It used to be that all we cared about in a belt was how well it held up our britches, whether we were hustling to a business meeting or on our way to the trailhead. Our favorites are still plenty capable of doing that particular job, but they’re a far cry from the old-school stiff-leather strap.
Yaak M-Series ($60)
The Yaak M-Series has a good bit of accommodating stretch, with carbon fibers woven in for durability. That means it’s impressively light—almost enough to make you forget you’re wearing it. And the buckle is magnetic, for quick removal while passing through airport security.
Sitka Gear’s Bomber ($69)
Sitka Gear’s Bomber is hardier, with webbing that doesn’t have quite as much give but holds up under the weight of a can of bear spray or, Sitka being a hunting brand, a sidearm. If you’re camped out in a blind and need to answer the call of nature, the quick-release aluminum buckle opens with the press of two glove-friendly flanges.
686 Stretch Toolbelt ($50)
Speaking of buckles, 686’s Stretch Toolbelt can’t be matched. It’s decidedly not simple to undo, but the prongs double as screwdrivers, there’s a hex socket built into the loop for minor jobs that require a bit of wrenching, and the end of the buckle itself is a bottle opener. You’ll want to plan bathroom breaks ahead of time, but if you find yourself in need of a multitool to make small repairs or crack a cold one, there’s nothing better to have at your waist.
Arcade Guide ($30)
We never would have dreamed of wearing a belt under a climbing harness, for fear of it bunching up or becoming uncomfortably constricting. But Arcade’s Guide is made of elastic webbing that lies flat and stretches when we need it to, like when we’re high-stepping a crux or even banging out burpees in the gym. It also looks damn good. In fact, we’ve worn it to the office every day for months, and its muted green strap and silver buckle go equally well with dark jeans and khakis.