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Optics Review


Float from the Beach to the Bar - Julbo Paddle Optics (continued)

After fishing with the Paddle for just a short amount of time I barely noticed they were even there, which is a very good thing. The glasses weigh in at only 26g, which is very light for a pair of framed full sized sunglasses. The use of polycarbonate lenses is a big part of what makes these glasses so light, but it is the frames themselves that are the Paddle's key feature.


The Paddle's frame is constructed with thousands of tiny air bubbles infused throughout so that they are able to float in the water! Unlike competitors that require large air pockets built into the frames the Paddle's bubble frame enables this pair of sunglasses to be much more streamline, and look like any normal pair of unassuming optics while providing the security of buoyancy. 


Retrieving the Paddle from the lake


The Paddle comes bundled with a floating cord that snaps into the back of the frame and adds additional buoyancy, but I personally didn't like the option as it also added bulk and bounced around when fishing or hiking. The good news is that the Paddle doesn't need this cord and is fully capable of floating by itself. I could see how SUP users can benefit from the cord as it can be adjusted to perfectly to eliminate any movement (but is still bulky in my opinion), as well as help keep the sunglasses right on the surface of choppy water in the event they do get wet. 


Though designed for water sports the Paddle also proved to be a comfortable option for use in a variety of environments


I wasn't sure how I would like the gold mirrored polarized lenses in very bright environments, like the desert, but they proved comfortable and enabled quality sight in the hard terrain. I found the Paddle provided both protection and comfort in the hours leading up to sunset, where the glare and shadows on the terrain can be especially harsh.


The Paddle's nose grips make use of flexible shock absorbing inserts which add to the overall comfort of these lightweight optics


Ergonomically the Paddle is well suited for larger faces/heads and even though there are no outward hinges the glasses never felt tight on my temples. I did have some issues with fit and used a torch to heat up the bridge to make some adjustments. Though I successfully tailored the Paddle to my ideal fit I have damaged other sunglasses by heating the bridge too close, or too much, during adjustment. This is why I still recommend that unless you are very familiar with this adjustment method that it is best to take the sunglasses to a professional shop for frame adjustment.


I wasn't sure how much I would like the orange mirrors but found them to be comfortable and good for a wide range of light conditions and applications


Ultimately the fit and comfort of glasses depends on your personal features and preferences. In general the Paddle was relatively easy to fit for me, and the soft touch grip material embedded into the nose helped provide additional grip and shock absorption when making quick movements like casting or trail running. There is also a soft insert material on the inner temples of the frame to provide additional grip, but not so much that it sticks to your head and hair. 


The frame is able to accommodate clip type lanyards, though I preferred to use it alone for optimal ergonomics


Price and Applications: Julbo bundles each pair of Paddle sunglasses with the floating cord and a soft touch bag, that can also double as a polishing cloth. The only major thing missing in this package is any sort of rigid case, which would be beneficial for travel and storage.


No outward swinging hinges on these sunglasses but the overall frame is already quite wide and able to accommodate adults easily, of course ergonomics will ultimately be dependent on the individual user and I did find that I needed to make some adjustments


The MSRP for the Paddle, as we tested, is $129 dollars. A reasonable price for a pair of polarized glasses that can float. We did find multiple online e-tailers that are offering the Paddle for lower prices, including Amazon for only $104.94. Julbo backs each pair of Paddle sunglasses with a lifetime warranty for the original owner against manufacturing defects for the lifetime of the product. 


From the water to the desert the Julbo Paddle is a cost effective option that most anglers have probably not considered


Though specifically designed for water sports I did find the Paddle sunglasses had the technical features that made them a good choice for use across a wider range of sports, or simply protecting your eyes when cruising around town.


The Paddle Series strikes a nice balance between form and function, and look perfectly at home at the beach or in the desert.


Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Julbo Paddle Sunglasses Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Overall frame and lens construction is high quality and the hinges and frames have held up well over time 8
Performance The glasses floated well and also provided good polarized performance. The polycarbonate lens construction resisted scratches well but was not as optically crystal clear as some competing glass options 8
Price Very reasonable price, especially when you consider the prices we were able to find online 9
Features The key features of the Paddle are the floating bubble infused frame, polarized lenses, and overall light weight construction. One nice addition would be a bundled rigid case for storage and transport 8
Design (Ergonomics) Results will vary as far as fit, and I did have to make some adjustments for a perfect fit for myself. The one thing I really did like about the Paddle was how light they were 8
Application Though designed for use in water sports the Paddle performs just as well on land and looks like a normal pair of beach sunglasses 9

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ The Paddle looks like a normal pair of sunglasses yet is able to float - Does not come with a rigid hard case for storage or transportation
+ Lightweight, good coverage - Optical clarity not as good as some competing glass options
+ Polarized lenses perform well  
+ Reasonable price  

Conclusion: Anglers are already very familiar with brands such as Costa, Kaenon, Oakley, and when it comes to floating sunglasses Amphibia is probably the most well known option. While Amphibia does have some great offerings their sunglasses requires the company's large AirCel into the frame for floatation. In contrast the Julbo offering infuses tiny bubbles throughout the frame to create a pair of sunglasses that look like a traditional pair of sunglasses with thin frames and yet is still able to float.

With laid back styling that looks natural from the boat to the bar the Julbo Paddle looks like any normal pair of beach sunglasses but provides anglers with polarized performance, and flotation, at a reasonable price

Not everyone will like the orange mirrored lenses and Julbo does offer them in more traditional black and brown options. When it comes to ergonomics the Paddle fits those with larger faces and heads, and I found the oversized lenses provided plenty of protection, and the polarized lenses performed well when sight fishing. For ultimate optical clarity I still prefer optics with glass lenses, but for those seeking the durability, low cost, and reduced weight of polycarbonate based lenses the Paddle Series from Julbo is an option worth floating.

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