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 best types of survival belts, their pros and cons, and their uses.
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
- Hidden compartment for cash
- Hollow compartment in buckle which contains tools like multi-tool, fishing hooks, wire, or a signaling mirror
- GPS chip (mostly found in spy belts though)
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 tested 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. And that’s not including all the problems with security you could have if you forgot to remove the belt before going through a metal detector!
Don’t rely on gimmicky survival gear!
The survival gear industry is filled cheap items that, while they seem cool, are really just gimmicks. This is something I’ve ranted on in my post about Why You Shouldn’t Buy Bear Grylls Survival Gear.
Take the survival belt below for example. It has a belt buckle with a mini survival kit in it. Aside from the fact that survival fishing is actually going to be a tough task, the gear is poorly made.
Instead of getting a “survival belt” with useless gear, it’s smarter to get a very strong belt and carry around an EDC survival kit.
Survival Uses for a Belt
Here are some of the things you can do with a survival belt. No gimmicks — the belt just needs to be strong enough to handle the task.
- 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. Read: How (and when) to use a tourniquet
- 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.
- Carrying Wood: If your belt is long enough, you can use it to bundle wood for easier carrying.
- 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.
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!
- 1 inch 8962 webbing has a tensile strength of just 600lbs
- 1 inch 7717 webbing has a tensile strength of 6000lbs.
That’s a 10x difference in strength! So, you can see why checking the tensile strength of tactical belts matters so much.
You can find a chart of military spec webbing tensile strengths here.
Paracord is one of the most important and diverse pieces of survival gear you can get.
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 it 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 kind of defeats the point of wearing it as a belt.
If you don’t want to buy a paracord survival belt, you can easily make your own. See these cool paracord projects for instructions on how to make your own paracord belt.
Best Survival Belts Reviewed
Concealed Carry Leather Belt
14oz leather | Lifetime warranty | Handmade in USA
Stainless steel buckle | 1 ½ inch width | Pant size 30 to 52
This is a survival belt designed for concealed carriers. What makes it different than other belts? It is very sturdy and won’t sag under the weight of a firearm.
The belt does not have a steel core or wire in it. Thus, it is more flexible but not as strong. Even without the steel core though, the 14oz leather is going to handle most survival tasks, such as hauling wood.
There are two styles available: stitched and woven. Get the stitched if you want more strength. Get the woven if you’d rather have comfort and flexibility.
Condor Tactical Duty Belt
Two removable magazine pouches | 2” width | Quick release plastic buckle
Fits up to 44” waist | Comes with 2 Velcro keepers
The brand Condor is known for making great-quality but affordable survival gear. For example, I love their survival backpacks.
Considering how cheap the Condor belt is, it is of very good quality. The belt doesn’t fray or tear, even after extended use.
I am a bit concerned about how well the belt buckle will hold up. As it is made out of plastic, it’s likely to snap under heavy loads – not the belt you’d want to use for bushcraft tasks like hauling wood.
Note that this isn’t going to fit through your belt loops. It is designed as a duty belt, so needs to be attached to your underbelt with keepers or worn over a jacket.
The location and direction of the pistol mags are a bit awkward, but still pretty well designed for such a cheap survival belt.
Klik Tactical Belt with Quick Release Buckle
7075 aluminum alloy belt buckle | Quick release | 1 ½” width
Fully adjustable | Suitable for women and small waists | Sewn and assembled in USA
This is a tactical belt that you will either love or hate. People love it because the belt is very sturdy. One reviewer even said he hauled a broken trailer with the belt.
However, like most tactical belts, it will sag when loaded with heavy items. For concealed carry, you are better off with a leather belt.
You’ll either love or hate the buckle too. The buckle is metal, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking like plastic buckles will. The quick release makes the buckle much easier to use than those autogrip type buckles.
The annoying thing about the buckle is that it doesn’t fit through most pant loops. Since the belt buckle comes apart, you can still use it on any pants – but that means you need to take it apart each time. It’s only an extra 30 seconds per day, but still fairly annoying. Also, you risk losing one part of the buckle since it detaches.
Foxtrot 550 Paracord Belt
Fast-deploy cobra weave | 100 feet of paracord | 7 stranded
550lb paracord | Belt length 45”, adjusts every ¼” | 1 1/2 “ width
If you don’t want to bother making your own paracord belt, this one is a good choice. It uses the cobra weave (also called Solomon knot).
The cobra weave is quick to deploy, which means you can access your paracord quickly in an emergency.
The cobra weave also uses a lot of paracord per foot. That’s how this survival belt can pack in over 100 feet of cordage!
686 Snow Tool Belt
100% leather and cotton webbing | All-leather version available
Contains 2 screwdrivers, bottle opener, and wrench loop
I’ve got to admit that I’m in love with the style of this belt. They even have an all-leather version which could be worn in an office setting.
The belt is actually designed for snow boarders who need to fix their gear often. It might be a bit awkward to use the tools with the belt still on your pants, but I can see it coming in handy.
The major downside with this version of the belt is that its webbing is made from cotton, not nylon. That makes it more comfortable to wear – but it isn’t nearly as strong as a nylon tactical belt.
If you like the idea of multi-tool belt buckles, you’ll want to check out these options too:
What other survival uses can you think of for a belt? Let us know in the comments.