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Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Julbo Race Sunglasses > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

Julbo -- Speed Series - Race -- Sunglasses

Julbo Race

Test Series by Ryan Christensen
Last Update -- September 15, 2008

ACCESS THE MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THE LINKS BELOW:

INITIAL REPORT
May 21, 2007
FIELD REPORT
July 24, 2007
LONG-TERM REPORT
September 23, 2007
ADDENDUM
September 15, 2008

INITIAL REPORT
May 21, 2007

Reviewer Information:

Backpacking Background:

Name: Ryan L. Christensen

Age:  42

Gender:  Male

Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)

Weight:  235 lb (102 kg)

Email address:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com

City, State, Country:  Idaho Falls, ID, U.S.A

I began hiking, camping, backpacking at twelve, and continued until 25.  After a long hiatus due in part to a bad back, I resumed hiking and camping four years ago.  I share my love for these sports with my teen-age boys.  The past several years, we have hiked or camped nearly every month, year-round.  We vary our experience: desert, forest, meadow, and mountain; spring, summer, fall, and winter; sunshine, rain, wind, or snow.  We began backpacking together last summer.  I am a lightweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.

Product Information:

The information below comes from the Julbo website and product documentation.

Race Sunglasses

Manufacturer:

Julbo

Manufacturer website:

http://new.julbo.fr/
http://julbousa.com/

Place of Manufacture:

France

Year Manufactured:

2007

Material:

 

Frame:

Nylon [per customer service rep]

Lenses:

NXT Unbreakable organic lenses.

The NXT lens is manufactured by pouring resin into low-temperature moulds [SIC]. This reduces the tension in the material and gives better optical quality, excellent transparency and improved long-term stability.

NXT lenses were originally developed for the American Army.

Colors Available:

Black, Asphalt

Sizes Available:

One Size

Warranty:

"Julbo glasses are guaranteed free of manufacturing flaws and material defects. Lenses are not guaranteed against scratching."

"Lenses in NXT are offered with a lifetime guarantee against breakage. While lenses in NXT are virtually unbreakable, this eyewear may not be designed to be safety eyewear and should not be considered a permanent shield against eye injury."

MSRP

$120 USD

 

Product Specifications

Manufacturer’s Specifications

 

Listed Weight

None

Tester’s Measurements

 

Weight

Sunglasses - 1 oz (28 g)
Retention Strap - 0.3 oz (9 g)
Case - 3 oz (85 g)

Width (temple to temple)

5.125 in (13 cm)

Length (earpiece)

5.3 in (13.5 cm)

Color Tested

Asphalt (a metallic, gun-metal grey)

Product Description:

The Race is one of four models of sunglasses that constitute Julbo's Speed Series. According to the Julbo website, the Speed Series contains "sunglasses for action sports." The Race model is a stylish, yet high-tech, lightweight pair of sunglasses. The nylon frame is a solid color with colorful elastomer accents on the nose pads, temples, and earpieces. The frame itself is a wrap design that fits snugly around the face with lens geometry which Julbo claims provides "an extra-wide field of vision."

Julbo w/Accents Julbo Nose System
The Race sunglasses have the "Parabolic Nose System" which moves the lens away from the face to facilitate ventilation and reduce fogging. The nose system also has the elastomer on the nose pads, which provides grip and absorbs shock during rigorous activities. Likewise, the elastomer on the temples is intended to absorb shock. In addition, the elastomer on the inside of each earpiece is intended to provide extra grip to hold the sunglasses on the head. The sunglasses came in a semi-rigid, zippered, clamshell styled case. The fabric-covered case is approximately 6 in (15 cm) long and 2 in (5 cm) tall. The interior lining of the case is a "fuzzy" material that should help protect the lenses from scratching while in the case.

The Race sunglasses come with Julbo's Zebra lens. This lens, according to Julbo's website, is an "unbreakable organic lens." The lens is NXT, made by pouring a resin into low-temperature molds. The result, according to Julbo is a lens that "gives unparalleled protection and optical quality." The Zebra provides 100% protection from harmful ultraviolet rays: UVA, B, and C. In addition, The Zebra is a photochromic lens, which means it changes color when exposed to light. The Zebra progressively alternates between protection classes 2 and 4 per CE standards. According to Wikipedia, "by using the CE mark, a manufacturer ensures its product meets all essential requirements of all applicable EU directives and the applicable conformity assessment procedures are applied." Protection class 2 allows transmission of 18% to 43% of visible light. However, protection class 4 only allows transmission of 3% to 8% of visible light. The Zebra lens also has an anti-fog coating.

The 1 in (2.5 cm) wide headband, or eyewear retention strap, is an elastic material and is adjustable. It attaches to the sunglasses via small holes near the hinge of each earpiece.

Initial Impression:

As I pulled the Race sunglasses from their zippered clamshell case, I was impressed with how stylish the glasses are. In fact, my 9 yr old daughter, who was sitting by me at the time, said, "Wow, those are sweet!" Obviously, she liked the look of these sunglasses. A little while later, my 16 yr old son returned home and tried claiming the Race sunglasses for himself, he too was impressed with the styling of these sunglasses.

With the Race sunglasses in hand, I immediately noticed that they are extremely lightweight. This impressed me. Based on the information I had read on the website prior to receiving the sunglasses, I knew that the lenses were not polycarbonate, known for being lightweight. However, these glasses felt light as a feather in my hand. Based on their lightness and comfort during the short time I wore them in my initial testing, I expect to be able to wear them all day and possibly forget that I am wearing them. Testing will tell.

As I inspected the glasses further, I really liked the lenses. First, the lenses appeared to have a quasi-mirror finish. Secondly, the tint color of the lenses also appealed to me. The third thing I liked about the lenses was the optical quality of the lenses. Although the lenses are not polarized, they provide excellent visual clarity. Finally, I liked the idea of the gap, or vent, between the lens and the frame near the earpieces. No doubt, this is to minimize lens fogging.

Although I was pleased overall with the sunglasses, there were a couple of things with which I was not impressed. My biggest displeasure came as I realized the sunglasses did not come with a cleaning cloth. To me this is especially significant since under "Cleaning," in the limited documentation accompanying the sunglasses, Julbo specifically states, "To maintain their protective properties, take care not to scratch the lenses." Consequently, I would expect Julbo to include a quality cleaning cloth, as has been my experience in purchasing other sunglasses in this price range. Next, I was not impressed with the attachment point of the eyewear retention headband, as the right-side clip broke as I was trying to remove it from its initial fitting. Now, unfortunately, I will be unable to test this headband. Nevertheless, I will test these glasses with other eyewear retention devices. Although minor in comparison to my other displeasures, I was also somewhat unhappy with the size of the Race sunglasses with the earpieces folded in. These sunglasses will not fit in the standard-size glass cases I own. Therefore, when packed in my backpack, I expect that they will take up more room than my other sunglasses.

Initial Testing:

Julbo (Width) Julbo (Length)
My initial test was to try-on the sunglasses. They fit my medium-size face very well, not too loose and not too snug. They measure 5.125 in (13 cm) from inside of earpiece to earpiece. I tried them on inside my home first. I was impressed with how light the lens color was while in the home. I was able to see quite well. I then proceeded outside. Again, I was impressed with how light the lens color was, but also how much protection the lens provided from the sunlight.

I returned inside and attached the headband. I was able to adjust the band to get a nice fit. However, as mentioned earlier, when trying to disconnect the headband from the sunglasses, the right-side clip broke. I did not apply what I deemed excessive force, but obviously, I must have.


FIELD REPORT
July 24, 2007

Field Locations and Conditions:

Julbo-Big Southern Butte I have worn the Julbo Race sunglasses nearly everyday since receiving them. The first outing on which I wore the Julbo Race sunglasses was in late May 2007, on an overnighter to Lookout Mountain, in the Kelly Canyon area, which is approximately 36 mi (58 km) east of Idaho Falls, ID. The elevation was approximately 6,600 ft (2,012 m) and the high temperature was in the 80s F (26 - 31 C).

I also wore these sunglasses in late May 2007 on a day hike up the Big Southern Butte, which is located approximately 23 mi (27 km) southeast of Arco, Idaho. The Big Butte rises approximately 2,500 ft (762 m) above the surrounding area. The high temperature on the Big Southern Butte was in the upper 80s F (29 - 32 C).

In early June 2007, I wore them on an overnight backpacking trip into Big Elk Creek located approximately 56 mi (90 km) southeast of Idaho Falls, ID. The trailhead begins at 5,700 ft (1,737 m) at the mouth of Big Elk Canyon. The high temperature on this backpacking trip was in the 70s F (21 - 26 C).

Later in June 2007, I also wore them on an overnight bicycle camping trip. A friend and I rode approximately 28 mi (45 km) one-way to Heise, which is east of Idaho Falls, ID at an elevation of approximately 4,998 ft (1,523 m). High temperatures were again in the 70s F (21 - 26 C).

During the last week of June, I wore them for eight consecutive days while serving as a Scoutmaster at the BSA Grand Teton Council’s Cedar Badge National Youth Leadership Training Camp. Cedar Badge is held at Treasure Mountain Scout Camp located at the base of the Teton Mountains approximately 10 mi (16 km) east of Driggs, Idaho at an elevation of approximately 6,500 ft (1,981 m). High temperatures were in the upper 90s F (35 - 37 C). I wore the Julbo Race sunglasses ever day, ten to twelve hours each day.

In mid July 2007, I wore them on a two-night car camping trip to the Alpine Campground along the Idaho / Wyoming border. This campground is near the Palisades Reservoir at approximately 5,640 ft (1,719 m). As part of this outing, I went whitewater rafting down the Hoback and wore the Julbo Race sunglasses on both trips down the river. Temperatures were very warm. Daytime high temperatures were in the upper 90s F (35 - 37 C) and I believe the overnight low temperature was in the 60s F (16 - 20 C). Julbo-Big Elk Creek Finally, since receiving the Julbo Race sunglasses to test, they have been my sunglasses of choice, wearing them nearly everyday. In addition to the outings listed above, I have worn these sunglasses to work, kicking about, and on several bicycle rides near my home in Idaho Falls, ID.

Observations:

Thus far, I am very pleased with the Julbo Race sunglasses. Though the Zebra lenses are not as dark as those I am accustomed to wearing, they work well for me most of the time. When my eyes are extremely tired, or very irritated from either sweat, dust, or both, I wish the lenses were darker. Nevertheless, the Zebra lenses are great. I am very impressed with how quickly these photochromic lenses adjust to different light conditions.

These sunglasses fit my medium-sized face quite nicely. They are neither too snug nor too loose against my head. The adjustable Parabolic Nose System also fit my nose comfortably. The earpieces extend an appropriate distance beyond my ear, not too short causing pain and not too long creating a poor fit. The geometry enables the lenses to fit close enough to my face to shield my eyes from most of the blowing dust. In addition, my generic eyewear retention device fits nicely over the ends of the earpieces and holds the Julbo Race sunglasses snugly in place when needed.

The Race sunglasses seem to block sunlight quite effectively. Because my eyes are sensitive to bright sunlight, blocking UVA, UVB, UVC and bright light is very important to me. After wearing these sunglasses for many hours, I actually look somewhat like a raccoon, only in reverse. The area around my eyes protected by the lenses has not tanned like the rest of my face. This is evidence that the Zebra lenses block the sun's harmful rays. The Zebra lenses also provide good visual acuity. The geometry of the glasses comes in to play here as well as they provide very good peripheral vision.

The lenses have yet to fog on me. This is probably the thing I have liked the most about these sunglasses. I attribute the vents at the outer edge of the lenses and the Parabolic Nose System for this. Even when I am extremely hot and sweaty, I have been able to adjust the Parabolic Nose System to prevent the lenses from fogging. The Parabolic Nose System is extremely easy to use. In fact, the first time I deployed the Parabolic Nose System, I did so using one hand as I was riding my bicycle. Because I sweat so much, at some point, the lenses become covered with sweat and dirt, which impairs my vision. I am therefore forced to stop what I am doing and clean the lenses. However, this is true with any glasses that I wear and is my lot in life.

Thus far, I have not scratched the lenses. The frames continue to keep the lenses in correct position. The earpieces continue to hold the glasses snugly to my head, even when engaging in strenuous activities.

Likes:

I really like how the Julbo Race sunglasses fit my face, how the lenses quickly change based on lighting conditions, and I like the fact that they have yet to fog up on me.

Dislikes:

The only dislike that I have thus far is the fact that Julbo did not include a microfiber cleaning cloth. Therefore, I bought my own to ensure that I do not scratch the lenses when cleaning them.

LONG-TERM REPORT
September 23, 2007

Field Locations and Conditions:

Julbo-Big Elk Creek Since submitting my Field Report in July, I have worn the Julbo Race sunglasses on three outings. The first, in late-July, was a dayhike to Table Mountain. Table Mountain is located Wyoming's Jim Bridger Wilderness. Access to the trailhead is from the west and is a little more than 10 mi (16km) east of Driggs, Idaho. This 11 mi (18 km) round trip hike includes an elevation gain of 4,000 ft (1,219 m) to the 11,106 ft (3,385 m) summit of Table Rock--as it is known by locals. Atop Table Rock, one is face to face with the Grand Teton which towers another 200 ft (61 m) above Table Rock. The weather on this late-July outing was typical for a summer day in this part of the US; sunny, hot, and the sky was virtually cloud free. Although my two teenage boys made it to the top in approximately 2.5 hrs, it took me almost 4 hrs to reach the summit. In addition to the Julbo Race sunglass, I carried a 25 lb (11 kg) daypack. When we returned to the trailhead, the thermometer in my vehicle registered in the upper 90's F (36+ C).

My second trip of the long-term test phase was a week-long backpacking trip the first week of August in the Wind River Range in the Bridger Wilderness of west-central Wyoming. We began this trip at 9,100 ft (2,774 km) from the Elkhart Park trailhead located slightly more than 16 mi (26 km) north of Pinedale, Wyoming. Over the course of the week, we covered 50 mi (80 km) with trail elevations between 10,000 ft (3,048 m) and 11,000 ft (3,353 km) above sea level. Temperatures ranged from highs in the low 80's F (27 - 29 C) to lows in the upper 40's F (4 - 7 C). Skies were partly cloudy to cloudy and we had rain four of our six days in the Winds. In addition to the Julbo Race sunglasses, I carried a 50 lb (23 kg) pack.

The final outing I was able to get in during the long-term test phase was a mid-August overnight backpack trip to Baptie Lake in the Copper Basin of central Idaho. With the weather forecast calling for thunderstorms, we debated whether or not to make this trip. Ultimately, we decided to go, and the weather cooperated on our way in. We had partly cloudy skies and the temperature was in the upper 80's F (29+ C). My pack weighed approximately 35 lb (16 kg). On the way in, We hiked approximately 4 mi (6.4 km) and gained approximately 4,000 ft (1,219 m) to our campsite. We then hiked another 0.5 mi (0.8 km) and gained another 150+ ft (46 m) as we hiked to Baptie Lake where we fished a couple of hours. When the weather became ominous, we headed for camp. We were wakened the next morning around 6:00 a.m. to thunder, lighting, hail and then rain at 10,000 ft (3,048 m). We quickly packed our gear and headed down the mountain to avoid getting caught in a lightning storm.

Observations:

Well, I finally fogged the lenses of the Julbo Race sunglasses. In fact, I did it twice during this phase of the test. The first occurred in the Wind River Range after a heavy downpour on an excursion from our second basecamp. The humidity was high, I was sweating heavily from the speed at which we were hiking and the terrain we were hiking. Although I depolyed the parabolic nose system to project the lenses slightly forward for better ventilation, the lenses fogged. This was only a minor inconvenience as I had to wipe the lenses anyway because of the sweat that had dripped down them. The second fogging occurred on my trip to Baptie Lake. Weather conditions were similar to that of the previous fogging. Rain, and thus higher humidity in the air, as we quickly made our way down the mountain. The pace we descended the mountain caused me to give off a lot of heat; I was sweating a great deal. Again, with the parabolic nose engaged, although not completely, the lenses fogged slightly. However,as before, the lenses were also covered with sweat so I had to wipe them off anyway. Not a big deal. As our pace slowed, I did not experience further fogging. To prevent fogging in the future, maybe I should deploy the parabolic nose system at the start of a hike rather than waiting until I give off so much heat.

On each of the outings during this part of the test, I wore an eyewear retention device. Even with the retention device gripping the ends of the earpieces, the sunglasses stayed in place. And, with the retention device snugged up to my head, I did not have to worry about losing the sunglasses as I bent over to cook, wash dishes, or filter water.

Likes:

  • lightweight
  • photochromic lenses
  • wide field of vision
  • vents at outer-edge of each lens
  • parabolic nose system
  • stylish appearance

Dislikes:

  • no cleaning cloth included
  • means of attaching the accompanying retention strap (I broke the attachment in my initial testing)

Summary:

I really like these sunglasses. The Race's geometry provides a wide field of vision. In addition, the geometry and wrap design help protect my eyes from the wind and dust. I also like the anti-fogging properties of the lenses. Only under fairly extreme conditions was I able to fog the lenses and that only happed twice during the four-month test period. The photochromic lenses change quickly to different lighting conditions and provide excellent visual clarity. However, there are times when I prefer a darker lens than Julbo's Zebra®. Based on the information on its website, Julbo's Cameleon® Polarizing and Photochromic lenses appear in line with my preference.

These sunglasses are still in great shape, especially since I have worn them nearly every day since receiving them. The hinges and parabolic nose system continue to operate smoothly, yet remain stiff enough to keep the glasses in place. And, the elastomer anti-shock insert, grips, and accents show no signs of wear or tear. Because of the direction to "take care not to scratch the lenses" in the accompanying users manual, I was a bit concerned about the durability of the lenses. I have taken great care to use soap and water and a fluffy bath towel to clean the lenses at home and a microfiber cloth (and water when necessary) to clean them in the field. Consequently, there are no scratches or swirls in the lenses. With proper care, there is no need to be overly cautious with these lenses.

I highly recommend the Julbo - Speed Series - Race sunglasses to anyone interested in a quality pair of sunglasses to wear while participating in any high-energy activity.


This concludes my test series. Thanks to Julbo and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test the Speed Series - Race sunglasses.

ADDENDUM
September 15, 2008

Not quite a year after receiving these glasses to test, I lost the elastomer grip for the left ear piece. So, I sent an email to info@julbousa.com inquiring whether the ear grips were covered by Julbo's warranty. After about six weeks with no response, I sent another email. This time I received a response stating that if I would let them know the color of ear grip, they would put one in the mail. While waiting from the replacement, I lost the grip off the right ear piece. Approximately one week after Julbo said they would send a replacement I received two left ear grips. I sent another email requesting a right ear grip and they promptly sent me two right ear grips. So I have a complete set and a replacement set. The gentelman I dealt with was very easy to work with and responded promptly as he said he would. Kudos to Julbo.

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