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Photochromic Polarized Goggles: Julbo vs Zeal

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm looking into snagging some new goggles. Been reading a bunch about the Zeals not being super impressive, but wondering if anyone had experience with the Julbo photochromic polarized goggles and the camel lense?


Or... alternatively, go with Smith i/Os and just swap lenses?



post #2 of 12

I haven't had luck with photo chromatic lens' in the past, but its been a while since I've tried them.  My "go to" goggles are the I/O's.  

As always YYMV. 

post #3 of 12
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

I haven't had luck with photo chromatic lens' in the past, but its been a while since I've tried them.  My "go to" goggles are the I/O's.  

As always YYMV. 


 +1 on the smith I/O's. I/O for larger faces.  


The smith ignitor mirror lens is a great all around lens. I use the sensor mirror lens on really really overcast days. The platinum mirror are perfect on a ultra bright spring day. Never change the lens, just have extra pair on hand - fully loaded and ready to go. Less breakage and finger prints.


Often the photo chromatic lens don't change fast enough when going into trees (shaded areas) from bright sun.   



post #4 of 12

I struggled with this decision 2 years ago, researched all available photochromatic lens goggles extensively and ultimately ended up purchasing both the Julbo photochromatic polarized and the Zeal SPPX product as well.  I was drawn to the Julbo because it had the widest range of change with respect to the amount of visible light transmission ("VLT") it allows.  On paper, the Julbo appears to work best on cloudy days when you want a low-light goggle while also darkening enough to be comfortable on the brightest days.  Having written that, the Zeal also had a great (albeit slightly less wide) range of VLT.


As a preliminary matter, I should mention that the Julbo is a French product and at least 2 years ago was only available through a distributor in New York.  The ordering process was a little cumbersome in that you could not just order the product from a website.  I had to correspond with the distributor by email, who then shipped the product to me.  The Zeals, on the other hand, are manufactured in Colorado and ordering was very easy.  In fact, I had a question related to the range of VLT and after submitting it, the President of the company wrote me back with a detailed explanation.  The customer service with the Zeals was top notch.


On my next ski trip to Aspen/Snowmass I tested each goggle as scientifically as I could.  My first day, I used the Julbo.  It was so nice not to have to carry 2 pair of goggles!  They worked well, changing just as advertised as I moved from sunny slopes to the shadows near tree lines.  At one point, the clouds rolled in and the goggles lightened significantly.  They performed just as advertised.  I should mention that the Julbos are somewhat narrow and are better for people with smaller faces.  For me, they were so narrow that I ended up with a gap between the top of the goggle and the brim of my Smith Variant Brim helmet.  A great feature of the Julbo is that it has a clip at the back of the strap which allows you to use it without a helmet, or to add in the included spacer strap to make it fit easily over a helmet.  Overall, I had a great experience with the Julbo.


The next day, I used the Zeal SPPX.  The first thing that I noticed was that the Zeal goggles are significantly larger.  If you have a small face and wear a helmet, the helmet may push the goggle down on your nose a bit.  However, the field of vision was SIGNIFICANTLY larger.  I had a much wider field of vision, and really could not see any limitation from the goggles.  I also found the goggles to have a crisper, clearer view.  It may be that the significantly wider field of vision prejudiced my evaluation, but to me there was really no competition.  The Julbos were good, but the Zeals were much better!


The third day, I took both sets of goggles out with me and switched back and forth throughout the day.  This experience confirmed my previous conclusions.


So, I ended up giving the Julbos to my teenage Son who loves them.  Last year, I bought the new Zeal Transcend with the GPS and related temperature, time, speed and vertical.  While expensive at around $500, they were really fun to use on the slope and also in the evenings when reviewing my runs from the day on my computer, overlayed over Google Maps.  I don't know what you have read about the Zeals, but can offer that I have been extremely pleased with mine.  Between the Julbos and Zeals, I don't think there is any question the Zeals are significantly better from a lens and field of vision standpoint.  If you have a small face, definitely opt for the Julbo product.


Good luck!


post #5 of 12

TexasSkiFan, That is a great comparison and review.icon14.gif

It would be great if you added your review info to the product pages.



Zeal Detonator SPPX Goggle Polarized

Zeal Eclipse SPPX Goggle Polarized


If you need the product page added for a specific model. I'd be happy to do so, just let me know!




Edited by Trekchick - 11/26/11 at 10:53am
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks, that was an awesome review!

post #7 of 12

Agreed that the Julbos tend to fit smaller faces.    I find them more color-neutral than the Zeals.


post #8 of 12

Great review -- a question, though; which Zeal frame did you use? There are several different ones, not all of which are huge. I have used the Link frame in various incarnations for the past 6 or 7 years, and I would characterize it as medium rather than large. My husband wears the Dominator, or maybe the Detonator; it's quite a bit larger.

post #9 of 12

I am so glad this topic came up and i thank texasskifan for his insights. I have been hard contemplating too between the new Zeal z3's and the I/O's. The problem is that when your skiing and you go in and out of glades, you dont have the time to stop and change the lens and then continue, it becomes kind of a hassle, even though it only takes 1-2 minutes. So as long as the Zeal Z3's are sufficient enough in respect to actually working is what i have been trying to find out. I am mainly purchasing them for use at whistler, and the light/weather is drastically different depending on where you are. Also really interested in the functionality of MOD-LIVE that goes with the new zeals. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is the lens itself so i have been torn between these two and havent been able to decide. If anyone has any experience with the new Zeal Z3's, i would love their input.

post #10 of 12
Originally Posted by KingGrump View Post



Often the photo chromatic lens don't change fast enough when going into trees (shaded areas) from bright sun.   



But you don't change your other goggles then, either, do you? Seems it's more weather-dependent than otherwise.

post #11 of 12
I have used both the Zeal Detonator PPX and the SPPX. Due to sizing, I have kept the PPX ( for a larger face) and my girlfriend now uses the SPPX. In Whistler flat light is frequent and highly variable weather and visibility conditions are common. The spherical version is amazing, and ifnthe size had been better I would have kept them for myself. They now have 2 different ranges of photochomatic light transmission.

Overall the goggles have exceeded my expectatons. They are not perfect, but as close as I cqn expect. and as pointed out previously, the guys at Zeal are excellent about any enquiries.

I recommend them for those looking for a reasonably outstanding one goggle solution. I will buy the spherical version if the size is increased slightly. Size is of course important so keep that in mind when buyong before trying.

post #12 of 12

Just bought some Zeal Links-And now there are several other brands that have photochromic options.  I will probably get another pair of light sensitives of either Scott or Bolle.  It is actually quite interesting that there are several VLT(visual light transmission options.) Julbo actually makes 3 different Photochromic options.  The falcon, and Zebra lens, and the best-and hardest to find-the Camel-which has the best % separation.  Often times, many online co's don't even know what they are selling and put the wrong descriptions/photos on the net.  It makes it quite diff. to find what you are looking for. Most Julbo's don't have lens vents-so if you sweat alot like me, they might not be a good option.  The ONE I really want is the Smith IO/x photchromic, but they are quite expensive and rarely discounted.  Which is too bad, because the Smith lens is 20-50%VLT-Probably the best overall ratio besides the Julbo Camel lens. I will update in a few weeks, after a couple of days on the slopes...You would think eventually that all lenses would go to light sensitive, but I guess that would eliminate too many other options that make co's millions every year...

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