Cheap Belay Glasses
Belay glasses are becoming an essential part of a rock climbers gear. Their use is steadily increasing as more climbers become aware of their benefits, primarily the significant reduction in neck pain. The pain caused from a long period of belaying can definitely be felt for the few days after belaying and can be seriously uncomfortable. The spin off benefits of a belayer without neck pain are worth the expenditure. Serious accidents or injuries can be prevented due to having a more attentive belayer with greater concentration and with less of a need for an eyes off break to relax their neck.
However belay glasses are not cheap. The branded ones are comfortably over £50 on Amazon with these brands premium ranges costing over £200. Fortunately there are a couple of options available to the savvy consumer. We discuss absolutely cheapest option and then arguably the best value for money option below.
The Cheapest — DIY Cheap Belay Glasses
The absolutely cheapest approach is the hack of converting ‘lazy reading glasses’ into makeshift cheap belay glasses. Lazy reading glasses are glasses that have prisms or mirrors in them, just like belay glasses. This allows the user to read a book or watch tv whilst lying vertical. They essentially do the same thing with the wearer’s vision as belay glasses do, albeit at a different angle to what is required for belaying.
How these glasses are repurposed to be useful for belaying depends on the glasses purchased. There are two common approaches. This first involves unscrewing the legs of the glasses on both sides and then switching them over. The second is to cut off the parts that protrude on the front of the glasses, position them in the appropriate angle for belaying and reattach using strong glue or appropriate adhesive. This is a useful series of photos to illustrate the latter method.
Cheap belay glasses created with this method do however tend to significantly reduce the wearer’s peripheral vision. They are often not built as functionally as belaying glasses and the generally larger frames of the glasses reduce peripheral vision. It is always useful to be able to keep an eye on the rope and belay device and to see where your feet are going to land to avoid a stumble. We do not recommend these are used for the long term given the safety implications, but are a possible short term solution.
Best Value For Money
Now the matter of best value for money is always a subjective opinion. It is not quantifiable (like finding the ‘cheapest’) and depends on taste, disposable income and perspective of the person considering best value for money. Our suggestion of best value for money are the glasses designed for belaying (not repurposed from reading glasses) but are not highly branded and have the associated price. For example, there are a pair priced (at the time of writing) at £29.99. These are a useful compromise between price, usability and convenience.
There are advantages of the purposely built belay glasses in comparison to the cheapest option discussed above. Repurposed glasses will take time and the appropriate tools to achieve. Cutting plastic cleanly and evenly is essential for them to be reattached correctly. And not every household has those tiny, fidgety screwdrivers which are required to remove the legs of the glasses. If you have an unsteady hand or a botcher then their effectiveness may be compromised. Having belay glasses that are ready to go as soon as they are delivered is certainly advantageous.
Nevertheless to be balanced, cheaper options may not have the subtle advantages that the dearer options have. Keeping the price of a product down usually requires compromise on some aspects of the design. For example, the subject pair highlighted above have a frame around the lenses which do somewhat restrict peripheral vision. These have not be minimised as much as the dearer options have and could cause issues.
In summary there are cheap belay glasses available. The cheapest option is to purchase lazy reading glasses and repurpose them to use for belaying. However, the best value for money is to purchase glasses designed for belaying but are not highly branded.
Originally published on our website.