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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Julbo Camel lens

photo courtesy of Julbo

Even just a couple of years ago I figured any ski goggle was just about like any other ski goggle.  If they got enough ventilation and you took care of them any goggle pretty much performed on par with each other for my own use.  I had used Smith and Scott goggles almost exclusively for decades.  With the odd pair of Bolle goggles thrown in.  The Bolle lens always seem a step or two ahead of the US technology.  Great lens for climbing but for skiing likely not worth the extra expense for me.

Skip forward a decade or two and I still had the mind set..."pretty much any decent ski goggle will do."   Some of the decent ones I had bought on sale for as little as $15 on sale but only $30 at full retail!  They were goggles I didn't mind giving away to friends in need.

Then I got a pair of Julbo ski goggles with a Zebra lens on sale from Steep and Cheap.  Took just one run that day for me to realise "NOPE!  All goggles aren't created equal!" 

Talk to anyone that needs a ski goggle full time and they usually have a favorite.   Try to pin them down on why it is their favorite and  things seem to get fuzzy. 

"They fit me so well."  "Been using them for years."  "They are cheap."

For me goggles are like glasses.  The only reason I wear them is to see better.  So while I might understand and agree with the "they fit me so well",  I really need more to make an educated choice for eye protection, vision enhancement these days.   A decent fit I'd require from the get go.  If  my goggles/glasses aren't enhancing my vision I'll want something different and something better.

Thankfully the frames on Julbos goggles and glasses fit me exceptionally well.

Enter the Julbo Zebra and Camel len's stand out technology.

Both lens style share these attributes:
Anti-fog > prevents condensation and guarantees maximum longevity
Oil-repellent > reduces finger marks from hair; makes water slide over lens; facilitates cleaning
Lens by name:

Zebra®—taking you out of the shadows and into the light / Lens developed for the Performance and Mountain ranges and Julbo Goggles, recommended for mountain biking, skiing and riding, and running and climbing.  Visible light transmission 7 to 42%.  Protection 2 to 4.

Camel®—all-terrain optimum vision / Lens developed for the Mountain range and Julbo Goggles, recommended for mountain, desert and snowy terrain.  Visible light transmission  5 to 20%.  Protection 2 to 4.

Camel lens in a Julbo Trek

I still have a number of really good sunglasses and ski goggles in my gear room.  And with each passing season I continue to be swayed more and more by the Julbo technology.  At the full on nuclear blast level of a white sand beach or bright mid winter sun on hard icy snow I keep going back to  Julbo.  Took me a while to be convinced there really was a difference in technology.  Now I am fully convinced.  When I go outdoors now Julbos go with me.

Brian used a pair of the Zebra lens for the first time last Spring.

"spot me a pair of sexy Julbo Trek glasses with cool photochromic lenses. Rainier is a big peak with bright sun so glasses are obviously critical. But when you move into the shade of a couloir, dark lenses are annoying. I was able to leave mine on as the lenses lightened, maintaining some of the protection from falling debris."

I have blue eyes and have been sensitive to bright sun from literally Day 1.  But as my eyes have aged I have used and liked a lighter lens better than the darkest shade possible.  Specifically the Zebra lens has been a rare find for me.  And it has become exceptional protection for my own use 12 months of the year. 

As I have written about the Zebra lens readers have suggested over and over again to try the Julbo Camel lens.  Late last Summer I decided it was worth making the Zebra/Camel comparison.  To be honest I figured (thinking I already knew the always) I'd find the Zebra my solid choice every time.  I really value the attributes of the Zebra that Brian mentioned in his blog, "when you move into the shade of a couloir, dark lenses are annoying."

Another shade or two in darkness with the Camel and the lens not getting light enough in the shade looked like I would have a very short and opinionated review between the two lens Julbo lenses.  Ya, I was about to be surprised...

Zebra offers a visible light transmission 7 to 42%. Protection @ a level of 2 to 4.
Camel offers a visible light transmission 5 to 20%. Protection @ a level of 2 to 4.

Same basic level of protection and half the light transmission in the Camel in the shade.  It wasn't a promising comparison in my mind.  But the lens contrast, at least with my eyes, in the shade seems better with the Camel lens.

Turns out (much to my surprise as always) on a bright sunny day, when skiing from bright sun to deep shade I actually prefer the Camel!   That kind of revelation is what makes  gear tests really fun for me time and again!  Skiing along at 30 or 40+ mph and how quickly your lens choice changes from bright sun to deep shade is important.  And a real safety issue.  I suspect the advantage for my own eyes are only having to react to 1/2 the change in light transmission.  Not sure all that is actually true, just my off the cuff guess at the moment.   I'm using the Camel lens in the Julbo Trek, which is one of my all time favorite outdoor sun glasses/ faux mini goggles.  Julbo offers full on ski goggles and other styles of sunglasses with the Camel lens if you have an interest.    Fun when I get this surprised.  Sad if you already own a couple pair of the Zebra lens and find you prefer the Camel lens.  :)

My "best use" guess is this;  for the really bright days use the Camel.  For the full on storm days, stick with the Zebra.   Glad I have an option.  Both versions are exceptional lens IMO.

This is a fun lens comparison from the Julbo web site:

Frame Technology
Julbo sunglasses are more than lenses; each model is equipped to intensify protection, stay on in all conditions and ensure absolute comfort and functionality.
Specific features are tailored for each outdoor activity. With the shape of the frames, noses, temples, grips and ventilation, Julbo pushes back the limits of the performance levels of its glasses. Look at the Key Features symbols on the product pages of the eyekit web sit for a list of benefits associated with your selection.
Lens Technology
Julbo lenses offer 100% protection against UVs: UVAs, UVBs, and UVCs. Classed as OPTICAL CLASS 1, their quality is guaranteed by international standards. All Julbo eyewear meets European, American and Australian standards, guaranteeing visual reliability and safety.
Julbo NXT Lenses
Julbo's regular NXT lenses in standard thickness meet the impact requirement defined by the NSI Z87.1 standard for industrial application. See our information section on ‘Which lens material should I use’ to learn about the properties of NXT materials compared to others.
Julbo have five NXT lenses as follows:
ZEBRA® Photochromic Lenses: Ultra Reactive NXT®
The Zebra® photochromic lens darkens or lightens depending on the light’s intensity. It can change from a light transmission rate of 45% to just 6.6%! Its anti-fog coating, directly integrated via laser, guarantees maximum efficiency and long life. Zebra® is recommended for mountain biking, trail biking and climbing.The Zebra® lens has a very quick activation time: the lens reaches 50% of its capacity in just 28 seconds.In the undergrowth, the Zebra® lens changes to category 2. In bright sunlight, it provides category 4 protection.
ZEBRA: From shade to light features are :
  • Adaptation to variations in light intensity.
  • NXT material - unbreakable, optically superior, half the weight of glass, solvent resistant.
  • Photochromic lens. Protection changing from category 2 to category 4. Will change from a a light transmission of 45% to 7% in somewhere between 22 & 28 seconds.
  • Exceptional antifog coating - No condensation, maximum longevity.
  • Hydrophobic coating on the outside - Prevents marking and facilitates the removal of water.
  • Brown lens - accentuates relief.
  • Ideal for mountain biking, trail running and mountaineering.

CAMEL:  Cameleon® Polarizing and Photochromic Lenses: NXT® Two-Fold Performance
Photochromic and polarizing, the Camel® lens offers evolving protection, darkens and lightens according to the intensity of the light, provides anti-dazzle protection and high definition vision. The anti-fog coating is ideal for active sports.
Polarizing + Photochromic lens: 2 perfectly mastered and highly reliable specific technologies. Contrasts, light, dazzle, colours, etc. – Camel® glasses meet all needs.
Camel Cameleon® lens features :
  • Adaptation to variations in light intensity.
  • NXT material - unbreakable, optically superior, half the weight of glass, solvent resistant.
  • Polarized – elimination of glare (99% of reflected light) to ensure purity of vision.
  • Photochromic Lens - Protection changing from category 2 to category 4. Will change from a a light transmission of 25% to 6% in somewhere between 22 & 28 seconds.
  • NTS technology - The lens gets darker or lighter regardless of the temperature.
  • Exceptional antifog coating - No condensation, maximum longevity.
  • Brown lens - accentuates relief.
Julbo Trek with Zebra Lens
may be a better day for the Camel lens here



Julbo Revolution Goggle w/Zebra lens

Solid, full blown storm performance!


Brian said...

The Camel lens is polarized, and the Zebra lens is not. That eliminates tons of snow glare with the Camel. The tradeoff in less variable light transmission is probably worth it to most.

Dane said...

Good catch Brian. More here on Polarized lens:

Really good discussion on sun glasses here:

Bastian said...

I own the Julbo Bivouak and the Explorer, both with Cameleon lenses.
The Explorer models are the standard in mountaineering glasses in europe an my absolute favorite as well...

fulton said...

First season on Julbo Zebra lens goggles after years of wearing all manner of Oakley goggles. Amazing. I'll be putting my 3 pairs of Oakley's on Ebay soon.

Unknown said...

So glad to see another review on Julbo's technology. They have been around for over 120 years and are a common name in the EU, but still none of my fellow ski mates here in the US give them the time of day. I use the Bivouak with Camel lens for alpine and cycling. The removable side shields are a great step forward and help keep my eyes from drying out. I also use the Revolution with the Zebra Lens and agree its Bomber, but now I am intrigued to get the camel.