Philippe Gautier’s Review of Julbo’s Goggle lenses
Association of Canadian Mountain Guide Ski Guide
Professional Member of the Canadian Avalanche Association
Owner and operator of Névé Expeditions: www.nevexp.com
Six weeks wearing Julbo lenses - first as a guide at a remote skiing lodge in the Coastal Range Mountains of British Columbia, and then, for more remote lodges, as a guide on various ski mountaineering trips through backcountry all the way from Whistler to Lake Louise.
I’m mainly looking for a go-to ski mountaineering lens, but I also need to know what’s out there for my other sportive pursuits. I figured that the ups and downs I’d encounter in both weather and terrain over the course of six weeks would be the perfect challenge for Julbo’s ambitious claim, ‘’Julbo, you only need one lens.’’ If what Julbo says is true, my actual mission is to figure out which one of their lenses best suits my adventurous needs. Which will it be? The Snow Tiger? The Zebra Light? The Zebra? Or will it be the Cameleon? Read on to find out.
I used the Snow Tiger lens for the first time on my initial flight at a heli-skiing operation. The mountains and glaciers looked different to me, and it wasn’t only because I was seeing them for the first time – I was seeing them in pink! The Snow Tiger makes some snow textures appear in light tones of sparkling pink – never have I skied with a lens that is so sharp and precise that it reveals snow textures.
It took me a while to get used to seeing the world in pink, but it was worth it. For example, I was in a corn cycle and it was quickly apparent that I needed to ski ‘’The Pink.’’
My best experience using this lens was over a few hours on clear days in areas where I needed uncompromised visual acuity. For prolonged exposure to the sun or in lower-visibility conditions, I preferred the Cameleon or the Zebra light lens.
The Zebra is a true in-between lens. It darkens well on clear days and brightens up nicely in lower-visibility conditions. If I had to carry only one lens for all weather conditions, this would be it. It’s great for anyone looking for a general all-weather lens.
The Cameleon was designed to handle a wide variety of light conditions. It’s a darker lens, and although I would like it to darken a little bit more on sunny days, it quickly adapts when the clouds roll in, and again, when the sun comes back out. Compared to the Snow Tiger, it will better protect my eyes for longer periods on clear days, but without as much contrast and definition, and definitely no pink!
When it got nasty (think blowing snow in low-light conditions), the Zebra Light out-performed every other lens. In high overcast conditions, the thin clouds let enough UV through for the lens to react and darken a little more than it needs to, but otherwise, it’s great. My mission was to find a go-to ski-mountaineering lens, and I’ve found it.
In summary, the optimal weather conditions for each lens are as follows:
- The Snow Tiger: Partly cloudy and, when needed, in clear sky conditions
- The Zebra: All Weather
- The Cameleon: Clear Skies
- The Zebra Light: Blowing snow, cloudy and other snowy conditions
The Zebra Light is now my go-to ski mountaineering lens, and that’s because, generally, one lens is all I really need for ski mountaineering. However, when serving as a guide for any form of mechanized skiing, I’ll need a lot more from my lens, and that’s where the other lenses will come into play.