Terry Caliendo

ON March 3, 2013

The Least Expensive (Cheapest) way to get Belay Glasses for Rock Climbing!


Wearing the first pair of Belay Glasses on the market while rock climbingUPDATED: 8/24/15

I can pretty much tell if a person's been rock climbing for a long time just by looking at their neck.  People who spend a lot of time belaying (looking up for a long time) develop this reverse "c" curve to their neck from craning their head all day while looking up at their climbing partner.

Over the last couple of years Belay Glasses have really become quite popular to alleviate the strain on your neck while belaying.  These strain reducing glasses have gone from "What is that freak wearing?!" to "Yeah, I might get a pair of those", and some even added "... but they are expensive and I haven't felt like shelling out the cash just yet".

But now, as they have become popular, new less expensive brands with just as good of quality have popped up.

When I originally wrote this article, it wasn't too long before that there was only one pair on the market and it was quite expensive.  Though light, thin, and fairly stylish (as stylish as a pair of mirrored Belay Glasses can be), these glasses distributed in the US by PowerNPlayUSA sold, and still appear to sell for $120 (plus shipping).

I actually bought a pair of these a few years before my original write of this article, justifying to myself that the $120 was cheaper than a bunch of visits to a chiropractor to get my neck fixed and so I told myself that buying a pair would be an "investment" in my physical health.   These are great glasses as they are very comfortable to wear and work beautifully.

Doing a quick search on Google shows there is now more competition and the price to get a pair of these magical light-bending glasses appears to be coming down as competitors are selling them for about three-fouths the price.

And if you search a little harder, you'll find even better deals like the ones made by LePirate.

  • $20 with FREE SHIPPING - LePirate
    • $16 for a pack of 10 (Free Shipping)

LePirate has the best price I've found for glasses specifically made for belaying.

The LePirate glasses website boasts the product is light, weighing in at only 45 grams (1.6 oz). I weighed my Belay Specs and they came in at 34 grams (1.2 oz).   So they are 25% heavier, but the titanium ones are so light I can't imagine I'd notice the extra 11 grams (granted I'm a sport climber, not a trad climber, so I don't care much about weight).

LePirate Belay Glasses

LePirate Belay Glasses

LePirate also claims their belay glasses are thin and durable.  From the pictures on their website, I'd agree, as it looks like the prisms are secured on all edges by the glasses frame and the frames appear to be made a soft elastic plastic (almost rubber like) as you might find in a durable iPhone case.

As far as visibility goes, the LePirate glasses look like they'd have the same field of vision of your climber as the higher priced belay glasses.  They also look like they'd have pretty good peripheral vision around the glasses while they are on, such that you can see out to the sides and down below at the ground (i.e. Should your rope get tangled).

Finally, I found another blog post which may help you decide if you want to go with these glasses which reviews the LePirate's Belay Glasses against the other lower cost alternatives.

Now, beyond actual belay glasses, its always interesting to me, from a marketing perspective, that something can sell for a high price when used for one function, and that exact same thing can sell for exorbitantly less when used for another.

A couple before my original write of this post, I was searching for the least expensive USB lightening cable I could find for my new iPhone 5, when I got side-tracked and started browsing a webstore's "novelties and gadgets" section and came across a pair of $8 (including free shipping) "Creative High Definition Bed Prism Lazy Glasses".  These glasses when worn, redirect your frontal vision to look towards your feet and are intended to be used for situations where you are laying flat in bed (or on the couch) and allow you to watch tv or read without bending your neck.

Creative High Definition Bed Prism Lazy Glasses

lazy couch glasses worn upside down and used as belay glassesBeing a frugal person who's always looking for creative savings, it immediately dawned on me that these glasses are pretty much exactly the same as the Belay Glasses being sold to rock climbers, they are just reversed at the piece that goes over your ear.

Since they cost only about $8 (INCLUDING FREE SHIPPING!), as an experiment, I purchased a pair to see if I could modify them, or if they could be worn upside down and used as Belay Glasses.

my regular glasses can be used with these repurposed belay glassesWhen I received them I discovered that they are in fact one solid piece of plastic, so the prisms can't easily be reversed.  However, I tried just putting them on upside down and they actually fit quite comfortably!

I could even put them over my regular glasses.

So I took them out to a crag to give them a try.  Though the earpiece is reversed (hard to see in the picture with my long hair covering the part that goes over my ear), they fit snugly to my head and worked just as well as my $120 pair!

Using the lazy bed glasses on the couch to watch tvSo if you are on a tight budget (as many rock climbers tend to be), these cheap bed reading glasses glasses turned upside down may be the solution to your desire to save your own neck the next time you spend a long day at the crag.  They aren't the most stylish, but they get the job done for a minimal price.

Or, if you are a little more safety conscious and want something designed specifically for the purpose of rock climbing, with better overall field of vision, and will fit more comfortably, I'd suggest spending a little extra to get the LePirate glasses.

Oh... and though my wife gets annoyed with my true laziness when I use my lazy bed glasses on the couch, they work great for their original purpose too!

Update 1/12/18
This article was written quite a while ago and since its writing there are now many more vendors in the market making belay glasses.  Do a quick search for Belay Glasses on Amazon and you'll see them and the prices now start around $15.

20 comments on “The Least Expensive (Cheapest) way to get Belay Glasses for Rock Climbing!”

  1. I want to tell you about the offpath.eu belay glasses.

    They are cheaper than the ones you linked in your post. Just bought them, arrived 6 days after, and they are solid. loving them.

  2. DO NOT ORDER THE GLASSES FROM FASTTECH.COM. I ordered them and it has already been 5 weeks. They have not arrived. The company cannot track the package, and they are asking me to wait another 2 weeks. On top of that the site lied and said up to 14 working days.

    1. Interesting. Sorry to hear of your negative experience. But glad you posted/commented. I've ordered from them a bunch of times and have never had a problem receiving anything. Never really paid attention to how long it took to get here though. ...Just figured that because its so cheap, its worth the wait.

    2. I also ordered from FASTTECH after reading the article. I remember seeing on their website that shipments take 14 to 30 days. After some wait, I started to wonder if I'd have the same experience that you had, but I received the glasses on the 30th day (after their shipment email). They appear to be good quality. So far, I've used them to watch TV while stretching on the carpet. Kept forgetting to take them to the climbing gym for a belay test. Anyway, just wanted to share my order experience here.

  3. You just saved me a lot of euros, i was about to order the CU belay glasses but thanks to you i ordered some cheap ones from ebay (6.5€) it took around 5 weeks, but it's worth it. A friend of mine got some expensive ones an he got disappointed after trying mine for the prism are so so cristal clear.
    Thanks for posting

      1. i did get the lazy glasses from eBay, from China (size M! should have ordered S size since i don't wear any glasses under). Also great to watch TV, not so great in my girlfriend's opinion 🙂 To belay, since you have to use them upside down i glued some foam to pad the nose contact, and it's fine. I'd like to take the prisms and attach them to some other glasses in the propper position, they are great value for it's cost though.

  4. While I appreciate frugality these and other bed-reading glasses are just not as safe as the properly designed ones. They impair your peripheral vision. You can not spot your partner pre-clip, and if there is any ground level problem it is difficult to fix. Like if your rope accidentally snags on a plant or rock.

    This is certainly a luxury item, but if it negatively impacts safety then it is a definite no-go in my books. You can stretch the life of your shoes if you're that hard up for cash. But don't jeopardize your own, or your climber's safety.

    1. Not being able to see ground level problems is a great point. Actually, you can see under the glasses, so it would be more ground level problems at a distance to the side. Funny though... if you look at the Belagoggles that sell for $90, they also block peripheral vision.

      1. Aye, since you are wearing the whole frame upside-down, it doesn't have the designed fit. Those that modify the glasses and turn the prisms, will have the problem. And there are quite a few individuals selling their modifications for $40-50.

        I have tried on the belaggles, and don't distinctly remember the frame blocking my peripheral. I did find their prisms wider so it did have a wider field; which did restrict my peripheral field. It has been a while though, so I can not comment too much on them.

  5. Thanks for this, I ordered some the other day and they are great. I just realised it is pretty simple to unscrew the arms and swap them over so they hook around the ears in the upside-down position.
    Just take the arms off, turn them over and screw them to the opposite sides.

  6. try aliexpress.com, they take a month to ship from China and are $14.99 or so, free shipping, search for "prism glasses", they'll have the
    climbing ones and the lazy bed glasses too. 🙂

  7. I got mine for $10 from Amazon. As pointed out, they worked fine simply by wearing them upside-down, even while wearing my regular glasses. However, they were not quite stable. I had considered cutting the arms and reversing them, but I ended up just heating the plastic arms and bending them (carefully) into a more suitable shape. I then put a coating of epoxy resin around the semi-melted area to strengthen it, and wrapped some cloth tape around them for comfort and to add friction. Added a keeper strap (old shoelace) and they work great.

    Regarding peripheral vision: it is an issue that needs to be addressed. These are better used at a well-used sport crag where rockfall is a low probability. In any case you should wear a helmet and get used to what rock fall looks like in the glasses (you can "practice" with dropping a rolled-up sock, say, to judge how it looks and where to move). Mind where you stand in relation to potential rock fall. Don't stand far from the rock and/or have a very stable stance and/or be ready to be pulled into the rock if the leader is heavier than you and falls.

    They take some getting used to, and there are some trade-offs, but they are certainly usable and effective in my opinion. I can see quite clearly everything the leader is doing. If there is a slight sacrifice in peripheral vision, it is made up for in the ability to continuously keep your eyes on the leader, rather than sneaking short rests or worse.

  8. The earpieces on the Lazy Bed Glasses can be reversed using a #0 Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws that act as hinge pins. Swap the earpieces left-to-right and reinstall the screws.

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