Julbo Venturi Review

Finding the right pair of sunglasses to accommodate year-round training, whether it be through reflective snow in the winter or the radiant heat of the summer, has been nearly impossible for me in the past. I’ve found myself changing lens colors for different conditions and even changing sunglasses in the middle of an ultra due to irritation, especially on the tops of my ears, after several hours of wear. Given that buying new shades becomes a significant investment these days, it would be great to have a pair that could do it all and still feel comfortable on the drive home after a long day in the mountains.

I was introduced to Julbo sunglasses in 2011 in reviewing the Ultra, and while I was enamored with the photochromic Zebra lenses, I found the fit and coverage to be huge for my head. Enter the Julbo Venturi ($180), which employs a better-fitting panoramic design along with vented lenses which are absolutely essential for running, in my opinion. In this review I will highlight some of the features which I think make the Venturi quite possibly the best optics for trail running on the market currently.

Julbo Venturi

The Julbo Venturi.

Julbo Venturi Fit
I used to consider weight as the deciding factor in how a pair of sunglasses would perform for running, and the Venturi (30 grams) is certainly not the lightest pair out there. In my collection alone, among the Smith Approach and Parallel Max as well as the Nike Tailwind 12, the Venturi feel heavier in hand. However, what is added in weight is made up for in fit. The Venturi feature a mold-able rubber nose bridge that actually stays in place and feels comfortable for an entire day. With a small and somewhat narrow bridge, I’ve struggled in the past with glasses sliding off and pinching even when adjustable.

My first impression of the Venturi was that they felt less comfortable on my face than my go-to specs, the Smith Parallel Max. But the real test for any performance optics is how they feel after a full day of being outside. The Smiths tend to irritate behind my ears, while the wider curved wrapping temples of the Venturi stay put on my face all day and I’ve yet to experience any issues. As someone with a fairly small head and face, the Venturi fit great for all-day comfort, however they may look best on runners with medium to large faces.

Julbo Venturi side view

The Julbo Venturi side view.

Julbo Venturi Performance
The photochromic Zebra lenses from Julbo are simply the best lenses on the market. Photochromic lenses from other companies pale in comparison, and the Zebra accommodate a full spectrum of light conditions. In flat light and snow-covered rocky trails, these lenses help me pick out the contours. In bright light, they darken enough while still providing sharp detail to trail features. I mean, the lenses go from a completely clear amber yellow to a gold iridium finish in bright light very quickly. I no longer sense the lenses adjusting as I did with the Ultra model back in 2011. These are lenses that I could wear to start an ultra in the pitch dark with a headlamp on and continue wearing throughout the day. Plus, they clean up more easily than any other pair of sunglasses I own. Some water, the provided Julbo microfiber bag, and they’re clean in 20 seconds.

Another feature of the Venturi is the generous panoramic coverage around the eyes. Despite vented lenses, there aren’t any transitional areas in the field of vision which can be distracting and possibly allow foreign objects to become trapped between the lenses and the eyes. The lateral venting of the lenses is mostly effective, but I did experience some fogging of the lenses on cold, winter runs when I was sweating quite a bit. This typically happened when changing directions from a headwind to a tailwind and I’d start to heat up. The only other time I experienced this was when running in a snowstorm. This is really my only complaint about the Venturi and it hasn’t kept me from wearing them for the majority of my longer outings.

Julbo Venturi Overall Impressions
I will be the first to complain about the cost of performance optics being astronomical. From a protection standpoint they are also absolutely necessary, and I think there is a mental boost in decreased eye fatigue and perception of heat on a hot day. (This may completely in my head.) I’ve tried every brand out there, and the Venturi is the highest-quality pair of shades I own. I love my Smiths, but they dirty easily and vent poorly, and they do not offer vented lenses in their line. My Nikes fit great but lack all-day comfort and they’re made in China. Other less-established sunglasses companies don’t seem to offer me the quality of optics, especially in the photochromic lenses that I’m looking for.

The Venturi is a great pair of shades that I know will last for years to come, and with a lifetime warranty I feel like I can wear these day in and day out and not worry about wear and tear. If you’re looking for a new pair of trail running shades for your 2016 racing season, put the Venturi on your must-try list.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Do you wear the Julbo Venturi sunglasses? If so, what is your overall impression of them?
  • How do you like the Julbo’s photochromic Zebra lenses? How about the Venturi’s venting features?
Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

There are 22 comments

  1. Adam Wilcox

    I’ve been using the Venturi for about a year now, they’re my first pair of really good sunglasses and, while I was skeptical of how good an expensive pair of sunglasses could really be, I’m sold now. I wore them for all the daylight hours of both Western States and Hardrock this year, where they noticeably reduced the eye fatigue I’ve had discomfort with during past dawn-to-dusk efforts. The auto-darkening lenses do well when you’re passing in and out of shaded areas from tree cover or clouds, so you can just leave them on all day. I also find that they don’t interfere with the depth perception I need for technical terrain

      1. Tom

        Adam-
        Agreed. However, I never had this issue until I moved west and starting running in the mountains/ altitude/ a lot more sun. Living in the midwest I never wore sunglasses and even scoffed at those who did. Maybe its aging, but I have the same problem.

  2. Barry Young

    I know someone’s already said this, but $180!!! Holy fuck. Are the “photochromic Zebra lenses” made from actual zebras?

    Also, why is something being made in China so terrible?

          1. Tom Caughlan

            Barry-
            While China may be good at making things, manufacturing in China causes a great deal more problems than it fixes. Globalization, pollution, and artificially inflated economies to name a few. Just because I can buy made in China sports sunglasses for $14.99 does not mitigate the worldwide damage it causes, nor does it represent the actual cost of making the sunglasses in an unregulated plant belching out toxic pollution. Here’s a good primer for understanding externalized cost:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM

  3. Jonathan F

    Purchased a pair of Venturi’s a month ago and sent them back. I have a smaller/narrow face and while I like the coverage, the so-called adjustable rubber nose piece really isn’t that flexible. That made the fit not work for me. Had to push the glasses all the way up on the bridge of my nose – not comfortable at all. I’ve also tried the Native XP Dash and those didn’t work either – same issue as the Venturi. Found a pair of Julbo Access with Zebra lenses and I haven’t decided if I like those, a bit small on my face. Frustrating not being able to find a good pair of shades.

    And yes, Julbo’s are made in Romania.

    1. Tom Caughlan

      Jonathan-

      I feel you man. I do feel like I look pretty ridiculous in the Venturis, however I was able to get them to fit by manipulating the nose peice over time. Luckily, the bridge of my nose isn’t super narrow.
      I’m not sure if Julbo makes a pair of shades for those of us with small/ narrow faces.
      I’m curious if anyone has tried the Aero?

  4. Tyler

    Does the color of the Zebra lens have any effect on the performance? I see several different lens colors, how about Zebra vs Spectron? Thanks

  5. dan

    I had a pair of these for a week and found them to be giant on my normal face. I had a prior version of the Julbo Race and loved those. I tried replacing them with the new version but they changed the nose piece so now they fit too close and my eyelashes brush against to lens. Fortunately, I just found an older version of the Race and life is good again.

  6. Jeff Valliere

    I purchased a pair of the Venturi back in December (on sale for $100), but returned them the next day, as they were huge on my small face. I wanted more coverage, but the Venturi was a bit much (my wife also gave the big frown which cemented my decision).

    As luck would have it though, I have recently been presented with the opportunity to test the Aero with the Zebra Light lens and also the new Zephyr model with the Zebra lens. As far as fit/size is concerned, both the Aero and the Zephyr are a more reasonable size for small faces. They are still on the large size for my small face, but I have decided that I am OK with that, as I did want fuller coverage from wind/sun/dust etc… Since I only wear them for running, cycling and other outdoor pursuits, I am fine with them looking like what they are, sport glasses (not for fashion).

  7. Chris

    I have been wearing Julbo sunglasses for years and have the Venturi. They are hands down the best sunglasses. Do they cost a lot? Yes. Do they work better than any other brand for the money? Yes. The quality of optics is the best I have tried (I have used Oakley (talk about over priced), Smith (next best glasses), Tifosi (lens optics is terrible), and several other brands) and not having to change lenses is really nice. I use mine for mountain biking and trail running. They work extremely well with changing light conditions. You get what you pay for most of the time, and this is definitely true with these. There is no way you will find a better pair of glasses for less or more money.

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