Belay Device vs Belay Glasses

Belay Device vs Belay Glasses

Climbing is an exciting activity that requires the right equipment for a successful and safe experience. Two essential pieces of gear for any climber are the belay device and belay glasses.

While they both serve the same purpose of keeping the climber safe, they work differently and have their unique advantages. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the differences between belay devices and belay glasses, their uses, and which one might be better for you.

What is a Belay device?

A belay device is an essential piece of equipment used in climbing to protect the climber from falling. It is a mechanical device that is attached to the rope and used to control the rope’s tension.

A belay device
A belay device

The belay device allows the climber to climb while being supported by a rope and provides a safety system that minimizes the risk of injury in case of a fall.

There are different types of belay devices available in the market, such as tubular belay devices, assisted braking devices, and figure-eight belay devices. These devices have different designs and mechanisms that provide varying levels of support and safety for the climber.

What are Belay Glasses?

Belay glasses are specialized eyewear designed for belaying in rock climbing. They are equipped with angled prisms that allow climbers to look up at their partners without straining their necks.

These glasses offer several advantages, such as reducing neck pain and fatigue, enhancing the belayer’s visibility, and allowing the belayer to keep their head up and eyes open for other climbers or hazards.

Belay glasses come in different styles and models, with varying prism angles and lens materials.

Belay Device vs Belay Glasses: Understanding the Key Differences

Design and Functionality

Belay devices are designed with a wide range of functionalities, including braking assistance, locking, and smooth rope management.

They typically consist of a metal frame and a slot where the rope is threaded through and work by applying friction to the rope to slow down or stop the climber’s descent.

On the other hand, belay glasses are designed to provide a better view of the climber and are typically made of lightweight, durable materials that are resistant to impact and scratch.

Comfort and Ease of Use

Belay devices can require a bit of practice to master, as they require the user to apply the right amount of tension to the rope and have a good feel for how the device responds to different weights and rope speeds.

They can also put a strain on the belayer’s neck and shoulders, especially when belaying for long periods.

Belay glasses, on the other hand, provide a comfortable and ergonomic alternative to traditional belaying methods, allowing users to comfortably maintain an upright position while keeping the climber in view.

Cost and Accessibility

Belay devices are generally more affordable and widely available than belay glasses, making them the preferred choice for most climbers, especially beginners.

Belay glasses, on the other hand, can be a bit pricier due to their specialized design and materials, and may not be as readily available in all climbing stores.

Safety Considerations

Both belay devices and belay glasses have their safety considerations that users must be aware of. Belay devices require proper technique and knowledge to use safely, as well as routine maintenance to ensure that they are in good working condition.

Belay glasses, while they provide a more comfortable and ergonomic belaying experience, can also have a learning curve and require proper use to ensure that the climber remains in view at all times.

Ultimately, the choice between belay devices and belay glasses should be made based on the user’s experience level, comfort, and safety considerations.

Is Belay Device Better Than Belay Glasses?

When it comes to choosing between a belay device and belay glasses, it ultimately depends on personal preference and the type of climbing activity you are engaging in. Each option has its pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh them carefully before making a decision.

Pros and Cons of Using a Belay Device

Belay devices are a popular choice among climbers for several reasons. One of the main advantages is their versatility – there are many different types of assisted belay devices available on the market, each with its own set of features and benefits.

They are also relatively easy to use and can provide a strong and reliable hold on the rope, giving climbers peace of mind while climbing.

However, belay devices can be bulky and heavy, making them less suitable for climbers who prefer a minimalist approach. They can also be more expensive than belay glasses.

Pros and Cons of Using Belay Glasses

Belay glasses are a newer addition to the climbing world but have quickly gained popularity among climbers. They offer several advantages over traditional belay devices, such as being lightweight, compact, and less bulky.

They also eliminate the need to constantly look up at the climber, reducing neck strain and fatigue. However, they require more training and practice to use effectively than belay devices. They can also be more expensive than traditional belay devices.

Which Is Better for What Type of Climbing?

Both belay devices and belay glasses have their place in different types of climbing. Belay devices are better suited for traditional climbing and multi-pitch climbing, where a wide range of belay techniques may be required.

They are also better for heavier climbers, where a strong grip on the rope is necessary. Belay glasses, on the other hand, are better for sport climbing and gym climbing, where neck strain is a common issue.

They are also a good option for belayers with smaller hands or weaker grip strength.

Read more about Active vs Passive protection


In conclusion, both belay devices and belay glasses are effective tools for climbers and belayers. While each has its advantages and disadvantages, the decision on which one to use ultimately depends on the individual’s preference and experience.

Belay devices are more versatile, easy to use, and provide more options for belaying techniques, making them a great choice for beginners and experienced climbers alike.

On the other hand, belay glasses provide a unique perspective and a comfortable belaying experience, which can reduce neck strain and improve visibility.

Ultimately, the choice between a belay device and belay glasses comes down to personal preference and what works best for the climber.


Do people use belay glasses?

Yes, many climbers use belay glasses to reduce neck strain and improve visibility while belaying.

How do belay glasses work?

Belay glasses work by using prisms to reflect the image of the climber upwards toward the belayer’s line of sight, allowing the belayer to watch the climber without straining their neck.

What are the different types of assisted belay devices?

There are various types of assisted belay devices, including tubular belay devices, assisted braking devices, and auto-locking devices. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice depends on the climber’s preference and experience.

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