John Kieser owns and operates Metropolis Window Cleaning in Longmont, Colorado. He is a 21 year industry veteran and has 10+ years in waterfed experience. He recently purchased the Belay glasses; here are his thoughts on them…
“Waterfed poles make cleaning windows at height safer and easier. However, they also present their own unique physical obstacles to overcome. You might think about the upper body strength required, and the stress on arms, elbows, shoulders, back, etc. It’s been my experience that most of these are overcome simply by repeated use. It’s similar to being sore the morning after you start a new workout regimen, but that soreness goes away as working out becomes your routine.
But there is one area of stress from using waterfed poles that doesn’t seem to get better with repetition. I’m talking about the stress in the neck from hours upon hours of looking up. After 8 years of using waterfed poles, I found a solution to this issue 2 years ago. That’s when I bought my first pair of belay glasses.
Belay glasses were designed for the sport of rock climbing. They allow the wearer to look straight forward, but see what’s above them.
I first learned of belay glasses 4 or 5 years ago in an online forum. At that time there was only one manufacturer, and the glasses were over $150.00. Now, being an investor in waterfed poles and systems, I don’t have a problem paying good money for good tools. But, I was unwilling to spend that much on such a specialty item without knowing for sure whether it would work well for waterfed pole window cleaning.
After first learning of them, I occasionally searched for belay glasses online. Finally, 2 years ago, I found a pair for around $50. I was willing to try them for that amount, even if they didn’t work out. Let me tell you…..
They work great for waterfed pole work! In fact, I wish I’d bought them back when I first learned of them. I’d have saved myself an additional 2 or 3 years of neck strain.
Like any new tool, it just takes a little time to get used to them. Using belay glasses for waterfed work is kind of like watching a shaky video. It can be disorienting at first. But if you just push through the initial visual discomfort, your neck will thank you the very first day. I first tried them on a building at 4 stories. It took me about half an hour to get used to them. That was 2 years ago. Now I never waterfed at height without them.
Nowadays you can get belay glasses for less than $20.00. It is well worth $20.00 to try them for yourself.
I have 2 types we use in my company. We have regular belay glasses, and I personally have a pair that clips onto glasses. Both types work great. I do recommend the clip-on type, even if you don’t wear eyeglasses. You can put the clip-ons onto your sunglasses. This will protect your eyes from sun glare, which we all know is a common issue in all types of window cleaning.
I recommend getting the cheaper type just to see if it’s something that you can use. I also recommend having a few pairs of the cheaper ones on hand for companies with employees. I have found that the $20.00 glasses tend to break easily in the hands of employees. But they can be good trainer glasses to get the employee used to using them.
The clip-on type that I use is currently about $70.00. I believe they are worth every penny. I use them on my prescription sunglasses. I save both neck strain, and eye strain from sun glare. With belay glasses, you and your crews will be able to both works better, and longer, with little or no neck fatigue.”