The other day I attended a costume party (I live in Nelson, BC and those tend to happen a lot) and I donned a pair of ski goggles circa 1980. You know the ones: flimsy, foam-enshrouded lenses that fog up the second they touch your head and provide little-to-no ventilation. Goggle technology has come a long way in the past three decades but ventilation’s always been a bit of an issue – no matter how many holes you poke in the frames, the fact is they’re sitting directly on your hot face so the inside of the lens is subject to perspiration while the outside is just a big window slamming against the cold and wind. For this reason, the only time I wear goggles is when I’m skiing down something. If I’m standing at the top of a run, skinning up or sitting on the patio at the lodge enjoying an aprés beer, I’ll either have my goggles pushed back on top of my forehead or I’ll be wearing sunglasses or nothing at all. Until recently that is.
France-based company Julbo has launched its Aerospace goggle that foregoes the idea that ventilation requires more holes in the frame and instead offers a hinged system that allows you to pull the entire lens one centimetre away from the frame, thus providing maximum airflow. Founded 126 years ago by Jules Baud, who originally made goggles for masons, Julbo now makes 37 different styles of goggles but the Aerospace definitely stands out on its own. Here’s what the company has to say about it:
“With Aerospace, Julbo has created the first goggle that works just as well when climbing as hurtling down the mountain. This goggle came about in response to feedback from riders on the approach routes, before tackling the virgin slopes. To avoid misting during ascents, the SuperFlow System enables the screen to edge forward for greater ventilation, while remaining perfectly protected from the sun’s rays.”
For this review, I took the Aerospace goggles to the resort, the sidecountry and the deep backcountry to see if they worked on the up just as well as the down.
Features of the Julbo Aerospace Goggles
- Axis Strap (a pivoting joint that allows for better helmet compatibility)
- Anatomic frame
- Anti-fog coating
- 4-cm-wide silicone strap
- Symmetrical adjustment (2 loops on either side of the strap can be adjusted)
- Dual soft foam
- Minimalist Frame
- Spherical lens
- “Superflow System” allows you to move lens away from frame for ventilation
Let me say right off the start that the Julbo Aerospace goggles are without a doubt the best ventilated goggle I’ve ever put on my face. It’s amazing what one centimetre of airflow can accomplish. When pulled out, the lens doesn’t touch the frame except for at the small side hinges and so air is allowed to pass through the top, bottom and sides. I experimented with them in all kinds of conditions, including a sunny +8°C spring ski day, and when the lenses were pulled out, they never fogged. Ever. Occasionally they’d mist up slightly if the lenses were pushed against the frame and I was sweating like a St. Bernard at a summer picnic but all I’d have to do is reach up, pull the lenses out slightly and they’d clear in seconds. There’s a reason these goggles have won so many accolades, including Outside magazine’s “Best in Show” – it’s because they’re damn good. And they better be for the sticker price of $250.
Another feature I absolutely love about the Julbo Aerospace goggles is the soft case. In so many instances the bag your eyewear comes in is a flimsy throwaway or it’s a bulky hard shell but in this instance Julbo combined the best of both worlds. By inserting a hard plastic shield in the front of the soft carry bag, the company has ensured your lenses are protected but hasn’t forced you to cart around a large case.
Skiers and snowboarders can order the Aerospace goggles with four different Julbo lens possibilities including the zebra photochromatic (categories 2-4 and 1-3), snow tiger photochromatic; and cameleon polarizing photochromatic. Mine came with the latter and the clarity of the lens was exceptional. At times it seemed a bit dark, especially in flat light scenarios, but unless you’re using a clear or ruby-tinted lens, I don’t imagine any other product would offer better visibility.
I will say that it took me a little while to figure out the nuances of grabbing the lens hinges with my gloves on and pulling them out from the frame. But putting them back in is a simple one-handed movement of pushing them against your face. Also, I should be clear for those who might call me out when they see me skinning up in the backcountry without wearing the Julbo Aerospace goggles that I’m not a huge fan of donning helmet and goggles on the uptrack. I find both to be a bit claustrophobic. For the purposes of this review I did wear them and, as mentioned above, the goggles ventilated perfectly, but it’s my personal preference to wear a toque and sunglasses on the way up. However, I do use them all the time on the chairlift, on the down and, in a few memorable instances, sitting in the sunshine beside a backcountry hut swilling a cold beer and enjoying a perfectly clear view.
Julbo Aerospace Goggle Specs
- Price: $250
- Includes 1 pair of goggles and one soft case with hard shield
- Colours: blue; grey; black; steel; red
- Available lenses: zebra; snow tiger; cameleon