Julbo Sniper: a goggle for us

The fat bike summit last month provided a mass case study in how neither goggles nor sunglasses work well for aerobic activities in especially snowy conditions. It was close to freezing, snowing hard, and there was only modest wind. Goggles fogged due to exertion, as did sunglasses, but squinting into the face of the blizzard was a poor alternative. Most picked that, though some choose to battle with the fog instead. There had to be a better way.

IMG_7877Apgar Range, today.  Still a bit thin, but great snow.

Nordic skiing, backcountry skiing, and snowbiking all have this problem. Thankfully Julbo makes a solution, the Sniper goggle.

Made for nordic racers and biathletes, the Sniper lens sits in a plastic ridge (the lime green thing) which rotates on joints above the temples.  The lens can be lowered, as above, or raised a little or as much as your clothing or anatomy will allow.  There is a padded brow ridge behind the part which holds the lens, and an adjustable headband holds this in place.  The lens serves as a very protective wraparound pair of sunglasses when lowered, albeit one with plenty of ventilation due to the distance it sits off your face.  Already thus predisposed to not fogging, if you put yourself in a situation where fogging is more likely, like stopping for a snack, just raise the visor and the problem is avoided.  It is possible to fog the lens, like today when I stuffed my nose down into my coat on the summit ridge to hide from the 50 mph wind, but again raising the lens just a bit solves the problem almost instantly.

The Sniper isn’t a substitute for goggles in all conditions; waist deep powder and eyeball searing cold will still demand full protection.  But most of the time these work great, and largely remove the futz factor of cleaning and de-fogging sunglasses.

The Sniper comes with either a photochromatic lens or a set of three interchangable ones.  I choose the later, which comes with a darker grey lens for bright days, a clear lens, and the tinted lens shown above.  I use this one 95% of the time, the modest amount of light filtration and contrast enhancement is ideal for our typical cloudy winter weather.  Construction is good, and the lenses are flexible enough that they should hold up to all but the most egregious face plants.  The first flaw is that while they come with a nice, and very large, storage case no cloth bag is provided for storage in the field.  The other flaw, more serious, is that due to the bulk of the joints I do not think they will work with any helmet, at least not without substantial modification of said helmet.

And naturally, the best part is how cool they look.


6 responses to “Julbo Sniper: a goggle for us”

  1. How do you think these would do over regular eyeglasses? Better than ordinary goggles?

  2. Great find Dave. My few ski trips this year have predominately been in conditions that required a ‘goggle’. My standard Smith low-light goggles work straight out of the bag but as soon as there is any moisture inside them from they fog like a bastard. The worst is on rolling terrain where you need to lift the goggles up onto your forehead during ascents, then the heat and sweat from your head fogs them up for good.

  3. Those look great. I could have used them this weekend. I spent a lot of time breaking trail while the heavy snow came down. I tried everything (wiping goggles, wiping sunglasses, squinting without anything and just putting up with foggy lenses). I’ll have to check these out.

    I wonder how well they would work under those conditions, though. If I’m grunting my way up a hill, than a lot of the moisture is coming from me. Specifically, a lot of it is coming up through my jacket, and out in the gap by my neck and chin. By tilting the goggle up, I’m afraid I would catch more of the rising moist air. Maybe a traditional goggle design with a hinge at the bottom might be more effective. On the other hand, that type of goggle would catch any moisture coming from above. There is no easy solution, but this is clearly better than regular goggles.

  4. How well do you think they’d work for standard cycling in adverse conditions? I was on a ride this afternoon when a blowing snowstorm moved in, and my glasses got fogged/snowy enough that I was effectively blind. Not fun.

    1. If you could get them to work with a helmet, they’d be excellent.

  5. There is another simmilar product by Gas-co I have been using for my winter bike commute and skinning with the same no fog results that I learned from a nordic racer. The helmet interface is a problem but I put them on the rim of my camp helmet and they are just a little farther off my face

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