Since become a prescription wearer, glasses have become something I have taken a greater interest in. I will point out I do not wear prescription sunglasses and the pair provided by Julbo are non prescription.
Julbo says “The Aero has been designed with the help of world-class ultrarunners and mountain bikers. It's super lightweight (32g) frame offers our new Air link - extra slim & cushion - dampening temple system, 3D fit nosepiece, a wide field of vision, and snug but comfortable fit. It's sleek design optimizes ventilation and air flow and three lens options cover every light condition with great colors to keep you styling. “
Although we may not see Julbo glasses on the face of athletes across multiple disciplines in the UK, head into the Alps and they are far more common. It’s a brand favoured by trail running, skimo and mountaineering practitioners, from amateur to elite.
For me there are three main areas of importance; fit, clarity and comfort.
Now I haven’t the smallest of heads and often suffer from pressure points on the bridge of my nose and top of my ears. The Aero cause no issues what do ever. On each arm, Julbo use their Air Link Temple System, which incorporate a shock absorbing elastomer to the under side. I found this to be extremely comfortable and when descending rougher terrain when running or riding, they glasses remained firmly in place, without bouncing around uncontrollably. The 3D fit nose piece is pliable and I never found this uncomfortable.
When running the Lakeland 50 earlier this year, I wore the Aero glasses on and off for the best part of 9 hours. At no point did I find them to be irritable, obstructive or distracting. Ultimately, if you can keep them on your face, things are on the right path.
That’s a tick for comfort.
As I said earlier, I have a big head. Many glasses look small, with the arms bending outwards excessively. The Aero fit well, with no obvious signs of pressure around the temple, nose or side of the head. The large Zebra lenses wrap around the face, providing panoramic vision, covering the peripheries of your eyes. This is especially useful in the mountains or when cycling, when light changes rapidly and debris is often flicked up by a runner or rider in front. Above all else, a wrap round lens is perfect for driving.
I opted for Zebra Photochromic lens’ to allow for a greater range of use in the day. My one bug bear with sunglasses is that very reason. You either need a variety of glasses or a number of different lenses to cater for most conditions. Although the photochromic lenses aren’t suitable for night use, they do allow for a relative level of low light activity. The transition in varying lights is instant and I have yet to experience a situation where I wished it changed quicker. Having this weekend been riding in low autumnal light, before turning into quick descents, shrouded in undergrowth, with a heavy canopy, I can report the Zebra lenses change rapidly across the spectrum. In fact, its only when taking photos you notice they are darker. Such is the clarity provided, that you never sense or physically see the transition.
To aid ventilation, the lenses have a small gap along the top to allow air to flow freely. When moving, this makes a little difference, however when stationary after movement it aids keeping the lenses clear from fogging up. The ventilation works and rather than a few small holes etched out of the lens body, this is a more efficient system.
However, the lenses have a flaw. Smudges. They attract thumb prints like a fly to a bright light, add sweat after an intense hour on the trails and you will be cleaning them. This isn’t an issue unique to Julbo, but it is one which is frustrating. For cycling, the lens could also be taller. When on a road bike, the top frame can be obstructive when in the drops. Increase the top field of vision, and the application across mountain and road would be complete.
At a retail of £140, the Aero are creeping up the value scale, but they are competitive compared to their competition. If you can forgo the Photochromic lenses, the Category 3 retail at £80.
All in all, Julbo’s Aero sunglasses are comfortable, light and encourage you move fast. Whether running on the fells or tackling gnarly terrain on a full sus, they will adapt to trail ahead and provide you clarity.