JULBO CONTEST SUNGLASSES
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
INITIAL REPORT - June 24, 2010
FIELD REPORT - October 03, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - November 21, 2010
Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
130 lb (59.00 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a week long. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and hiking poles.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Julbo, Inc.
|Image courtesy of Julbo website.|
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.julbousa.com
MSRP: $160 US
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 1.3 oz (37 g)
Case Weight: 2.8 oz (79 g)
Frame Color: Black
Also Available in White
Made in France
The Julbo Contest sunglasses are what I describe as a 'blade' type of sunglasses. Julbo describes them as 'suspended lenses'. Either description means that the frame is at the top, nose and sides but does not extend beneath the lens. There is no lower frame to obstruct my vision. The lenses partially wrap around to the side for panoramic vision.
The yellow portions are made of a rubbery material that is placed at the nose and at the stem end for a good grip. Julbo claims that the portion at the temple will not stick to hair. The stems are curved which are claimed to hold better during sharp movements. The black frame has a white pattern in it which is not particularly noticeable in most lighting, but it can be seen in this photo.
The Zebra lens is a light-sensitive lens that changes with different light conditions. It is stated as being in the 'Speed' range which is best for mountain biking, trail running and climbing. The lens amplitude category is 2 to 4 with a high-speed reaction of 22 to 28 seconds. It is supposed to have an anti-mist treatment which resists condensation and provides maximum lifetime on the lens. The lenses are not polarized.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
A small pamphlet was inside the case which states that this product complies with European Directive for sunglasses for general use. It is printed in 24 languages, so it took me a minute to find English.
Maintenance and Storage:
Wash in soapy water, wipe dry with a soft cloth after rinsing.
There is a warning that these sunglasses are not safe for direct solar viewing.
The descriptions of the amplitude categories are:
0: Comfort, design
1: Weak sunlight
2: Average sunlight
3: Strong sunlight
4: Exceptionally strong sunlight. Not suitable for drivers and road users.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING THEM OUT
My initial impression was of how large and solid the case is. It has a stiff shell (similar in stiffness to cardboard), opens like a clamshell and has a zipper closure. When I unzipped it, I found the sunglasses along with a small instruction pamphlet. The sunglasses had a small tag on one arm with the model number and product code. There was a sticker on one lens indicating that they were Zebra lenses.
|Image courtesy of Julbo website.|
I put them on and noticed how clear they were. My current sunglasses have quite a few scratches, so I may have been noticing the difference. I went outside to catch the late afternoon sun directly into my face. I waited several minutes and tried to see them darkening but I had a really difficult time to notice it. I then lifted them and looked beneath them at the deck. There were very shiny patches where the deck sealant was fresh and there was a high glare coming from those areas. I then lowered the sunglasses and all of the glare disappeared and the color of the wood and clarity of the wood grain was apparent.
I have been wearing them daily and don't notice them darkening significantly. Even at their darkest, I can still see my eyes through them (in the mirror). This is a bit odd to me since I'm used to darker sunglasses for bright light conditions. I do notice that my eyes are open and I'm not squinting unless the light is very bright, so they seem to function well despite not being very dark.
The most noticeable thing for me is how clear the lenses are and how well I can see with the wrap-around lens. There is no frame to interfere with my peripheral vision.
The sunglasses fit me well despite my head and face being at the lower end of the size spectrum. The notched out portion of the stem hits before my ear, so the grip section hits my ear as intended. On my first extended wear however the stem irritated my ears. This has occurred before with other sunglasses.
The Julbo Contest sunglasses appear to be a high quality pair of performance sunglasses.
Likes so far:
Automatically changing lenses
Excellent vision and clarity
Dislikes so far:
Bright yellow trim
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I wore the sunglasses during the Field Testing period nearly every day. I wore them for two overnighter backpacking trips, one 3-day and one 11-day backpacking trip, 4 day hikes, 3 mountain bike rides and one boat camping trip for a total of 28 days. I also wore them for daily use such as driving to and from work, walks and just general around town use.
My backpacking and hiking trips are as follows:
Mumford Bar Trail, Sierra Nevada, California; 2 days; 13 mi (21 km); 2,640 to 5,360 ft (805 to 1634 m) elevation; 53 to 90 F (12 to 32 C); sunny skies; The trail was forested but some areas were burned from forest fires leaving it bright and open.
Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California; 3 days; 19.5 mi (31.4 km); 6,560 to 8,220 ft (2,000 to 2,505 m) elevation; 40 to 80 F (4 to 27 C); sunny skies; The trail varied from heavily wooded and shady to above the tree line.
Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California; 2 days; 12.6 mi (20.3 km); 6,560 to 8,220 ft (2,000 to 2,505 m) elevation; 48 to 80 F (9 to 27 C); sunny skies; The trail varied from heavily wooded and shady to above the tree line. This was the same area as above only a shorter version.
Wonderland Trail, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington: 100 mi (161 km); 2,600 to 7,200 ft (792 to 2,195 m) elevation; 32 to 62 F (0 to 17 C). Weather conditions went from bright sun glare off of snow fields to torrential downpours. Trail conditions varied from deep dark forest to snow field crossings above the tree line.
Bake Oven Trail, Sierra Nevada, California; 10 mi (16 km); 1,630 to 3,520 ft (497 to 1,073 m); 65 to 80 F (18 to 27 C); clear to partly cloudy conditions; The trail was forested with some open view sections.
Rockbound Lake, Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California: 9 mi (14.5 km); 6,200 to 6,900 ft (1,890 to 2,103 m) elevation; 60 to 75 F (16 to 24 C); sunny skies; The trail was mostly open with some lightly shaded areas.
Forni Lake, Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California: 10 mi (16.1 km); 6,600 to 7,100 ft (2,012 to 2,164 m) elevation; 70 to 80 F (21 to 27 C); The conditions varied from heavily wooded to bright sun glare off of snow fields and the lake.
Forni Lake...again, Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California: 10 mi (16.1 km); 6,600 to 7,100 ft (2,012 to 2,164 m) elevation; 70 to 85 F (21 to 29 C); The conditions were similar to above but without the snow fields.
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California; 4 days; 6,200 ft (1,890 m); 50 to 75 F (10 to 24 C). Conditions varied from bright sun on the lake (fishing from the boat) to shady in camp.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The sunglasses have performed very well. I'm still not used to the lighter lenses although I have no problem with them blocking the light. I don't squint any more than with any other of my sunglasses. I found the lighter lens to be quite useful in low light conditions. I particularly appreciate this while mountain biking where the light changes so quickly from bright sun to deep shade while I prefer to leave my sunglasses on the entire time to protect my eyes. On one particular day of backpacking at Mount Rainier, I wore them all day in varying light conditions. By the time we got to camp some fog was rolling down from the summit and it was getting a bit dark for 3pm. However, I totally forgot that I had the sunglasses on until I knocked them off while in the tent changing into some warmer clothes.
On one day of backpacking in Mount Rainier, it rained for 20 hours straight during which we hiked for 8 hours. I wore the sunglasses on top of my hat with my rain jacket hood over top. They stayed put all day and when I pulled them off to store them in the tent overnight they weren't fogged up. I never noticed any problems with the lenses fogging.
All of my day hiking and backpacking trips in California also included fishing. The sunglasses did a great job in cutting the glare off the water and allowing me to see the fish below the surface.
Despite the instructions saying they are not suitable for driving, I wore them for driving nearly every day to and from work. They performed just fine. I didn't notice any problem when transitioning from a bright sunny area to a shady one. I didn't ever wear them in any tunnels however.
The arms still bother my ears due to the width of the glasses being slightly too large for my head. The rubbery yellow material on the arms did well to hold the glasses on and did not catch and pull my hair. My husband borrowed them one day when he forgot his sunglasses. They fit his face very well. He even was complimented on how cool they were. The bright yellow accents have grown on me.
I used the case at first but have rarely used it since. It just isn't practical for me to try to carry around such a large case. In the car I store the glasses on a visor hanger. On the trail I store them on my head or on my shirt front. While backpacking I kept them in the tent pocket overnight. I try to be careful not to scratch them and am not particularly rough on sunglasses, but I'm not overly concerned with it. Despite my lack of effort, there are no noticeable scratches on the lenses.
There have been no durability issues at all. The sunglasses still look nearly new.
The Julbo Contest sunglasses are a very functional set of lenses with a neat feature of changing with the light conditions.
Excellent vision and clarity
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I continued to wear the sunglasses nearly every day during the Long-Term Testing period. I wore them for 8 day hikes, 4 tennis matches, 3 mountain bike rides and 3 lake fishing trips for a total of 18 days. I also wore them for daily use such as driving to and from work, going on walks and working in the yard.
Some examples of my trips are as follows:
Bassi Falls; Sierra Nevada, California; 4 mi (6.4 km); 5,000 to 5,500 ft (1,524 to 1,676 m) elevation; 36 F (2 C); rainy conditions
Multiple hikes in Auburn State Recreation Area, California: 3 to 5.6 mi (5 to 9 km); 800 to 1,600 ft (244 to 488 m) elevation; 45 to 65 F (7 to 18 C); clear to cloudy to light rain to downpour rain conditions
Lake Davis, Northern Sierra Nevada, California; 3-day trip; 5,775 ft (1,760 m) elevation; 45 to 55 F (7 to 13 C); partly sunny to partly cloudy to light rain conditions
Lake Edson, Sierra Nevada, California: day trip; 4,260 ft (1,298 km) elevation; 60 F (15 C); mostly sunny conditions
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
This test period consisted of autumn uses, so the sun was lower in the sky and there were more rainy days. The lighter lenses have worked nicely in these conditions. They don't darken the view on rainy days and in fact make things clearer and more defined than without them. I ended up wearing them in rainstorms and in the car on rainy days with good effect. They still didn't fog up in any conditions despite my wearing them on cool rainy days.
The lenses worked well for fishing with the sun low in the sky. They cut the glare off the water. I also used them for playing tennis until dusk. My husband and I actually shared them sometimes so that the player facing the setting sun could wear them. They did a good job of cutting the glare while serving but were not too dark in the fading daylight.
The stems still bother my ears but didn't hurt so much to keep me from wearing them. There were times that I put them on my head since they were bothering me.
I typically cleaned the lenses with water and dried them with a soft cloth. I did not use the carrying case and handled the glasses by being careful but not overly concerned with preventing scratches. Despite my lack of extra effort, there are no noticeable scratches on the lenses. There have been no durability issues with the sunglasses at all.
The Julbo Contest sunglasses are a functional set of lenses which work well in varying light conditions. They are even very useful on overcast days.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Excellent vision and clarity
Improves definition on rainy/cloudy days
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to Julbo and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith