Gearbox: 2024 Sunglasses

Julbo Density

In an age where­ oversize shades reign, the Julbo Density operates in contrast. “Super lightweight and remarkably minimal,” our tester said of these 20-gram sunglasses. The seamless user experience isn’t just due to weight savings. In addition to resting lightly on your face, the lens reliably adjusts to changing light thanks to Julbo’s Reactiv technology. “Day or night, snow or shine, these shades kept my eyes comfortable,” our tester applauded after testing the Density on backcountry epics. “Just beware of the side- and undereye exposure,” she added, noting the smaller surface area of coverage on sunny, snowy days. Still, these have become “my go-to,” says our tester. “Ski, run, drive, I feel like they’re barely noticeable while always protecting my eyes.”

Kavu Sun Seeker

“For the price, these exceeded all my expectations,” said a tester who usually rocks shades in the $200 range. In Kavu’s new polarized sunglasses, she found a comfy fit that didn’t slip down her nose, a wide field of vision and crisp contrast without color distortion. “They worked on the sunniest days and transitioned to partly cloudy without fuss,” she elaborated. “The wide-lens style works as a goggle replacement on backcountry tours and is chic for walking around town.” For all the praise, she noted one major issue: On hot skintracks, her body’s heat made the lens fog. She concluded, “Though the price and durability make me think less about throwing them in my pack without a case, the fogging will make me think twice before packing these for warm spring tours.”

Dynafit Sky Pro

An astounded tester went straight from using his headlamp on a predawn tour to protecting his eyes from blowing snow in the morning twilight with the Sky Pro. “Incredible low-light performance,” he said of the photochromic Divel Optics lens Dynafit says is meant for everything from glacier touring to storm days. The Sky Pro’s ventilation kept him from fogging, even on high-output bootpacks, while the removable side shields kept snow and sun from bothering his retinas. “I barely noticed them because of the comfy Grilamid frame, wide lens and shockingly effective brow pad, which nestled against my forehead and caught my dripping sweat,” he said. His only bad experience was he got a face full of snow after keeping them on for an overhead pow descent, but that’s his fault, not the sunglasses’.

Scott Riff Polarized

“Who says you have to sacrifice fashion over function?” our tester challenged, sneaking one last rearview mirror peek at her Scott Riff sunglasses before hopping on the skintrack. With a sleek, minimalistic design that features a keyhole shaped bridge, these shades kept our tester feeling fly even when both her skis were on the ground. Thanks to Scott’s polarized lens technology, our tester’s above-treeline views were crisp and 100% UV protected. “I used to have sunglasses for skinning and sunglasses for aprés-ski,” she said,” but now I have one pair that does it all.” Made from recycled materials, Scott’s Riff polarized sunglasses and complimentary stow bag provide our tester with comfort of eye and mind, too.

Sweet Protection Memento Rig Reflect

Our tester’s favorite thing about his white-framed Mementos? “They make me look like Macho Man Randy Savage,” he said. His next favorite: “Even though the Rig Aquamarine lens is dark, everything is crisp.” Sweet Protection claims its Rig lens tech filters out harmful light waves, reducing eye fatigue and providing superior contrast. The Aquamarine lens is for sunnier conditions, but other versions of the Memento come with lenses that allow more light transmission for cloudier days. The rigid frame is light and comfortable, he said, and even though it gives enough space for his luscious eyelashes, the super-wide lens blocks sunlight from the sides. In sum, like the Macho Man himself, these are the cream of the crop, our tester said, “and the cream always rises to the top.”

Smith Pursuit

“And just like that, I’m ready to complete The Fifty,” joked our tester after first sliding on the Cody Townsend-designed Smith Pursuit sunglasses. In all seriousness, though, this sunglasses-loving backcountry fanatic was impressed, saying, “Smith truly thought of everything: glacier compatibility, wide field of vision, safe-but-compact case and photochromic lenses.” Featuring durable side shields and a removable nose shield, a snug croaky you can attach for extra security and a goggle-like field of vision, our tester admits, “These are built for skiing/riding—they’re my sunglasses and goggles any backcountry day.” In particular, she appreciated the broad, squared-off design, which she found “eliminated any gaper-esque gaps between my hat/helmet,” and the photochromic lenses that kept lighting “just right.”

The first five of these reviews were originally published in Issue No. 156. To read more, pick up a copy, or subscribe to read our gear reviews when they’re first published in print.

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