If you wear glasses, it’s highly likely you’ve felt like a dweeb in them at some point. I should have known I’d have it coming in my youth when I snickered at the kid with the thick glasses in my class. Just a decade later, I was at the eye doctor getting my glasses.
Suddenly, I was the dweeb in glasses. I tried contacts, but I hated that feeling like something was in my eyes. I eventually got used to wearing my glasses, though it took some adjusting when I got into climbing.
Particularly, I was amused by some of the belayers at the climbing gym. I saw them wearing these weird glasses. At first, I thought it was just one guy I’d seen. Then, I kept seeing them. That’s when I found out about belay glasses and what they were used for. I was tempted to laugh, but then I remembered I was a dork wearing glasses too, and I learned belay glasses really are a fantastic tool for climbing, especially when outdoors.
But can you wear them with your glasses? That’s what I’d wanted to know.
Can you wear belay glasses with your prescription glasses?
The short answer is yes, you can. Keep reading to find out more about the best belay glasses that you can wear with your prescription glasses!
Why you should wear belay glasses
If you’re a beginner and haven’t had that much experience belaying, then you might be convinced you don’t need belay glasses. After all, how hard can it be to keep your eyes trained on your climber, right? Especially when you’re in the climbing gym. You’re not spending all day there belaying.
The crag isn’t the climbing wall though and when you get out there and try to belay in the wild for the first time, you’ll quickly realize it when you get home. Your neck will be all kinds of sore from craning your neck all day. When you don’t do it for very long at the gym, it doesn’t often cause pain, but all day, oh yeah. I certainly resisted the idea of wearing yet another pair of glasses that would make me look even more undesirable than my current pair, but after a few times of belaying on the crag without belay glasses, I began to change my mind.
My neck hurt every single time, and it wasn’t until I finally caved in and accepted my best friend’s offer to borrow his while he was up on the crag that I felt relief. Like I said, if you’re at the climbing wall, you’re not going to need these. Even a short, quick climb is fine without them. But a multi-pitch all-day outing without them will leave you in pain.
As with other climbing gear, if it’s causing you pain or irritation, you can’t focus on the task at hand. Just like if climbing shoes are pinching your feet, it’s all that’s on your mind up on the rock. The same is true with belaying. If you’re uncomfortable standing there, crooking your neck in a strange way, you’re not going to be at your best. As much as I hated to admit it, belay glasses helped me to be at my best while belaying because they kept me comfortable. And they work with my prescription glasses too. More on that in a moment.
Best belay glasses for people who wear prescription glasses
One of the best ways to wear belay glasses when you have prescription glasses is to seek out a clip-on style. When I got my own pair, it was the Y&Y Clip-Up Belay Glasses check them out here (Amazon link), which is what I still use to this day. It’s a game-changer.
I’m not alone on this thought either. It was through my best friend and other climbers with glasses who had recommended them. They also work great with sunglasses, so even if you’re not a prescription glasses-wearer, you can snap these on and belay all day.
What’s so great about it is that it was the first of its kind, a very innovative and smart way to tune into the needs of climbers that wear prescription glasses. These belay glasses clip right onto the bridge of your prescription glasses. You can flip them up and down with ease to view your climber without heaping pain upon your neck. They’re easy to use with one hand so you’ll never compromise your duties as a belayer.
In addition to being lightweight, I like how you get a nice field of vision for everything else in your surrounding area outside of the prism. You can see the rope, your belay device, and everything else even while wearing them. If your prescription glasses are lightweight like mine, Y&Y has thoughtfully included anti-slip ear hooks to keep the belay glasses clip attached to the arms of your glasses so you’re not pushing them back up your nose all day.
How to use belay glasses with your prescriptions?
With the Y&Y Clip-Ups, it’s really easy to use them with your prescription glasses.
– Lock it into position
Simply press the clip on the mechanism and put it on your prescription glasses. It snaps right into place. The clip up should be in the center of your glasses.
– Switching positions
It’s easy to move it to the on and off position once you clip it in. Just rotate it upward. You can do it with one hand, so you’ll never have to let go of your cord.
– Fix reflections
Seeing a reflection in your belay glasses? You’ll have to adjust them. All you need to do is bend the metal part of the clip until you start seeing clearly.
– Keep it in place
As I mentioned, you can keep these from causing your prescription glasses from sliding down your nose all day by using the anti-slip ear hook. It secures the belay glasses onto your glasses arms for added support and comfort and helps keep it in place.
Will belay glasses scratch your prescription glasses?
Because of the innovative design from Y&Y, I’m happy to report that you don’t have to worry about the belay glasses scratching up your prescription lenses. The way the clip is designed, it prevents it from happening. I’ve never once gotten a scratch on my glasses from attaching my belay glasses to them.
It’s certainly a great choice for belaying when you need to wear prescription glasses. But what about if you wear contact lenses? Can you use belay glasses while wearing them? Read on to learn more.
You can use contact lenses with your belay glasses
Another option by Y&Y is the Y&Y Belay Glasses Classics. These are a bit pricier than other belay glasses out there, but the quality is exceptional. They feature wide-angle prism lenses plus a low volume frame, which gives you more peripheral vision.
More peripheral vision means that while you’re belaying, you can see your climber perfectly with the prism and you’ll also be able to see your immediate surroundings. So that enhances the entire experience. You’re more precise with your management of the rope plus it keeps you from getting dizzy.
While I don’t wear contacts, I do distinctly remember trying out some other belay glasses that didn’t offer a good peripheral. I felt a bit off and out of it from losing my peripheral. I slept for nearly 12 hours the next day and still just felt off kilter.
These you can also wear over your prescription glasses, though try them on because they fit over most of them but not all of them. If you find they fit and you like wearing both your prescription glasses and your contacts (obviously not at once), then these are going to be a great match for you.
The frame is comfortable and slightly adjustable, plus you get a case that clips conveniently to your harness. And yes, they aren’t cheap but you will get so much use out of them and they will last you forever.
Cheaper belay glasses for when you’re using contact lenses
On a budget? I can dig that. If you need cheaper belay glasses and you wear contact lenses, you can do well with the BG Climbing Belay Glasses. These feature a light and comfortable plastic frame. While it says it can be used with glasses, they’re not the best choice for them in my opinion, but for contact lens-wearers on a budget, these are great.
The problem with cheaper belay glasses is that they often block out that peripheral, which I mentioned above. With these though, the prisms are high quality and give you an excellent vision of your immediate surrounding. There’s no tunnel vision so you can see your climber and everything else that you need to. No woozy feelings here.
Along with these, you get a neck strap, carrying case, and cleaning cloth. A friend of mine has these and loves them though he said the clip the case comes with is a bit small for connecting to the harness. He found a way though using an accessory cord and aside from that bit of negotiation, told me these were a solid choice for him, one that didn’t set him back and allows him to wear belay glasses easily with his contacts in.
Belay glasses are probably low on your priority list when you first start out into climbing. I get it. There are so many other essentials you need that it’s easy to ignore for a bit. But you shouldn’t put it off for too long.
They look a bit like something an entomologist would wear, honestly. That was my first thought when I saw them. I really wasn’t sold on wearing them until I tried them out and saw how much they helped. In the gym, you can get away without them for a bit, but there will come a time when you just feel too fatigued from putting your neck into odd positions that you’ll be begging to borrow a pair.
I recommend trying different ones on to see how they fit and how they work. If your climbing gym doesn’t have any you can rent or at least try on for size, you can ask your more experienced climbing friends if they’d let you use theirs. If you’re wearing prescription glasses like me though, you’ll definitely want to look into the ones I’ve mentioned here to get a perfect fit with your glasses on.
You’ll definitely feel goofy in them, but not for long. You need to remember you’ll only look weird to non-climbers. Out on the crag, no one’s going to give you a second look with your belay glasses on unless they want to know more about the pair you’re wearing. Looks aside, once you get used to wearing these, you’ll wonder how you ever belayed without them. They make your life so much easier. No more twisting and turning. It’s like having bug eyes and being able to see everything all around all at once in a much clearer state.
Remember, safety and comfort are always a priority with climbing. When you’re comfortable, your focus is unwavering. And that comfort leads to safety. It’s hard to stay focused on belaying when you’re neck feels like it’s going to snap and all you can think is, “Come on! Hurry up!” when you look at your climber.
We’re all here to enjoy the sport and I’ve found belay glasses to be a valuable tool that helps me be at my best. When I’m belaying, my climber is counting on me and with belay glasses, I can keep up my end of the bargain, even with my prescription glasses on.