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Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Julbo Trail Sunglasses > Test Report by Josh Cormier
Julbo Trail Sunglasses
Tester series by Josh Cormier
Initial report: 24-Sept-08
Field report: 2-Dec-08
Long term report: 3-Feb-09
I joined the Boy Scouts when I was 11 and have been camping and backpacking ever since. I like to do challenging trips ranging from week long to weekend in mountainous areas. I would classify my gear as mid weight although now I am trying to move more toward lightweight. I now go backpacking at least once a year in the Sierra Nevada Mountains as well as monthly car camping trips with the Scouts.
Product Information: (information taken from Julbo website)
- Manufacture: Julbo
- Manufactures web site: http://www.julbousa.com
- Item Description: Julbo Trail Glasses
- Frame Color: White + Red Elastomer shock absorbing inserts
- Lenses: Zebra - NXT + Photochromic 2-4 + Antifog
- Frames: Material not listed
- Listed Weight: 1 oz (28.4 g)
- Measured Weight: 0.98 oz (27.8 g)
- Year of Manufacture: 2008
- MSRP: $150.00 USD
- Item Received: 17-Sept-08
Initial Report - 24-Sept-08
I received the trail sunglasses in a large padded case. On opening the case I found the Julbo Trail sunglasses, an information booklet on the NXT material that makes up the lenses, and the instruction booklet for the glasses. I was hoping to receive the black color for testing but instead received the white model that looked exactly like the picture of the white model on the website. The glasses came with a strap that is fastened to the frames and will keep the glasses around my neck if they fall off my head. I immediately removed the keeper strap from the frames and should note that the removal process was not covered in the instruction manual.
The frames feel like a high quality flexible plastic and can be bent and tweaked without misshaping the glasses. The nose-bridge, temples and legs have Elastomer shock absorbing inserts to provide comfort and hold. These inserts are red colored and set off the white frames well. The website does not state what the frames are made of but with the glasses weighing in at only an ounce it must be light weight. The lenses are attached to the frames just above the nose piece. This allows the frames to flex without moving the lenses too much.
The lenses are made of a material called NXT which, according to the manufacturer has: high definition vision, superior optical quality, optimum transparency; light and unbreakable; lasting strength and resistance to solvents. This material is flexible, and in standard thickness meets the impact requirement defined by the ANSI Z87.1 standard for industrial application. The Trail sunglasses use this material and add some other features calling the finished lenses, Zebra Photochromic lenses. The Zebra lenses are photochromic meaning they darken or lighten depending of their exposure to the sun. The lenses can go from protection category 2 in low intensity light situations to protection category 4 in depending on the light intensity. Protection category 4 is not recommended for use while driving as it only allows 3 to 8% of the visible light in. The lenses are also tinted a light amber color allowing for good contrast and depth perception.
The protection category scale is as follows:
Image taken from Julbo website
Aside from the protection category, the Julbo website states that “All Julbo lenses are optical category 1, guaranteeing 100% protection against UVA, B and C radiation”.
The lenses also have an antifog coating that is integrated onto the interior of the lenses during manufacturing using a laser. This is supposed to make the antifog coating last longer and work better. In addition to the antifog coating to reduce fogging, the lenses are not attached to the frame on top outsides or bottom. This allows air to flow freely around both sides of the lens. The nose pieces are positioned to hold the lenses from coming to close to my face/eyes; this allows a thermal cushion between the heat from my face/eyes and the temperature of the lenses.
My first impression when I put the glasses on was, WOW! These glasses make everything look sharp. The amber tint really made a difference in depth perception and contrast. When I first put them on, it was an immediate and impressive difference to no sunglasses.
The panoramic lenses provide me a large field of vision and minimal interference from the glass frames or edges. I did notice that where the lenses are fastened to the frames, there is a small visual distortion in the lens. This is only visible close to the frames and does not affect my vision through the lenses. I wore these glasses several times both walking outside and driving. They seemed to provide me clear vision and sufficient sun protection for my blue eyes.
The glasses fit my face pretty well, and wrap securely around my head. The glasses are comfortable to wear and only offer me one point of discomfort. The legs of the sunglasses rub on the backside of the top of my ears. After wearing the glasses for a long time the top of my ears will be sore. This soreness goes away not long after I remove the glasses. I wonder if wearing these glasses more often will toughen my ears up and stop making them sore. I will comment on this in my next reports once I get some long term usage.
The case that comes with the sun glasses seems to be bigger than need be. I don’t use it to store the glasses in because it wastes so much space. Right now I just leave the legs open and set the glasses upside down on what ever surface is near by.
I can’t wait to get these glasses out on the trail or up in the snow to see how they work in different lighting conditions. I look forward to giving these sunglasses a good testing over the next several months.
Field Report - 2-Dec-08
I have worn these glasses many places, walking in the sun, driving, camping near the ocean at Half Moon Bay and day hiking in Morgan Hill CA.
I wore these glasses on a day hike in Morgan Hill CA, elevation 350 – 1,402 ft (107 – 427 m). The climate was sunny and warm with no clouds in the sky and a temperature of 78 – 82 deg F (26 – 28 C). The terrain was brushy with rolling hills and loose dusty dirt.
I also used these glasses on a 3 day 2 night camping trip at Half Moon Bay State Park. The elevation ranged from 0 – 100 ft (0 – 31 m) and the temperature ranged from 55 – 76 F (13 – 24 C). There was a slight mist one night during this testing period, and some fog. The area was a sandy beach with some small trees, shrubs, and a grassy area where I placed my tent.
These glasses are light and comfortable to wear, the Elastomer inserts provide enough hold to keep the glasses on my face whatever I am doing. The Photochromic lenses are doing an ample job of protecting my eyes from the sun and have enough coverage to protect my eyes from the elements. During the camping trip at Half Moon bay I wore the glasses to protect my eyes from the bright sun reflecting off of the sand and water. I could not tell what level of protection they had changed to but the sun did not make me squint my sensitive eyes. I took the glasses off to see if the lenses had darkened at all and was not surprised that I could see that they were darkened when I put my hand behind them for contrast. I have never noticed the lenses darkening or lightening as the conditions change. The transition is smooth and seamless as far as I can tell. I played some badminton with the glasses on and did not have any issues with the sun in my eyes or the glasses falling off.
One morning there was a salty mist coming through camp that peppered my glasses but did not get into my eyes. Once the sun came out and the water dried on my glasses, it left tiny water spots all over the lenses. To remove these spots I washed the glasses under warm water and used a soft cloth to remove the water spot residue. When I was finished the lenses were once again clean with no signs of scratching.
Hiking with these glasses provided no problems fogging, slipping or rubbing. It was not a hot day but I was sweating as I was climbing up the trail, the glasses did not seem to notice my sweaty face. They did fine blocking the sun while allowing me to see the trail clearly. The amber lenses give great contrast whenever I have worn the glasses and make what I view sharp and clear.
I will continue to use these glasses everyday weather permitting and on my upcoming hikes and campouts and will see how they work out in the long run.
Long Term report - 3-Feb-09
I got in a good long day of testing these glasses while snowboarding in Tahoe, California elevation 7,000 – 7,700 ft (2134 to 2347m). The climate was sunny but cold with a slight wind 20 – 38 deg F (-6.7 to 3.3 C). The terrain was mountainous with trees, lots of snow, and ice.
I got in another good long day of testing these glasses while snowboarding at another resort in Tahoe, California elevation 6,600 – 8,300 ft (2,012 to 2,530 m). The climate was sunny and felt warm with no wind 25 – 49 deg F (-4 to 9 C). The terrain was mountainous with trees, lots of snow, and ice.
I wore these glasses as my eye protection when I was snowboarding all day. The glasses were comfortable to wear and did not hurt my nose or ears. Both times I wore the glasses it was very sunny and the snow reflected a lot of light. With the glasses on, I did not notice when the glasses got darker or lighter. The reflected sunlight did not hurt my eyes and my eyes were not tired at the end of the day. Since the lenses are tinted slightly amber I also had a good depth perception and excellent contrast. Additionally I did not have any issues going from a sunny area to a shaded and back again.
Besides protecting my eyes from the UV rays and bright sunlight, they protected me against the elements. During my runs down the mountain the glasses protected my eyes from becoming bleary or misty from the wind in my face. When I stopped, sometimes the glasses would fog up from my breath but once I got moving again they would clear. I had a good fall where snow and ice was kicked up in my face from sliding down the hill. The glasses kept this out of my eyes and allowed me to stop my slide. Once I stopped I removed the glasses which had become fogged and coated with ice and water. I blew on the front of the lenses as well as the back to clear as much as I could and put them back on. There were some water droplets left but once I got moving again those soon disappeared.
Initially I was worried about the glasses falling off as I did not bring the strap with me. I had a few hard falls, one I fell so hard that my hat fell off. Still each time when I got up and dusted myself off, my glasses were still in place.
I like these glasses and appreciate the thought that went into them. The photochromic lenses are a nice touch and can handle anything from glare off the water to snow. The glasses have help up well to my use and show no major signs of wear. I will continue to use these glasses on my backpacking trips and outdoor adventures.
Do the glasses hold up well to use?
- Yes, they are still in great shape although there is a small scratch on one of the lenses from dropping them
Are the lenses easy to damage or scratch?
- Not super easy, but it can happen by rubbing in a rough surface
Do the lenses fall out or become damaged easily if the glasses are dropped?
- No, the lenses stayed securely in the frames the entire time. Dropping the glasses scratched a lens but did not damage it
Do the glasses stay tight to my head when I am running or moving quickly?
- Yes, when snowboarding I had a couple of good falls where my hat came off my head. When I got up the glasses were still in place over my eyes
Do the frame sides open and close smoothly all the time?
- It’s more of a snapping action to open and close them, this keeps the arms from closing when I open them and from opening when they are closed. I can not open or close them by swinging the glasses by the leg
Do the arms stay tight to the frame?
- Yes, although the screws are starting to back out. I have tightened them but one still tries to back out and I need to keep an eye on them
Do the rubber nose pads stay attached to the frame?
Do the lenses flex and not break or fall out if the glasses get dropped or squished?
- They do flex well and I have not had any issues with breaking or falling out
Do the panoramic lenses provide me a full field of vision?
- Yes, although there is a little distortion where the lenses attach to the frame
Do the panoramic lenses protect my eyes from the elements?
- Yes, on my trips it kept the wind, snow, ice, and sun out of my eyes
Do the NXT photochromic Zebra Lenses keep my eyes from hurting in the bright light?
- Yes, in all light conditions the glasses give me a comfortable level of protection from the light
Does the NXT photochromic Zebra Lenses provide me a good contrast in low light or snow?
- Yes, excellent contrast in low light as well as in the snow
Does the adjustable natural airflow keep the glasses from fogging?
- I have not found any adjustment for the airflow but when I am moving they do not fog
Ease of Use:
Are the lenses and frame easy to clean?
- Yes, although it would have been nice to be provided a cleaning cloth
Are the rubber nose pads comfortable on my nose?
- Only if the angle of the glasses is correct, I find that if I press the glasses too far toward my face then the nose piece digs in uncomfortably. To make them fit comfortably I put them all the way on, and then pull them slightly away from my face
Do the glasses fit my face comfortably?
- Aside from the above issue with the nose piece, yes
Do the NXT photochromic Zebra Lenses automatically adjust to my surroundings consistently?
- Yes, I can’t tell when they are changing unless I take them off and look at them from the front
This concludes my test series, thank you to Julbo and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test this item.
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