Heading out to a glacier this summer? Then you’ll need suitable eyewear. Here’s our pick of the best ski sunglasses on the market, tested by our trusty Fall-Line team
1. Cébé Proguide
Tested by Martin Chester
SPEC: New for 18/19, with lateral protection, a ventilated frame and anti-slip rubber snosepads and temple tips. Comes in four colourways with various lens options: we tested it in matt blue/orange, with Variochrom Peak Grey AF Silver Flash Mirror Cat 2-4 lens.
VERDICT: I’m always looking for shades that bridge the gap between high mountain (Cat 4-5) and the valley. These have been developed in conjunction with the SNGM (French Mountain Guides) and it shows.
I gave them a proper testing in January sun in Val Cenis, and they were ideal. A slimline frame fits under helmet or over a beanie. Flexible yet grippy arms keep the glasses in place (even at speed).
Vents keep the lenses clear, even when you are working hard, and the close-fitting profile keeps the glasses close to your face – and shuts out light round the edges. The lenses react fast as the light changes.
The close fit means there is no room for a bushy mono-brow, but in these colours, only well-groomed hipsters need apply! In low light the lens colour could be better – but as one set of shades to see you from the summit to the bar, these are as good as it gets.
More information: cebe.com
2. Bollé Holman
Tested by Yolanda Carslaw
SPEC: These come with polarized Cat 3 lenses that have anti-reflective (warding off glare), oleophobic (repelling dirt and grease) and hydrophobic (anti-waterspot) treatments. The shape – with TR90 nylon frame – is available in six colourways, and several lens types.
VERDICT: Bolle produces unfailingly classy specs, and this pair, new for 18/19, are no exception. The first thing that stands out about these is the lightweight and slightly flexible frame, which feels robust without being meaty, and is extraordinarily comfy either teamed with a helmet or with a headband or beanie.
They sit fairly snugly to the face, and succeed in protecting the eyes from the headwind as well as sunlight: after blasting down the piste I didn’t look like I’d been weeping. Steaming-up wasn’t an issue during sweaty or stop-start episodes and the frame is seamless enough not to get caught in my over-curly hair.
The Cat 3 lens is designed for bright shining days rather than low light. These are made for a range of sun-drenched activities including watersports, but to my mind they’re too good to wear to the beach: I’d save them for the slopes.
More information: bolle.com
3. Bloc Titan PH630S Single Photochromic
Tested by Yolanda Carslaw
Bloc Titan PH630S Single Photochromic
SPEC: Adjustable nose pads, sports hinges, easy quick lens change system. Karbon TX frame and lightweight BX1000 core injected temple tips. Photochromic XTR Karbon8 Cat 1-3 lens, designed for virtually all light conditions.
VERDICT: I ski more often in sunnies than I do in goggles: when it’s not snowing, chilly or super-gloomy the specs get donned. The photochromic lens on these Blocs (a 30-year-old British company) is especially effective in low light, also doing the job when the sun materialises.
The frameless lower half provides optimal vision, and the adjustable nose-pads mean you can adjust the fit to your nose shape – and also choose how close they sit to your face. There are two small vents at the top of each lens, which give airflow without bringing a howling gale to your face.
The shape worked well uphill and down. I didn’t test them on a glacial spring tour, but in that scenario I’d take a suitable spare lens: you can pop it out quite simply by closing each arm 45 degrees: keep the handy little tag that explains how to do it in the case, as the manoeuvre isn’t obvious unless you know how.
More information: bloc.com
4. Julbo Explorer 2.0
Tested by Dickie Fincher
Julbo Explorer 2.0
SPEC: Polarised, anti-fog, photochromatic Cameleon lens, removable shields, flexible inserts at nose and temples, 360 adjustable temples.
VERDICT: I first tested Julbo goggles three years ago and was very impressed with the lens quality. I recently realised I’d been wearing Julbo specs with a Cat 4 high protection lens for years, so was keen to try the photochromatic version.
The Explorer 2.0 is the mountaineering frame and has various lens options as well as these polarised, anti-fogged Cameleons. This ranges from Cat 2 (UK brightish day) to Cat 4 (high intensity UV, reflected glare).
I’m not a glasses skier, though the detachable side shields do prevent some airflow. What’s key with mountain specs is adjusting the arms and frame so they sit clear of your cheeks, or else hiking will see sweat pool in the bottom of the lenses.
I found that warming the arms up on a radiator gave enough movement to custom-fit the shape. There’s a nose-grabbing bit of rubber to stop them slipping too, which works.
5. Zeal Tracker
Tested by PJ Guthrie
SPEC: Z-Resin bio-plastic frame featuring ProFlex rubber, a Camloc hinge and 8-base curvature. The yellow-base Cat 2 Ellume Bluebird HT lens, in plant-based materials rather than petroleum-based polymer, is polarized, and designed to eliminate colour confusion.
VERDICT: Zeal is based in Boulder, one of Colorado’s outdoor capitals. These shades look sporty as well as stylish, and they certainly have the substance for high-action, high-mountain activity.
The pair of Trackers I tried had their first outing in Austria last March; since then they’ve been on sun-drenched day tours in the Monterosa area and the length and breadth of the Arlberg in varying February light.
The frame is quite wide; I have a reasonably large face and found the shape super-comfy, as well as suitably shaped to keep out drafts and side-glare. On sweaty uphill stretches the specs stayed firmly in place.
I’m a bit of a mucky pup, and despite occasional spatterings of sweat or spag bol (I know, I should put them back in the case), the Ellume lens with its hardcoat scratch-resistant layer and hydro-oleophobic coatings still looks – miraculously – good as new.
More information: zealoptics.com