Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 Sunglasses With Camel Lenses

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The Julbo Explorer was an iconic pair of sunglasses built for adventures in extreme outdoor environments. The Explorer, at it’s core, was a pair of mountaineering sunglasses that could handle anything from alpine treks to extreme class 5 climbing. I used the Explorer with Spectron 4 lenses for a few years, and they were easily one of my favorite pairs of sunglasses. Last year, Julbo released an updated Explorer 2.0, and I’ve been wear testing them ever since their release.

The major changes for the Explorer 2.0 come in the design of the frames. The original Explorer was stuck somewhere between a heavy pair of sunglasses and a light pair of goggles. The Explorer 2.0 weighs the same as the original, but leaves the bulky frame design behind for something that looks and feels more like Julbo’s trail running performance lineup. The Explorer 2.0 still offers plenty of coverage and protection for harsh glare and direct sun, they just feel more comfortable while doing so. For people seeking their first pair of alpine hiking and/or mountaineering sunglasses, the Explorer 2.0 is a must buy. But is the Explorer 2.0 a worthwhile upgrade for those of us that already own the original Explorer? You’ll have to read this review and decide for yourself!

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

Buy The Explorer 2.0: REI | Amazon | Backcountry


The Julbo Explorer 2.0 are 130mm wide with an 11mm nose bridge and 135mm ear stems. The lens sockets have a width of 61mm. The dimensions on the Explorer 2.0 are the same as the original, but the shape of the frames is much improved. The original Explorer had a bit of a ‘bug-eye’ look to them. The top line on the bridge of the Explorer 2.0 is now straight across. This improves the looks and keeps more light from seeping in from above. I had an issue with the original Explorer where light would seep in from above the frame. This is no longer an issue with the 2.0. The nose guard clip on the top of the nose bridge remains, but it is now flatter and more low profile. The overall coverage of the Explorer 2.0 is superb, with the frame and attached side shields mapping the contours of my face to prevent any light from getting in.

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

The Explorer 2.0 comes in at a weight of 44g or 1.5 oz. Although this is the same weight as the original Explorer, they seem to feel lighter on my face. I think this can be attributed to the rubberized nose grips that allow the frame to sit in a better position on my nose bridge.

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

The Explorer 2.0 has adjustable ear stems that are less malleable than the previous version. I like the more rigid ear stem structure, as they don’t bend out of place so easily. I’ve worn these sunglasses for long days on and off the trail and have never felt any unwanted throbbing or pressure points. The Explorer 2.0 gets top marks for comfort.

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

The Explorer 2.0 comes with detachable side shades like the original Explorer. I’m glad julbo got rid of the bright green accents on the side shades in favor of a matte grey. The green accents on my old Explorers always bothered me. The new side shades on the Explorer 2.0 disappear and go unnoticed, just as they should.

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

The Julbo Explorer 2.0 comes with a detachable neck lanyard, and is the same one found on my original Explorer and Bivouak model. This lanyard is a no-fuss accessory that allows me to drape the Explorer 2.0 from my neck when I need to take them off while on trail.

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses


On my previous pair of Julbo Explorers I opted for the Spectron 4 lenses. For the explorer 2.0, I paid a little more and got Julbo’s photochromic Camel lenses. I fell in love with the Camel lenses on my Julbo Bivouak, and have a hard time using any other lens option now. The Spectron 4 is still a great choice and superb option for those looking to save a little money. For those not familiar with lens features, functions, and terminology, I’ve put together an entire post to help you get accustomed.  For those that just want a quick overview, I’ll cover the main points here.

The first thing to look for when picking a lens to wear for hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering is that they offer complete and full spectrum UV protection. Most expensive sunglasses will have this. From there, you need to look at the protection standard category. For most outdoor activities, you’ll want a Category 3 or 4 lens. This means they’ll only permit a maximum of 18% of visible light. For activities in the shade and fog, Category 2 is fine (18% to 43%). If you plan on spending anytime in exposed mountains, on glaciers, or on snowy trails, you’ll want to block much more light.

The Julbo Spectron 4 lens is Category 4 allows for 5% light transmission. The Julbo Camel lens ranges from Category 2-4, adjusting to light to allow anywhere from 5% to 20% light transmission. The Camel lenses are also polarized. You can find the light transmission range and features of each Julbo lens offering in the tables below.

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

As I mentioned above, the Julbo Camel lens adjusts from 5% to 20% light transmission based on lighting conditions. This is optimal for my hiking, as I can keep my sunglasses on as I pass from shaded areas of the trail into areas with more exposure. Doing this with a static 5% lens is not as easy, where shaded areas can appear very dark. The Camel also keeps my eyes more comfortable with their polarization.

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

The Camel lens comes with an effective anti-fog coating that keeps any condensation from forming. This anti-fog coating pairs well with ventilation cutouts on the upper lateral sides of each lens.

The photochromic ability of the Camel lens is not temperature sensitive, which is critical in mountain environments. Through use of the Camel on my Bivouak and Explorer 2.0, I’ve used these lenses from single digit temperatures up to triple digit temperatures. They’ve never failed me.

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

You’ll notice in the photo above that the Camel lens has a brown tint to accentuate relief. This is especially noticeable when they’re at 20% light transmission. As they darken to 5%, they appear black, but still maintain the brown tint while looking out.

For the desert and mountain trails I frequent, there really couldn’t be a better lens. I can start my hike at daybreak or in the shade, and then hike my way to a fully exposed mountain peak without ever having to think about eye protection. This is why I can’t use anything but the Camel lens now. They have allowed me to completely forget about my eye protection while hiking, which is probably the best compliment I can give to a piece of gear.

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 With Camel Lenses

Closing Thoughts:

In my opinion, the Explorer 2.0 is a very worthy upgrade over the original Julbo Explorer. The refinements to the lens frame fixed all of the minor issues I had with the Explorer, and has made these a pair of sunglasses that compete for time with my beloved Bivouaks. I already knew I’d love the Camel lens, but it’s nice that Julbo is also offering the Explorer 2.0 in a Spectron 4 and Zebra lens model. I’ve used both options on other sunglasses and only have good things to say.

At $200, the Explorer 2.0s are very expensive. The $130 Spectron 4 lens and $180 Zebra lens give prospective buyers different pricing options based on their specific needs. I find that they offer decent value for the price, as I can’t really put a price tag on the long term health of my eyes. Unless technology improves in my lifetime, I only get this one pair! I also have a difficult time pricing a competitor with similar specs.

Julbo Explorer 2.0










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18 thoughts on “Gear Review: Julbo Explorer 2.0 Sunglasses With Camel Lenses”

  1. Hi Drew! Thank you so much for this very professional review, it really helps! I will get the Explorer 2.0 very soon, I was 80% sure… you got me to 100%!

  2. Hi Drew.
    I like your reviews. There’s a lot of human/real user touch in them unlike many other texts full of marketing talk. Anyway, can you explain why there are two different names for the same lenses? In the text you refer to the Camel, whereas on the pictures we can see Cameleon written on the glass. Is this just a detail Julbo forgot to change, or maybe there is in fact a name/tech difference between the two? Can you clear this for me, please?

  3. Great review. I was just introduced to these sunglasses this weekend. In browsing the internet I found this link. I’ve been following you for awhile so it was great to see this review from you. I just ordered the Cameleon 2.0 and mentioned you to Julbo as I bought directly from them. So excited to get them. Hope they get here in time for my trip to the Sierras via Bishop.

    • Very cool! I’m glad you found the review during your search. I’ve been a huge fan of the Explorer and Explorer 2.0. You’re going to love the Chameleon lenses for the Sierra Nevada mountains. I work a pair of Bivuaoks with Chameleon lenses for the JMT and was able to wear them from sunrise to sunset.

  4. Hi Drew, excellent review. For my 2019 JMT thru-hike, where I’ll be surrounded by granite and sunshine, sounds like either the Bivouak or the Explorer 2.0 will work well, but what do you see as the comparison between the two? And let’s put aside the relative expense, since the cost divided by the number of hours worn will be relatively low. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

    • Thanks, Wayne! I wore my Bivouak with Camel lenses for the JMT and they were the perfect pair of sunglasses. I love the Explorer 2.0 as well, but they’re a little heavier. They do offer more protection though. Julbo has discontinued the Bivouak and replaced them with the Shield. I’m going to be ordering a pair soon to review on the blog.

      • Thanks Drew! Amazon has the Shield with the Cameleon lens so I will click through from your website and check them out! This is now my second pair of Julbo’s — I have a pair of Zebras I use for running in the SM mountains down here in LA and they are terrific in the early morning or late afternoon (I got them after watching your video review a year or two back…). Happy trails amigo!

      • Awesome! Thanks, Wayne! I wear my Zebras here is SoCal a lot, too. I live a little further east at the base of the San Gabriels, so they come in handy quite often. Anything above 6000ft though, and I’m reaching for the Cameleon or Spectron 4.

  5. Great review Drew! I wish I had known about these sunglasses when I thru-hiked the JMT in 2014. I’m preparing for a summit of Kilimanjaro next April and have been researching sunglasses for the trip. I had decided on the Explorer 2.0 with the Camel lenses, but searched for some reviews to be sure. Your review sealed the deal for me. Can’t wait to try them out on San J and San G this month and/or next March.

    • Awesome! Enjoy your hike up Kilimanjaro! I wore the Bivouak with Camel lenses on the JMT and loved them. I still wear those and the new Explorer 2.0 on local peaks like Baldy, San J, and San G.

  6. This is great, Drew! I always find your reviews informative, and regarding Julbo sunglasses, this might be the best place online to understand the difference between lenses and frames… And thanks for help choosing one for trekking in Nepal, decided to go for Explorer 2.0 with Spectron 4 lenses due to glacier passes. Camel and Zebra was on my list also. If I find Spectron 4 too dark for other uses, I might go for photochromic lenses in the future. Will see!

  7. This was just the info i was looking for. Thanks for posting.
    Was on the fence about the Camel’s, but just pulled the trigger.

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