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Long-term review: Julbo Dirt photochromic & polarized sunglasses

Eighteen months ago I purchased the Julbo Dirt sunglasses with a photochromic and polarized Zebra lens. This was my second pair, with the first pair being unfortunately lost after a few years of use. Based on product specs and photos, I see no material differences between the original Dirt and current Dirt 2.0.

I’m hard on sunglasses. They receive almost daily wear, mostly on long trail runs and overnight backpacking trips. The backpacking trips are especially hard on the lenses: dust and dirt accumulate on the surfaces, and I may not have filtered water or a clean microfiber cloth to properly rinse them.

Atop 13,000-foot Mt. Goddard in Kings Canyon National Park, High Sierra, CA. Don't forget your sunglasses, sunscreen, and full-coverage clothing.

Atop 13,000-foot Mt. Goddard in Kings Canyon National Park, High Sierra, CA. Don’t forget your sunglasses, sunscreen, and full-coverage clothing.

Sunglasses seem absurdly priced, but it’s essentially a cost-of-living expense in sun-blessed Colorado. I start looking for a discounted replacement pair once the lenses become annoyingly scratched up.

This time, I again went with Julbo, which I know have the build quality, performance, and fit that I want. I also kept with photochromic (“transition”) lenses, which have a wider usable range than static lenses.

The Julbo Run with the same polarized and photochromic Falcon lens is currently available for $76 from Backcountry.com, which is 60% off. Two-day shipping is free. This is the best price I’ve seen in months, so I went for it.



I already own a Run model, too, but with dark polarized lenses. The Run and Dirt are very similar. Both are sized 66/17/125 (lens/bridge/temple). The Run wraps the face slightly more, which provides better protection and stability, but less airflow.

Prior to the Run Rabbit Run 100 on a sunny day in Steamboat Springs, CO. If you could see my eyes through my glasses, they probably would have looked nervous.

Prior to the Run Rabbit Run 100 on a sunny day in Steamboat Springs, CO. If you could see my eyes through my glasses, they probably would have looked nervous.

Review: Julbo Dirt Sunglasses

My Dirt sunglasses have been worn for hundreds of days. Per use hour, I paid pennies.

Frames

The frames are well constructed. They are lightweight but solid. The hinges still pivot freely, but with enough resistance to avoid feeling loose.

On both sides, the shiny Julbo logo popped out of its cradle. They were purely cosmetic and I did not bother to glue them back in.

Fit

At least on my face, the Dirt fit extremely well. They nestle against my browline, cheek, and nose; there is some room between the frame and my temple, but I appreciate the airflow that this affords.

During jarring activities like running, they stay put. I never have to push them back onto my nose after they bounce or slide off. When not in use, they sit securely atop the brim of my cap or visor.

Death by a hundred scratches. Even with good care, over time my lenses get excessively scratched, and begin to hinder instead of enhance my vision.

Death by a hundred scratches. Even with good care, over time my lenses get excessively scratched, and begin to hinder instead of enhance my vision.

Lenses

The Dirt 2.0 are available with multiple lenses. Mine, which were polarized and photochromic Falcon lenses, no longer appear available. Instead, there are:

  • Photochromic Zebra and a less dark Zebra Light,
  • Polarized Spectron 3+, and
  • Non-polarized and non-photochromic Spectron 3CF

For my purposes, I consider photochromic lenses to be a must, as I can wear them in variable light conditions that change by the minute or day. In my opinion, they are worth the extra expense. Static lenses are better for, well, static conditions or lower performance.

Ultimately, my current lenses have become too scratched to be enjoyable to wear — they are hindering, not enhancing, my vision. It’s time for a replacement.


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7 Responses to Long-term review: Julbo Dirt photochromic & polarized sunglasses

  1. sean November 10, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

    I’ve used both “fancy” sunglasses and the $10 Walmart ones, and I have settled on the latter. They’re comfortable enough during 12+-hour days in all sorts of mountains, they block UV, and I don’t care if I lose or damage them.

    • Junco November 12, 2016 at 7:39 am #

      I don’t mean to knock the glasses reviewed because I am sure they’re great, but I too prefer cheap glasses. I use, abuse, and lose them I get 3M brand tinted safety glasses from home depot. They are only like $5, light weight, UV protective, shatterproof, and look good. I dont see the value in buying a pair of glasses like these that literally cost 20 times more.

      • Andrew Skurka November 12, 2016 at 9:30 am #

        Lucky you. I wish I could find a pair of cheap sunglasses that I liked, because a pair of Julbo’s or whatever sure as heck don’t look or feel like they should cost $180 retail. But given that I wear them almost daily, I figure that $75 is a worthwhile expense. YMMV.

  2. Alex Tarra November 10, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

    Bought right away. Probably of the same stock as yours. It won’t make me as good backpacker or runner as you, but I know that would be quality sun glasses

  3. Andrew Skurka November 11, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

    The new Run pair arrived today. They are remarkably similar to my old pair of Dirts, a few subtle differences but nothing material.

    The big difference is that they are new, and the lenses are beautiful, not a scratched up mess. Back in the game.

    Julbo Run v Dirt

  4. Bryan November 12, 2016 at 11:36 am #

    Hard to beat the Falcon lenses. Great for the daily commute as well. The photochromic lenses work behind the windshield. On my second pair of Run after a gnarly bike crash obliterated the first. Big fan.

  5. Mat March 29, 2017 at 11:12 am #

    Having worked in the optical field for quite sometime, I will tell you that the UV protection is very short lived in the budget models and suboptimal at best. They maintain their tint which leads people to believe that they are maintaining their UV blocking ability, but sadly this is not the case. When it comes to protection and maintaining longevity in this sport, I cannot imagine money better spent then on a pair of quality sunglasses. For any outdoor activity, this should be your first sound investment as they are truly a multi-sport / multi-activity / multi-use tool If well taken care of, they will last a very very long time.

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