|Best Overall Belay Glasses||Y&Y Belay Glasses Classics|
|Best Belay Glasses for Glasses Wearers||Y&Y Clip-Up Belay Glasses|
|Cheapest Belay Glasses that Still Get the Job Done||Y&Y The Plasfun Basic|
|Best Value Belay Glasses||Ucraft Titanium Alloy Belay Glasses|
|The Absolute Cheapest Belay Glasses||Prism reading glasses|
Many people scoff at the idea of belay glasses.
They look dorky, they can cost as much as a new cam, and any real climber should have a strong enough neck to look up at their partner while they belay, right?
That’s exactly how I felt about belay goggles until I finally tried a pair on at the crag. I won’t argue that the specs don’t look dorky, but I will argue that they are really, really convenient and actually make me a better belayer.
In this article, I’ll review my top five choices for belay glasses available right now.
They all serve the same basic function, but the different styles and price ranges will suit different people depending on what they want out of their specs.
But before we get to the reviews, let’s talk basics.
What are Belay Glasses?
Belay specs, belay glasses, belay goggles, these funky looking spectacles have a lot of different names but what exactly are belay glasses?
No matter what they’re called, belay glasses are pretty much all built based on the same simple model: A prismatic lens refracts light from above into the belayer’s eye, which allows the belayer to watch the climber without having to tilt their head back, in turn relieving the belayer of the neck strain that often comes with a long, attentive belay.
Why Wear Belay Glasses?
Every climber is probably familiar with the neck pain I’m talking about here, and while it’s usually pretty manageable and probably doesn’t affect you for days after your belay or anything like that, it does probably affect the way that you belay.
When your neck is really tired, you might tend to look down a lot, checking on your climber often but not watching them as closely as you would if your neck didn’t hurt.
You might also step further away from the wall, which helps relieve your neck pain but isn’t the ideal spot to be should your climber fall, since you’ll get pulled into the wall.
Belay specs allow you to keep your eyes on your climber constantly without straining your neck. They won’t have to say, “Watch me” at the hard parts, because you’ll be able to watch them the whole time they’re climbing.
So not only do belay specs relieve stress on the neck, they can also make you a better belayer.
How to Choose Your Belay Glasses
Below I’ve included a top five list of belay glasses in order to help you choose the belay specs for you.
Keep in mind that every person is going to be looking for different things from their belay glasses.
For some people the best belay glasses might be the cheapest ones, whereas for somebody else the best ones would be the most durable and for a third person they’d be the lightest.
So, whilst price is a key thing to consider, there are few other aspects to bear in mind when considering your new purchase.
The frame thickness can have a pretty big impact on how the glasses perform when down at the crag.
A nice thick frame is going to offer some strength and so result in a more robust pair of belay glasses, but this comes at a cost.
Not only will they weigh more, they will also block more of your peripheral vision.
This can cause disorientation and prevent you from seeing obstacles around you, such as kit and rock. Not great when your partner takes a lob just above that sketchy nut.
Much like regular glasses, the quality of the lenses can have a huge impact on their utility. Poor lenses will wear badly and are likely to distort the image you see.
Avoid plastic lenses if your budget allows, as these are more prone to the issues I’ve mentioned.
Plastic and metal are the main options here.
Plastic is going to less durable and as a result tends towards thicker frames, but this comes at a better price point.
Metal offers the opposite, thinner, stronger frames, but you’ll pay more for it.
These are pretty light items to carry around, so it’s not likely to make much of a difference in your pack.
Although a protective case is definitely worth looking for to ensure they stay safe whilst you are carrying them.
However, having to wear heavy glasses for a long time could be uncomfortable, particularly if you’re going for the glasses clip on option.
Thinking about how your going to use your shiny new belay glasses is definitely worth considering.
If the main usage is going to be down the local climbing gym or the your local sports crag, then it’s likely that you don’t need to most durable, light weight pair of glasses and so could save you’re self some hard earned cash.
However, if you’re likely to be using them a lot, across a range of climbing scenarios, particularly in mountain crag settings, with longer approaches, I’d suggest pushing for some of the more durable and better performing glasses, like the Y&Y Belay Glasses Classics.
So, with that out of the way, I’m going to crown a winner in five different categories rather than just putting the top five in order based on what I think.
Hopefully this should help you find the best glasses for your particular use case.
Read on for the full list.
Best Overall Belay Glasses - Y&Y Belay Glasses Classics
Y&Y made it on our list twice, and for good reason. The company makes very high-quality products that are thoughtfully designed and in my opinion are worth the high price point.
My winner for the best overall belay glasses are the Y&Y Belay Glasses Classics. They’re some of the pricier specs on the market, but the high quality wide-angle prism lenses make them worth the extra buck.
Combined with a low volume frame, the wide-angle prisms in these specs allow for more peripheral vision than any other belay spec on the market.
This means that while belaying you’ll be able to see your climber clearly through the prism but you’ll also have a good view of your surroundings.
This leads to more precise rope management and eliminates the dizzy feeling caused by some bulkier belay glasses that block peripheral vision almost entirely.
The Belay Glasses Classics also fit over most prescription glasses, have a comfortable and somewhat adjustable frame, and come in a convenient case that can be clipped to a harness.
These puppies sell for about $80 (£60) so they’re certainly not cheap, but they are probably the last pair of belay specs you’ll ever buy, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not they’re worth the price.
Best Belay Glasses for Glasses Wearers - Y&Y Clip-Up Belay Glasses
Almost every prescription glasses-wearer who has tried the Y&Y Clip-Up Belay Glasses agrees that they are the best belay glasses option for glasses wearers or those of us who never leave the house without sunglasses on.
They’re a little cheaper than the Y&Y classic model at $69 (£52) and have similarly great reviews.
The unique design is the first of its kind and Y&Y did an excellent job creating a product that does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and does it well.
The belay glasses clip on to the bridge of your regular glasses and can easily be flipped up and down depending on where your climber is.
This feature is really convenient because it allows the belayer to switch in and out of wearing the belay specs easily with one hand, so they can do this while belaying depending on where the climber is.
The no-frills, lightweight design also allows for a decent field of vision around the outsides of the prism, which means you can still maintain good awareness of your surroundings and see the rope and belay device at your waist while wearing the glasses.
Some users pointed out that these clip-ons are a little heavy and can cause your glasses to slide down your nose a bit, especially if you wear super lightweight frames.
Luckily, Y&Y offers an accessory to fix this problem: The anti-slip ear hooks can be attached to the arms of your regular glasses to give them a little extra support and keep them from sliding off your nose.
Cheapest Belay Glasses that Still Get the Job Done - Y&Y Plasfun Basic
If you’re looking for the cheapest option that actually performs well, then you’ll want to check out the Y&Y Plasfun Basic that have taken Amazon by storm. Yes, we know, another pair of Y&Y’s, but they’re just an awesome brand.
These $20 (£15) specs work just as well as top of the line belay goggles at about a quarter of the price.
The thing that sets these apart from other cheap options you might find on Amazon is that they have a slim frame that doesn’t block peripheral vision like most of the plastic models sold for $20 (£15) or less.
While the materials are definitely cheaper than the ones used by more premium UCraft and Y&Y models (these frames are made of plastic rather than metal) the design is still well-thought-out.
In addition, the prisms are clear, the glasses are lightweight, and they fit over most prescription glasses and sunglasses.
The number one question customers have about this product is “Why would anyone pay so much for belay glasses when you could just get these?”
The glasses also come with a case and a neck strap.
Best Value Belay Glasses - UCraft Titanium Alloy Belay Glasses
If you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road pair of belay glasses that have a great price point and good reviews, look no further than the UCraft Titanium Alloy Belay Glasses.
These specs sport a slim, metal frame that, like the Y&Y Classics frame, is designed to allow for maximum peripheral vision.
The frame is also lightweight and fairly durable, and these belay glasses fit over most (but not all) prescription glasses.
They come with a case, a neck strap, extra silicone nose pads, a screwdriver, and extra screws so if you’re accident prone or accidentally sit on them or something, you’ll have everything you need to make some basic repairs.
At $49 (£36) these are significantly cheaper than top shelf brands like CU or Y&Y, but they sport many of the same features, making them a great value and a good choice for anyone who wants belay glasses but isn’t quite ready to shell out the big bucks.
5. The Absolute Cheapest Belay Glasses - Prism Reading Glasses
The cheapest way to get belay glasses if you really don’t want to spend money on them is to make some yourself.
You can do this by buying prisms and attaching them to a frame from a pair of cheap sunglasses or readers, or you can buy some prism reading glasses (designed so you can read a book in bed while lying flat on your back) and flip the prisms upside-down so they point up instead of down.
This option will get you a pair of functional belay glasses for less than $10 (£7) but you’ll be getting what you pay for.
The bulky frames that come on the prism reading glasses will block almost all of your peripheral vision, which will make it harder to belay and might cause dizziness or disorientation.
I don’t really recommend this option, but I had to include it since it seems like every time belay glasses get brought up somebody points out that you can just buy some prism readers from China for five dollars and flip them upside down.
You might be able to craft a better pair by attaching the prisms to your own frames, so if you’re crafty then maybe the cheap option is the one for you, but in most cases I wouldn’t recommend these as a long term solution to your belaying neck pain.