Usual Retail Price: $100-200 depending on the lens
Lens we tested: Cameleon lens – category 2-4 photochromic polarized lens
Pros: the lens versatility, side panels, great contrast, anti-fogging, stylish
Cons: tighter fit for bigger faces
Julbo Montbianco sunglasses deliver superb eye protection from sun and UV rays on snow and ice with their rare category 4 lens. Also, the lens’ ability to transition between category 2 and 4 make them very versatile for various mountain adventures in different weather conditions.
Product Description and How We Tested It:
I have been using the Montebianco sunnies for over 6 months – about 40 days in total – mainly for skiing, but also for hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and little bit of cycling and running.
Julbo is the “original” mountain sunglasses brand and one of the most recognized names in the outdoor industry. For a couple of decades now, Julbo has been manufacturing eye protection for mountaineering on snow and high altitudes – environments where the sun rays reflection compounds the damaging effects on our eyes.
Julbo has been also specializing in transition lenses for long time and most of their other sunglasses go from category 1 (almost clear) to category 3 (comfortably dark) – these are mostly suitable for off-snow activities such as running, hiking or cycling. In total, there are 5 categories/filters to which sunglasses are categorized into, number five providing the most protection and being very dark.
The Montebianco model has been design for versatility, utility, style and most importantly to protect our precious eyes on snow and in higher altitudes. This Julbo model transitions from category 2 (their default state) to category 4 in a matter of seconds when the UV rays are strong enough.
Once the lens is in category 4 mode it is very dark and makes it very comfortable to be staring right into glaring snow reflection whole day. In fact, the lenses has been the darkest I have ever worn.
The lenses also offer a superb contrast vision that is very appreciated during overcast days or in flat light while skiing unknown or quickly changing terrain.
Some special coating on the insides of the lenses I have keep them from fogging up very well. There were few moments when I needed to remove the glasses and went them out a bit but this happens often with many full-frame sport sunglasses, especially when it’s very hot and humid and you are not moving very fast (breaking trail).
The “downside” of these category 4 transition lenses is that they don’t clear fast enough when I ski into the forest, or a very shaded area (under a cliff on a north slope for example).
Another cool feature are the removable soft side panels that protect eyes from UV rays coming from side angles which happens a lot in the mountains. They are great for winter and spring months and I didn’t feel they were needed in the summer unless I spent lots of time on snow/glacier.
Regarding the fit, like with any sunglasses, this is highly individual but they seem to fit great to medium male faces. They fit great even when used with a helmet – mountaineering or a climbing one.
The Montebianco frames are very durable while you want to be somewhat protective of the lenses to avoid scratches.
What We Think Could Be Improved:
There are many features that make the Montebianco model a great choice for your outdoor activities but of course, there are a couple of things that could be improved:
- Adding some rubberized areas on the legs/stems would help holding the glasses on a ski toque while not in use.
- It would be great if the transition from category 4 filter back to 3 or 2 if faster, however, I don’t know if this is technologically currently possible.
Buying Montebianco sunnies online: