What to consider before buying belay glasses?
If you are thinking of buying belay glasses you probably already have an idea of why they are used, but lets take a look at all the aspects to consider when deciding which ones to choose!
What are belay glasses?
Belay glasses are a tool used by the belayer to ‘look up by looking forward’. This is made possible by the prism and mirror surfaces in the glasses that reflect the light. Belay glasses are meant to ease the strain to the neck of the belayer. The belayer wearing belay glasses won’t have to strain their neck up to keep a close eye on their climber. Especially when lead climbing routes with longer crux sequences it is very important for the belayer to be prepared and have a good vision of the climber at all times.
What forms of climbing are belay glasses useful for?
Obviously if you are a boulderer or a solo climber it is likely that you won’t need belay glasses for these activities. The word belay already gives an idea of when the glasses are useful. Well all kidding aside, the glasses are not that useful for only occasional shorter rope routes. Also if you climb a lot of scrambles on slabbier routes the belay glasses are not as useful as the angle of sight won’t be that bad. Belay glasses are the most useful on any longer routes where the belayer needs to keep a close eye on the climber for a long time.
How to choose the best belay glasses for you?
When choosing a good pair of belaying glasses it is important to make sure that they don’t block your view. You should make sure that you can also see from below and above the optics as well as to the sides. When belaying it is often necessary to move a little bit and if you can’t take a quick look at your feet you might stumble and that can be quite hazardous in many outdoor climbing situations. If the view is only on through the optics you might even get a little bit disoriented and nauseated.
YY Vertical Belay Glasses Plasfun Evo - Our top pick
The simple reason that YY plasfun Evo glasses are our favorite is because of the good price vs value ratio you get with these belay glasses. The glasses are comfortable and practical to use. The prisms have been made larger for this version and that makes it easier to look at the climber. This allows keeping an eye on the surroundings as well. The plasfun evos come with a sturdy case and with a lanyard to make sure the glasses don’t fall down to the ground. These belay glasses also fit over many glasses and sunglasses so you can wear them over your regular glasses. The glasses are made of a flexible plastic that won’t break as easily as a sturdier plastic that might crack when you remove the glasses from your face with one hand. As this is often the case when belaying we really appreciate this quality. We also really liked the case that protects the belay glasses really well, but is also easy to use as you can open the case with one hand and there are two different methods of closing it.
YY Vertical Clip UP Belay Glasses - top pick for clip-on belay glasses
If you have glasses and use prescription sunglasses when belaying then these are our recommendation for you. The YY vertical clip up belay glasses are affordable, but at the same time provide the same kind of usability as the regular glasses versions. The clip-on tongs are covered with silicone so you don’t have to worry about scratches on your glasses. The clip up’s also feature a flip-up system where you can flip them up or down easily to switch between different parts of the climb and while you are not belaying.
Metolius Belay Glasses
Metolius is a well-known climbing brand and they make a very good pair of belay glasses. These are a great option, but we chose the YY belay glasses as our top pick, because of the price difference. Also we preferred the peripheral vision in the YY glasses to that of the metolius glasses. The metolius case for their glasses was more like a ordinary glasses case and we found the YY case to be a lot more functional, especially when operating with just one hand. Some people have had problems with the case brearinkg as well as with the screws in the glasses coming off when in use.
BG Climbing Belay Glasses for Rock Climbing
BG climbing has made some very popular belay glasses. These belay glasses have over 1100 reviews in amazon and they still have a 4,8/5 star rating. We liked the BG glasses a lot, but what made the small differences for us were just a few simple differences. We liked the vision better on the YY glasses and the YY glasses felt more durable to us. Several others have reported on their BG climbing belay glasses coming apart quite quickly. We also liked the YY case more and the case might also be a factor on the durability as we felt the YY case was easier to operate.
Pitch six EyeSend Adjustable View Belay Glasses
Pitch six has made a pair of adjustable belay goggles that make it easier for you to belay on different angles. This is a great idea, but we did not find it as useful and necessary that the innovation would get them the top pick. The glasses are quite a lot more expensive as well. We do like these glasses and their case which is quite similar to the YY plasfun glasses case.
CU Belay Glasses - the original belay glasses
CU belay glasses were the original belay glasses and our team has been using these glasses the longest. We really appreciate the glasses, but there are several innovations that have switched the YY glasses as our top pick. The first thing again is the price vs value of the YY glasses that is really hard to beat. Another clear thing that the YY belay glasses have going for them is the case, as the CU glasses come in a plastic case.
How to use belay glasses
Belay glasses are usually used on longer, overhanging routes. Especially when the route is hard for the climber and when there are spots where the climber is not so safe it is very important to keep a close eye on the climber. A good belayer knows what the climber is doing and how much slack there should be on the rope in contrast to the route and the height of the climbers current position. Most belay glasses can be used with or without prescription or sunglasses. The belay glasses are then used next to the lenses of the other glasses. Belay glasses help with vigilant belaying as they make it easier on the belayers’ neck to keep watching closely.
Belay glasses should usually only be used after the climber has clipped the second bolt/quickdraw. This does not apply to all routes as there are big differences in bolting and especially when climbing trad routes the amount of protection varies a lot. The idea is to only wear the belay glasses when the climber is high enough for the belayer to see the action with the head at normal level or slightly leaned forward.
Questions about belay glasses
Do belay glasses work with a climbing helmet or with a hat?
You can definitely use belay glasses with pretty much all climbing helmets. This is important as when climbing outside the belayer is usually the one who is in danger of getting struck by falling rocks or gear. To make sure the belay goggles work with your helmet just see how much the helmet comes over your eyes and if it blocks the view. On that note most caps or visors do block the sight of the belayer and they can’t be used with belay glasses unless they are turned backwards. You can use belay glasses with beanies and other winter hats, but it is a good idea to use a helmet when climbing outside.
Other uses for belay glasses
Watching TV on your back with belay glasses.
Some people are using belay glasses to watch TV or other devices while lying on the sofa or bed with their head towards the TV. There are some ‘belay glasses’ available that are called lazy glasses for this reason. There are some less lazy instances such as when getting a medical operation such as a MRI scan where you have to lay still for a long time. Or when you have a cast or other reason where you can’t move your head/neck. You should make sure that there are no metal parts in the glasses if you are thinking of using a pair for an MRI though!
We do not recommend using these ‘lazy glasses’ for climbing as the quality is usually quite poor. There are also reversed prism glasses that have the vision down instead of up and they are lazy glasses used to prevent texters’ neck and other smart device problems. These glasses work poorly for climbing for the obvious reasons. Although they might come in handy when belaying from above, on routes that start from water or on multipitch climbs. Lets see which climbing goods company is the first to enter this market.
Cycling aerodynamically with belay glasses.
When cycling fast on the road the biggest factor slowing the cyclist down is usually the aerodynamic drag. Therefore there has been some debate if belay glasses could be used to reduce this drag by allowing the cyclist to be on a more crouched and aerodynamic pose. This should also help with the cyclists neck problems. We don’t recommend trying this, but the jury is still out in this use of the belay goggles.
Other belay glasses
We had to leave some belay glasses out of the review as they were not available for testing. These include Cypher, Epic Peak, Belay Specs, Gneiss Nice climbs, Crush climbing, Belaggles and Belay Optics. We would like to review these as well and hopefully we can update this article with more belay glasses reviews in the future.