunity to test these sunglasses.

Read more gear reviews by David Wilkes

Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Julbo Contest Sunglasses > Test Report by David Wilkes

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