Belay glasses have been on the market for more than a decade, saving rock climbers’ necks, in more ways than one. But a local company is pushing the traditional design in a new direction.
PitchSix founder Matt Cupal, a climber of over 30 years, said he had been using fixed prism belay glasses for years during his climbs. Traditional belay glasses utilize a prism for the belayer to watch climbers above them, ready to catch them with a brake on the rope, while keeping their head and neck in a more comfortable position. But Cupal said while climbing vertical or overhanging walls, there was still a painful flaw.
“You’re still kind of cranking your neck up, even if you’re using belay glasses,” Cupal said. “I know I’m not alone, because I’ve talked to about a dozen people that have said, ‘Oh, I’ve thought of that same idea,’ but then I just took the effort to make it happen.”
After nearly two years of designing the product, Cupal launched a Kickstarter campaign last week for EyeSend, which he claims are the first adjustable belay glasses. Since his launch, he has already raised over 40 percent of his goal.
Cupal started the design process by first locally 3D printing an adjustable prism — a proof of concept. He then went on to develop around 50 prototypes with various features and designs. Cupal said having 3D printing available made refining the design of the glasses much easier.
“We could refine everything from the alignment of the eyes, to the fit, to how much pressure you needed,” Cupal said. “We got a pretty close approximation of what the real thing is like.”
Now built by Silicon Plastics Inc. of Millville, the finalized glasses can be adjusted between 60 and 120 degrees by a lever on the left side of the lens. For the past 10 months, Cupal said he’s been working on design tweaks with the local injection molding company.
Inspired by Patagonia’s 1% for the Planet initiative, Cupal said PitchSix has pledged to contribute 1 percent of its revenues to environmental causes. Having the glasses built locally, Cupal said, also contributes to that ethic.
“The more you can keep it local,” Cupal said, “the less carbon footprint you have.”
For more information visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mattcupal/eyesend-adjustable-view-belay-glasses/description.