Julbo Lightyear Ski/Snowboard Goggles Review
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France-based Julbo has been creating high quality eyewear ever since 1888 and continues to focus on pushing the limits of craftsmanship, durability, and functionality, with the Lightyear ski goggles at the pinnacle of their lineup. With a frameless design and containing their REACTIV Technology photochromic lenses and Super Flow Pro venting system, the Lightyear is packed with features for the discerning snowsports participant. In this review, I’ll share how they performed out on the slopes.
Large Fit and Wide Vision
The Julbo Lightwear is an extra-large fitting goggle and it’s important to make sure it fits your face. Keep in mind that trying to wear a goggle that is too large may result in discomfort and fogging. That said, it was just about perfect for my above average sized head (I typically wear a Large in helmets but often need to crank down the adjustment). They are just a bit tall for me, so I did have to make sure my helmet was tightened down at the back to keep the goggles from pressing down on my nose. Julbo includes a 45mm wide strap with a lot of grip and dual adjustability, making it fit well on any helmet or hat. Overall comfort is really nice, with a dual-density foam and frame that molds to the face well.
The XL-size combined with the Lightyear’s “frameless” design and spherical lens provides excellent vision all around. The frame is fairly minimal on the inside, which means there is less to get in between you and the environment. The shape of the lens curves into your face at the sides, top, and bottom as opposed to lenses that are only curved horizontally. I’ve generally found spherical lenses to have the greatest peripheral vision and the Julbo Lightyear is a great example of this. While skiing tight trees and technical terrain, I never felt that I was unable to see what I needed.
REACTIV Technology Photochromic Lenses: Three Lenses in One
I wanted to start this Julbo Lightyear Goggles review by talking about the REACTIV photochromic lenses, because all versions of this goggle comes with them and your lens choice is based on light transmission range and contrast. Photochromic lenses are specially made to adapt to various lighting condition by changing their tint level. (Note, some people may have heard this technology referred to as “transition” lenses). There are a number of ski goggles on the market that offer photochromic lenses but Julbo claims their REACTIV Technology offers the widest range on the market and a very fast transition time. I tested the Lightyear version with a REACTIV 1-3 High Contrast Lens, which is designed to be ideal for wide-ranging weather conditions including cloudy, flat light, and bright sun. Take a look at the guide below to get a feel for the options Julbo provides for tailoring the lenses to the conditions that you spend the most time in.
While I have no way of scientifically verifying Julbo’s claims about light transmission range or time, I found that the photochromic performance was superior to another large brand I’m used to. I wore them on a wild weather day on Vail mountain and experienced 50mph wind gust snow and very flat light conditions. To avoid the wind, we spent a lot of the time in the trees as well. Going back and forth between these, the Julbo Lightyear goggles consistently felt like the “correct” lenses all the time. The lens treatment provided decent contrast on what was one of the worst visibility days I’ve been out and I think that only a dedicated low light yellow lens of some kind may have been any better. While it was low visibility, it was still fairly bright and the lenses darkened to an appropriate level to protect my eyes. To test how quickly they would transition to darker conditions, I kept them on when I walked into the lodge to warm up and I was very impressed how natural they felt inside in low light. I used to wear low-light lenses all the time because I spend a lot of time in the trees but they’d always tire my eyes out when it was a sunny day. With the Julbo Lightyear, I don’t have to make that trade-off. As Julbo says, the REACTIV 1-3 High Contrast Lens is basically 3 lenses in one. They do have a 1-4 Lens and I’d be really interested to try those out, given how well the 1-3 performed.
SuperFlow Anti-Fog Ventilation System: Game-Changing Fog Prevention
Over the years, I’ve seen various “venting” systems come and go from ski goggles, all with various levels of effectiveness. The Julbo Lightyear goggles include the most useful method yet with their SuperFlow Anti-Fog Ventilation System. It’s a really simple idea that is turned into a very practical application. By allowing the entire lens to be suspended out in front of the frames, the SuperFlow system allows a ton of air exchange while maintaining sun and direct wind protection. To utilize it, you simply push a little tab on each side of the goggles and lock the lens in the forward position, leaving a few millimeters of open space all around. I found I could usually do this pretty easily with gloves on and once you get the hang of it, it becomes pretty seamless.
There are so many situations where being able to fully vent your goggles is advantageous. After a hard-charging run down a double black with a few feet of untracked powder, I had gotten very warm and this can cause my goggles to fog up with excess heat. With the Julbo Lightyears, I simply popped the lens forward and was cooled down and didn’t have to worry about fog. Another great use was doing a 20 minute hike up to some side country terrain. I normally put my goggles up on my helmet for this hike to prevent fogging but the SuperFlow system allowed me to keep my eyes protected. I haven’t had a chance to use them on a ski tour but I believe they are perfect for that situation, making it so you don’t have to switch between sunglasses for the way up and goggles for the way down. Overall, I found the SuperFlow system to be a true game changer, which is rare thing to say about ski goggles.
Julbo Lightyear Ski Goggles Review: Conclusion
Julbo has a real winner on their hands with the Lightyear goggles. This is an excellent fitting ski goggle with great vision and comfort. REACTIV Technology photochromic lenses quickly adapt to most lighting conditions you will encounter on the mountain and there are versions available for wherever you ride most. The SuperFlow Anti-Fog Ventilation System is a true game-changer for quickly venting heat and defogging and makes the Lightyear an amazing choice for hard-charging skiers and riders and also for those who enjoy hiking the side/backcountry. Overall, it’s hard to find fault with the Julbo Lightyear and it gets my highest recommendation if you’re searching for a top-of-the-line goggle. For more info or to pickup a pair for yourself, visit www.backcountry.com or www.amazon.com.
Julbo Lightyear Features (From Julbo):
- Intended Use: The frameless design and XL-sized spherical REACTIV photochromic lens are ideal for all conditions and all types of skiing and riding. SuperFlow Pro’s anti-fog ventilation system benefits backcountry skiers and resort riders alike. The Lightyear replaces the Aerospace in Julbo’s goggle line. Lens Height (mm): 92, Lens Width (mm): 165, Weight: 140g.
- SuperFlow Pro: SuperFlow Pro utilizes an integrated magnetic system and hinge design for hassle-free fog and moisture management. Switch the lens open, even with gloves on. Integrated magnetic closure tightly locks the lens to the frame.
- Air Flow: Ventilation incorporated into the frame and lens promotes air circulation to prevent fogging.
- Anti Fog Coating: The inner surface of the lens has an additional coating to prevent fog buildup.
- Wide, Double-Adjustable Strap: The 45mm-wide strap has assertive style and guaranteed grip. Two loops on either side allow for symmetrical adjustability and compatibility with all helmet types and sizes.
- Dual-Density Foam: Two layers of foam provide an optimal fit, with a soft-touch layer for comfort against the skin.
- Frameless Construction: The minimalist frame gives an extra-wide field of view with zero obstruction laterally and vertically. The strap is inserted directly into the frame for a minimalist look.
- Full Silicone Strap: Three silicone strips ensure perfect grip.
- Ventilated Lens:Additional ventilation via the lens prevents any fogging.