It's probably not the sexiest piece of gear that I carry on a regular basis, but I like to wear a belt with me whenever I go backpacking. The 5.11 TDU Tactical belt is my current favorite. It's simple, superbly made, extremely rugged, and highly functional. It may not be the lightest weight belt on the market, but at 4.3 oz (123g) I hardly even notice that I'm wearing it.
- Non-metallic, low profile air-port friendly plastic buckle
- Heavy duty nylon webbing
- Triple stitched folds
- Colors: Black (019) Coyote Brown (120) TDU Green (190)
- Seven sizes from small to 4XL
- Great as an optional gear tie-down
- Large (59552) is 48 inches long
I've been wearing my 5.11 Tactical TDU green webbing belt on all of my backpacking and hiking trips since last summer and in all that time I have never had any issues with it. I'm amazed that it really isn't showing any signs of wear at all, not even on the plastic buckle which I was originally concerned about. I have the 1.75 inch wide model in size large (#59552) which measures 48 inches in length.
For such a simple looking belt, the designers at 5.11 have put an awful lot of thought into it. For example; the high-impact plastic buckle has several sections of knurling in exactly the right place for where your fingers need additional purchase when taking the belt on and off, or when you need to adjust it. There is a small thumb stud on the inside edge of the buckle that helps you lift the buckle to adjust or loosen it, even when wearing winter gloves.
The last two inches of the tail end of the belt are rigid. I can't tell if the tail has been dipped in some sort of resin to make it stiff or whether or not it has been pressed between heated plates to melt it - either way it provides just the right amount of stiffness to make threading the end of the bet through the buckle extremely easy. An awesome detail.
All of the stiching on the TDU belt is of the highest quality and triple stitched for strength. The webbing material is easy to clean too which I have had to do more than once. I've also used my TDU belt as a makeshift luggage strap on more than one occasion and it got the job done. I can't say that about any of my other belts. I like the idea of it being able to perform double duty in a pinch.
It also coordinates beautifully with my watch and compass. Who doesn't want to look good on the trail? The bottom line is that I would highly recommend this belt to anyone who has been looking for something a little more rugged and reliable. Mine came free (bonus) as part of a limited-time promotion with a pair of tactical pants that I had purchased, but at $15 it's still a great deal. I'm thinking of picking up another one exactly like this but in black.
Do you wear a belt when backpacking or hiking and have you ever had to use it for something else in an emergency? Please leave a comment.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and paid for it using their own funds.