Julbo Aerospace, another pair of goggles in the endless array of goggles already on the market? Not so fast, something about these makes them just a bit different than the rest and that difference could change your resort or backcountry experience tremendously. The Julbo Aerospace Goggle uses “Reactive” technology which is essentially a photochromic lens for the ski industry, all that means is that when it’s brighter outside the lens becomes darker. Pretty cool stuff, when you think about never having to change lenses again. Whats even better is that in changing conditions your lenses can keep adapting giving you the best visibility possible. However, has Julbo done enough to encompass all the possible conditions in just one set of goggles?
Julbo S2 Lens
You set out early in the morning, just to get the first chair. They crank up the lifts and finally, your boots hit the snow and it is great. Clouds sock in the local hill, powder flies and all is right in the world. Eventually, morning becomes afternoon and the clouds that once kept things fresh have now begun to burn off. Dark turns to light, the fog clears and the snow that was once smooth and un-tracked is now filled with moguls and chunder. The goggles that you had set up for a low vis scenario are suddenly rendered obsolete. So, of course, you get your spare high light lenses out of your pack and change them out… or not?
First off, it’s hardly apparent that the lenses are becoming darker or lighter while wearing them. I did some experiments covering half the lens in full sun for a couple of minutes then quickly putting them on to see the change, it works! The exterior reflective or polarized surface always remains, this never changes but rather the darkness of the lens itself. I was using the “S2” snowtiger lens, it seemed to work pretty well in most of the conditions I encountered, from full-on storm skiing to sunny bluebird days. In all conditions contrast seemed good, it was easy to make out details and there was little glare that might. That being said they’re just a step down from total blackout lenses on sunny days and just a step up from full clear lenses on overcast days. There certainly were times when I wished they were just a bit lighter for those weird stormy-foggy-low light days that give us the most trouble. It’s possible another lens the “S1” zebralight might be more appropriate for this type of conditions but for the most part I was quite satisfied with the performance. I did scratch the lenses riding through the trees but not any easier than any other goggles I’ve ever used in the past.
The frame seemed sturdy and to fit well on my face, vent away the fog and the strap adjusted easy and never came loose which I was stoked about which brings us to the next innovation, the “superflow system.” It took me a bit to figure this out but a black plastic wing shaped bar comes in the box. On each side of the frame, there’s a tab that pulls out then folds out, pulling the lenses away from the frame that leaves a generous gap. The black wing bar then inserts into the top and has grooves and tongues that snap into place, creating a huge vent. The only scenario I can think of where you would use this is in the spring where you might be riding in tee-shirts and shorts because of how warm it is. I don’t see this being useful in the backcountry maybe when hiking up because the wingbar could be lost pretty easily. To be honest This setup feels pretty flimsy and sometimes the pull-out tabs open when I don’t want them to and have to be snapped back into place. I wish this whole feature was integrated into the frame instead of having extra pieces to be lost, if that was the case I would probably try to use it but never got the hankering to do so. One other detail I like a lot is the case that comes with it, as its a combo of hard and soft case that protects the lenses but fits in my backcountry pack and doesn’t take up too much space.
All in all, I like these goggles. They’re easy to use, hassle-free and the not changing lenses, forgetting lenses at home and just riding without thinking about gear or visibility is extremely nice. The transforming ability of the “superflow system” isn’t all that but you don’t have to use it and I never had a problem with lens fogging, to begin with. I’m going to keep using the Julbo Aerospace Goggle ($239.95) this season and see what happens but I do miss my clear lenses on those all-out wild storm days where the powder is deep and the conditions are harsh.