Welcome to “The Arcuate Worth It: Belts.” Have you ever seen the web-series, “Worth it?” The premise was straightforward but fun to watch. Two hosts traveled the country to sample one food item at three vastly different price points. What was the purpose? To see which meal, at it’s given price point, was most worth it. The concept bled over to a spin-off “Worth It: Lifestyle,” but lost it’s luster for me because I can’t afford nor do I give a shit about Rolexes (or is the plural of Rolex, Rolex/Rolexi?), Bentleys or diamond jewelry. That said, it did get me thinking about how to use a similar format to look at products we discuss here at The Arcuate.
The criteria are simple; this is less an in-depth review and more a comparison of value. I made three belt purchases at three vastly different price points. All of them are comparable in materials (for example, they are all full-grain leather, none of them are plastic/canvas/etc.) to avoid any blatant bias. All three belts have the same minimum amount of wear on them (30 days) to compare durability. We will start at the least expensive and move to the most.
Rogue Fitness – Leather Belt – $26
OK, the last fucking place I would have thought to look for a rugged veg-tanned belt. When my co-author first told me about them, I laughed it off. Seriously I thought he was joking. I’m a bit of a gym rat and would consider buying many things from Rogue Fitness, just not workwear. I’d also never assume a belt for $26 was going to be much to look at, let alone wear.
That said, their 1.5″ wide and quarter-inch thick belt is a beast worth trying. Made in the USA, the Rogue Leather Belt features a single prong design with Rogue branding on the loop and dark, gun-metal hardware. They cut these from the same leather they use to make their flagship “Ohio Lifting Belt,” it is thick, rugged, and tough as nails. I was immediately impressed with the leather and the finish, not for a $26 belt; generally, it was impressive. Well-tanned, burnished, and constructed, it exceeded my expectations. with over 30 days on the clock, the belt is starting to patina well, has held up remarkably, and looks great.
Where does it fall short? Hardware and sizing inconsistency was a flop for me. How in the hell do you put a flimsy metal buckle on a beefy 1.5W x .25″ thick belt? Who approved that design? It was an easy enough fix, compared to the photo from their website, and the one I took, you can see I spent about nine dollars and upgraded the hardware to a brass firefighter quick-release buckle akin to the Pigeon Tree Crafting equipment.
The sizing was a separate issue altogether. Following the fit guide, I initially bought a size 36, which should have covered me just fine; however, when it arrived, it was far too small, and the measurements were off from the website. The exchange process was simple enough, went with the next size up, and, well, it’s too big. The belt fits, but on the last belt hole, which I think looks a little sloppy. For $26 plus a nine dollar upgrade, $35 total, I like this belt.
Brave Star – The Chestnut Leather Belt – $48
Up the cost ladder, we climb. OK, not vastly higher than the Rogue Fitness belt, but approaching the fifty dollar mark for sure starts pushing us into the next tier of quality, right? Man, I was excited about this belt. I purchased it the same day as the Rogue belt, thinking the rogue belt would be dogshit, and the Brave Star belt would crush it in quality. I did, in an effort to keep things equal, replaced the Brave Star hardware for a brass firefighter quick-release buckle on this belt as well.
So, let’s talk about it. Also made in the USA, the website describes the belt color as a deep brown, helping you skip the waiting for the natural aging process to produce a similar color. The color is lovely, but I wouldn’t compare it to the natural patina created color of a naturally aged veg-tanned belt.
The leather is 1.5″ wide, but falls short on the claimed thickness of the leather, which is supposed to be .25″ thick but came in nearly half that. I was expecting something pretty sturdy but instead got a bit of a floppy one. Minds out of the gutter, please.
This misfire got me to look further into the construction. The keeper is stapled together with three staples, which may be common practice, but I didn’t get a sense of ruggedness from this kind of craftsmanship. Additionally, the belt itself seems unfinished, especially compared to the pictured item on the website, shown here, vs. the delivered product. The back looks papery and unrefined. The edges are unburnished, which doesn’t bother me; it probably is part of how they save on cost. However, that is not how the product is portrayed on their website, the back smooth and waxed, the edges softened.
Overall, the simple design should make this a classic piece, and it is, but the construction leaves it wanting. It feels unfinished and leaves quite a bit to be desired. I expected a little more for $50. There was potential here but feels like a misfire. Honestly, the way the product is portrayed and photographed is misleading and I really should have returned the damn thing when it came in. Brave Star flat out got outdone by a fitness company.
Pigeon Tree Crafting – Navy Sedgwick Double Prong Belt – $140
Jeebus Cripes, this fucking belt. I don’t even want to reduce it to a “belt.” It looks more like wearable art. Isaac Paul is an artist, and leather is his medium; this piece might be his Sistine Chappel. I’m not glad-handing the guy; this is truly one beautiful piece of ruggedwear.
The leather is beautiful. I have never owned any Sedgwick leather pieces, and I am so glad that I do. While dark as hell, the navy leather is very wearable and pairs amazingly with the Red Wing Portage Navy moc toe (8859). It is a traditional English bridle leather (from England, duh), ultra waxy and firm to wear. Initially, this sonnamabitch was unyielding but gave way to move with my body around 20 days of continuous wear.
I went with brass hardware because I love how brass patinas and because it stands out in a crowd when shiny new. Mr. Paul holds the patent for the double prong quick-release buckle, and it is sturdy as fuck; the quality far and above the upgrades purchased for the other two belts. I love the matching keeper and hammered rivets as well as the subtle branding with the PTC logo (this gets covered when worn, so if branding puts you off, don’t stress about it).
Waxed and burnished, the belt is finished to near perfection. I say near perfection because there are still small hints this piece was handmade, a quality I appreciate. Really I can’t say enough good things about the product and the company. Obviously, at $140, this may not fit everyone’s budget, however, the aesthetics, construction, and quality all match the bill and you do truly get what you pay for.
So, what’s my “Worth It” winner? You’ve probably guessed it: the Pigeon Tree Crafting product gets my endorsement. Will ever single product discussed here hold your pants in place? Abso-fucking-lutely. At $26 I’d say the Rogue Fitness product is a great second choice, honestly, it could have been my first choice if not for sizing inconsistency and flimsy buckle. I mean, it’s $26 dollars for a wide, thick-as-fuck, well-finished leather strap! For everyday wear, I’d say pick one up, especially if you’re going to be hard on the SOB. However, for overall quality, refinement and finish, you can’t lose with Pigeon Tree.
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