Belay Specs were born out of a passion for climbing and dealing with the neck pain that comes with it. I started working on designs for Belay Specs when I was living in Lexington, KY, only an hour away from the Red River Gorge. Known world wide for its steep sandstone amphitheaters, climbs in the Red are pumpy and long. The long routes mean long belays which often get much longer when the climber is able to rest and recover on big jugs, kneebars or ledges. Giving an attentive belay can result in temporary and long term neck pain.

I saw belay glasses at the crags a few times and was amazed at how well they worked but I was put off by their cost. I had seen prismatic reading glasses in a movie and wondered if I could make them work for belaying if they were flipped upside down. My first attempt at making belay glasses involved a hacked apart frame and a thick aluminum L angle glued together to make a clumsy, Frankenstein-esque pair of glasses. While functional, the heavy, obtrusive frame made them feel like blinders and made it hard to see around the glasses for good rope management. These glasses only lasted a few weeks before breaking in an over-enthusiastic hug.

A new frame needed to be designed that was more durable, lighter weight and adjustable. While sitting at work, day dreaming about climbing, designing things in my head and measuring a drawing, I realized my stainless steel ruler would make for a great frame. Hours of cutting and many destroyed rulers later, a superior frame emerged that was lighter, more comfortable and allowed for great peripheral vision.

Using the belay glasses at crags in Kentucky and Utah resulted in lots of questions about what I was wearing and how they worked. People loved the comfort the glasses afforded them and asked where they could get a pair. After hearing this from many folks and finding meek job opportunities after moving to Utah, I decided to create a job for myself and share Belay Specs with the wider climbing community.

 

Phil at creek2I grew up on the outer edge of Milwaukee’s suburban creep where the corn fields of my youth have been replaced by golf courses and high-end subdivisions. The farm fields and nearby marshland were great places for adventures, mischief, fun and general filth. There were many occasions when my brothers and I had to strip out of our muddy clothes in the garage before being sent straight to the tub to clean up; sometimes a pre-rinse from the garden hose was required. My first climbing was done in the tree forts behind our house; there were a few falls and even a rescue that involved by being hauled off in a wheelbarrow.

 

I started dabbling with rock climbing early in high school but during my Junior year spent in Auckland, New Zealand it became more than just a passing hobby. The Rocknasium climbing gym in Auckland became my home away from home. The community there embraced a kid who was thousands of miles from home and made me fall in love with climbing for the community and camaraderie as much as for the physical movement.

 

Climbing has held large place in my life ever since. I sought out interships in Kentucky so that I could spend some time climbing in the Red River Gorge and landed another at Black Diamond which not only let me get a glimpse of what making climbing gear is like but explore the climbing opportunities in Utah and Idaho. Road trips let me check out more climbing and bouldering areas, mostly in the inter-mountain west and southeast.

 

After grad school, I moved to Kentucky and enjoyed three and half years of climbing what the Red River Gorge had to offer before packing up to move to Salt Lake City with my wife. The variety and volume of climbing within a few hours of Salt Lake is staggering and makes for a never ending list of routes to get on. 

 

 

American Made

Belay Specs are made in Salt Lake City by climbers and are the only belay glasses made in the USA. Furthermore, we source nearly all our components domestically to support American businesses and the US economy.

Making every pair in house allows us to ensure high quality and the flexibility to work with customers to customize their Specs. It also allows us to quickly respond to warranty issues and repairs since we have all the necessary equipment readily available.

What our users have to say

They're the difference between heinous neck pain and zero neck pain!

Jonathan Siegrist

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