I love to ski. I’m a terrible skier, but I love being out in the woods or out on the slopes sliding around. Ever since I started skiing there has been one thing that I’ve always struggled with… Goggles.
I’m a wearer of glasses. When I was younger I wore contacts religiously, but eventually my eyes developed an aversion to them. Ever since that time I’ve worn glasses almost 100% of the time.
Most of the time it wasn’t really an issue. I picked up some prescription sunglasses for mountain biking, hiking, driving, kayaking, etc, and never really had much need for contacts. However, then I started skiing.
I tried goggles designed to fit over glasses, but they were no good. The options were limited and they were huge. I have a tiny, peanut-sized head and the larger goggles never fit very well with my face or under a small helmet.
Eventually, I picked up disposable daily contacts for ski days. This allowed me to wear whatever googles fit best. One pair of contacts for every ski day. This worked well, until I got my first alpine touring setup and started getting up early during the winter months to sneak in a run or two before work.
Once I started skinning before work I found myself not wanting to waste a pair of contacts for one, maybe two, runs. My prescription sunglasses didn’t fit under my helmet… so I just didn’t wear my helmet. But that felt wrong. Often we would be skiing in low light by headlamp in crappy conditions… and again, I’m not a great skier… so I really felt like I should be wearing my helmet.
What I needed was a pair of prescription goggles. So, I did some research and found that Julbo USA offered an optical insert for their goggles. I went and tried a few different goggle models untill I found a pair that fit well with my helmet, and then ordered the corresponding optical insert.
When the optical insert arrived I was a little worried that my optician wouldn’t know what to do with it, but when I took it to them they had no problem fitting lenses. In the end the optical insert cost $20, and the lenses were $150. Not cheap, but less expensive then using a pair of contacts every time I ski.
The inserts themselves fit inside the goggles pretty well. They are relatively easy to insert and remove, and stay in place once they’re in. It’s nice to be able to remove them, because when I do spend the whole day skiing I still prefer to wear contacts.
There are definitely pros and cons to the optical insert. Pros… I don’t need glasses or contacts to see, and I can use it in any of the adult sized Julbo Goggles and possibly even other goggle models. Cons… It does reduce your peripheral vision slightly, and the lenses are held at such an angle that when you turn your head there’s a slight shift in the image which can be a little disorienting. It hasn’t been a problem yet, but any time I’m going to spend a full day skiing I’m definitely wearing my contacts.
Other than the reduced peripheral vision and an ever so slight fun-house effect the optical insert has been great. I haven’t had any fogging issues, and while actually skiing I forget that they are there. I definitely think that contacts are the way to go for visually challenged skiers. They offer maximum peripheral vision without any other complications. However, if contacts aren’t an option than you should really consider an optical insert. They work pretty well, and in the long run are pretty cost effective.
After trying on a variety of Julbo goggles I decided to go with the Luna model. My head is pretty small and I wear a small sized helmet. The larger Universe goggle fit my face pretty well, but when worn with my helmet the it was too tall and got pushed uncomfortably into the bridge of my nose. The Luna model fit very similarly, but was just small enough to fit well with my small sized helmet.
Because I would be using these goggles primarily during early morning dawn patrols I wanted to go with the lightest colored lenses possible. I chose a model with the zebra light lens. This lens is photochromic going from very light yellow color which is plenty light enough to ski by headlamp, and darkens as it gets brighter. I’ve used the goggles in a variety of light conditions and I’ve never noticed the lens change colors… but I’ve also never wanted the lens to be darker or lighter.
Bottom Line: The Luna goggles are pretty dang good goggles. The photochromic lenses work very well without being noticeable. They’re comfortable, fit well, and offer a great field of view. Like anything they need to fit well with your face and helmet, but if you’re looking for a high quality pair of goggles for a variety of light conditions, and aren’t interested in swapping lenses… Check out the lineup from Julbo USA.