Product - Julbo Breeze light
Price - Approx £105 (varied prices on internet)
Tested - 3 months + Snowdonia 75km Ultra.
As runners, we are outside a lot, year round, in all weathers. We choose our footwear with precision, we choose clothes that don't chafe or hold sweat, compression socks for quick recovery and most wear head protection to keep us safe in the sun. But how many of of you protect your eyes? Based on my race across Snowdonia last weekend, not many!
In my almost 20 years of running, I have been slack. I have bought many pairs of glasses only to discard them and slip back to my normal ways. I do regret it though, as last year I was told I had irreversible sun damage in my eyes. On reflection not a surprise from the years of running I have done. This damage however doesn’t only happen in the summer either. Last November, I was racing 55 km on the Gower Peninsula. It was a wet, misty day, not a glimpse of sun in the sky. I was leading lady from the beginning and I worked hard to maintain my lead. When the last 10km approached, the weather was improving and I could finally see the beauty of the Gower that had been hidden in a thick mist for most of the race. The last 7 km was along the bottom of a valley and the thought of an easy route to the finish line was welcome. Down the last quad grinding descent and a right turn to cruise through the valley home. But it was tough…or so very tough. The valley was more of a river. Water almost up to my knees for at least 3 kms. The hardest thing of all though was the sun. As it was nearing the end of the day, the bright sun was very low and peaking above the summit of the hill, added to this, the stark reflection on the water below meant the glare was in front and from the ground. I couldn’t see a thing. I tried to shade my eyes from the direct sun so I could see my route but it made no difference. It was miserable and uncomfortable and I wished I had my glasses to add some relief. I hadn’t really thought much of it until the next day when my right eye was bright red and moving it from side to side brought a pain at the back of my eye that made me realise some damage had been done. When your eyes are the most painful thing after an ultra, you realise you’ve made mistake. Once I had had it looked at, I had suffered from something similar to snow blindness when the retina is damaged from the bright glare of the sun on the snow. It sounded about right.
I needed to take some steps to stop this happening again, but I knew for me to be consistent with wearing glasses all year round, I had to find a pair of glasses that felt like they weren't there at all! I've seen lots of top athletes where Julbo glasses, so I was very hopeful when I got a pair to try. The Julbo Breeze sell themselves as being designed for harsh trails where the runner needs to stay focused. They provide excellent coverage so ensure the runner has a perfect field of vision. So how did they test?
Fit and robustness
10 / 10
They boast to be fully adjustable so can fit any shaped face. The arms and nose piece can mould to suit any face frame. They fit me perfectly without the need to adjust but look what they can do! The arms are totally flexible so can be moulded to your face or change shape if you are wearing a hat for example. They are adjustable all along the arms from the temples. Another advantage of this is that they are robust! Not only do we obviously need need robustness on the trails, I can't count the numerous pairs of glasses that has been broken by my children. These seem fairly indestructible and that is winning point for me and helps justify the cost. The fit is so good, I don't notice I'm wearing them. I have knocked mine a few times and the lens simply clicks out and clicks straight back in again with no effort.
All in all, this is the most important part of the glasses. I tested the photochromic and anti fog zebra red lens. The features are so amazing impressive so read carefully.
1. The photochromic Lens offers optimum vision regardless of light levels. It means the lens responds to the level of sunlight, getting lighter as the sun goes in (level 1) and darker as it gets brighter (Level 3). For me this has been a revelation. Most of my glasses in the past have had interchangeable lenses. Not only are they a bit of a faff but not much use if you have gone out with clear lenses and suddenly faced with bright sunshine. With the Julbo's, it took me a while to get used to the fact that when I ran into shaded woods, I didn't need to put my glasses up on my head. The Breeze quickly adapts to the reduced light and the lens lightens almost immediately. As a result you can wear these glasses night and day for 24 hours without the need to take them off.
2. They have an anti fog coating on the inside to stop you steaming up. I can honestly say in the 3 months of using these glasses, I have not fogged up once so it is clearly affective.
3. The Zebra light Red lens that features in these glasses accentuates the terrain so the runner can read it better whilst moving. In my race across Snowdonia, I was faced with some very technical trails and the glasses did not hamper the clearness of my vision at all.
4. They have a hydrophobic coating on the outside that sheds water and repeals oil, perfect for the muddy Winter trails and yes they do work.
5. All the lenses are scratch resistant and shatter proof! Julbo claim to could take a sledge hammer to them and they would not break. They say the material used in the lenses are the same as a helicopter windshield so you can't get better protection than that (I will still have to take their word for it though as I love them too much to test this claim!).
I have been running for almost 20 years now and I have had countless pairs of glasses, Nike, Oakley, Bloc to name a few. I can honestly say, hand on heart, these win hands down. The comfort, fit, adaptability to the environment is perfect for a trail runner, especially one that is going to be out for hours on end and altering weather and terrain. They come in the most amazing colours (I have my eyes on some more!) which make is almost impossible to choose.