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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ski and mountaineering Goggles?

My buddy Dave and I were talking goggles the other day.  Both of us have more gear than any one person should ever own.   So it is always a fun conversation when we get together a few times each year.   I consider myself,  "one who is interested in the details".  Last I saw of Dave's gear room, "hoarder" came to mind a little too quickly :)   Dave might see it all differently!

He mentioned he had so many pairs of goggles he can't keep track.  And none he cared to comment on.  Until recently I still used 2 pair of goggles that are well over 20 years old.  A pair of Smith Cariboo OTG and a pair of Bolle Irex 100s.   See, I really do try to take care of my kit ;)  And I know exactly how many pairs of goggles I have...or had.

When I decided to spend a winter climbing in Chamonix I didn't want to take any of my "good" goggles. So I dropped by the local REI and picked up some Smith medium frame dbl lens goggles on sale.  Hadn't had new goggles in like ...20 plus years!  So I was thrilled with the results.  I ended up giving them away at the end of my stay.  Less than $20 on sale.  They were great goggles worth passing on.  And handy on the Midi arete in stormy weather!

I noticed Dave was using a pair of Oakley's last time we were out.  And that Dave and Sam had really wanted goggles (any goggles)  in that bit of spindrift on the Ben.   Sometimes simply being able to see is a good thing.  Goggles can help.

A nice day for goggles, if you have them.

Last fall I went through something like 2 dozen pair of sun glasses wanting to add a educated review of just a few styles that were available.  The more I looked at sun glasses the more detailed and interesting the info became.  Problem was, I really didn't care.  I just wanted a good pair of  sun glasses.  Having owned and used some of the best sunglasses available in the last few decades kept me from looking too far or spending  a lot of money.  And you could spend a LOT of money on sunglasses at close to $200 a pop for some of the best known brands.  Thankfully folks like Optic Nerve are at least offering some better alternatives for price.  But if you look deep enough the prices for the best available sunglasses are justified, if you understand the consequences of a lifetime of exposure to bright sunlight on your eyes.

Two part look at glasses last Fall :

The best of the "new" glasses I found were all photochromic or light sensitive.  I've found the best glasses for my own use are all photochromic.   As I have aged I don't need the really dark lens,  Better yet what I can really use is a lens that will change to a very light shade at dusk and dawn and darken mid day when I really need the protection.  I found the Zebra lens from Julbo to do everything I needed in the mountains as a sun glass. I've mentioned that before and will again soon.

I leave a pair of the photochromic Optic Nerve glasses in my wifes' car fro when I am an impromptu  passenger.   As I finished the sun glass review I sent a link to Julbo letting the know my excitement about the Trek and Bivouac sunglasses

Julbo seemed pleased and asked if I was interested in seeing some of the new Julbo ski goggles.  At the time the last thing I wanted to do was another commentary and the research required for a blog post on ski goggles.   As my buddy Dave said, " I have a bunch of them and they all work".  I mean really, how different can a goggle be?

Earlier this winter I had spent a rather trying day skiing the last day of a big storm cycle in Idaho.  The snow was deep and soft and really wet and cold.  I wasn't having the best day.  I had gotten wet and cold early on by choosing the wrong clothing.  Imagine how foolish one feels when you make that kind of mistake with two spare bedrooms full of high tech clothing and gear sitting at home.  At the end of the day I was out of energy and desire.  One last powder run was almost too much.  My goggles had fogged up on last boot pack and got worse on the next chair ride up.  I was ready to pack it in...when my partner that day chuckled and said.."it is just your goggles fogged up."  In reality it was my goggles and my brain that were fogged.  I was toasted and ready to be put on the plate.  It was a bit embarrassing actually.  I should have known my goggles were fogged.  I stopped, wiped them out and  made that last boot pack up the ridge line.  And was rewarded with a final and amazing powder run down as the skis cleared for the first time that day.  But I was also glad the day was over.

The goggles were new Smith Cariboos.  A goggle style that had never failed me skiing.  But when I got home I did make the effort and hunted up a pair of Smith Turbos.  I didn't fog the next time we skied power or boot packed into some powder shots.  But a fan?  Come on?!  I thought the "turbo fan" was a little over the top 30 years ago.  I still do.  All in a nice way of course ;)

All of which got me thinking about looking at some other goggle brands.  I'm not a big fan of gimmicks.  And I still think a electric fan on a pair of goggles is a gimmick. One that works of course and that I like...but still a gimmick.

The Smith Phenom Turbo Fan goggle.  They work...but there are simplier answers to be had.

And that earlier conversation with Julbo came to mind. As much as I liked the Zebra sun glasses, I had to wonder just how bad could the Julbo *Zebra lens* goggles be.  I ordered three pair.

First I have used the Zebra goggles was last week.  As I said generally a Smith fan and in the right snow and temps a turbo fan. In bright sun, an older pair of  Bolle Irex 100s.  We are talking old school there..with the Bolle Irex 100.

I packed up a pair of new Smith goggles...that I really like. Should be, as I have been  using the same basic goggle for 30 years!  The Cariboo model btw.

The last run for a pair of 30 year Smiths...the top and side foam disintegrated in the wind that day.  And a clear lens on a sunny day?  What was I thinking?  The answer to my own stupidity and inability to pay attention?  PHOTOCHROMIC lens!  It only takes one day of skiing to drive that lesson home.  

Then at the last minute I stashed the pair of med framed Julbo Revolution google in the go-bag as well.  And I really don't like medium framed goggles.  I prefer a wider field of visibility.  I like seeing the yahoos screaming in from behind me on the local pistes.   But the Julbo Revolution is pretty good on that issue as a medium frame.  These are the only medium frame I own btw.  And when these are gone I'll get another.  It is a good frame.

Putting on my boots in the parking lot.  It is snowing...2 minutes later the sun comes out...this happens 1/2 dozen times before I even get full kitted up and headed for the gondola.  Obvious what goggles I want to use -AGAIN-today...Zebra lens Julbo.

I'd always thought Smith was good on the anti fog...but then I "had" to buy a pair of Turbos this winter.  Because if I was working hard enough in the new snow I was fogging up on occasion.  More snow here and working harder yet.   And the Julbos haven't fogged to date...not once!  Not when coming in hot to the gondola and 7 sweaty passengers stuffed in the cabin with me...not on the boot
packs and sweating like a pig for the freshies.  Same boot pack I was stripping my shell to hike in but not needing to remove my Julbos! The hydrophobic and anti fog coatings really do work on these double lens goggles.  The coatings and anti fog effects work a lot better than my newest Smiths and Scott goggles as comparison examples.

Also worth noting how well the Julbo goggle frames are designed to work with a helmet.  I skied with a GOPro for the 2nd time the other day.  I was impressed at just how well the goggles fit my helmet.  It has nto always been that way.

Good example of the "extended outrigger" on the Julbo Orbiter's XL frame.  It makes for an exceptionally good fit with a helmet.

I can still see in some pretty flat light and bright the lens QUICKLY (changes in less than 30 seconds light to dark or dark to light)  when, or as, required.   With sun protection from Category 2 to 4.  There is still an environment where the light is flat and it is hard to see.  But that light condition happens in a smaller  percentage of time with the Zebra lens imo.

Add a sticky silicon strap and a double, full ventilated lens with several hydrophobic and anti fog treatment coatings and you have an exceptional piece of high tech gear here.  Gear that works...and you will never notice.  It is only the very best gear that you never notice.

Turns out I should have taken up that suggestion of a goggle review early on.   I don't find goggles nearly so boring now.  And now, seriously,  the Zebra goggles are one of my most prized ski  possessions.  Funny..I have two new pair of goggles.  Likely  two pair I'll never wear again unless of course I loose the Julbos.   I mean really. how much difference is there between goggles?  Turns out there is a LOT of difference if you bother to take a look

Kick'in the boot pack for some extra turns!  Hot and sweaty work and still able to keep my Julbo medium frame goggles on with no fogging.  Almost impossible with a XL frame and never actually experienced by me with a medium framed goggle.   Outstanding preformance by Julbo!  
Imagine what these would be like if you were using them for climbing...if you actually needed a goggle for climbing :)


Anonymous said...

Julio makes two versions of zebra goggle lenses, a lighter 1-3 version and a darker 2-4 version. They also make a camel lens for their sunglasses which is a polarized zebra. I have the goggles in the two different lenses as well as the sunglasses with zebra and camel lenses and use all four depending on how much sun and snow I expect.

Dane said...

Julbo has 5 different photochromic lens. I've only used the Zebra because it fills my requirements so well. I'll try the Falcon at some point. But thanks for point the Camel and Zebra Light out as well. The Octopus is the fifth Julbo photo chromic lens. All good stuff from Julbo.