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Somewhere near the bottom of the list of gear we analyze for functionality and style, you'll find belts. Typically, the go-to leather or nylon webbing belts that orbit your waist during everyday life are equally serviceable on a rock wall, hiking trail, or atop a carbon fiber full-suspension mountain bike. But Arcade believes there's a better way. The company wants to up your belt game by combining Repreve, a post-consumer recycled yarn, with natural rubber to provide a highly elastic belt that’s comfortable during activity while still superbly secure at its primary task: keeping those pants up!
If you’re entrenched in the ski world at all, you’ve likely heard of Arcade adventure belt founder Cody Townsend, who launched the brand with his Tahoe co-founders Tristan Queen and David Bronkie in 2010. The three skiers collectively identified a need for a web belt that kept ski pants firmly in place while keeping pow from creeping in and with a belt buckle that wouldn’t dig into their stomachs. Since then, the brand’s stretchy belts have reached well outside of the ski world into other avenues of sport, like rock climbing, mountain biking, and even skate.
If you’re new to Arcade, center your attention first on their flagship adventure belt, the Arcade Ranger belt ($32). With a 90% nylon and 10% natural rubber composition (totally machine washable) creates secure and comfortable wear–so much so that you’ll likely follow our lead by promptly tossing every other non-stretch belt belt you own into deep storage. Instead of a bulky buckle at its central junction, it has a low-profile buckle molded from high-density plastic resists digging into your abdomen during acrobatic rock climbing positions or while bent forward to reach mountain bike handlebars, which is how we conducted most of our testing in this belt review. Since the buckle uses no metal, it makes an ideal travel belt that won’t set off alarms during TSA screenings.
belts but it has a bonus perk: while traveling, a lack of metal in the means there’s no need to take it off during security screenings. And if you like your belt extra minimal, Arcade makes a slim version of the Ranger that uses a narrower length of the same stretch nylon webbing and has a lower-profile buckle. We’re not one for wide, chunky belts, so this slim belt has been the go-to; it’s also a great candidate for the narrower belt loops sometimes found on women’s pants.
Minimalists will likely gravitate towards the Ranger in a black or neutral solid, but Arcade offers no shortage of prints and patterns to choose from (like the camp-y Blackwood) if you’re looking to make a statement with some midsection flair. The brand regularly collaborates with artists and like-minded brands to style their belts, like our pal Smokey Bear and even the Grateful Dead.
Whether you’re a crack climber that dreads a plumber’s crack or you're just looking for a belt that offers an alternative to the leather belt and metal buckle styles that have existed forever, have a look at the Arcade belts. There's bound to be something in its range of belts to suit just about anyone’s style or outdoor adventure of choice.