CU Belay Glasses - a cure for belayer's neck

© UKC Gear
Neck pain is nasty, it can almost paralyse you. Trapped nerves, a bulge in one of the discs between the vertebrae or muscular problems, can be a pain in the neck. The causes are many: sitting in front of a computer all day doesn't help, falling asleep in an awkward position, stress, worry, or just gazing at your mates bum for several hours as she makes her steady progress up her first E2........Belayer's neck? There is a cure!

AlpKit Jim's Eyes © Nick Smith, Alpkit  © UKC Gear
AlpKit Jim's Eyes © Nick Smith, Alpkit

John Bachar, not liking what he seeing through his belay glasses? © Bachar collection

Belayer's neck, most of us have had it, and it gets even worse as you get older.

But we have found a cure, and we sent out our intrepid gear reviewer, John Bachar to test them in the Owens River Gorge, near his home town of Mammoth Lakes, California.

John Bachar reports:

I just received my new CU Belay Glasses ( a few days ago and got a chance to try them out today at the Gorge. Here's my unbiased semi-professional opinion with a shot of them in action.

They are great I must say. Super clear image. Exquisite workmanship. Lightweight. And the "looking noble carrying case" is well, pretty darn cool too.

Everybody who tried them on thought they was the shiznit as well.

I didn't even have to bend my neck to freak out during the leader's sketchfest....

Nothing is upside down. Rotating your head makes the rock "tilt" like a rocking boat or something. If you look straight on and face directly towards the rock, then everything looks "normal" - just like you were looking straight up at the climber.

Climbers are pretty much the same size as in normal vision but the whole scene is slightly "cropped" - and amazingly you can see quite a bit around the climber.

The image is completely crystal clear, I mean it's clean.

I hope those guys make a "taller" version so you can see a little more above and below the climber. The width is good, the height a little narrow.

They did a pretty damn good design job on these babies I have to say. They even put my name on them - JOHN in orange letters.

Press release ispo award 2008: POWER ´N PLAY PRODUCT "CU" WINS ISPO AWARD 2008! Press release and jury statement

The handsome Alpkit Jim sporting the Belay Glasses. © Nick Smith, Alpkit
The belay glasses CU sport an innovative design, which allows you to belay your climbing partner without straining your neck and therefore reduces in neck pain. CU are prism glasses, which can be used for in- and outdoor-climbing alike. They basically allow you to keep your head straight while being able to see what happens directly above you.

Health aspects:

With CU glasses overstretching and unhealthy straining of the neck is avoided. The belayer hardly needs to change his natural head position while still being able to observe his climbing partner all the time. CU glasses are particularly useful for belaying in long routes and steep walls. They are also very good for belaying your partner while he or she is checking out a route.

Safety aspects:

The climber can be observed during climbing without the head having to remain in an overstretched position. This also means, that the belayer does not have to look down every so often to release the strain on the neck as is the case without CU glasses. Permanent observation increases the safety of the climber. With CU glasses the belayer can stand closer to the wall, which means substantial advantages for the climber as well as for the belayer in case of a fall. CU are designed to leave enough free field of vision so that you can still see your belay device, the start of the route, the ground etc. and fulfill all your belay duties.

Those who wear glasses can usually simply place CU over their normal glasses. CU are easy to use and the glasses supply a very clear, non- inverted picture. It only takes a short time to get used to them. Once accustomed to CU glasses, you will not want to belay without them any more.

The CU glasses are made of high-quality steel, have a cool design and are available from

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29 Jul, 2008
Is it April already?
29 Jul, 2008
I'd buy a pair .. my neck is killing me. I'm wondering whether I should go climbing tonight but the thought of the pain from belaying means I probably won't.
29 Jul, 2008
Brill! If you'd have said a year ago that we would have John Bachar reviewing stuff like tis for UKC I would never have believed you.
29 Jul, 2008
John did add last night that, "I hope those guys make a "taller" version so you can see a little more above and below the climber. The width is good, the height a little narrow..."
29 Jul, 2008
will they be following these up with a pair that can see round corners or through blocks? Or perhaps funnel the sound of the leader shouting so it can be distinguished from wind/rain/river/sea gulls etc noise?
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