The Survival Belt 2.0 is no joke. It is not some belt buckle equivalent of those gigantic Swiss Army survival knives complete with fork and spoon and about 20 other tools made of junk metal. The Survival Belt 2.0 is also not some kind of secret ninja fighting tool. Rather, the Survival Belt 2.0 is a strong, cleverly designed, useful, American-made tool that unobtrusively contains some quality-made survival gear designed to get you by in difficult situations or in day-to-day activity when your normal gear is not available.
SlideBelts by Brig Taylor makes the Survival Belt 2.0 and a large number of other belts for men and women. The unique ratcheting system was discovered by Taylor in 2004 when he received a ratchet belt as a gift while teaching in Moldova. Taylor was able to capitalize on and improve the original design, and in 2013, he introduced the first SlideBelt, which eventually led to the Survival Belt 2.0. The SlideBelts website gives a very interesting and detailed history of the development of its products.
I was instantly impressed by the quality right out of the box. I received a sample of the 1.5-inch-wide Survival Belt 2.0 in black. Other colors are desert tan, olive drab and classic brown. Right now, the only buckle color available is black, but the standard SlideBelts have a variety of different buckle colors available.
The buckle of the Survival Belt 2.0 is made of a glass-filled nylon base upon which the metal-alloy buckle face and dual-function lever are mounted. It is definitely solidly built. The dual-function lever controls the locking and unlocking of the belt when putting it on and taking it off, and it also allows access to the main tool: a small utility liner-lock knife hidden inside the buckle.
The 1.5-inch plain-edge blade is made of AUS-8 steel and is coated with titanium nitride for added protection. It is opened by pulling and holding open the dual-function lever and pulling the mini-thumbhole at the top of the blade. The knife thumbhole is also part of a bottle opener that can be used with the blade open or locked closed. There is no need to remove the strap from the buckle in order to use the knife, but you certainly can if you wish. The blade comes nicely sharpened from the factory.
Stored at the base of the buckle is a combination LED flashlight and a handle made of ferrocerium, which serves as an emergency fire starter. Drawing it quickly across the knife blade produces a major shower of sparks. The twist-on LED light can be turned on and used while it is secured in its tubular storage compartment, or it can be removed and operated as a standalone device. It is quite bright for its size and produces approximately a 20-lumen circular beam. It should be noted here that there is no way to easily discern that any of these tools are hidden in the buckle, especially while it is being worn. To any average observer, the buckle simply appears to be a very classy-looking, modern-style buckle. If you like the Survival Belt 2.0 style, you may also like the other dressy and casual SlideBelts and wallets offered on the webpage for other occasions. The Survival Belt 2.0 is only one of the many products listed there.
While the buckle contains important survival tools, the synthetic strap with internal webbing gives 1,500 pounds per square inch of tensile strength for use in emergency or utility situations (such as carrying firewood). The strap is waterproof, easy to clean, UV-protected, abrasion-resistant and Frost-Flex-constructed to stay pliable in cold weather. It is also heat-resistant to 214 degrees. The continuous ratchet notches that run the entire inside length of the strap allow nearly infinite adjustments within the length of the belt, which is a key strong point of the design. When you put the Survival Belt 2.0 on, you will find that you can get the tightness just right in a way not possible with the vast majority of other belts on the market. A nearly perfect fit is always possible.
The Survival Belt 2.0 comes with the strap in a “one size fits all” 48-inch length that must be cut to fit the individual waist size. Remember that the strap material is very tough. It will take a set of heavy-duty scissors to cut. The strap is attached to the buckle by opening a trap door latch with the LED flashlight handle (a special tool is also available). Be careful when you do this because on the inside of the latch are seven very sharp, spiked teeth. I say be careful because due to my lack of mechanical aptitude, I managed to stick myself in the top of my thumb (twice), drawing blood and profanity. According to Bryan Galyardt at SlideBelts, they recently reinforced the trap door to prevent any possibility of the belt slipping when the buckle is attached. When the trap door is closed, those seven steel spikes puncture the belt, making it darn near impossible to pull the strap free from the buckle.
Closing the trap door proved to be difficult for the first fitting. I could not push the latch closed using my bare hands. I put the trap door latch portion of the buckle in a padded wood vice and gently applied pressure until I felt the spikes pop through and the trap door lock in the closed position. After you fit the buckle the first time, it is easier to re-mount it if needed since the holes are already there.
I explained to Bryan the difficulty with closing the latch for the first time and asked why they did not sell the belts cut to size from the factory. He explained that some customers have purchased the Survival Belt 2.0 as a survival strap or tool and not a belt. They leave the strap at the original 48-inch length. Again, this is more evidence that the Survival Belt 2.0 is not a gimmick but rather a serious emergency survival tool.
I have been wearing the Survival Belt 2.0 for a couple of weeks now. As a 1.5-inch belt, it works great as a trouser gun belt with my favorite OWB holsters. Of course, IWB holsters will work just as well. The infinite tightening capability allowed me to pull the holster and gun in for a perfect fit with no holster sag.
The Survival Belt 2.0 is a great concept and functional tool. One caveat: There are legal considerations that the SlideBelts website warns about at the local, state and federal levels. Check your state and local laws before purchase. Do not wear one to the airport and try to go through the security checkpoint. Pack it in your checked luggage if you want to take it on a trip. As a matter of fact, do not go through any security checkpoint with one on unless you want to face legal peril.
The Survival Belt 2.0 is priced at $150. I really do not see one ever wearing out with normal use — or even with heavy survival use. You can also get the buckle engraved when you order. For more information on the Survival Belt 2.0 and all the SlideBelt products, visit the website at slidebelts.com.