Julbo Dirt Sunglasses

Julbo’s Dirt sunglasses are part of Julbo’s Performance line of sunglasses.  With wide lenses, curved frames, and shock absorbent temples and nose pads, they are ideal for harsh mountain environments.  The ultra light Zebra – NXT + Photochromic 2-4 + Antifog lenses provide premium optical quality even in the brightest, most humid conditions.  As tested:  Dirt – 11 White / Zebra – NXT + Photochromic 2-4 + Antifog / $ 160.00 / Item #369311.

Field Report

Lenses:

The Julbo Dirt sunglasses come with a light, “Unbreakable” Zebra – NXT + Photochromic 2-4 + Anti-fog lens, which provides high definition vision, while adjusting the light transmission rate based on sun intensity.  According to Julbo, the Zebra lens can change from a light transmission rate of 40.7% to 6.6%, reaching 50% of capacity in 28 seconds.  When hiking or mountain biking under partial shade, the lens changes to Category 2 protection, while in the brightest conditions it changes to Category 4.  All Julbo lenses are at least Category 1, and guarantee 100% protection from UVA, B, and C radiation.  Julbo uses laser technology to incorporate an anti-fog coating into their Zebra lenses, which prevents condensation and maximizes efficiency and lifespan.  Julbo lenses also meet the ANSI Z87.1 standard for industrial application, specifically for high mass impact (500g from height of 127cm), and high velocity impact (6.35mm steel ball at 45.7m/s).  According to the ANSI Z87.1 standard, “No piece shall be detached from the inner surface of any spectacle component and the lens shall be retained in the frame. In addition, the lens shall not fracture.”  Optional corrective solar lenses are available, as well as a removable corrective optical frame-clip.

I first tested the Zebra lens on a clear, sunny day in late spring, while hiking the Compton tail down to Hemmed-in-Hollow in Northern Arkansas.  Hiking under the lush undergrowth, it seemed as if I was looking at the world in HD.  At Category 2 everything was crystal clear with minimal glare. As we approached the waterfall, I could look directly at the sun glare from the water without squinting.  I also tried the lenses while riding my bike around the city.  The day started off as overcast, and the lenses comfortably protected my eyes from glare. As the clouds passed the sun became very intense and I noticed the lenses changed to a more comfortable Category in about 30 seconds.  The lenses also did not fog during high aerobic activity even in the most humid conditions.  To clean, I used either warm water or a generic lens cleaning solution.  In the end, I decided not to test the breakability of these lenses… I’ll take Julbo’s word for it. In all settings, hiking, biking and running, the wide panoramic lenses provided superior protection from dust, mist and debris, while providing optimal HD visual quality with zero lens distortion.

Frames:

The Julbo Dirt comes with light, wrap around, panoramic frames, with wide temples to protect against intense sunlight.  The Dirt frames offer shock absorbent temples and nose pads, which are designed for optimal comport and a better fit during even the most harsh, repetitive movements.  Initially developed for pro mountain bikers, the Dirt frames fit comfortably under any helmet and provide a durable, aerodynamic base for their Zebra lens.  Frames come in two different colors, white (as tested) and black.

When I initially received the Dirt sunglasses, I immediately liked the style and color of the wide, wrap around frames.  These glasses are intense with white frames and yellow/golden lenses.  One look at these glasses and you know the wearer is a serious outdoor enthusiast.  While hiking, running and biking, the wide temples offered substantial protection from sunlight, and the fit did not create any hot spots after hours of wear and repetitive movements.

I did notice that the frames would not sit on my nose properly, and would bounce up and down repeatedly during moderate to intense movement.  After miles on the trail, this tended to become a little aggravating.  However, the frames managed to remain securely on my head during all of this added movement.  I would suggest trying on the frames before purchase (or shortly after e-purchase) and jumping around a bit to test for fit.  If they bounce while jumping, they will most likely bounce when running, hiking or mountain biking.  I would recommend the Julbo Dirt for those with larger heads/faces, even though they are advertised as unisex.

While riding, I noticed that these frames fit well under a bike helmet, and with light to moderate activity, did not bounce in the same way as running or hiking.  As I picked up speed, the frames provided an adequate amount of ventilation, enough to keep your eyes and face cool, but not so much as to cause dry-eye.  As tested the frames were covered in a white plastic coating with yellow nose pads and side-grips.  While the white was stylish, the plastic coating is very vulnerable to scratches.  I learned this the hard way on only the second time wearing these frames on the trail.  I had the glasses on top of my head, and when I went down to fix my gaiter, they fell off in to the gravel causing a minor scratch above the left eye.  I would suggest proper wear of these frames (i.e. not like a headband) with a chord attachment for added drop-protection.

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