Reviewed by: Joe St.Onge, AMGA Certified Ski Mountaineering Guide and Chief of Guiding Operations at Sun Valley Trekking. Sun Valley Trekking specializes in backcountry skiing and has built 6 unique backcountry ski huts in three different mountain ranges, and guides skiers throughout Idaho, Alaska and beyond. Joe has over 20 years experience guiding ski, mountaineering, mountain biking and climbing expeditions worldwide.
Julbo has long been known for their superior lens crafting catered to the alpinist and the Universe Goggle stays true to this tradition. The minimalist frame is built with a super-flexible plastic that provides a toughness that withstands the toils of a backpack well. I have found the fit is good for my large cranium and the field of vision provided by the minimalist frame is excellent. The strap has sticky strips built into the inside to allow superior grip on a helmet, so when you pop up you goggles on your helmet, you don’t have to fear the dreaded goggle sling-shot.
What makes the Universe Goggle with Snow Tiger Lens truly remarkable is its photochromatic lens. That’s right, the lens will change tint according to the level of light. Any long time skier knows why this is important as the light in mountains can be as variable as a chameleon. The concept of carrying a quiver of lenses to change out while skiing is lost (like many of my extra lenses for other goggles). This one lens will do it all from dim to bright light, and will make the transition effortlessly while you are mid-run and focused on the next turn. No more: “hold on a second while I switch out my lenses” when a snow squall blows away your bluebird day. And it works.
Julbo categorizes the Snow Tiger lens as 53% polarization. While Julbo offers other lenses with more polarization, this lens seems to be the sweet spot between cutting down glare and not be able to read a smartphone. The orange tint provides good contrast on terrain features and creates some surreal effects on things like open water. The ventilation is good and holds up to climbing without fogging. The pair that I tested are called “red” but tread the line between pink and mauve with a subtle euro flare that may stand out in Crested Butte but should fit right in from Sun Valley to Chamonix. In all, a solid goggle for dim to bright light conditions that should serve well for the demands of the front and backcountry.