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.


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.


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.


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.

Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content

This website is supported by affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors like Amazon or REI, at no cost to the reader. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Posted in , on November 10, 2016


  1. sean on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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.

  6. One-arm Joe on December 29, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    I’m a believer in quality shades as well. I like Costas. I like glass lenses too. Plastic scratches too easily.

    Recently my 10 year old Costa Blue Waves broke in half at the bridge. I called Costa in Florida to see about ordering new ones, and the nice lady said “Sir, our glasses are guaranteed for life!”

    So I sent them in, they notified me that the Blue Waves were no longer available, and suggested Howlers as a similar fit.

    Charged me $12 shipping and handling for a new pair of $200 glasses.

    I’m happy. Cheap sunglasses, like most cheap stuff, are cheap because they suck. Nothing is more important to me than my ability to see.

    Good glasses are worth every nickel.


  7. One-arm Joe on December 29, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    By the way, that “verify” system is really annoying, Andrew. You could do better, I’m sure.

  8. Dewitt Hayes on April 5, 2018 at 3:31 am

    I slipped one time and my Julbo lens hit very hard right on the lip of a wheelbarrow, the lens was scratched but didn’t break. The money I saved from emergency room and eye surgery makes the Julbos a bargain.

  9. Talimon on February 7, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Has Julbo dropped the Dirt? Any experience with their current line-up?

    • Andrew Skurka on February 10, 2019 at 7:12 am

      Yes, and no.

      If you can find specs on the models that you liked, that will help narrow your search in their new line.

  10. Ro on June 7, 2019 at 5:55 am

    What do you think of sunglasses retainers, like Chums?
    Do you use retainers ? Why?

  11. Dogwood on February 25, 2020 at 12:31 am

    On hikes and casual hipster wear thoroughly enjoy the durability and clarity of Oakley Holbrook Prizm lenses. An added worthy feature is different non stratospheric priced Prizm lens are easily interchangeable. The price tag is competitive with the Julbo Dirt with the current Dirt’s retail price twice the Oakley Holbrook. Another worthy feature from my perspective is they aren’t screw hinged making new arms easy to snap in without any special tools or micro screws which I tend to loose. On backpacking trips I also experience less scratches with rather flat lenses and flat frame designs rather than rounded lenses and slightly rounded frames/nose bridges as the Dirt. The one potential down side of the Holbrook snap in arm design is they loosen if the fit is not appropriate or one abuses their sunglasses. I get away with less of a wrap around closer fitting design in sunny clear conditions because I too rock a visor.

    Although Oakley specs the Prizm Ruby/Copper base for bright light I find they work well enough on intermittent low light forested trail conditions for hiking as well. I switch to the Prizm Sapphire for mostly bright sunny saltwater fishing or switch to blue mirror Costas. For sight fishing for trout on rivers and streams I switch to higher contrast green mirror lenses.

    You rocked the Julbos on sunny and mostly clear Mt Goddard and Rabbit Run though.

  12. Laurens on February 9, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    I’m thinking of buying photochromic sunglasses too from Julbo, but I’m wondering whether I should go for the 7-35% VLT without polarization or 5-20% VLT with polarization. I’ll be using it for a PCT nobo / Pyrenees summer. Do you have any suggestions which one I should pick?

    • Andrew Skurka on February 10, 2021 at 6:09 pm

      My Julbo Shield sunglasses are approaching their two-year mark. I had to buy new lenses after a year because one of the coatings was coming off, but when I called customer service I received a huge tip that has kept this second pair of lenses like-new for a year now: instead of washing them with body soap (Dove is the standard for my post-run showers), use dish soap. So I keep a small bottle of dish soap in my shower now, and it works great.

      To your question, I have REACTIV Performance 2-4 (Zebra) lenses, which are 7-35%. Save for extensive travel on snow-covered ground in the summer, this is what you want, because the usable range is notably greater. If you are going through the High Sierra early-season with a lot of snow still, you might find that they’re a little thin on protection. But the Julbo Sherpa glasses are only $50, and I wouldn’t hesitate to carry both pairs for a few weeks.

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