Best Belay Glasses for Rock Climbing
Belay Glasses (Belay Specs, Belaggles, Beloggles, etc.) are a fairly recent addition to climbing gear. Although they’ve been around for several years, they’ve only really started to catch on due to the recent newcomers to the market offering lower pricing. While a pair of belay glasses is a non-essential piece of gear, it really makes belaying more enjoyable.
The first time I saw a pair in a gym in Utah, I laughed to myself and said ‘what’s next?’ As I started to see them more frequently- especially during long sessions where my neck felt like a vertebrae would crack- I decided I wanted to try a pair. At the time, the cheapest pair I could find was $80. I wanted to try them out, but not that bad!
Using my formal education in Global Supply Chain Management, I found a supplier who could make several batches for me. I still have the first prototype sample that I received, and have moved onto a new iteration of the classic. One of the main issues I saw from users was how to store them in between climbing trips. They’re glasses- you can’t exactly just toss them in your pack. To better protect the glasses, I have a hard protective case that can clip onto a harness, and a neck strap to keep them from falling off.
Long story short, Belay Glasses are really nice to have if you are climbing more than a couple of routes in a day. The prisms are crystal clear, and Rockulus glasses even allow you to wear regular glasses or sunglasses underneath. Definitely worth checking out if you do a lot of climbing!
Amazon: Rockulus Pro Belay Glasses
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Best Wetsuit for Canyoneering
The deepest corners of slot canyons hold water that never sees the light of day. The best season for canyoneering is the spring, because all of the snowmelt fills up the canyons and makes for a wild ride. If you’re going to spend a couple of hours wading and swimming through snowmelt, you’re going to want some extra layers for warmth! I recommend at least a ‘Shorty’ wetsuit to keep your core temperature up. A full wetsuit is even better.
Wetsuits aren’t designed for the abrasive characteristics of canyoneering, and will wear out quickly if you don’t take care of them. Some people cover the rear, the knees, and the elbows in duct tape, but I think it’s easiest to just wear clothing over the top. You kind of look like a nerd, but it makes an expensive wetsuit last a lot longer! Wetsuits designed for surfing are generally the best for canyoneering- triathlon suits aren’t as durable, and diving suits aren’t as flexible.
We put together a full article about wetsuits, and what to look for when you’re ready to buy one as well as a specific recommendation. You can read it here: What is the Best Wetsuit for Canyoneering?
Best Knee Pads and Elbow Pads for Canyoneering
Knee Pads and Elbow Pads are a really nice addition to canyoneering. It’s kind of like elevating from camping to ‘glamping.’ Every time I go without them, I end up coming home with bruises on my knees and elbows, sometimes down to the bone. The pain is one thing, but the abrasive canyon walls really shred through wetsuits and nice canyoneering clothing quickly.
A lot of canyoneers pick up some elbow and knee pads to protect their more expensive wetsuits, as well as their elbows and knees. These aren’t skateboarding knee pads, which would be worthless when stemming and trying to grip the canyon walls, these are neoprene sleeves with padded gel or foam sections where they are needed.
Knee and Elbow pads do wear out fairly quickly, due to the beating they take, so I don’t think it’s worth buying very expensive ones.
Amazon: Asics Rally Knee Pads
Amazon: Bodyprox Elbow Protection Pads
Best Personal Anchor System (PAS)
One thing that will always come in handy while you’re climbing or canyoneering is a personal anchor system. They come with multiple interconnected loops so you can clip securely into belay stations and rappel anchors. This will keep you from falling while rigging rappels near a cliff’s edge, or slipping while setting up a top rope.
Amazon: Metolius Alpine PAS
Best Chalk Bag for Rock Climbing
Some say it makes you turn into spiderman, some say it makes your hands slippier. I like chalk on hot days, or halfway up the climb when I start to sweat, but I don’t swear by it all the time. Most of the climbers I see who depend on chalk use it more as a mental thing than anything. Once your hands start to sweat, good luck holding onto the wall! In general, all chalk bags are created equal.
You want one that comes with a waist belt so you can use it bouldering, not just one that clips onto your harness. If you do a lot of gym climbing, you may want a big bucket, but most people just use a personal chalk bag. You can either buy chalk in the powder form, or in a sock. Some gyms have prohibitions against the powder form because it makes a huge mess if it gets spilled. A chalk bag is a chalk bag, so why not get one with a rock climbing panda on it?
Amazon: 321 Strong Refillable Chalk Ball