Categories
Gear Reviews

Julbo Aerolite Long Term Review

I seek out gear that I can wear into the backcountry without need to stop and adjust as the conditions change. Sunglasses are no exception, and Julbo gets it. All of their sunglasses that I’ve used are well-designed for demanding conditions and users. The Aerolites are no exception.

It is almost too easy to forget that my Julbo Aerolites are on my face––both because they are extremely light but also because the photochromic lenses change light transmission so smoothly and quickly. The frameless design, premium materials, and minimalistic temple design with the “Air Link” system make these glasses featherlight.

Julbo Aerolite Sideview
Julbo Aerolite temple view

Features:

  • Panoramic view – the field of view is huge and the frameless design means that as you fly down a technical trail, there are next to no blind spots to trip you up
  • REACTIV Performance photochromic lenses – the lenses will transition under different light conditions. Click here to learn more. You can also get them with a non-photochromic Spectron 3 lens for a bit less money
  • Superior venting – the glasses have huge venting cutouts and sit far enough from my face that I’ve never had them fog up, even on long ski trips
  • Weight – 22g
Julbo Aerolite front view
Julbo Aerolite front view

Style & fit:

The Aerolites are marketed by Julbo as sunglasses for runners with smaller faces, but I have a pretty average face, and I think they fit great. For the massive-glass style that’s popular these days, especially among cyclists, you might look to the larger cousin of the Aerolites, the Aerospeed.

Julbo Aerolite
The author with Aerolites on

Performance:

I’ve used the Aerolites in a wide variety of conditions from full alpine sun to snowy ski mountaineering races to night running with a headlamp. Yes, that’s right––these are sunglasses you can run in at night, great news for those ultrarunners out there.

All in all, I’ve put in over a thousand miles with these sunglasses on. They show limited wear and perform as well today as the day I got them. I’ve never had fogging problems, and I’m impressed with their durability, having dropped them on trails, shoved them into stuffed packs, and probably sat on them a time or two.

Julbo Aerolite
Author wearing Aerolites in the Power of Four Skimo Race, Aspen Highlands

Final thoughts:

The Aerolites are part of a family of Julbo shades that started with the Aero—a very similar, but slightly larger pair of glasses—and the still larger Aerospeeds that I mentioned before. It would be hard to go wrong with any of these, but I have to say, despite the trend, bigger is not always better, especially for runners. The Aerolites may be the last glasses you ever need.

From Julbo, the Aerolites retail for $219.95 with REACTIV lenses. They come with a hybrid hard/softshell case and microfiber bag. You can likely find them elsewhere for less. I wrote this review entirely of my own accord, and I have no relationship to Julbo other than being a customer.

Julbo Aerolite REACTIV
The world through the Aerolite REACTIV lens in full sun
Categories
Gear Reviews

La Sportiva Bushido II Long Term Review

In Japan, Bushido refers to the code of samurai. Japanese warriors held values of loyalty, frugality, courage, and honor until death. So far, the Bushido IIs live up to their name.

La Sportiva Bushido II
Here are my Bushido IIs after 500 miles. Not too shabby, eh?

When I look for shoes, the traits I look for first are high build quality and durability, moderate to aggressive tread, stability, and foot protection for technical trails. I like to try lots of different drops, stack heights, and footbed shapes, so not a fundamentalist here. 

La Sportiva Bushido II

In terms of build quality, the Bushido IIs are excellent. I’ve put 500 trail miles on my pair, and they have performed well and show wear, but remarkably little. In ten years of trail running, I’ve had few shoes hold up so well. 

  • Outsole: La Sportiva’s FriXion XT 2.0 with their impact brake system. For more info about La Sportiva’s outsole types, shoes, and other technologies, click here
  • Midsole: 4mm EVA foam with a 1.5mm rock guard in the forefoot. 
  • Upper: mesh laminated with thermal adhesive microfiber, ripstop, and a TPU toe cap & mid-foot wrap that provide excellent protection
  • Drop: 6mm with a 19mm stack on the heel and 13mm on the toe
  • Weight: 10.5 ounces for mens 9

There are a few worn-spots worth noting. One of the plastic stability control inserts cracked after about 300 miles. The EVA midsole wore hardest under the rear of my arches directly behind the midfoot TPU wrap and similarly the outsole wore hardest right under my arch where the midfoot wrap goes under the outsole. 

La Sportiva Bushido II

In terms of fit, the Bushido IIs, like the original Bushidos, have a more narrow, low volume fit, and the last is what La Sportive refers to as their “racing lite ergo.” I have pretty average size feet, and I found the Bushido IIs to fit quite comfortably, though I did size up half a size based on recommendations, which was a good idea. 

The toe box is relatively narrow. When I first saw them, I thought I would be uncomfortable since I usually like a wide toe box, but I found these astonishingly comfortable, and hence they became my go-to for a couple months.

Verdict: great shoes, buy them and then buy extra pizza & beer since they’ll last you a few weeks longer than most other shoes for the same price.

The Bushido IIs cost $130 retail.  

I wrote this review completely of my own accord. I bought the Bushido IIs myself and have no association with the company otherwise.

La Sportiva Bushido II
Categories
Race Reports

Power of Four Skimo Race Report

Power of Four is one hell of a skimo race. If you enjoy being surrounded by people in colorful spandex suits or smearing gels on your face as you bootpack up steep ridgelines or skiing fast down a single track mountain bike trail, this race is for you.

Power of Four Skimo Race
Racers heading up Snowmass at the start of the 2020 Power of Four

At the finish line, Scott Archer, a US National Skimo Team member told me that Power of Four is the hardest skimo race in the States. It is the US Nationals teams race, so racers complete the course in pairs as they vie for the national title.

The course, set and refined over the years by Cosmic Skimo, starts just before dawn at the base of Snowmass Ski Area and ends at the Gondola Plaza at Aspen Mountain. It is a burly 24 miles with 10-11K of vertical climbing, depending on whose watch was counting. 

Power of Four Skimo Race Course Map
2020 Power of Four Race, just over 24 miles, 11K vertical feet of climbing.

After climbing up the east flank of Snowmass, skiers traverse from Burnt Mountain to Buttermilk Mountain, where they rage on a fast inbounds run down to a quick trot on the bike path to Aspen Highlands. Teams climb straight up Highlands, on and then off-piste, towards the legendary Highlands Bowl. 

When avalanche conditions permit, the race heads up Highlands Bowl, the climax of the race. Top finishers can make the climb in under 17 minutes. The bootpack is nearly a mile with 850 vertical feet, skis on packs. Max Taam and John Gaston, who have won the race now five years straight, packed up highlands bowl in 16:54 in 2020 with a finishing time of 4:28:37. Most racers finish in over 6 hours.

Power of Four Skimo Race
Matt Desmond and I on Highland Peak – 2020

After the fun of Highlands Bowl, racers traverse in-bounds until they drop into the Congo Trail, a harrowing two mile, 2,000 vertical foot descent down single track mountain bike trail where catching an edge nearly anywhere could lead to a fast finish against a tree. 

After the thrills of the Congo Trail, the race proceeds for a five mile and 3,000 foot ascent up the Midnight Mine Road before competitors plunge towards the finish through some steep tree runs on Aspen Mountain. 

If your legs are still functional once you cross the finish line into Gondola Plaza, you can enjoy a beer, music and some food. If you wore your Gucci spandex suit, Dolce & Gabbana windbreaker, and Prada ski boots, you will fit right in, since you’ve just landed in downtown Aspen, Colorado. 

For the 2020 race, finishers were lucky enough to see Shaq (AKA DJ Diesel) spin some tracks at The Little Nell after the race. 

If you like skiing and suffering uphill, but not quite enough to climb all four Aspen Snowmass mountains, then you can race in Power of Two, which sends you up the course starting at the base of Aspen Highlands. 

You can find more information about the race here.

I hope you enjoyed the first Animus Endurance race report. Please leave your comments and questions, or email us at AnimusEndurance@gmail.com.