Regardless of the season, alpine travel demands quality eyewear. Whether it’s the piercing white of snow and glaciers or the continuous bright-flecked gray of a granitic landscape, the mountains can take a toll on unprotected or poorly protected eyes. Julbo has a long history of meeting that need with various models of feature-rich alpine sunglasses, and the Sherpa is their most boiled down pair of glacier glasses yet. This review of the Julbo Sherpa dives into whether that budget-friendly approach pays off.
Julbo Sherpa Glacier Glasses Features:
- Spectron 3+ polycarbonate lenses block 100% of UV rays and 88% of visible light creating a clear image
- A flash treatment to lenses reinforces the filtering of visible light though a mirror effect
- Moldable ear temples offer added security with a customized fit
- Vented leather side shields block peripheral light and can be removed as needed
- Comes with a nylon keeper strap and carrying case
- Weight: 27.2 grams
- MSRP: $50.00
Small Price Tag, Mighty Performance
I’m a person with unfortunately sensitive eyes, so an effective pair of sunglasses is of fundamental importance to me. I bought the Julbo Sherpa because my previous pair of sunglasses let in a bit too much light around the edges and left me with tired eyes and a headache after long days climbing in the Eastern Sierra. Seeing the side shields and thick bridge of the Sherpas, I was hopeful for relief.
Out of the box, the Sherpas prove themselves to be of basic construction. With integrated plastic nose pieces and small plastic pin connections which join the side shields with the frame, it’s immediately evident that these sunglasses cut certain quality features to shave down their price. The curious exception to this rule is the side shields, which are made of a soft, yet durable leather. Given that these side shields are in constant contact with your face in order to reduce light transmission, their supple nature is very much appreciated.
After having taken the Sherpas on long trips over Sierra granite and on car-to-car missions on North Cascade glaciers and peaks, I’m happy with how these glasses block light, although they don’t do it perfectly. The side shields are generally effective in blocking light around the edges of the glasses, though slight gaps exist where the side shield and the glasses frame meet. Those gaps let in light, and minimal light also permeates through the shields’ ventilation holes. The bridge of the glasses is solid and wide enough that no light makes its way through in that area while I wear them, nor does any significant gap exist in the fit between the frame and my face, effectively blocking light from above and below.
The lenses themselves cut down glare significantly, and reduce eye fatigue at the end of a long, bright day, even if they aren’t polarized. Polarization would be a very handy feature for the Sherpas. The light filtration and mitigation of these sunglasses is quite good thanks to decent lenses and generally effective side shields, but they do come with a limited field of vision. The Sherpas have a relatively narrow design with oval lenses which sit more or less flat against the face. That flatness reduces peripheral vision. The result is a very mild tunnel-vision, but I didn’t find it to be too disruptive most of the time.
Another notable feature of the Sherpa is the soft rubber arms which wrap around the wearer’s ears. These arms are very flexible, making it a breeze to put on and take off the glasses. They’re soft against the skin and conform well to the sides of the head. The curve of the arm which wraps around the ear is quite comfortable as well, and keeps the sunglasses from sliding off when you look down, a problem which I run into frequently when rock climbing in other pairs of sunglasses.
After a number of trips testing out the Julbo Sherpas, I find myself reaching for them more than any other pair of glasses I own. They’re comfortable on my face, they keep my eyes feeling good, they’re secure, and they’re durable enough to remain unscratched after quite a bit of rough treatment. While they may not be the sunglasses to take out to the beach with the family or walk around town in – they lack the required aesthetic in my book – they’re a go-to when it comes time to go on high alpine adventures.
- Lightweight and Comfortable
- Secure, Close fit
- Effective light filtering and mitigation
- Not polarized
- Slightly impeded field of vision
- Make you look like Mole from Disney’s Atlantis
The Bottom Line: Julbo Sherpa Glacier Sunglasses
There are a number of other glacier glasses available with larger and more impressive feature lists, but the Julbo Sherpa Glacier Sunglasses deliver exactly what the average mountaineer and alpine traveler needs at a price point that isn’t matched in the market today. And, they’ll consistently outperform your average pair of sunglasses when it comes to blocking light.
Buy Now: Available from Backcountry.com