Julbo Athlete Wears Glasses for Backcountry Skiing

Best Sunglasses For Backcountry Skiing

Goggles and skiing go hand in hand. But sunglasses are just as important in the mountains and particularly when skiing in the backcountry. They’re helpful on long days in sunny skintracks and keep your vision clear and your eyes protected on the approach, whether from bright solar glare or wind-driven snow. When the conditions are right, they can even replace goggles for the descent.

In the backcountry, you can experience everything from bright midday sun to overcast and whiteout conditions, which can lead to compromised visual clarity and eye strain. Ensuring clear vision and protection no matter the weather or time of day will enhance your day in the mountains. This makes selecting the right lenses one of the most important aspects of purchasing backcountry sunglasses. 

Julbo offers two styles of lenses:

REACTIV lenses offer Julbo's industry-leading photochromic technology which automatically changes from light to dark depending on ambient UV light. They offer the widest photchormic range and the fastest reaction time of any photchromic lens on the market.

REACTIV lenses are made from Trivex, an ultra-durable material that’s used in helicopter windshields and features superior optical. The photochromic technology is built into each lens, making it non-temperature sensitive and impossible to scratch or wear off over time. This allows Julbo to offer a lifetime warranty on all REACTIV lenses. Certain REACTIV lenses are also polarized, meaning they’ll eliminate glare off reflective surfaces, including snow and ice, and improve contrast. 

SPECTRON lenses are lightweight, made from durable polycarbonate and designed to offer powerful protection in the mountains. They are equipped with an anti-reflective coating to improve visual comfort and a flash finish that improves the filtration of visible light. Although highly durable, SPECTRON lenses are less scratch-resistant than mineral lenses and they do not adjust to different light like REACTIV lenses. They are, however, more affordable.

Alti Arc lenses provide excellent scratch resistance and superior optical quality that sets an industry benchmark for glacier glasses. They’re the only mineral lenses that Julbo offers and have an external anti-reflective coating to improve visual comfort by eliminating stray reflections and a flash finish that increases the filtration of visible light by applying a mirror effect to the lens. Mineral lenses can be more fragile than SPECTRON or REACTIV lenses but offer the absolute best optical quality.


Weight should always be a consideration with backcountry—ounces saved equal energy preserved, which adds up to more energy for the descent and more laps. Julbo’s sunglasses feature frameless and minimalist frame designs to keep weight down and provide a wide field of vision.


Sunglasses that fit properly and securely will dissolve into the background, allowing you to focus on route finding, observing snow quality, and enjoying your surroundings. Julbo sunglasses come in different frame sizes, from the larger Ultimate Cover to the medium-framed Shield M. Julbo also offers additional features that provide comfort and security.


Exposure to solar radiation increases significantly in the mountains—the snow reflects between 80 and 90 percent of radiation, compared to 20 percent on non-snowy ground. Combine this with wind and cold, and protection becomes essential. Every Julbo lens provides 100% UV A, B and C protection. Additionally some models, like the Ultimate Cover, Shield and Shield M, come with side and nose shields to provide additional protection from the elements


Fogged lenses can be a dealbreaker in the backcountry—the last thing you want is compromised vision during long and steep approaches. Julbo incorporates strategically placed venting into every frame, as well as an anti-fog coating to the inside of each lens. No matter the temperature or your effort, your vision will stay clear.


Julbo Density

Bold. Stylish. Functional. The Density reinvents the rules of performance eyewear with its ultramodern look and unrivaled features.

“The Density are the most comfortable and best-looking pair of shades in my quiver. Since they dropped, I haven’t worn anything else." —Tim Tollefson, Ultrarunner


FEATURES: A large cylindrical lens combines with a minimalist frame and moldable CustomFit Temples to offer a precise fit and a light-as-air feel. Enhanced security comes from soft grip inserts on the nose bridge and Grip Tech Temples that won't snag on hair or helmet straps. The wide lens provides an unrestricted field of vision while ventilation above the nose promotes airflow to eliminate fogging. If performance were measured by speed and style, the Density would be King of the Mountain.


A favorite of Julbo athletes Tim McChesney and Caroline Gleich, the shield-style Fury has a lightweight, fully vented frame and wide field of vision, keeping you covered, no matter the conditions.

“I’d recommend the Fury to backcountry skiers, trail runners and bikers. The REACTIV lens changes with the sunlight, and the glasses stay on without being too tight. They also cover a good portion of the face, which I love. Whether it’s nuking graupel in Alaska or I’m on a shady trail run, these glasses are my go-to.” —Madeline Dunn

FEATURES: The Fury is lightweight and designed to fit perfectly under any hat or helmet, with a wide, cylindrical lens for maximum field of vision. Strategically positioned vents prevent fogging during long approaches and hard efforts while the elastomer Air Link Temple System offers improved comfort and lightness. Available with polycarbonate SPECTRON lenses or REACTIV Photochromic lenses.


The Explorer 2.0 is Julbo’s flagship model for high mountain adventures.  With a more ergonomic design, better ventilation, slimmer design and expanded field of view the Explorer 2.0 meets the demands of extreme conditions without compromise.

"The Explorer 2.0 is my go-to for backcountry snowboarding. The lens is extremely versatile and protects my eyes on bright sunny days in the snow. The side shields are amazing for glacier trips and also for those cruisy laps when I don’t really need goggles—just a little something to keep the wind off my eyes. I wear them every day that I’m out in the mountains, whether it’s low-angle storm riding or long days in the big mountains.” —Zak Mills

FEATURES: The 360° Adjustable temples equipped with Grip Tech can be moved in any direction, while providing superior grip. The front venting keeps the lenses clear from fog no matter the temperature or effort. Removable side shields provide protection from the elements in extreme conditions. Available with polycarbonate Spectron lenses or REACTIV Photochromic lenses.


Built for anything you can toss at them, the Shield and Shield M glacier glasses perfectly combine on-mountain utility and off-mountain style. Both styles feature removable side shields for extra protection; the Shield M has a medium fit while the Shield has a large fit. 

“My all-time favorite is the Julbo Shield sunglasses. I have never worn a single set of sunglasses so much in my life—winter glaciers, summer tree work, around town and literally everything else. The full coverage, adaptability to varying light conditions and amazing styling have me hooked. I think these sunglasses are perfect for anyone who wants one pair of sunglasses that can do it all.” —Weston Deutschlander

FEATURES: The Shield’s lightweight polycarbonate frame provides full coverage, while Air Flow venting at the top and bottom of the frame prevents fogging during steep approaches or warmer conditions. Curved temples equipped with Grip Tech and Nose Grip technology provide a comfortable and secure fit with ample protection from harmful sunlight and glare. Both the Shield M and Shield come with removable synthetic side shields that are lightweight, soft and resistant to the elements. A silicone accessory cord is also included. Available with polycarbonate Spectron lenses or REACTIV Photochromic lenses.


For those focused on style and durability, the Cham is a mountaineering classic and a staple of the Julbo line.

“Out on the glacier these are hands down the best glacier glass around. And they’re super styling to boot. Gone are the days of your dad's glacier glasses.” —Forrest Coots

FEATURES: The Cham’s classic metal frames have been tested and approved by generations of mountaineers. While these frames are slightly heavier than their polycarbonate counterparts, they’ll bend instead of breaking in the event of an accident. The aviator shape is a throwback to classic mountaineering sunglasses. The temple arms, which feature a soft Grip Tech material, offer 360° of adjustability so they can be shaped for a custom fit. The Cham has Grip Nose Pads for additional comfort and security. The Cham’s leather side shields and nosepiece, which provide protection from glare and sunlight, are entirely removable. Available with polycarbonate Spectron lenses or mineral Alti Arc lenses.