Review: Julbo Explorer Sunglasses

Last week I returned to Scotland from the Alps, to find summer is well underway. If like me you are planning on making the most of the long days this summer and getting outside, you will need a good pair of sunglasses. For many of us, this may not be the first piece of gear we reach for when packing our kit for the next trip away. Especially if there are new tents, rucksacks, and shiny climbing hardware to take out. But maybe it should be? 

Sunglasses protect our eyes from damaging UV radiation and the elements. They keep out bright sun and wind making it possible to see clearly while enjoying our favourite outdoor activities. Having a good pair of glasses that are comfortable to wear and have quality optics, is therefore essential for every outdoor enthusiast. At Tiso we stock a range of sunglasses to meet different needs. Personally I was looking for a pair of sunglasses that fit me well, and would be versatile enough for all my favourite outdoor sports. After some consideration of the options there was a clear winner, the Julbo Explorer with Chameleon lenses.

At £150 they are not the cheapest sunglasses on the market, but rest assured they are worth every penny. I have had these glasses for about six months now and have used them for everything from Climbing and Skiing, to Skydiving and Speedflying, and they have never let me down. Like many Julbo glasses, the Explorer frames have flexible arms which allow you to customise the fit around your ears for making them comfortable and extremely secure. The Explorer’s also have removable ‘high wrap’ inserts which fill the gap between the frame and your face. These protect your eyes from light and wind around the edges of the frames, and can be removed if they are not required for better airflow around the lenses.  Personally I tend to leave them in as I regularly use my glasses for skydiving where wind speeds exceed 120mph on my face, and clear vision is absolutely critical. Even in these extreme conditions the Explorer frames have always remained securely on in place and kept the wind out of my eyes.

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So what about the lenses? Having such versatile frames is great but if the optics are not up to the task, they would be pointless. Fortunately once again Julbo do not disappoint. They offer the Explorer frames with a range of different lenses but for me the choice was easy, Chameleon. Chameleon lenses are polarized and photochromic, meaning they react and darken when exposed to more light. Because they are photochromic, Chameleon lenses are rated from filter category 2, to category 4. The adaptability of these lenses makes them great for almost all conditions from everyday hillwalking, to high altitude skiing and mountaineering. Compared to other photochromic lenses I have come across, the Chameleon’s seem to react very quickly to changes in brightness. This is particularly useful in those situations where one minute you are in bright sunlight, and then you move into the shade. Where as some lenses would remain too dark for too long, and make it very difficult to see clearly, the photochromic Chameleon lenses quickly adjust to the new ambient conditions. The lenses also have an anti-fog coating which in my experience is very effective. You may find that removing the ‘high wrap’ inserts is needed to prevent fogging if you are running or doing other high exertion activities. However in most situations they can be left in place an the lenses will not fog up.

After several months of extensive testing in demanding conditions, I can safely say the Julbo Explorer’s with Chameleon lenses are an outstanding bit of kit. They have great optics, are amazingly versatile, and won’t let you down, even in the most extreme situations.  Their performance and flexibility easily justifies the price tag, and for me they have been a great investment. I am very impressed with these sunglasses so far and no doubt you will be too. So give them a try this summer and be sure to enjoy your adventures!

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