Staying safe while rock climbing should be your top priority, which is why a belay partner is a must. Having a belay partner means having someone watching your back and ensuring that nothing goes wrong during your climb.
When it’s your turn to be the belay partner, you should keep watch during the entire climb. However, the continuous awkward angle can cause neck and shoulder pain, particularly during long climbs.
Imagine tilting your head for 30 minutes or more!
So, what can you do to help ease the strain?
Well, you can wear belay glasses. But what are belay glasses, how do they work, and most importantly, are they necessary?
Let’s find out?
What are Belay Glasses?
Belay glasses are a pair of eyeglasses specially designed for climbers. They have prismatic lenses that allow belay partners to keep an eye on their climbers without excessively tilting their necks.
Belay glasses work by bending the light through total internal reflection, sending the image into the wearer’s eyes while maintaining a comfortable head position. While wearing belay glasses, you’ll avoid craning your neck to see your partner, even during high-angle climbs.
Based on the design, belay glasses provide both central and peripheral field visions. Your central view gives you a direct view of your climber, while the peripheral field allows you to remain aware of your surroundings.
Why are Belay Glasses so Important?
The main reason belayers wear belay glasses is to avoid belayer’s neck. Belayer’s neck is a condition wherein your neck and shoulders become strained because of the continuous awkward angle during belaying.
Belayer’s neck causes a muscle imbalance wherein your neck flexor muscles weaken. Your neck feels sore and stiff, and the belayer’s neck can lead to more severe health issues such as chronic headaches and a hunched back.
Are Belay Glasses Worth It?
Now it’s time for the most crucial question: are belay glasses worth it?
Yes and no.
Yes, belay glasses are worth it…IF you get a quality pair. A good pair of belay glasses do help prevent belayer’s neck while giving you a clear and unobstructed view of your climbing partner.
However, cheaper belay glasses can distort your vision. Not only can these glasses make you feel dizzy if you wear them too long, but you won’t have a clear view of your climber. This can lead to accidents since things can go wrong in a heartbeat during a climb!
Even with a quality pair of belay glasses, it will take time before you are used to wearing them. Remember, your eyes are not built to view through prismatic lenses. Your brain needs to adjust to the new field of view.
Tips on Using Belay Glasses
Here are some tips to help you use belay glasses more effectively:
- Never use them for the first time while belaying. As mentioned above, you need to get used to wearing belay glasses. Start by wearing them and simulating belaying. Wear the glasses and tilt your head upward, scanning a climbing route and focusing on various points.
- Use them only when needed. If your head and neck are comfortable, ditch the glasses until your climber gets to a higher angle.
- Shop around. Ask climbing shops if they have any recommendations for high-quality pairs.
- Start out slowly. Don’t immediately head out to a climbing route that you or your climbing partner have never attempted before if you’re going to use your belay glasses for the first time.
When it comes to climbing gear, there is equipment for safety, and there are those for convenience. Belay glasses fall somewhere in between. You should invest in a quality pair if you decide to get belay glasses.
Use your belay glasses only when necessary to avoid getting dizzy or disoriented when belaying a partner.
Now, don’t take your eyes off your climber!