Almost half of the population in the UK report some kind of back or neck pain, a problem likely caused by hours of sitting in offices in our digital worlds. Belaying, especially on long projects really doesn’t help the situation – I’ve suffered from neck pain on-and-off for years, and after long belaying sessions I’m bordering agony. The Y&Y belay glasses offer a solution here – and at an affordable price (unlike some of it’s much more pricey rivals). We’ve been using them for a few months now to see how they faired.
Comfort & Fit
The Y&Y Belay Glasses feature a silicon nose pad and memory alloy frame that adapts well to your head shape. The glasses are instantly comfortable with little need for adjustment and fit fairly well over most prescription glasses (providing the frame isn’t too thick). Added to this, the lightweight frame the whole package is very unobtrusive and pleasant to wear.
The design is simple, and the glasses appear well made. This no frills approach is highly practical (although there are no points for style marks here!) but with the proper care, the glasses feel as if they are built to last.
The stainless steel frame tends to spring back to its original shape after deformation and the prisms are protected from all possible angles making them at least as durable as a well made pair of glasses. Obviously they can’t be trodden on too much, at the end of the day they are going to be more fragile then the rest of your kit – but the provided protective case allows a package which can be thrown into your daypack fairly carefree.
The delivered package is fairly comprehensive – you are provided with a glasses strap, lens cloth and a sturdy carry case (which features a velcro and zip fastener, plus a handy attachment carabiner).
So the first use was a very unusual experience and did take some getting use to. As the climber sets off from ground level, the belay glasses are quite disorientating and we ended up looking over the prisms to see the ‘real’ view of what was going on – but as the climber ascends, you can begin to look through the prisms whilst keeping your head and neck completely straight – fantastic!
Above: Our best-representation of what the eyes can see through the glasses (awareness of the immediate surroundings with a fairly wide angle field of view directly above).
The system isn’t without it’s drawbacks (this likely goes for any belay eyewear system); first and foremost, I actually became quite motion sick when wearing the belay glasses for a long time. The nausea was similar to that of travel sickness and was an unexpected by-product of the system. It’s likely this will not effect most people (I get motion sick very easily) but is certainly worth considering if this is something you suffer from.
The other problem we came across was that the prisms seem to change the distance perception of the climber. When in use, the climber appeared closer then he/she was and it made it more difficult to judge rope management (distance between bolts etc.). I found when the leader shouted ‘watch me!’ I’d look over the prisms to see the ‘real’ world image of what was going on.
We found the best use for the Belay Glasses are single pitch sport routes (perhaps more suited for indoors or at outdoor crags where peripheral awareness isn’t as vital). We think many reservations on these glasses can stem from being skeptical about something different, these kind of systems take getting used to and with some perseverance it’s likely a very useful tool will emerge from the niggles we experienced. The bottom line here is, you really need to use them yourself to find out if they benefit you – luckily, Y&Y offer a free trial on their website.
There are few of these systems on the market – but the Y&Y Belay Glasses are seriously good value for money and much cheaper then many of their rivals. With such as single purpose product (looking up!) and with excellent comfort and build quality we can’t find a reason why you’d buy any other system other then these from Y&Y.
For further information & to buy or test a pair visit: www.yy-belayglasses.co.uk