Pair of Kings | We Test Out Sam Anthamatten And Antti Ollila’s New Collab Goggle

We joined the Julbo team in Zermatt to test the new Sam Anthamatten and Antti Ollila pro model in all lighting conditions

We recently travelled out to Zermatt to take a look at Julbo’s latest pro model ski goggle, the ‘Pair of Kings’ Cyclon. Being the brainchild of Sam Anthamatten and Antti Ollila, we knew it would have some serious pedigree. Now Sam Anthamatten is no stranger to sharing a pro line with other athletes, including the likes of Vivian Bruchez and Glen Plake. When it comes to Antti and Sam though, the two couldn’t be further apart in terms of ski goggle requirements.

Antti has grown up skiing under floodlights at his home resort of Ruka, while Sam needs very little introduction after stamping his mark on many of the steepest faces of the Alps (and Alaska to be fair).

This is where the French optics brand, Julbo, comes in. They pitched the idea to Sam that he could share another pro model goggle and he came back with the nearly impossible task of creating a goggle that can meet the needs of Antti’s floodlit sessions, and his own high-altitude, retina-burning ascents. Meet the new Pair of Kings Cyclon from Julbo.

Image: Juan Aizpuru @juanaizpuruphotomountain

The Goggles

Capable of varying between category 0-4, these goggles feature a light transmission rate (LTV) of 7 – 80%. To the layman, that’s nearly clear all the way up to blocking out all but the strongest light.

This makes the Pair of Kings goggles a real chameleon in terms of their varying lenses. They’re comfortable providing essential protection in the evenings, while still remaining clear, and they’re also capable of blocking out any potentially damaging light when you find yourself up high in the alpine.

Image: Juan Aizpuru @juanaizpuruphotomountain
Image: Juan Aizpuru @juanaizpuruphotomountain

On top of the varying lens tech, the Cyclon’s cylindrical lens also features an anti-fog coating on the inner surface of the lens to keep you going no matter how humid things get. This coating also works in conjunction with the frame which provides ample airflow and circulation to help further reduce any fogging.

Speaking of the frame, the Cyclon goggles feature a frameless construction around the lens to help boost peripheral vision. This means the lens is fixed into place, but who cares when you’ve got this much LTV versatility packed into the lens?

A neat strap, that matches the ‘Pair of Kings’ name, wraps up the whole goggle and provides a secure fit to a beanie or helmet; thanks to the silicone strip to help boost grip. This strap slots into the frame seamlessly, which helps to give the goggles a clean look.

How They Performed

There perhaps isn’t anywhere better to test the photochromic abilities of a pair of goggles than in the high altitude resort of Zermatt. Featuring the highest lift station in Europe, you’re able to go from 1,600 – 3,800 metres in a matter of minutes. This is exactly what we did when we took the Pair of Kings goggles for their first high altitude spin.

The goggles performed exactly as expected. As we climbed out of the shade in Zermatt and into the alpine, the tint of the goggles began to darken, cutting out any potentially dangerous UV light. This continued as we were skiing through the seemingly endless alpine terrain of Zermatt. The goggles stayed protective while providing great contrast for the usually blown-out whites you get in bright sunshine.

Image: Juan Aizpuru @juanaizpuruphotomountain

One aspect I was interested to see the goggles perform was going from dark to clear. Julbo had mentioned that the goggles were slower in lightening in tint, compared to darkening. This was down to the composition of the reactive layer coating the lens. This became clear when going from the slopes (where the light was extremely strong), to the inside of a gondola lift station (that usually has as much light as a dingy warehouse rave). The goggles were certainly much slower in reacting to the darkening light conditions, before coming clear enough to not feel as though you have yo take them off to see.

This, however, is certainly a compromise I’m willing to make when it comes to having a pair of reactive ski goggles. It’s very rare for you to require the quickest change in tints when skiing in the backcountry, as the light is usually consistent, or slowly changing. The goggles definitely performed well in those moments you go from bright sunlight to dark shade (such as a couloir).

While out in Zermatt, I was also booked in to ski and climb the Breithorn with Sam. This provided great testing conditions for the goggles as we were caught out in a storm close to the summit (check out the video below).

The goggles provided ideal protection from the howling wind, while also providing fantastic ventilation during the sweaty ascent. It was here, when skiing from the summit at 16:15 down to Zermatt town, where we really noticed the slow change of the lens. It wasn’t until it was really pitch black before the goggle became clear enough to see from. When it did, it provided a fantastic clear lens; enabling us to ski back to Zermatt under headlight.

An impressive feat, I might add, considering we’d just skied off the summit of a 4,000 metre peak just an hour before.

Check out the Pair of Kings goggle here

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