Julbo Bivouak vs Montebianco – Battle of the Sunnies
For years I’d been seeing Julbo sunglasses adorning mountain athletes faces, from climbers to bikers, hikers to ski mountaineers. But I was kind of on this ‘too cool for school’ kick. You’ve seen it before… alpine skiers proclaiming that non-functional gear makes them (us) cooler than mountain nerds, in a kind of “I’m so rad it doesn’t matter if I’m going blind” kind of way. It’s akin to the “I’m so cool it doesn’t matter if my pants are falling off” mentality, and the “I’m so rad it doesn’t matter if I’m 2×4’s with alpine bindings up this volcano right now”.
Well I finally grew out of that phase, but turns out I didn’t have to, because performance eye wear brands like Julbo have also been adding some funkier shades to their line up while I was snoozing.
So we snagged 2 pairs of Julbo shades and took them each for a rip to see which model won our hearts.
First up was the Julbo Bivouak with Spectron 4 (Cat 4) lenses. I took them for a spin on Mt Baker on a mid-summer scorcher of a day – just what the shades were designed for. They were light, the removable side covers were handy, and when the sun was blazing the lenses did the trick and more. BUT, like any true mountaineering lenses, I found them too dark for morning and evening skinning and skiing.
That’s where the Cameleon lens comes in…
The 2nd pair we snagged was Julbo’s Montebianco sunglasses, this time with their kick-ass Cameleon lens. These puppies were easily the winner in our books. The more casual frame fit my face better, and looks less ‘Euro mountain dude’ when you’re hanging out in the valley after a trip. Meanwhile the Cameleon solved the dilemma of changing light conditions. It’s a photochromic, anti-fog and polarizing lens that changes its tint based on how bright the sun is. Jackpot. Their Zebra lens (which we don’t have) is apparently even faster/more responsive to changing light conditions, which would be pretty epic for mountain biking in the off season.
Long story short, for hours or days on end skinning/climbing/skiing on super bright and reflective white stuff (aka snow), you might as well get some quality shades. These two will do the trick and then some.
(Scores below are for the Montebianco, and as usual they are super scientific and totally biased).