Our art director was headed to the highest mountain in Canada and we wanted him to look good and see good. So we gave him the Julbo Explorer 2 sunglasses to wear. This is his review.

I received the Julbo Explorer 2 sunglasses in April, just before heading off to climb Mount Logan via the King’s Trench route. Julbo is based in France, where the company has been making high-performance ski goggles and helmets, as well as sport sunglasses, for the past 125 years.

Snapshot: Absolute Zero Mitts

  1. Pros: Big lenses provide full eye-coverage and unencumbered panoramic view.
  2. Cons: They don’t make a nose shield.
  3. Price: $230 Cdn
  4. Who Should Buy:Anyone going into a high-UV environment, from ski-touring to glacier-travel and mountaineering.
  5. Who Shouldn’t Buy: Those just looking for some “kicking-around-town” sunglasses.
  6. Helpful Hack: Its easy to make your own nose-shield out of duct tape.
  7. Author’s overall rating: 9/10

The Test

In May of this year I took the sunglasses to Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain at 19,6550 feet. We ascended the mountain on skis via the King’s Trench route. We were on the mountain for about 2.5 weeks. We had one intense storm, but otherwise we had good weather, with many bluebird days.

The Verdict

The large coverage of the Julbo Explorer 2 sunglasses kept all the indirect light out, and the dark, mirrored Spectron4 lens was perfect for such a high UV environment as Mount Logan.

There’s no reason you couldn’t wear these sunglasses casually, but the super-dark category-4 lenses actually make them illegal to wear while driving a car. Julbo does make a photochromic lens called the Chameleon, which adjusts it’s darkness depending on the intensity of the light. They can adjust from Category 2 to 4. I did test those lenses too, and they have the same high-quality optics as the Spectron4 lens, and despite their ability to adjust, I still found them a bit on the dark side for regular day-to-day use.

The light was intense on Mount Logan but the Julbo Explorer 2 sunglasses protected Chris’s peepers perfectly.

For our 3 weeks on Mount Logan, the Explorer 2.0 was the perfect everyday pair of sunglasses. They were sufficiently dark for the high-UV environment. Windy weather and mild amounts of blowing snow were no problem. The side shields aren’t as big as your classic leather side-shields, but they still keep most of the blowing snow out. I would still switch to ski goggles when the wind was very high, mostly to keep my face warmer.

The styling of the glasses is definitely driven by function. The large frames are perfect for alpine environments, but perhaps a bit odd looking for casual day-to-day use. The optical clarity of the polycarbonate lenses seemed good, though I have to admit I had nothing to compare them to on this trip. As long as I could see the crevasses, they were good enough for me.

The nosepiece is quite subtle, and some might want more adjustability or more material. I guess the advantage of the simple raised rubber pads is that they are very difficult to break. I’ve had many other sunglasses where the nosepiece eventually breaks off. Overall the glasses are comfortable, sturdy, and light. I also like that the arms don’t touch the lenses when folded. I’ve had sunglasses where the arms touch the lens and scratch them. The lenses are also give 100% UV A, B, and C protection.

Julbos “Chameleon” photochromic lens adjusts it’s darkness depending on the intensity of the light you’re in.

Julbo Explorer 2 Sunglasses – The Deets

  • MSRP of $230 Cdn
  • There are numerous frame colours and lenses available, which you can find here. (Though the frame/lens combinations are set in the factory in France)
  • One size only
  • Weight: 44 grams (1.5 ounces) for the pair
  • Frame: nylon
  • Lens: polycarbonate