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Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Julbo Trail Sunglasses > Test Report by Derek Hansen

Julbo Trail Sunglasses

Test Series by Derek Hansen

Julbo Packaging Image


NameDerek Hansen
Height5’ 10” (1.78 m)
Weight165 lb (75 kg)
Email Address derek·dot·hansen·at·mac (without cheese)·dot·com
City, State, CountryAlexandria, Virginia, USA


I began serious backpacking in 2005 after becoming a Scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout troop in Virginia. Our new troop started off base camping and now we integrate hiking and backpacking into all our trips. I’m out with the Scouts every month throughout the year, plus a few personal adventures in-between with family or friends. I am a lightweight backpacker, with a base weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and have nearly frozen myself on more than one occasion because I insist on using a hammock year-round.


Manufacturer Julbo, Inc.
Year of Manufacture 2008
Manufacturer’s Website
MSRP US$150.00
Listed Weight 1 oz (28 g)
Measured Weight 0.95 oz (27 g)
Lens Panoramic, flexible lens with anti-fog treatment and graduating tint (Photochromic) (3–43% transmission rate for visible light)
Radiation Protection 100% protection against UV-A, -B and -C radiation
Manufacturer Recommended Uses Mountain biking, cross-country walking and running and climbing
Packed Size (in case) 7 × 3.5 × 3 in (18 × 9 × 8 cm)
Color “Mocha” (product comes in “Black,” “White,” and “Mocha”)


14 Sep 2008


Julbo Trail Sunglasses

The Julbo Trail Sunglasses (hereafter referred to as Julbo or sunglasses) were shipped with a protective, zippered case. Inside the case were the glasses, an “elasticized extra-flat cord” (attached to the glasses), a Julbo product card for the frame (printed in multiple languages), and a product card from NXT for the lenses (also printed in multiple languages). The sunglasses are a product of France.

Flexible Frames and Lenses

The product frame and lenses are very flexible. The lens manufacturer explains that the lenses are covered with a “lifetime guarantee against breakage,” but warn “while the lenses…are virtually unbreakable, this eye-wear may not be designed to be safety eye-wear and should not be considered a permanent shield against eye injury.” In fact, the Julbo markets this particular style of sunglasses “for mountain biking, cross-country walking and running and climbing.”

Photochromatic lenses

The sunglasses feature Julbo’s “Zebra” photochromic lenses from NXT that will darken when exposed to sunlight. The sunglasses are rated to change from a category 2 (“average sunlight”) to category 4 (“exceptionally strong sunlight; not suitable for drivers and road users”). The lenses are also panoramic and cover an “extra-wide field of view.” The lenses are not polarized, but do offer 100% protection against UVA, B and C radiation.

According to Julbo, the NXT lenses “in standard thickness meet the impact requirement defined by the ANSI Z87.1 standard for industrial application.” Julbo states that these lenses are in compliance with S7. High Mass Impact, and S7. High Velocity Impact. More information about the lens impact information is available on the Julbo website: .

Measurements: front-to-back - 6.75 in, 17 cm; at temple, left-to-right - 5 in, 13 cm, at ear, left-to-right 3.5 in, 9 cm


Sunglasses with a big strap
The sunglasses came with a holding strap. You can remove the strap by pulling on the elastomer insert (indicated by the arrow). The strap will pop out, leaving a tear-drop shaped hole.

The Julbo Trail Sunglasses are light! At under an ounce (0.95 oz or 27 g measured), I can barely feel them on my face. The glasses were attached to a strap when I first opened the zippered case. I wasn’t expecting the sunglasses to come with a strap, and my first thought was to remove the strap. It had the appearance of heavy-duty racquetball protective glasses, but the straps were attached to the sides of the frame, by the temple, which was different than I’ve seen before. Other glasses I’ve used (for racquetball, for example) connect the strap to the end of the frame, by the ear, instead of the temple. When I tried the glasses with the strap, the strap went around the outside my ear, which was uncomfortable. I tried swinging the strap over my head, but it pulled the frame too tight against my eye ducts. For now, I decided to remove the strap because it was uncomfortable and distracting.

Wearing the glasses
The rubberized ear pieces and nose bridge help make a comfortable fit. There are two serviceable screws near the nose bridge where the lenses and bridge are secured to the frame (indicated by the arrows). I used a model for this photo.

There are three rubberized points on the glasses: the nose pads, on the temples near the hinges, and on the back of the frame for the ear pieces. The nose bridge is flexible for an adjustable fit. When I first put on the sunglasses without the strap, they weren’t very tight against the side of my head. I am not sure how well the sunglasses will stay on my head, but this will be something I will look at through the testing period.

In a walk outside, I took photos after the product was exposed to the sunlight. I noticed where one lens was not completely exposed to the sun (a shadow from the frame) I could see a difference in lens tint. The change was subtle enough that I didn’t really notice it, but the photos later revealed the marked difference in color. I like the amber lenses as it brings out the color in the trees and foliage.

My first trial run with the sunglasses was a 20-mile bike commute to work. The sunglasses stayed on my noggin the entire trip! The “frameless” lenses were nice, and they provided great coverage around my peripheral vision and helped to block the wind. I also noticed the frame rested off my forehead. Another pair of sunglasses I own rests against my forehead and directs the sweat off my eyebrows onto the lenses. The Julbo Trail Sunglasses didn’t have that issue at all.

I am really looking forward to taking these sunglasses on my upcoming trips this Fall and Winter.


This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be appended to this report in about two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for more information.


27 Nov 2008


In addition to the backpacking trips listed below, I've used the glasses on supplemental activities including a few bicycle commutes to work (20 mi/32 km round trip); cheering kids at soccer games; and jogging around the neighborhood (3 mi/5 km).

26–27 Sep 2008: Appalachian Trail (AT), near Bluemont, Virginia. Drizzly rain and thick fog with an overnight temperature of 55 F (13 C). The next day was clear and warm with high about 75 F (24 C). This section of the AT was very rocky with several “pointless ups and downs” (PUDS) earning the moniker, “the roller-coaster.”

10–11 Oct 2008: George Washington National Forest, near Front Royal, Virginia. This was a beautiful day with a high of 74 F (23 C) and 45 F (7 C) for the low. I took the day off on Friday and took a friend backpacking.

17–18 Oct 2008: Alexandria, Virginia. Fall Camporee for the troop was all about Dutch oven cooking. The park we camped at was just an open field, so I slept under a tarp, with overnight lows around 40 F (4 C) and highs the next day around 70 F (21 C) with wind gusts from the North. While other troops were driving in with trailers, our troop backpacked into the park with very little trouble.

26 Oct 2008: Bull Run/Occoquan Trail, near Fountainhead Regional Park, Virginia. This was a family hike along one of my favorite local trails. Temperatures hovered around 60 F (16 C).

21–22 Nov 2008: Prince William Forest Park, near Dumfries, Virginia. Clear and very cold conditions with a low of 15 F (-9 C) and a high of 42 F (6 C). Had some brand-new Scouts with us and we did a hike around the park.


Self portrait while hiking in the George Washington National Forest.

Self portrait while hiking in the George Washington National Forest.

Relaxing in my hammock with the Julbo Trail Sunglasses.

Relaxing in my hammock with the Julbo Trail Sunglasses.

Along the Appalachian Trail the light from the canopy created patches of strong light and areas of intense shadows. Having the sunglasses helped mitigate between the extremes, but there were a few times I took the glasses off when the sunlight was not an issue. I just put the glasses on my forehead and then dropped them down when I needed them. The frames are so light that at times I almost forgot I had them on my head.

In fact, while with my friend hiking in the George Washington National Forest, as we were cleaning up from lunch, I asked in a panic where my sunglasses had gone. He laughed and pointed at my head where they had been resting for some time. The sunglasses were a great help while on this trial in the National Forest. Both days were hot and clear with lots of sun. The trail was very open and exposed on the first few miles and I was very happy to have the protection from the sunlight.

The amber tint of the sunglasses is nice, but it doesn’t do much for really bright direct glare from the sun. So far, all of my field testing has been under the tree canopy and I think my eyes were more adjusted to the lower ambient light. I would like to try these glasses on a more open trail to see how they work under brighter ambient light.

I’ve not been able to really tell when the lenses change their tint, but the photographs prove it works. I think this is a good thing because my eyes do not feel strained or make not of the change.

The sunglasses also have great peripheral protection. I’ve noticed that my field of vision is not obstructed by the frames or the lenses. The sunglasses really “disappear” both in terms of weight and field of vision. There is no noticeable distortion to my vision.


I’ve really enjoyed the Julbo Trail Sunglasses these past months. They are light and flexible and I hardly feel them on my head. Because the frames are so flexible, I have often felt like they would fall off my head, but I am happy to report that they have stayed in place without much fuss.


02 Feb 2009


Just starting the Bull Run Occoquan Trail

Just starting the Bull Run Occoquan Trail in Virginia.

Taking a photo break in the Pine Valley Wilderness

Taking a photo break in the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness.

28 Nov 2008: Pohick Bay Regional Park, Virginia. Deciduous forest with pine and holly intermixed. Elevation 500 ft (152 m). Temperature was a reasonable 40 F (7 C) with slight wind. This was a 4-mile (6 km) day hike with the family.

27 Dec 2008: Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness, north of St. George, Utah. Clear and cold conditions with about two feet (61 cm) of snow on the ground. I was going to attempt an overnight camp, but I wasn’t prepared for the deep snow (no snowshoes!), so this solo expedition (I was determined!) turned into a painful 6-mile (10 km) slog. The temperature hovered around 40 F (7 C) with a slight wind. The rough mountain landscape was punctuated with red cliff faces, juniper, pine, and cedar trees. Elevation was 4,500 ft (1,372 m).

14 Jan 2009: Bull Run Occoquan Trail, Virginia. I had a lot of free time in January, so I hiked 14 miles (22.5 k) of the BROT from Fountainhead Regional Park. Elevation was from sea level to about 500 ft (152 m). Deciduous forest with occasional pine and holly trees. This is a beautiful trail with lots of stream crossings and ample water. The trail was clear, which made hiking easy, but temperatures remained around 25 F (-4 C) during the hike with cooler wind gusts.

31 Jan 2009: Centennial Trail, Flagstaff, Arizona. Trail running in the Coconino National Forest. Bristlecone Pine forest at 7000 ft (2134 m) with rocky elevations with patches of snow on the ground. The temperature was 16 F (-9 C) with dry air and bright, harsh sunlight.

Including the above field locations, I have used the Julbo sunglasses almost daily in a variety of activities.


The skies were partly cloudy during my family hike in Pohick Bay and so I often removed the glasses because they weren’t really needed. Sometimes, even with the lowest tint setting, I like the amber color of the glasses and how the lenses enhance the scenery. However, on this hike, I simply preferred the glasses off. I normally wrap the glasses in a bandana to keep from scratching the lenses.

During my trip to Utah, I was very grateful to have the glasses. The sunlight reflecting off the snow was blinding, but the glasses really helped. In fact, after I looked at the photos I took of myself after the trip, I was surprised at how dark the glasses turned. I don’t think I really noticed them get that dark before, but I imagine with the higher elevation, brighter light, and UV radiation, the glasses were working overtime. The glasses really worked to cut down the glare, but I did notice some distortion as I glanced up to the top of the lenses. At first it was my peripheral vision playing tricks on me: I thought I saw birds ruffling branches, but I finally realized that the lenses were just bending the light a little causing refraction. I had never noticed this before until this hike, but now I see this distortion often. It isn’t terrible; it is only at the top portion of the lenses and mostly outside my regular field of vision.

Back in Virginia on the Bull Run trail, I again noticed how dark the lenses turned. The trail was thicker with trees than in Utah, but the harsh light still made its way down. During this hike I had a balaclava around my head and neck and the sunglasses wrapped around the outside of the material. With the flexible lenses, I hardly noticed a change in pressure on my temples, and I had no worries that the glasses would stay on my head from previous experiences.

Going trail running in Flagstaff, Arizona was a real treat, and I was again very grateful to have the Julbo Trail Sunglasses with me. The light was harsh but the glasses turned very dark and worked well. I was wearing a balaclava again, but this time my chin and mouth were often covered, sending breath moisture up into my glasses. This is one of the few times I noticed fogging in my glasses and I had to make some adjustments during my run to clear the steam off the lenses. Minor fogging wasn’t a problem because the air circulation usually took care of it. However, when my balaclava was adjusted differently, sending moisture repeatedly onto the glasses, I had to wipe the lenses clean by hand.


I love the Julbo Trail Sunglasses! They are light, flexible, and do a great job protecting my eyes from the sun. I think the glasses look good and I expect to use them often in the future.


  1. Lightweight!
  2. Flexible, but tight enough to stay on my head
  3. Variable tint feature works well


  1. I was turned off by the large (and unattractive) head strap that came with the glasses. I never used them and I hope I never will. RIP.

I would like to thank Julbo and for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.

Read more gear reviews by Derek Hansen

Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Julbo Trail Sunglasses > Test Report by Derek Hansen

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