The Best Belay Glasses for Climbing of 2021

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If you’ve been out on the crag or in the gym, you have probably belayed or seen people belaying others. You’ll know the burning of muscles and the ache that develops from extended periods craning your neck upwards to try and keep an eye on your partner, especially on multi-pitches or long routes. While many climbers insist that it’s just a part of climbing and that ”real’ climbers deal with it, others use belay glasses to ease the strain. In this post, we’ll detail the best belay glasses for climbing.

While some climbers argue that wearing belay specs or climbing glasses reduce your ability to observe your environment by reducing your field of view, others point out that even the best belay partner will get fatigued on the long pitches, and the tradeoff for reduced visibility is compensated for increased vigilance on your partner without need for visual breaks to relieve strained muscles. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that extended time spent looking up at your climbing partner can have a lasting effect on the spine and can lead to permanent injury.

If you find this valuable, be sure to check out our other climbing gear reviews here.

Our Top Favorite
Y&Y Belay Glasses Classic (Classic)
Our Top Runner Up
Belaggles Belay Glasses - Carbon Black
Our Top Value Pick
Y&Y Plasfun belay glasses (Black)
Belay Glasses
Y&Y Classic Belay Glasses
Belaggles Belay Glasses
Y&Y Vertical Plasfun Basic Belay Glasses
Prime Eligible?
-
-
Our Top Favorite
Y&Y Belay Glasses Classic (Classic)
Belay Glasses
Y&Y Classic Belay Glasses
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Runner Up
Belaggles Belay Glasses - Carbon Black
Belay Glasses
Belaggles Belay Glasses
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Value Pick
Y&Y Plasfun belay glasses (Black)
Belay Glasses
Y&Y Vertical Plasfun Basic Belay Glasses
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-05-25 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our Favorites for the Best Belay Glasses for Climbing Our Favorites for the Best Belay Glasses for Climbing

When looking for belay glasses a few years ago, the market was limited to a few options, most notably CU belay glasses, the original belay glasses, and a few competitors such as Belay Specs and Y&Y Belay Glasses. These days, however, there are many more options to choose from that range from basic models that are relatively cheap, to more engineered models that come with all sorts of accessories and a corresponding price. With the wide selection available, we have to ask ourselves if it’s worth buying a pair of belay glasses that cost as much as a new cam or whether a DIY pair will serve the purpose. As with most gear, you get what you pay for.

Y&Y Classic Belay Glasses

Dubbed the “original” belay glasses, these modern belay glasses are modeled after the CU belay glasses but have a stiffer stronger stainless steel frame with conventional hinged arms, and earpieces as well as a silicone nose piece that sits comfortably on the nose. Like standard eyeglasses, each part can be somewhat tweaked to fit most heads and faces. Along with their lightweight design, this customizability makes these glasses one of the most comfortable options on the market. The thin frame design ensures that there is an adequate amount of peripheral vision as well as a clear view of the climber through the prisms. This ensures that the belayer can watch the climber on the lower part of the climb by looking “around” the glasses as well as the upper part of the climb through the prisms. In addition to the reliable and lightweight glasses, the carrying case that comes with these climbing glasses is equally robust and has inherent use for climbing itself. Lined with accordion-folding cloth, the case cradles the glasses while protecting them with a hard exterior. While it has a zipper closure for packing away glasses securely, the case additionally includes as velcro tab that allows the case to be temporarily closed for easy access when storing the glasses for a short time such as in between routes. Also, the case comes with a dedicated carabiner that allows the case to be clipped to a harness or backpack.

While these are by no means the cheapest models on the market, their minimalist design and premium metal construction are worth the cost for those who don’t mind spending money on quality. Although they are more expensive than Belay Specs, they are cheaper than Belaggles or the original CU Belay Glasses.

What makes Y&Y Classic Belay Glasses Unique:

  • The simple yet modern design of the metal frame can be adjusted like conventional glasses to fit most faces. Their wide design allows them to be worn with most prescription glasses and sunglasses.
  • The addition of the carrying case helps ensure that you will get the most use of your glasses by protecting them while they are not in use while the velcro closure makes taking them out and putting them back quick and easy.

Why you Should Choose these Belay Glasses:

  • Although these are not the cheapest climbing glasses on the market, their proven track record and reliability means that they are a worthy investment.
  • Their lightweight design and durability ensure that they are as comfortable on a mountain crag or all-day climb as they are in the gym.
  • Available in a variety of colors.

Y&Y Belay Glasses Classic (Classic)
  • High prism quality (BK7) for a clear and comfortable vision
  • The thin frame enables two fields of vision: climber/surrounding
  • Fit over most prescription and sun glasses

Last update: 2021-05-25 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Y&Y Vertical Plasfun Belay Glasses

The only difference between these belay glasses and the Y&Y Classics is the material used for the construction of the frame. While the classics have the advantage of being made with stainless steel and are therefore more flexible and customizable, Y&Y Vertical Plasfun Belay Glasses are composed of durable and flexible plastic. While the material may differ, these belay glasses still boast the same lightweight, minimal frame that gives exceptional viewpoints peripherally as well as through the excellent prisms. Like the Classics, these glasses come with the same accessories; the carrying case, a microfiber cloth, replacement hinge screws, a neck retainer, and a small screwdriver.

What makes Y&Y Vertical Plasfun Belay Glasses Unique:

  • These glasses while made of plastic weigh the same as the classics and fit most head sizes and shapes. They are sized to accommodate glasses and sunglasses.
  • Made of flexible and durable plastic without giving up portability and longevity.

Why you Should Choose these Belay Glasses:

  • While they are nearly equal to the classics in function, they are a fraction of the price.
  • Sold with the same accessories as the classic, these nifty additions make the glasses a bargain.
  • Available in a variety of colors.

YY Vertical Plasfun Belay Glasses (Blue)
  • High prism quality (BK7) for a clear and comfortable vision
  • Flexible and resistant plastic bows ensure a high wearing comfort and a long life span
  • Fit over most prescription and sun glasses

Last update: 2021-05-25 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Our Runner Ups for the Best Climbing Belay Glasses Our Runner Ups for the Best Climbing Belay Glasses

While there are many models on the market to choose from, there are a few brands that seem to capture a larger share of the marketplace. While this may be a good use of marketing, it also indicates a trend in customer satisfaction and suggests the quality of the products. Our runner ups are chosen out of a large pool of candidates by virtue of the large number of mentions in public forums and comparative reviews by the climbing community at large.

Belaggles Belay Glasses

Pronounced BeLAYggles, as shown by their phonetically marked logo indicates, these robust frames are the heaviest and most expensive of the climbing glasses discussed here. Composed of rigid plastic, they have no hinged parts allowing for little adjustment and no collapsibility for ease of storage. However, according to the manufacturer, this robust design is designed to protect the prisms from rough use when out on the crag. The unique swept-back design of the frame provides support for the prisms while preventing them from coming into contact with whatever flat surface they are set on when placed flat or upside down.

Furthermore, their higher than average weight is due to the larger curved prisms that give a greater than average field of view of the climber while obscuring visuals at eye level. While they are nonadjustable, their rigidity makes them relatively easy to put on and remove with one hand, which is vital given their larger prisms. While some find the stiffness and weight to be uncomfortable, sufficient people find them to be comfortable enough to merit a following. While their use on a mountain crag or multi-pitch is debatable, they are a viable option for use in the gym or sport climbing.

While these glasses are significantly more expensive than some of their peers, they do come with a plastic zippered case with attachment clip, microfibre cloth, and lanyard.

What makes Belaggels Belay Glasses Unique:

  • Their robust design means that they will be able to sustain the general knocks that occur while climbing as well as facilitating donning them one-handed.
  • The larger curved prisms give a more extensive field of view compared to similar brands.

Why you Should Choose these Belay Glasses:

  • For anyone worried that other brands are too flimsy, these robust frames will put their mind at ease.
  • Their unique design gives an unparalleled view of anyone and everything on the wall above you.
  • Available in four colors.

Last update: 2021-05-25 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Belay Specs

Manufactured as a frame with unhinged arms, these stainless steel glasses are lightweight and adjustable to most face and head shapes. However, since they are made of a single piece, the angle of the prisms is not adjustable. The narrow frame allows for a comfortable balance between a peripheral view and the view through the prism as well as fitting comfortably on the head and nose. Furthermore, they fit comfortably over most prescription glasses or sunglasses. While the glasses come with a plastic carrying case, they lack the added carrying clip of the Y&Y classics, meaning that one has to buy an additional carabiner if you want to be able to clip it you your harness. Furthermore, people report that the case itself is frustratingly difficult to open and deceptive when closing, needing special attention to ensure that it is adequately secured.

While these belay glasses are significantly cheaper than the CU belay glasses and somewhat cheaper than the Y&Y classics, the savings earned are slightly diminished if the accessories such as the case are essential. However, as the only belay glasses manufactured in and from parts sourced in the US, they have a thirty-day money-back guarantee to ensure customer satisfaction as well as a warranty program to ensure the longevity of the glasses.

What makes Belay Specs Belay Glasses Unique:

  • Manufactured in the US, they come with a thirty-day money-back guarantee if the customer is not satisfied as well as a warranty and repair program.
  • Their single-piece stainless steel construction gives durability alongside a lightweight adjustable construction.

Why you Should Choose these Belay Glasses:

  • For those based in the US, the manufacturer satisfaction guarantee and warranty ensure that you can test out and repair these glasses quickly, possibly leading to future savings.
  • The lightweight stainless steel design allows for effortless shifting between fields of view as well as allowing for customizable adjustment to fit individual needs.
  • Can be worn over most prescription glasses and sunglasses.

Belay Specs - Belaying Glasses for Outdoor/Indoor Rock Climbing, Bouldering and Ice Climbing
  • You No Longer Have Neck Pain From Having To Look Up Constantly
  • Clear & Concise Prisms So You Can See Easily
  • Lightweight So You Don't Carry Any Extra Weight Than Necessary

Last update: 2021-05-25 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Our Value Picks for the Best Belay Glasses for Climbing Our Value Picks for the Best Belay Glasses for Climbing

While many premium brands on the market sell for a premium price, there are also many affordable options for those climbers who don’t want to fork over hands full of cash. Again, you get what you pay for so don’t expect the bells and whistles of pricier brands. If you want your gear to match and want to stick with a particular brand such as Metolius or Le Pirate, there are some options on offer.

Y&Y Vertical Plasfun Basic Belay Glasses

Y&Y belay glasses make the list three times because their products are well made and functional, often claiming high ranking in reviews of best climbing belay glasses. The Plasfun Basics are no exception and differ from the Y&Y Plasfun only in that they do not come with all of the accessories of their pricer sibling. The frames are made of the same durable plastic with articulated hinges that allow them to be folded for storage and lack the same adjustability of Y&Y Plasfun that can be found in the Classics. Like the Classics and the Plasfun models, the Basics boast the thin frames that give excellent fields of view. While they lack the accessories of the costlier models, the Basics do come with a carrying case although it is more straightforward, having a plastic clip rather than a metal one. While the case is inferior to the more expensive models, the same case can be bought separately, and you will still spend less than on some of the competitors’ models. For people who want to save money where they can, these climbing glasses are a fantastic compromise between value and function.

What makes Y&Y Vertical Plasfun Basic Belay Glasses Unique:

  • The Basics share the same construction as the Y&Y Plasfun but at a significantly reduced cost.
  • Although their carrying case is inferior to the classics and the Plasfun, the superior case can be bought separately as needed and still come out cheaper than the competition.

Why you Should Choose these Belay Glasses:

  • The same lightweight and unobtrusive frames as the Y&Y Plasfun but at a lower cost.
  • Excellent for those who want to save money where they can but still want their purchases to stand the test of time, and rock.
  • Can be worn over most prescription glasses and sunglasses.

Y&Y Plasfun belay glasses (Black)
  • High prism quality (BK7) for a clear and comfortable vision
  • Flexible and resistant plastic bows ensure a high wearing comfort and a long life span
  • Fit over most prescription and sun glasses

Last update: 2021-05-25 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


While many manufacturers of belay glasses make an effort to design their products to look like something more than a pair of sunglasses with a pair of prisms glued to them, the JNW Direct Goggles embrace this concept and in doing so produce a genuinely affordable product. The are much the same as standard plastic sunglasses with hinged arms, with two prisms set in a solid frame where the lenses for the glasses usually sit. While this design dramatically diminishes one’s ability to observe the immediate environment, they significantly reduce the cost while getting the job done. With a one size fits all approach, they are nonadjustable although the manufacturer claims that they fit over most prescription glasses and sunglasses. While these glasses are best suited for the gym or easily accessible sport climbs, there is much to be said for the hilarity of watching someone belay while yelling beta to the wall in front of them. In addition to the glasses, one receives a sturdy zippered case with a metal carabiner, a microfiber cloth, a lanyard and a free e-book entitled “Beginners Guide to Rock Climbing” that instructs on the different types of climbing and gives tips on gear and how to climb. All of this comes at a significantly reduced cost to many of the options available, making it an excellent purchase for those starting or those who are not sure if they want to invest in a more costly pair.

What makes JNW Direct Goggles Unique:

  • Their design is one of the most basic available on the market, similar to standard sunglasses.
  • Although simple in design and low in cost, they provide useful accessories without skimping on their quality. The case is substantial and comes with a metal carabiner that is more resistant to wear and tear compared to similar brands.

Why you Should Choose these Belay Glasses:

  • If cost is an option or if you want to test a pair of belay glasses before springing for a premium brand, these are a safe bet.
  • For climbers who spend most of their time in the climbing gym compared to the crag, the lack of peripheral vision provided by these glasses is substantially less hazardous than for those who primarily climb outdoors.

No products found.


Tembo Belay Glasses

Among so many options flooding the market, in which it seems that every company has an offering, it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Sometimes we get lucky and stumble on that one great deal that often seems too good to be true. This appears to be the case with Tembo, a little known purveyor of climbing gear from Vancouver. These stylish looking belay specs look like the Y&Y Classics in form and function, with minor differences. Made of stainless steel they have memory alloy and silicone nose pads for user comfort and adjustability. Their thin, lightweight frame makes them easy to wear and gives large fields of vision in the peripherals and on the wall. Also, the specs come with a durable and frankly stylish zippered case with a metal carabiner, a microfiber cloth, and a lanyard. Like most of the belay glasses mentioned here, they work with most prescription glasses and sunglasses.

While these climbing glasses share a great deal with the Y&Y classics, one thing they do not share is the price. These impressive specs are significantly cheaper than their counterpart. In addition, the manufacturers offer a thirty-day money-back guarantee if one is not satisfied with their performance.

With all of these apparent advantages, it is a fair question to ask why they are not our favorites. While they sound amazing, they have not as yet withstood the test of time, and the other entries included here have the experience of the rock climbing community to secure their place on this list. Given time, they may yet make an impact in the belay spec scene.

What makes Tembo Belay Glasses Unique:

  • Stylish stainless steel frames with articulating hinged arms that look modern and sci-fi instead of goofy. The silicone nose pad and memory alloy allow the belay glasses to be adjusted to most heads, ensuring comfort.
  • The accessories included are not low-quality add-ons, but enhance the quality of the purchase with a sturdy case with metal carabiner included.

Why you Should Choose these Belay Glasses:

  • If you like the look of the Y&Y Classics but don’t want to spend the money, these considerably cheaper models impart the same look.
  • The money-back-guarantee ensures satisfaction or money back allowing you to take them out for a test drive before committing.
  • While certainly not the cheapest belay glasses available, they seem to be the most product for value. As the sage said, you get what you pay for.

No products found.


What are Belay Glasses?

If you’ve ever watched late-night infomercials, chances are you’ve seen ads for people who want to lie in bed and still be able to watch TV. These ads show people laying in bed or on their recliners while watching TV through glasses that look like they came straight out of Star Trek or some other futuristic sci-fi universe. Belay glasses look and function much the same in that they use two prisms to refract an image towards your eye. Instead of viewing an image from directly in front of you, you see an image of what is happening directly above you. This allows you to be able to keep your head level and looking straight ahead while still seeing what is happening above you. Although there are definite advantages to using belay glasses for rock climbing, there are some disadvantages as well. We look at a few of these concerns below:

  • Although the prisms are clear, they still narrow your field of vision dramatically. The attention needed to maintain binocular clarity while peering at the refracted images produces strain on the eyes while also focusing attention on one specific area. In some situations, such as when standing in a physically precarious location, a narrowed focus could lead to one to be oblivious to environmental dangers that could put your climber, and you, at risk.
  • When belaying another climber, it’s crucial to stay engaged and keep your eyes on them. When watching without belay glasses, one can easily track the progress of the climber by simple movements of the eyes and neck. When using belay glasses, on the other hand, it is essential to keep one’s head still to keep the climber in view. Simple movements can cause the field of vision to shift dramatically. By following such a narrow view, one is less likely to be a dynamic and engaged belay partner.
  • While wearing belay glasses ones visual and spatial awareness of the immediate surroundings is severely diminished. Although it is possible to somewhat see around the edges of the specs, it can be hazardous in certain positions and terrain. This is significant when belaying as body position is of paramount importance to both the climber and the belay partner. One must be able to move around freely to first keep the climber in view but also to avoid falling debris (and climbers) as well as maintaining solid footing to catch the climber effectively in case of a fall.
  • Although the majority of the view when wearing belay glasses is taken up by the image presented by the prisms, the outer edge surrounding the glasses is still the peripheral image of one’s surroundings. The contrast in movement and imagery can lead to dizziness and vertigo in some people, although the time needed for this effect to take place varies from person to person. While this is by no means applicable to all climbers, having a moment of vertigo while belaying could be disastrous at worst and uncomfortable at best.

How to Choose the Best Belay Glasses for You

If you’re planning on spending any amount of money, whether, for a cheap pair or a premium pair of belay glasses, there are a few things to take into consideration to find the ones that best fit your style of climbing.

  1. Functionality

One of the first things to consider when researching which climbing specs to buy is what type of climbing you will be doing. If you are spending a significant amount of time in the gym belaying your partner on long walls, you may want to consider glasses with larger prisms that give you a larger upward field of view such as the Belaggles. In a gym environment, environmental factors are not as critical as outdoors as there is little chance of tripping on a rock or falling off of a ledge. Outdoors on the crag, on the other hand, you may wish to choose a model with thin frames and smaller prisms to give an equal peripheral and upwards field of view.

  1. Fit and Comfort

For anyone wearing belay glasses for any extended amount of time such as long pitches or when belaying novices, a comfortable pair of glasses will prevent the aches that develop. Having lighter frames that fit comfortably can be the difference between a good day and an irritating clamp on your face.

  1. Glasses Compatibility

While most belay glasses are built to accommodate the use of prescription and sunglasses, some are more accommodating than others. If you are going to be wearing glasses or sunglasses frequently, some manufacturers produce clip-on belay specs that attach directly to the glasses themselves. Y&Y Clip-Ups is one such model that clips directly to the bridge of your lenses.

  1. Portability

While portability might seem like a minor concern, it takes on much more significance when you accidentally drop them and crack a prism or leave them on the crag. In these cases, it’s comforting to have a solid case that will protect your investment while being easy to carry on your harness. Easy access and reliable closures make using belay glasses easy and convenient.

  1. Price

While the price may be a significant concern for some climbers, it is essential to consider what your money will get you. Like much climbing gear, a good pair of belay glasses is an investment that should last you a long time. Consider your needs and spend accordingly. For those who prefer to spend as little as possible, consider buying prisms for a few dollars and gluing them to a set of frames. Alternatively, one can purchase the TV glasses and turn the prisms the other way.

Is it Worth Buying Expensive Belay Glasses?

While cost is essential and often a determining factor on our purchases, sometimes spending a little more can result in significant savings. Like anything else we purchase, it is vital to consider the frequency of use and the desired longevity of the item. If you are going to be using the belay specs frequently and intend to use them for a long time, it is prudent to invest a bit of money and purchase a superior model that will last and be comfortable to wear. As many of the more expensive models come with a money-back guarantee and have manufacturer warranty which cheaper models do not have, a more expensive brand may come in cheaper in the long run. It is important to remember that price does not determine quality as several more inexpensive models are more durable and reliable.

How to Use Belay Glasses Correctly

While it may seem like using belay glasses is intuitive, some basic rules should be followed to ensure the safety of both the climber and the belayer.

First, consider the environment. If you are climbing in the gym or on a crag with a straightforward approach, although you don’t have to worry about tripping over objects by your feet, one still has to be aware of other climbers and have spatial awareness of the wall. This is an appropriate time to use belay glasses which give increased importance to the view through the prism over peripheral vision. If climbing in an area with less secure footing or more hazardous environment, one should employ the use of belay glasses that give equal importance to peripheral vision as well as the view through the prisms.

Secondly, it is prudent to leave the glasses off of your face until your climber has climbed high enough to the point where they will not deck, or hit the ground when they fall. This allows you to spot them without compromising your vision.

Thirdly, it is essential to remember that the views through the prisms are refracted and can be disorienting, therefore causing one to miss seeing falling objects such as debris and rocks.

Finally, a good belayer does not rely on visual cues alone, and every experienced belayer knows that rope feel and constant communication with the climber are as important as what they observe. Indeed, in some cases, the climber can move out of visual range into chimney or overhang.

Summary of the Best Belay Glasses for Climbing

Wrapping everything up, here are the belay glasses we went over today:

Our Top Favorite
Y&Y Belay Glasses Classic (Classic)
Our Top Runner Up
Belaggles Belay Glasses - Carbon Black
Our Top Value Pick
Y&Y Plasfun belay glasses (Black)
Belay Glasses
Y&Y Classic Belay Glasses
Belaggles Belay Glasses
Y&Y Vertical Plasfun Basic Belay Glasses
Prime Eligible?
-
-
Our Top Favorite
Y&Y Belay Glasses Classic (Classic)
Belay Glasses
Y&Y Classic Belay Glasses
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Runner Up
Belaggles Belay Glasses - Carbon Black
Belay Glasses
Belaggles Belay Glasses
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Value Pick
Y&Y Plasfun belay glasses (Black)
Belay Glasses
Y&Y Vertical Plasfun Basic Belay Glasses
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-05-25 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

While belay glasses are certainly not a requirement for climbing, and like many aspects of climbing, seem to provoke strong opinions both in favor and against, it is safe to say that the relief they provide both immediate and in the long run, merit their purchase and use in some occasions. While in some circumstances such as climbing a new or tricky area may preclude their use, long hours and days of belaying simple routes can save your neck permanent injury and allow you to climb longer and harder.

If you want to buy the best belay glasses on the market right now, Y&Y Classics are the way to go to give you the best in terms of design and functionality. For those who want similar quality but at a lower price, the Y&Y Vertical Plasfun are an excellent choice giving a comparable experience at a lower price.

Did you find this helpful? You may also want to check out our other climbing gear reviews here.

> Best Belay Devices for Climbing

> Best Belay Gloves for Climbing

> Best Climbing Backpacks

> Best Crack Climbing Gloves

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