I had always wondered about these goofy-looking belay glasses that people sometimes sport at climbing gyms – I didn’t even know what they were at first, then I tried a pair on and felt vaguely dizzy.
The idea behind them is that you can see the climber above while belaying without having to lift your head and strain your neck for hours to keep an eye on them. They have special lenses that allow you to see like this.
In theory, it makes sense and I was always tempted to give them a shot, but I wasn’t going to fork out £40-£50 just to try them – and what if I didn’t like them anyway?
Climbing Frog belay glasses have definitely got around that last problem – they come in at £24.99, so pretty much half price of what you would expect to pay for a pair. That definitely makes it more appealing, but are they worth it and do they do what they say on the proverbial box?
Well, I’ve had a chance to use them both outdoors and indoors, and I can say for me there are advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with what I liked…
The glasses are very easily portable, come in a nice protective case and a carabiner to clip on to your harness, so they are easy to take anywhere with you.
The fit quite nicely, though they are perhaps on the heavier side, but this does mean that they feel very robust (not that I’ve tried to break them…)
Wearing them does mean you don’t have to crane your neck nearly as far to see the very top of the route, though you need to stand quite far back sometimes to capture the whole length of it. What’s more, they magnify your climber, so you can see what he/she is doing in much greater detail, for example when you want to see if they have clipped in or not yet.
They are a brilliant way to protect your eyes from chalk or dirt flying your way from the top – something I have especially suffered with recently, I seem to keep getting chalk in my eyes!
The price is also a huge advantage, as I already mentioned, given how expensive climbing gear is and how much of it we need! After all, these are a “nice to have”, not a “must have”.
It took me a while to get used to wearing these. Your view tends to shake noticeably with every movement of the head, and that feels odd! I did get over it after a few tries though.
I still felt that I couldn’t keep my head completely straight when trying to see where my climber was, perhaps because of my tendency to stand relatively close to the wall – I’m quite light, and if I stand really far away I get pulled in LOADS if the leader falls.
It was hard to tell distances while wearing them, especially when paying out rope, I felt I wasn’t sure how much I had paid out. I also felt a bit “removed” from the climber by the thick frames.
All of these are psychological and a matter of getting used to, I guess, but worth noting. I would need to carefully and slowly incorporate these glasses into my everyday climbing to reap the full benefits, as it seems to take me a while to adapt.
If you want to give belay glasses a go – if you’ve been suffering from neck pain, or struggling with chalk flying into your eyes – by all means, chose these ones. At half the price of other products out there in the market, these are a good choice for your wallet. Not that I’ve tried other ones though, in the interest of full disclosure.
However, be prepared that you might find them hard to adapt to and you will need to persevere if you want to start using them regularly. Perhaps start with the easy routes, where you don’t worry about your belaying so much so you can focus on getting used to the glasses. And I wouldn’t test these out on a hangover!
Where can I buy them?
If you want to give these a shot, here is where you can get your own pair. And I even have a little perk for you – a 10% discount for the first 10 people who make a purchase through my link. Simply use the code “ANNA” to get yourself another 10% off.
If someone does buy these after reading my review, I’d be interested to know what you think!
Happy climbing 🙂
P. S. I shamelessly stole the photo from Climbing Frog’s website, but I can assure you they do look like that.
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