Being a survivalist isn’t about stocking up on a lot of gear. Survival is a mentality which involves using the everyday items around you for your advantage. One of the everyday items which could save your life is a survival belt. Here, we will go over the types of survival belts, their pros and cons, and uses for a survival belt.
Types of Survival Belts
Recently, there has been a huge surge in specialty survival products and gear – including special survival belts or “tactical belts.” These survival belts are made with built-in features like:
- Made from paracord
- Abrasion-proof straps
- Ferro rods for starting fires
- GPS chip
- Hidden compartment for cash
- Hollow compartment in buckle which contains tools like multi-tool, fishing hooks, wire, or a signaling mirror
Now, these specialty survival belts are definitely cool. But, anytime something seems “cool”, you’ve got to be careful. Usually it is just some kitsch gimmick and won’t really be useful in a survival situation.
For example, I know of one survival belt that has a knife built into the buckle. Cool, right? But, when I went to use the knife, it immediately snapped and broke.
The moral? Don’t rely on cheap gimmicky survival gear! A belt-buckle knife is better than no knife in a survival situation, but isn’t going to replace a real knife (more on how to choose a survival knife here).
And let’s not forget that a standard, everyday belt can also be used for survival. You don’t have to shell out money for some specialty survival item. Since you should always have a survival kit on you at all times, the extra items in survival belts are redundant.
Leather Belt vs. Webbing Belt vs. Paracord Survival Belt
When it comes to choosing a survival belt, you’ve got three main options for materials: leather, webbing, and paracord. Each of these has their own pros and cons.
Leather Survival Belts
Leather is a sturdy natural material and it holds up in many survival situations, such as if you need to make a splint or haul firewood. You can also use it as a strop for maintaining the edge on your tools – something which you can’t do with the other survival belt materials. Leather also has the benefit of looking nice (if you work in an office setting, I doubt your boss will be happy with you wearing a paracord belt), so you can wear it in all situations. But, when it comes to hardcore survival situations, leather just isn’t strong enough to hold up. It will also gradually wear out, especially when exposed to water and the elements.
Webbing is the material used on military and other tactical belts. One of the benefits of webbing belts is that they are lightweight yet very strong. They are comfortable to wear and probably won’t cause any chaffing if your backpack rubs against your belt.
You’ve got to be careful when choosing webbing belts though. Most are not designed for survival situations and are thin and weak. Make sure the webbing belt is military spec, and then look up those military specs! For example, 1 inch 8962 webbing has a tensile strength of just 600lbs. By contrast, 1 inch 7717 webbing has a tensile strength of 6000lbs. That is 10x more! You can find a chart of military spec webbing tensile strengths here.
Paracord is one of the most important and diverse survival gear. There are many uses for paracord, from hanging a bear bag to creating a tripwire. Unlike the other survival belt materials, paracord is made up of individual threads which can be unwound. These fibers have their own uses, such as a fishing line or sewing thread. If you aren’t going to wear a paracord bracelet, then a paracord belt is a great way to make sure you always have this survival item on you at all times.
Some people complain that paracord causes chaffing when worn with a backpack (because paracord belts are thicker). Also, some people say that paracord belts don’t do a good job of holding their pants up – which defeats the point of wearing it as a belt.
If you are going to choose paracord for your survival belt, please be cautious about which one you buy. Some paracord belts are made in a way which won’t unravel easily. No one has time to slowly undo a paracord belt during an emergency!
Uses for a Survival Belt
- Emergency Medical Uses: You can use a belt as a tourniquet around an injured limb, as a sling, or to secure a splint in place.
- For Hauling Heavy Items: If you have a tarp, then you can use it along with a belt to haul heavy items. Tie the tarp to the belt buckle. Then pull on the belt. The tarp will cut down on friction so you can pull the load easier.
- As a Towing Line: If you get a survival belt with a high tensile strength, you can use it for towing cars or as a line to help someone who fell up a cliff.
- As a Leash: Dog’s leash broke? Just use your belt instead.
- To Tie Someone Up: It takes some practice to tie up someone securely with a belt, but it will get the job done!
- Sharpening Tools: This only works with a leather belt, but it can be very useful for keeping your other survival tools sharp.
- As a Weapon: A belt makes a great whip, but you can take it further. Secure something heavy to the end of the belt and use it to hit attackers. Or flail it around you in a circular motion to keep a group of attackers away. Learn more about the types of weapons here.