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Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Julbo Run Sunglasses > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

JULBO RUN SUNGLASSES


Initial Report - October 30, 2008
Field Report - January 12, 2009
Long Term Report - March 10, 2009



Tester Information:
 
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  51
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  170 lb (77 kg)
E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking four years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’, hiking and backpacking mainly in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but have started a project to section hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), accruing a little over 200 mi (300 km) in the last two years.  My usual shelter is a hammock, but occasionally I use a tent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist and I try to cut as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.


Initial Report - October 30, 2008


Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Julbo
Year of manufacture:  2008
Model:  Run
Color:  black/blue
Lenses:  Zebra

 
Advertised weight:  not available
  Measured weight:
Glasses: 40 g (1.4 oz)
Case:  64 g (2.3 oz)

  Website: http://www.julbousa.com/
MSRP:  US$ 160.00
Julbo Runs in case

Product Description:

The Run model sunglasses are part of Julbo's 'Speed' line.  The manufacturer describes them as being "developed with the input of professional runners and mountain bike riders", "light and aerodynamic - with the strength to handle your speed on the trail".

I will certainly agree they are light and aerodynamic appearing.  The lenses curve inward from the nose to the side of the temple and offer a great range of vision - much more than the normal more or less straight in front of the face style sunglasses I typically wear.  They appear much as I expected from the website, other than I could not view the blue color from the photos currently on the Julbo website. 

The shiny black frames have a somewhat squared off appearance, with the front dipping slightly at the top and more at the bottom in the temple area.  They measure close to 1.75 in (4.5 cm) high at the center of the lens section, and about 5.5 in (14 cm) from temple to temple.  The sunglasses curve dramatically which is especially noticeable when they are folded, measuring about 2.5 in (6.5 cm) from the center of the nose piece to the outside of the folded earpieces.

Partially unfolded to show detail

The front piece of the frames come to a v-shaped point in the hinge area and the earpieces have a corresponding inverted v-shape.  This is a very interesting shape to me since I am used to a more or less straight hinged area in my sunglasses.  I wonder if the unusual shape will help provide stability and keep the Run's from coming apart at the hinge, which I commonly find happens in inexpensive sunglasses.  The earpieces are nearly an inch (2.5 cm) wide at the temple and taper slightly back for about 1.75 in (4.5 cm) then taper sharply at the bottom to a width of around 0.5 in (1.3 cm) getting a little narrower in the area that goes over my ear and then widening a bit behind the ear.  The actual hinge that connects the earpieces to the front is only about 0.25 in (0.6 cm) wide and fits into a recess in the front of the frames.  The hinge is held by a small screw in the bottom, which seems unusual to me as I am used to my sunglass hinges having the screw at the top.

Inside right temple showing serial number

The earpieces have a 3 in (7.6 cm) long section of bright sky blue rubbery cushioning along the underside and lower inside of the ear section.  The same material cushions the inside of the nose bridge.  The bright blue color was a little jarring to me when I first saw the sunglasses, but the way it is positioned it is not very noticeable when the sunglasses are worn.  The Julbo logo in silver-colored metal is inset into the outside of each earpiece near the temple.  The Julbo name and logo are embossed on the inside of the right earpiece with a serial number and the country of manufacture (France) printed in white lettering above the embossing.  The letters 'CE' are embossed on the inside of the left temple and the model name 'Run' is imprinted in stylized grayish white writing above and slightly left of the embossing.

Front view of Julbo Run sunglassesI am testing the Zebra photochromic lenses, which have a slightly iridescent look to them and are a yellowish smoke color.  The word Zebra is imprinted in grayish white in the upper left corner of the left lens.  The Zebra lenses lighten and darken according to the intensity of the light they are being worn in and according to Julbo "can change from a light transmission rate of 40.7% to just 6.6%".  According to Julbo they change from category 2 to category 4 relatively quickly, up to 50% of capacity in just 28 seconds.  The lenses also have an anti-fog coating, integrated via laser.



Julbo has a good bit of interesting information on their various lenses available on their website.  The Zebra model is primarily recommended for mountain biking, cross-country walking, running, and climbing.  According to the website all of their lenses offer 100% protection against UVA, B, & C radiation.  Listed advantages of the Zebra lenses are "High definition vision, superior optical quality, optimum transparency; light and unbreakable; lasting strength and resistance to solvents".  The Zebra lenses are constructed of NXT material and the website also provides some interesting material on the standards in testing this material meets, including resisting impact from a dropped projectile and a steel ball bearing traveling at velocity.  I won't go into details here as this material can be read on their website, however suffice it to say I am fairly assured these lenses won't shatter from any impact I am likely to encounter.  They are also have a lifetime guarantee against breakage.

The Run sunglasses came in a light weight grey plastic case that is shaped rather like a creme flip - thicker in the center, curved on the side that opens, and relatively straight on the hinged side, and with rounded ends.  The case is translucent on the top and opaque on the bottom.  The bottom has a layer of mesh foam for the glasses to rest on, and a soft felt like material in a sunglass shape lines the outer edge, providing a soft material for the lenses to lay against.  The case is quite a bit larger than normal glass cases to accommodate the curved shape of the Run sunglasses.

Trying them out:

View of inside of Julbo RunMy first concern about the Julbo Run sunglasses was whether they would fit well.  After taking them out of the case and unfolding them, I was happy to find that they are sized perfectly for my face.  I haven't yet let anyone else try them on, so I'm not sure if this is merely a happy coincidence or whether the slight flex that the Runs have enables them to fit a wide variety of face sizes.  I suspect it may be the latter, but I'll probably let a few friends try them on later and see if they fit them well also.

I was immediately struck by just how comfortable these sunglasses feel.  The rubbery sections at the nose and earpieces feel soft against these pressure points, and the temples fit firmly without being tight or constricting.

In addition to the case, the Runs came with a couple of informational brochures, printed in several languages.  One explains the NXT material and that it was developed for military use as a bulletproof material.  It's unclear to me whether the Zebra lenses are bulletproof or merely that the material, in some configurations (i.e. depending on formulation and thickness) can be bulletproof.  I don't think I'll be shooting the sunglasses to check this out - I think that is well beyond the scope of testing for backpacking use!

A second, slightly larger brochure gives information on the standards that the sunglasses comply with and lists them as "sunglasses for general use" and warns that they are not safe for direct solar viewing.  It also gives information on category ratings and the appropriate use for each category.  The Zebra lens is variable, going from Category 2 (use in average sunlight) to Category 4 (exceptionally strong sunlight - not suitable for drivers and road users).  At first this made me wonder if the Run sunglasses with Zebra lenses should be used for driving, however due to the way it is made and the fact that my Jeep Grand Cherokee has tinted windows, it seems they should be fine as the lenses should mainly be more lightly tinted as I am driving.  Based on this, I gave them a try on a few short trips, and have find I really like driving in them.  They are more lightly tinted than my old sunglasses and I can see the road and peripheral areas along the road more clearly.  The wide, curved lenses open up a large field of vision and they are distortion free.  Everything looks very clear, and so far, glare-free.

Information on cleaning and storing the sunglasses is included in the larger brochure.  The sunglasses can be washed in soapy water, rinsed, and dried with a soft cloth.  They should be kept free from scratches to maintain quality.  I'm pretty happy that Julbo included such a nice storage case as it will be a lot easier to keep the sunglasses away from items that might damage them.

I also have worn the Julbo Run sunglasses on a short hiking trip of about 3 mi (5 km) with a good friend and her granddaughter.  It was a fairly sunny day, but we kept hiking in and out of tree cover.  I found the Runs very comfortable to wear and they provided ample protection in the sunny open field and yet changed to a light enough protection level in the shaded areas that I was still able to see clearly.  The sunglasses stayed in place on my face quite well.  The hike included a lot of ups and downs, but with my friend's granddaughter to think about, we took it at a pretty easy pace and rested a lot, so we did not build up a lot of sweat.  It will be interesting to see if they stay in place as well on a faster, harder hike.  I found the sunglasses were comfortable enough to wear almost the whole hike.  I pushed them up into my hair a few times, more from habit than anything else, as I am used to needing to push my old sunglasses out of the way in shady areas in order to see clearly.  Each time I noticed what I had inadvertently done, I put them back in place and found I could still see just as well.

Preliminary Impressions:

So far I am very pleased with the Julbo Run sunglasses.  I like the way the wide lenses provide good distortion free vision even in the peripheral area, their light weight, and the way the lenses vary from light protection to heavier protection based on changing light levels.  They are comfortable to wear and fit well.  I did not observe any flaws or irregularities and they appear to be of good quality materials and design.

The included case is a little large and takes up quite a bit of room in my purse, but provides an easy and convenient way to carry them in a protected manner and I am pleased it was included with the sunglasses.  It is an excellent fit for the Runs, and will save me the hassle of trying to find an appropriately sized and shaped case.

More to come:

I look forward to testing the Julbo Run sunglasses as fall turns to winter and the leafy deciduous forests I often hike in turn bare and allow in more sunlight.  It will be interesting to see how they protect in various light conditions, on more strenuous hikes, and in wet or snowy conditions.  I'll be monitoring how well the photochromic lenses adapt as I move from different environs, how well the anti-fog coating works in cold weather, and how well the sunglasses stay in place with more rigorous activity.

Field Report - January 12, 2009

Field Conditions:

In late October I the Julbo Run sunglasses on a 6 mi (9.5 km) backpacking trip on part of the Kanawha Trace Trail.  The trail varied from a wide grassy and gently sloping path though open meadows to rocky, root-filled dirt single track under a hardwood forest, with some steep ascents and descents.  Temperatures were in the high 40 F (9 C) range during the day, falling into the high 30 F (4 C) range during the night.  Weather conditions were partly sunny with intermittent overcast periods.

In mid-November I wore the Run sunglasses on a 24 mi (39 km) 2-day hike of the North Fork Mountain Trail in eastern West Virginia.  Since the mid-point of the hike was accessible by automobile and there is no water source on this trail, this was broken up into two day hikes with a base camp in the middle.  Temperatures ranged from 30 to 50 F (-1 to 10 C), and there were intermittent breezy gusts.  The trail was fairly varied, with some section of relatively smooth dirt and others with a lot of rocks and roots, and several hundred feet (a few hundred meters) of elevation gain and loss.  Most of the trail was through hardwood forest, with most of the leaves having already fallen for the season.  The sky was mostly overcast both days.

Wearing the Run sunglasses in the Big Schloss areaIn mid-December I wore the Run sunglasses in the Wolf Gap/Big Schloss area along the border of Virginia and West Virginia on an overnight backpacking trip of approximately 9 mi (14 km), with almost 7 mi (11 km) of that being the first day.  It was definitely a frosty trip, with temperatures hovering just above freezing during the day and falling to around 20 F (-7 C) during the night. The trail was mainly rocky, and elevation gain and loss was several hundred feet (a few hundred meters).  The trees were coated in ice, and conditions were very damp and humid.  The icicles visible in the background of the photo to the right were common along the trail on this trip.

I have also worn them on four additional short day hikes of approximately 3 mi (5 km) on either trails or old semi-maintained county roads near home in western West Virginia, with elevation gain/loss of a few hundred feet (around 100 meters).  All of these hikes involved bright sunny conditions.

I've also continued to use the Run sunglasses successfully for driving.  Since my job involves a lot of short travel, I would estimate I've worn them approximately 50 hours of driving time.

Use and Conclusions:

On the Kanawha Trace trail overnight I wore the Run sunglasses nearing the entire time I was hiking.  For the most part they stayed clear, but I did have trouble with them fogging up when we stopped near the top of some climbs for short breathers.  A quick wipe on my shirt tail cleared the moisture up for the most part, and when I was actively hiking they did not fog up.  The sunglasses were very comfortable to wear, and stayed in place well.  Although I couldn't tell the lenses were adjusting to the differing amounts of sunlight as the skies either clouded over or cleared, my vision was always clear and my eyes never felt strained or overly shaded.

On the North Fork Mountain trail, I wore the sunglasses for most of the hike, but put them away in a case inside my daypack for parts of my hike since it was so overcast that my vision was actually more comfortable without the sunglasses on than with them, especially when I was taking in some of the fabulous long distance views offered along this trail.  Much of the hike had either a light breeze or gusty wind, and I did not have any trouble with the Run sunglasses fogging.

On the Wolf Gap/Big Schloss trip I had a lot of trouble with the Run sunglasses fogging up, and it was so damp that it was difficult to keep them wiped clean.   The one really good thing about wearing the sunglasses on this trip is that there were a lot of ice covered branches across the trail, and the Run sunglasses helped protect my eyes from being poked or scratched by the overhanging branches.  Finally however, about 3 mi (5 km) into the trip I got annoyed enough at the fogging and moisture on the sunglasses that I put them in their case and tucked them away in the hip belt pocket of my GoLite Quest pack.

I am a little disappointed that the glasses have fogged as much as they have, however they do seem to do better for the most part than other sunglasses I've worn.  Most of the time that I experienced fogging was during breaks from strenuous uphill hiking, although they fogged more often on the December trips when trail conditions were so damp and humid.

I've been really pleased with the fit.  Even when I was sweaty, and in the damp conditions on the Wolf Gap/Big Schloss trip the glasses stayed in place very well.  They've also been very comfortable.  I'm particularly pleased with the ear pieces.  I've often had other ear pieces that irritated me after wearing them for some time, but I've never experienced this with the Run sunglasses, even when I've worn them continuously for several hours.

I also like how the lenses adjust to be comfortable in lower light levels and in brighter sunlight.  The transition has never been noticeable, but my vision has always stayed comfortable.  My vision seems to be a little brighter and clearer than with other sunglasses I've used under all of the conditions I've used them in.

They've also performed quite well for driving.  This may be due to the tinted windows of my Jeep which keep the glasses at a lighter level than in direct sunlight.

The provided case has been very handy, although I had a bit of trouble opening it on my December trip.  I think the closure got overly compressed in my hipbelt pocket and the bottom of the case slid in too far past the little tab that normally stops it.  This was compounded by my cold fumble-fingered hands and it took a few tries to get it open.  I have not had that experience either before or after this trip, so hopefully it was a fluke.  I like the way the case protects the sunglasses, and so far I have not noticed any scratches on the lenses or the frames.  I am typically hard on sunglasses and scratch them up within a few weeks, so I'm very pleased with both the durability of the lenses and the protective properties of the case.

Summary:

Although the anti-fog coating of the Run sunglasses has been less than optimal in my experience, overall I am happy with the performance of these sunglasses.  The fit has been very good; snug enough to stay in place and comfortable enough that I can wear them several hours in total comfort.

They seem to be a good all-around sunglass for me for all purposes, since I've been able to use them quite comfortably for driving as well as for hiking.

Long Term Report - March 10, 2009

Since January I have primarily worn the Julbo Run sunglasses on a series of short day hikes.  These have included approximately eight 3-5 mi (5-8 km) hikes in a variety of conditions ranging from around 20 - 60 F (7 - 16 C), in sunshine, light rain, and light to heavy snow.  The trails have primarily been either single track rock and root strewn hardwood forest trails or semi-maintained one lane dirt county roads.  Since there is no leaf cover this time of year, whenever the sun was out it was very bright.

On one hike in the Kanawha State Forest, I experienced a wide mixture of conditions from bright glaring sun to wind lashed snow in the same trip.  On a trip to Charles Fork lake the skies were a mix of overcast, bright sun, and light rain near the end of the hike.  On most other trips the skies were a mix of cloudy overcast sections interspersed with periods of bright sunshine.

I've also worn the Julbo Run sunglasses approximately 40 days while driving, often for several hours at a stretch.  I would estimate I've worn the Sunglasses an additional 80 hours of drive time, and around 12 hours hiking time.

Use and Conclusions:

Wearing the Run glasses on a wintry dayThe sunglasses have continued to perform very well for the most part.  They have always stayed in place on my face quite well, and I always felt the lenses provided a comfortable level of protection for the light levels.  The changing levels of the photochromic lenses are not noticeable, but it is obvious that they do change because they do not seem too dark in dim conditions, yet are protective enough for brighter conditions.  They have continued to be equally as suitable for me for driving as for hiking, although driving is not a use that the manufacturer suggests for this model.

The only real problem I have continued to experience is that they do fog up during periods of heavy activity in colder conditions.  This is most noticeable in sub-freezing and humid weather when it gets pretty annoying, with moderate fogging occurring part way up most steep uphill sections and obscuring my vision until I stop and wipe the glasses.  Under these conditions I have often found I have to wipe the glasses repeatedly every 5 to 10 minutes, until a leveler section with lighter activity occurs.  The photo to the right is during a humid and snowy hike in the Kanawha State Forest, when I experienced a good bit of fogging.  Under drier cold conditions the fogging is generally lighter and occurs primarily when stopped after an uphill section, and is usually manageable by merely moving on and letting the natural wind movement clear the fog.

Under humid conditions the fog actually seems worse than other glasses I have worn.  I think this is because of the way the lenses and frames wrap more around the edges of my face than the more open glasses with smaller ear pieces that I normally wear. 

However I noted one real positive that I had not thought about previously on one hike at Charles Fork Lake on a 20 F (7 C) day with light winds.   The  way the glasses fit, they really provide a lot of warmth for my face in cold windy conditions.  My face was a lot warmer when I was wearing the glasses than when I pushed them up to the top of my head or removed them.  I also noticed this effect on several other hikes. 

A few of the trails I have hiked lately could have used some trail maintenance, and the glasses have also come in handy as eye protection on these overgrown trails, preventing encounters with stray eye-level tree branches on more than one occasion.

Until the last week, the glasses remained clear and scratch free.  A few days ago, I stuffed them in my jacket pocket instead of the case when I took them off to go indoors, and I forgot about them being there as I drove home.  When I got out of my car, the sunglasses fell out onto the gravel driveway and ended up with a very small scratch.  Unfortunately it is in very noticeable area and it is now slightly annoying when I wear them.  Still, I feel that the durability has been very good, since I normally am very hard on sunglasses scratching them up within a week or two (which is why I normally buy inexpensive models).

I continue to really like the light weight of these sunglasses, although I've had a few minutes of panic thinking I had lost them somewhere because the case felt empty when in fact the sunglasses were inside - I just could not tell from the weight.  Another thing I really like is the provided case.  It's very good protection for the light weight, and convenient to use.  The only downside to the case is that it is a little bulky and barely fits inside my GoLite Quest hipbelt pockets.

Summary:

Overall I am very happy with the performance of the Julbo Run sunglasses.  I definitely plan to use them in the future, although I am thinking of contacting the manufacturer to see if the small scratch can either be buffed out, or the scratched lens replaced as the scratch is in a somewhat annoying spot slightly to the left and below the pupil of my right eye.  I can't fault the glasses for the scratch as it came from not putting them away safely.

The fit has been excellent, the glasses stay in place very well, and they are comfortable enough to wear for several hours at a time without experiencing discomfort or pressure spots.  The fogging I experienced has been annoying at times, but not much more than with other sunglasses that don't provide the wider range of vision and greater side protection of the Run models, and it seems to be prevalent only under certain conditions.

For me they have worked extremely well as good all around sunglasses, and I will definitely take a look at Julbo products when it comes time to buy another set of sunglasses.

This concludes the test series.

Thanks to Julbo and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Run sunglasses.


Read more reviews of Julbo gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Julbo Run Sunglasses > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



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