Victory Leather Oak Bark Leather Belt Review – $93

I’ve mentioned before my affinity for products that have a great story behind them. It’s true – whether it’s a new product that arises out of something inspirational or it’s an heirloom piece full of great stories and a little bit of mystery, I seem to enjoy them the most. Such is the case with Victory Leather’s Oak Bark Leather Belt.


About Victory Leather

Peter Sandford, a designer, maker, artist, and entrepreneur founded Victory Leather in Hampshire, UK, which is based on the south coast of England, within sight of Portsmouth’s historic dockyard, home of Nelson’s HMS Victory and the inspiration for his brand.

Peter’s no stranger to creating high quality leather goods – he’s been involved in leatherworking for quite some time, making bespoke watch straps, wallets, and briefcases. And, he also has a successful track record with a previous Kickstarter campaign for his Shuttl minimalist dockable wallet system.



The leather. It’s one of those very exciting parts of why this belt really grabbed my attention. The leather from this belt comes from a tannery located in the southwestern part of England that has been there, on the river, since Roman legionnaires marched past it. Amazing. The same family has owned it for the past 150 years. Again, amazing.


Here’s some more amazing information. This leather uses a natural tanning process that combines river water and the shredded bark of English Oak trees. It’s a slow, eco-friendly, process that yields simply beautiful leather. It’s strong, flexible, smells amazing, and extremely durable. It’s an 18-month process to utilize this tanning method.

My belt is 1.5 inches wide and is a gorgeous dark oak color with a brass buckle and solid brass Chicago screws. The thick leather edges are beveled, burnished, and dyed. The belt holes are oblong so that your buckle post rests in a flatter, more natural position when secured in the belt. Victory Leather’s logo is tastefully placed on the belt loop and looks great.

Take a few minutes and watch Peter make this stunning belt in his workshop:


The Victory Leather Oak Bark Leather Belt performs its role perfectly. My pants stay up, my shorts stay up…it’s all good. I also appreciate the use of the solid brass Chicago screws versus stitching or rivets. It’s nice to have a belt that I can swap out the buckle easily should the occasion or need arise.



This belt generates attention. It started generating attention before I ever wore it. I had it on my desk for a couple of weeks and it was interesting to see how many people picked it up, commented on the way it felt…and then, they smelled it…and the comments continued. It feels great and has a unique, very pleasant smell to it.

Wearing it is a pleasure. It feels fantastic and has a rich look to it. It’s perfectly capable of complimenting your favorite jeans or will look excellent when used in semi-formal situations too.



The Victory Leather Oak Bark Leather Belt is definitely what we’d consider a Buy It For Life item. “A belt built to outlast its owner” is how Peter refers to it. At $120 (its post-Kickstarter price) it’s a little more expensive than some of the belts we’ve featured in the past. But, it also has a pedigree that those other belts lack. In addition to the unique leather (and amazing history behind it), it also sports impeccable craftsmanship…something that we appreciate, respect, and highly endorse.

For a limited time (through June 30th) you can secure one of these amazing belts for about $93 USD during the Kickstarter campaign. Can’t decide on what color to purchase? Get two (there’s a package for that) or all 3 (save even more and really be set for life in the belt department).


Be sure to visit Peter’s main website too:

Finally, we are also hoping to work with Peter to feature more information about the tannery mentioned in this article soon. Thanks!

W.H. Earl Dry Goods Walnut Belt – $80

If you’re a regular reader of BestLeather, you’ve probably started to form an appreciation for well made products. Admittedly though, sometimes the products and pricing can be intimidating. If you’re looking to dabble in the world of fine leather goods, a belt is a great way to start. W.H. Earl Dry Goods Walnut Belt would be a good start.


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W.H. Earl Dry Goods is a one man operation run by Nathan Hamm. Based in Portland Oregon, all his products are handmade and he offers a variety of wallets, belts, cardholders and more. The name W.H. Earl is a nod to Nathan’s family history as W.H. Earl was an artilleryman in the Civil War who later ran a general store. Using only the best materials available, W.H. Earl Dry Goods goal is to provide functional, durable products that will last for years to come.


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The belt we reviewed was the Walnut Belt. It is comprised of one long strip of Hermann Oak vegetable tanned leather. The belt gets its signature look from actually being stained with dye made from black walnut hulls. The hardware used is solid brass and is sturdily kept in place by Ritza Tiger thread. You have the W.H. Earl branding on the interior below the buckle. The belt is 1.5” wide and has teardrop holes which are especially useful for reducing “buckle bulge.”  W.H. Earl also has other options for the buckle finish and thread color for really personalizing your belt.


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The life of a belt is a simple one, and the Walnut Belt delivers. The leather is treated with a wax finish that gives protection against moisture and abrasion, but I find the best benefit of that smooth finish is that it is incredibly easy to get through my jean belt loops. The holes are spaced 1.25” apart and I was able to find that sweet spot of being tight but not too tight. The belt is stout enough that I can throw on my knife, keys or other belt mounted essentials with confidence.


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The Walnut belt has a rugged and adventurous vibe to it. The walnut dyes really gives character to the grain. It’s not uncommon to feel the sudden urge to chop wood or search for Atlantis when putting this belt on. I find this belt pairs particularly well with denim jeans. The brass buckle looks great and really adds to the overall look.


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The W.H. Earl Walnut Belt is a solid investment. It’s a triple threat being rugged, well made and quite handsome. At $80 dollars, its affordable and you’re supporting American craftsmanship. So if you’re looking for a belt as manly as you, I’d recommend checking it out.



My father has worn the same belt ever since I was a boy. Its a weathered tan color with a huge brass loop buckle. It’s beat up, gnarled and old. I love it. I remember the first belt I purchased in high school, it was “genuine” leather.  It’s held up in the 10 years I’ve had it, but not gracefully. The leather is cracking and there’s a strange film peeling off the surface. I tossed it and resumed my search, where I came across a worthy contender, the Sandlot Goods Men’s Belt in Horween Rio Latigo.


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Sandlot Goods was founded in 2013, but judging by their design and craftsmanship you’d think they’d been at it since 1913. With a passion for yesteryear, hot summer days spent playing baseball, and cool nights catching fireflies, Sandlot Goods aims to capture the spirit of simpler times in their products. Of course everything is proudly handmade in their Kansas City studio.


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This belt is made with Horween’s Rio Latigo Leather.  Katy Bird, Sandlot’s designer, explained to me just what is involved in producing this leather;

Latigo is a full grain leather that is combination tanned and fat liquored. This means that the process uses both chrome and vegetable extracts, which is then conditioned with emulsified oils and waxes. What makes Latigo unique is the dying process. The leather is first drum-dyed and then aniline finished. The dyes in the aniline finishing process contains no pigment, allowing the natural of the character of the leather to be seen. The leather is then pasted and hand glazed. Pasting is the drying process where the leather is fixed to ceramic plates. This process smooths out the grain and provides very little stretch, making it a perfect leather for belts!

The belt itself is 1.5″ wide and features solid brass hardware. The buckle and keeper are secured in place using large rivets. The Sandlot emblem is located at the end of the belt and Made in KC is branded behind the buckle. Edges are beveled and notches are set 1″ apart. Did I mention Sandlot also backs up all their hardware with a lifetime warranty?


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A belt is a belt is a belt, right? Sometimes. Sandlot Good’s Horween Rio Latigo belt will keep your pants up. But thanks to the 1.5” strap it will do more than keep your inner plumber from emerging. You could holster tool pouches and firearms from this and not worry about your belt caving in. So if you’re the Batman utility belt type, this belt will work for you. The only issue I had difficulty with was getting the end of the belt through the leather loop. But like a new baseball glove, you gotta work it a little to get it just right and I suspect that issue will resolve much the same way.


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Versatility is important with belts. The Rio Latigo coloring goes great with a vast variety of pants and shorts. I normally don’t tuck my shirts in, but I just can’t let that solid brass and Horween leather go unnoticed.  Keep in mind, Sandlot also offers this belt in Horween Black Chromexcel if you need something more formal. The rough edges offer a subtle contrast from the latigo finish that give the belt just the right amount of character.


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Sandlot Goods Men’s Belt in Horween Rio Latigo is a bombproof belt that looks great from all angles. The combination of top quality leather, riveted construction and brass hardware mean you’ve got a belt that will simply last. Competitively priced at $90 dollars makes it a solid investment as well.


Colonel Littleton No. 5 Cinch Belt Review – $120

We’re really pleased to be working with Colonel Littleton. This is the third review we’ve done for them recently and we’re looking forward to bringing you several more reviews of their creative, well made designs. Along with the awesomely made No. 40 Campaign Bag and the No. 18 Tablet Portfolio, we now have the privilege of reviewing one of their unique belts, the No. 5 Cinch Belt.


About Colonel Littleton

As with all of the Colonel’s other items, the No. 5 Cinch Belt is made entirely in their workshop, which is located in Lynnville, TN, population 327. Colonel Littleton has been designing and creating high quality leather goods since 1987.

If you’re ever in the Nashville, TN area it’s well worth the 1-hour trip to stop in at the Colonel Littleton store and peruse all of the fantastic items they make and sell there. And who knows, you may bump into the Colonel himself while you’re there!



In a departure from the leather used on all of Colonel Littleton’s bags, the No. 5 Cinch Belt uses bridle leather from a tannery in Santa Croce, Italy. It is vegetable tanned the traditional, old-fashioned way by processes developed over the centuries. Colonel Littleton uses the heart of these hides to make belts, coasters, desk pads, and a few other products.

The No. 5 Cinch Belt is available with solid brass hardware and 1 3/8″ wide belt strap, which requires a 2″ belt loop to accommodate buckle hardware. Or you can choose your belt to use stainless steel hardware and 1 3/16″ wide belt strap, which requires a 1 5/8″belt loop to accommodate buckle hardware.


The No. 5 Cinch belt is available in two attractive leather options – dark brown or black. The black version also has an attractive stitched edge on it. It comes in three sizes: Small – fits sizes 26 – 32, Large – fits sizes 34 – 42, and X-Large – fits sizes 42 – 50.

There are two pieces of hardware on this belt that combine to create its uniqueness. First the two pronged, “claw” style hardware used to adjust the length of the belt and the level style buckle.



I was a little skeptical at first that the cinch style buckle would perform well. For some reason, I kept thinking that it would not remain closed securely and would pop open constantly. My fears were quickly assuaged and I’ve quickly learned that this lever styled closure is very secure and works perfectly. But, be warned…people will ask about it frequently. It’s unique and not something you see very often. So, be prepared for a little attention when you wear it.

The belt is also easily adjusted thanks to the double “claw” adjustment. Again, I was wary of the claw sticking through the leather and pushing into my side. But, it hasn’t happened yet after 7 weeks and wear and at this point, I think it will never happen. The belt performs perfectly and does its job faithfully day after day, which is just what it’s designed to do.



In addition to performing its expected role of keeping your trousers in place, it also looks splendid. I received the dark brown version of this belt with brass hardware. Simply put, when it’s drawn through the belt loops of my favorite jeans or khakis, it looks fantastic. The combination of the deep, rich brown, brass, and design of the belt combine to create a feeling of rugged luxury. As described on their website, it “could have easily been worn by the U. S. Cavalry or by Teddy Roosevelt on his trek through Africa.”



The Colonel Littleton No. 5 Cinch Belt is a great alternative to the traditional men’s casual belt. It mixed a little bit of unique, a little bit of history, and a lot “cool” to combine into a standout belt that will serve you well through the daily rigors of life. Best of all, it will age well and develop a patina unique to the way you wear it and use it. It’s fairly priced at $120 since it’s made with very high quality leather, beautiful hardware, and it’s made in the USA. Get one for yourself and create some adventure of your own with it.

Stitched Gear Men’s Original Belt Review – $55

Stitched Gear Outfitters began as a collaborative effort between Randy Smith, an ex-rodeo rider/saddle maker/leatherworker and Wayne Bell, an ex-state law enforcement officer with an eye for product design and practical functionality. Together they have been making gear for friends and family for decades before deciding to share their creations with the general public. By focusing on an initial small assortment of belts, they are able to dedicate their efforts towards hand-selecting the highest quality materials and crafting each piece in-house by themselves.


The Men’s Original Belt is created using THICK 10-12 oz hand-selected full grain vegetable tanned leather cut 1½ inch wide. The leather chosen is from the firm back of the cow instead of the soft underbelly for a sturdier shape that doesn’t roll or bend during use. Wayne and Randy also hand select each dyed hide themselves to ensure that each hide is evenly dyed throughout from outer to inner surface. Industrial strength stitching is done with American bonded UV resistant nylon and the buyer has a choice of a solid brass roller buckle or polished stainless steel. If you change your mind, these buckles are easily exchanged due to the Chicago screw design. The edges are dyed and burnished for an elegant finish. When you purchase your belt, either Randy or Wayne will personally construct your belt to your size. If Randy makes your belt you will find his maker’s mark  “star” on the tip of the tail. Wayne’s belts will be finished without a mark. Like all Stitched Gear belts, the Original Belt carries a lifetime warranty against defects in materials or workmanship.



This belt was designed for maximum function. It was created for those who like to add gun holsters, cell phones, knives, or other equipment necessary for day-to-day life. Aptly named Stitched Gear Outfitters, the company pays extra attention to using recessed stitching to prevent any unnecessary abrasion and weakening against add-on equipment. There are also seven holes instead of a standard five. Three holes are added above and below your desired size, to last through a lifetime of changes to your midsection as well as adjust to waistband holsters while maintaining a secure fit.



Although this belt is perfect for the everyday rugged, gun-carrying outdoorsman, it works equally well in a professional office setting. The belt’s final design is streamlined for rugged but elegant functionality. It comes in saddle tan as shown, dark brown, or black. This particular belt in saddle tan is a deep honey color which works with denim or khakis and is just begging for a darkened patina from use. Together with the brass buckle, it goes perfectly with business casual attire and can easily be transitioned to casual wear with jeans or shorts.  The contrast stitching is done with a natural light tan color although a black option is available. If the contrast stitching, color, and buckle choices weren’t enough to satisfy you, the Stitched Gear team even thought about logo placement. The belts are tastefully stamped with the logo under the tail section so as to not be visible when being worn and the extra maker’s mark adds that personal handmade touch so you know this was thoughtfully made specifically for you.


Logo cleverly placed where it becomes hidden by the tail when worn.
Star = Randy made mine!


The Stitched Gear Men’s Original Belt is currently on sale for $55. It’s rugged. It’s functional. It’s stylish. There are many times when a belt is just a slip of leather with a buckle, but when you can tell that every little design and construction detail was so thoughtfully implemented, you cannot help but admire the belt and the company behind it.  With the current sale, it’s even harder to resist so grab one before the sale’s over!


J Michael Ashland Steerhide Belt Review – $70

A major portion of us only have one or two belts in our arsenal – one black and one brown…and that covers pretty much our entire fashion spectrum. So, choosing the two belts that will keep our trousers up and all of our long term fashion-ability tied together is critically important.

Today we’re taking an in-depth look at the J Michael Ashland Steerhide Belt.


About J Michael Ashland

J Michael Ashland is a designer and full time minimalist leather crafter. From his location in northwestern Oregon he designs and crafts all of his products 100% by hand – no power tools, no machines…at all. Currently J Michael is designing and making several types of belts, wallets, card holders, and other accessories. It also appears that he is venturing into making high quality knives (and awesome sheaths, I’m sure).



Here’s the low down directly from J Michael about his construction process that I received while dialoguing with him about his Steerhide Belt:

“The belt is constructed from USA Steerhide – a bit over 10 ounces thick. This belt was made for comfort and durability. What you have is a full grain shoulder cut from a mature bull (you can see the texture if you hold it up against the light). It would have made premium tooling leather but instead has been turned into Latigo – fully drum dyed and hot stuffed with oils to resist the elements. This belt’s leather does not require maintenance and develops a supple exterior shine.


The brass buckle is a low lead heel bar made for comfort. I like it because brass holds up well in all environments and does not corrode.

All of my belts are permanently sewn with Tiger thread (machines cannot use this). Tiger thread is U.V. coated, bonded, and waxed (originally made for hand sewing sails). On belts snaps fail, screws unscrew, and both rust, but hand saddle stitching is permanent. That is why I think this is the best belt in the world.”



Indeed, when your belt arrives and you un-package it, you’re in for a treat. 10-ounce leather is thick – real thick. It would be stiff and uncomfortable if this were just regular 10-ounce vegetable tanned leather. It would take quite some time for it to break in and become soft and flexible. But, since this is Latigo steerhide, it is pliable, supple – which is ideal for a belt.

At 1.5 inches, this belt works well with blue jeans, khakis, and most any casual/dress style pants. The buckle is solid brass and well contoured for maximum comfort.

Not surprisingly, this belt has a perfect record so far. That’s right…it’s held up every pair of pants it has been used on so far. All kidding aside, it’s a great belt to use. The flexibility of the Latigo leather used, its thickness, and that nice buckle form a perfect trifecta of purpose.



The deep, smooth black color contrasting with the silver buckle on this belt combines to create a very classy look. The quality of the leather combined with the high level of workmanship also exudes a commitment to your desire to purchase and use products designed to last. The addition of the symmetrical score lines along the length of the belt, the subtle placement of the logo, and the thick stitching further accentuate the fact that this is not a run of the mill, mass produced belt.

Whether you purchase this belt for casual use or to wear with dressier outfits, you won’t be disappointed. It will serve either purpose well.



The J Michael Ashland Steerhide Belt, with its high standard of build quality and superior components, definitely qualifies it as a Buy It For Life item. With its $70 price tag, it’s also a bargain. And, you can also get this same thick Latigo belt in  brown and your choice of a brass or silver buckle. BestLeather encourages you to visit J Michael Ashland’s website and put your own order together. You’ll enjoy working with a craftsman that is so dedicated to his trade and you’ll end up with a belt that you’ll enjoy putting on each and every day.


Uhl House Leather Classic Women’s Belt Review – $49

Women’s belts can be a bit finicky. A belt that’s too skinny might get overlooked. A belt that’s too thick might be overwhelming. A belt that’s too shiny might not go with a casual outfit. A belt that’s too long might look funny. But Uhl House Leather has hit just the right casual note with its Classic Women’s Belt.


Uhl Leather was founded by Ross Uhl, currently based based in Texas, and is dedicated to creating heirloom quality products. We recently reviewed their men’s Latigo leather belt. If you’re looking for a thicker version of the belt check out the review article here.



The Leather

The Classic Women’s Belt is made with Latigo leather, hand-dyed and USA sourced. It’s not burnished or struck through, which gives it a bit of a rough look. This look, of course, is subjective. If you’re going for a super polished or dressy look, this is probably not the belt to choose. But for a more casual, everyday look, this belt does the trick. The Latigo leather is extremely soft and supple, without feeling like it will wear out. As you use it, the belt gets even softer and more flexible. You can learn a bit more about Latigo leather from an informative article we wrote earlier this year.



At 5/8ths of an inch, the Classic Women’s Belt is definitely on the thinner side. It’s a very classy, subtle size. It looks its best at the waist, belting a dress or accenting high-waisted pants. I personally love the oxblood color, but it also comes in natural veg-tan, ivy, navy, and chocolate. The navy and ivy colors would be very cute in this skinny size. The small, oval-shaped polished stainless steel buckle is one of my favorite aspects of this belt. The Horse Shoe Brand buckle has an undeniable western flair, with its floral engraving, but it’s not over-the-top cowgirl style, either. The buckle comes in a round or rectangle shape, both very cute and dainty. As I said before, this belt has a more “rustic” look, as you can see the unburnished edges.



The only complaint about the function I have is that there is no strap loop to hold the belt flush against the waist without belt loops. I find myself tucking it under the side or else the end of the belt sticks out pretty far. If you have an outfit with belt loops, or you get a smaller size that doesn’t have much belt left over, this won’t be an issue. You could also trim the end to your liking, if you’re a DIY type.



The Uhl House Leather Classic Women’s Belt is a cute addition to your closet at the reasonable price of $49. Of course, it all comes down to personal preference. If you like a more polished look, this might not be the belt for you. But for casual wear, this is a great, sturdy belt in an attractive color. The engraved belt buckle and Latigo leather are both unique features that will add an understated charm to your outfit.


Uhl House Leather Latigo Standard Belt Review – $57

Belts are needed by everyone – young, old, short, tall, fat, or thin…we all benefit from them by making our own appearances much more pleasing to all of those around us. You know that feeling when you encounter that belt-less person…it’s just awkward. Belts are made and manufactured from just about every possible substance you can think of and come in a dizzying array of designs and styles. But, of course, we think there’s one superior type of belt around here and it’s belts made from 100% leather.


About Uhl House Leather

Uhl Leather is the progeny of Ross Uhl, an entrepreneurial gentleman who is currently based in Texas, but looking to migrate to Charleston, SC soon. Ross is dedicated to creating heirloom quality products and from what we can gather, is doing a darn good job at it.

Ross’ grandfather always said, “Invest in a fantastic belt, a good bed, and a damn nice car. Most of the time, you’ll be in one of them.” With that in mind, we delve into a review of Uhl House Leather’s Latigo Standard Belt.



Thick, heavy leather – this is what comprises the bulk of the Latigo Standard Belt from Uhl House Leather. Latigo leather is tanned with a hybrid of the mineral alum and plant-based tannins, with a very rugged yet flexible result that is often used in the manufacturing of equestrian equipment. It is also infused with waxes, creating a smooth feel and making it resistant to water and able to wear well in harsh conditions. In the case of creating belts for us humans, it’s an ideal choice.


The belt I received from Ross is a deep, dark, blood red color (Oxblood is a common reference for this color). The leather is sourced from Hermann Oak Leather Company in St. Louis, MO. The hardware (buckle and Chicago screws) are solid brass. And that comprises all of the materials used in the construction of this belt.



It’s a belt…and, it has performed admirably to date. Whether you’re sporting a pair of raw denim jeans or your favorite khakis, this is the belt for the job. It’s a little thinner than most standard leather belts coming in at 1.25 inches, which is great and allows it to be used on a variety of lower body clothing items.


The color is outstanding. And when you grab this belt, it feels like it’s been around for decades. It’s soft, supple, and flexible. This is not a stiff belt and requires zero break in to soften it up. Right out of the packaging you’ll be treated to a belt that looks and feels fantastic.


The brass hardware is sturdy and will age well with the belt. The Chicago screws give you the option to use the buckle of your choice. For those of you who have multiple buckles available for those fashion sensitive occasions, this will be very helpful and appreciated, I’m sure.



Here’s a little quote from Uhl House Leather’s website that I think sums up things very well: “Be proud of the few things you’ll use every day. Instead of buying a belt that will need to be replaced in six months, give quality a chance. In six months your belt will look six months better than the day you bought it.” This is exactly how I feel about the Uhl House Leather Latigo Standard Belt. It’s going to just keep getting better with age. $57 is an excellent price for the workmanship, quality of leather, and the longevity that you’ll experience with this belt.

Bison No. 1 Belt in Burgundy Review – $100

With a strong line of leather wallets including the No. 2 Wallet in Navy and the iPhone 5 Wallet, Bison has made the next logical leap in leather good designs – equally strong belts. Starting out with just two belt designs, Bison has once again successfully blended tough American hides with smooth sophisticated construction. Today, we get to look at the No. 1 Belt in Burgundy.


Like all Bison goods, The No. 1 belt is constructed by hand in the U.S.A. This single prime strip of thick full-grain English bridle leather is sourced from the Hermann Oak tannery in St. Louis, Missouri. All metal is solid brass casting. A buckle and belt loop are fastened to the belt with solid brass Chicago screws so the belt may be disassembled to switch buckles. You can then pick a raw brass finishing option or brushed nickel plating. Sizing is according to the conventional fashion standard similar to buying jeans and not to true measured size. Belt width measures 3.5 cm.  This belt definitely feels tougher than it looks and you can feel the weight and strength of the leather in your hands when comparing it to those typical “fashion” belts you see at the mall.

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I put this belt to the test. Both a coworker and I tried it on, sat down, stood up, and walked around, and it was able to hold back the leviathans that are our midsections without difficulty. Upon taking off the belt (yes, my coworker wanted to keep it for himself), there was no evidence of any permanent creasing, warping, or frayed edges, even after multiple wears. The Chicago screw features adds some versatility to the belt in case you want to switch up the buckle with your own selection not offered on the website.



Bison goods have a simple, clean sophistication to them and this belt fits right in. The leather is uniformly dyed without any marks, blemishes, or uneven coloring even in harsh lighting conditions. The edges are unwaxed but have a nice smooth fully-dyed and burnished look to them. This allows the belt to work in both the casual and dress settings particularly with the raw brass option. The No. 1 belt also comes in golden tan, cognac, brown, and black color options all in Hermann Oak English bridle leather. For even more options, buyers can pick a more modern buckle style with the No. 2 Belt.


No one will fault you for taking off your belt in the office and showing it off on your desk.


The Bison No. 1 Belt in Burgundy is a classy yet versatile belt with quality that you can see and feel. Stop wasting your time and money repeatedly buying cheap leather designer belts that fall apart on the clearance rack. At $100, the No. 1 Belt is a worthy investment that will put your other generic cowhide belts to shame.

Neo Nouveau by Andrew Diba Sharkskin Belt Review – $450

As previously featured in the Neo Nouveau by Andrew Diba Geometric Wallet Review, Andrew Diba is a Canadian leather designer who prides himself on meticulous quality construction using the highest grade of materials. When an individual leathermaker is showcased along reputable companies such as Rolex, BMW, and LG in Sharp Magazine’s (the Canadian GQ) spring and summer fashion guide, he must be doing something right. This sharkskin belt is a fine example of an unexpected exotic leather put to good use. Continue reading “Neo Nouveau by Andrew Diba Sharkskin Belt Review – $450”

Portel’s Innovative, Adjustable Belt – $149 each

A belt is another one of those items that is consistently under-appreciated. It serves such a mundane function that it is often overlooked. People notice your shoes or boots. They notice your briefcase, messenger bag, or backpack. And, they’re quick to notice your choice of smartphone case too. But, how often does someone notice your belt? Chances are not very often. Whether you choose to wear a belt made of fabric or leather, it’s just there…doing its thing…serving its purpose, going unnoticed.


So, when you find a belt that is truly a unique standout, you jump on it. And, it changes things (unless you always wear your shirts un-tucked). These two belts from Portel shed new light on belts. They’re unique and people notice.

About Portel

I originally took notice of Portel on Etsy. When I’m looking at Etsy-based companies, I tend to gauge them by longevity (how long their store has been open), number of admirers, and number of sales. All of Portel’s numbers show that they’re a solid brand producing items that people are enjoying. And, they have a solid, five star review status that seems to confirm their dedication to quality creations.


Portel defines itself as a “retro-modern collection” of leather goods. Their products are designed for “those who love superior comfort, refinement, style, and individualism, without compromising strength and durability.”


Portel is based in Tallinn, Estonia on the shores of the Baltic Sea. They started their workshop in 2009 and continue to produce goods with the core idea of elegant simplicity – “for those who like to walk their own way.”

Their business card contains the phrase, “300% Pure: 100% Handmade, 100% Natural, 100% Love”. This does a great job of encapsulating everything that makes up Portel.



I received two belts from Portel: light brown buffalo leather and aged light brown leather. Both belts arrived at the same time in nice, compact packages. There are 3 pieces to each belt: a nice, aged-looking gunmetal gray roller buckle and two pieces for the belt.Portel-Belt-Review-2

Once you have one of these belts in your hands, you can feel the quality. There is an investment not only in materials, but in build time too. Portel uses Italian-sourced, vegetable tanned, high quality leather for all of its products. Each of these belts is 1.5” wide (they’re working on narrower widths right now) and adjust to 30” – 46” in length with their unique, attractive connection system. The edges of the belts are hand burnished. There is a lot of attention to detail on these belts. On the back of the belt, you’ll find four things stamped in it: the Portel logo, “Patent Pending” (not sure where they are filing for patent protection), the phrase “Handmade PortelBelt”, and “For those who like to walk their own way”.Portel-Belt-Review-3



It takes a few minutes to insert the buckle and size the belt appropriately. The unique snap together system is easy to use though and creates a stylish look. Once you have it sized, you’re ready to go.


One thing that I did initially find to be a minor annoyance is that due to the raised snap/stud system, it takes a little more time to insert the belt through the belt loops on your pants or shorts. But, I also attribute this to a little bit of a learning curve. It’s not a smooth belt, so you have to take that into consideration when putting it on. After a few times of putting it on and taking it off, it no longer was a complicated, frustrating issue.

Each belt performs admirably. To date, I have not lost my pants or shorts, so success has been achieved! Seriously though, each belt functions just as it should.



The roller buckle is nice and the belt, stiff at first, softens up quickly with use. The leather on both of these belts looks and feels fantastic. The aged, light brown version has a nice rugged appearance while the buffalo leather’s texture and feel exudes a little bit more luxury. I’ve been wearing both versions of the belt for the past 8-9 weeks. It’s difficult to choose a favorite. I seem to use the light brown buffalo leather version for those times when I’m “dressing up more” (I’m a pretty casual guy, so dressing up might be nice jeans or khakis). The light brown cow leather belt is now my all around go to belt: shorts or jeans.


Either one of these belts would be a great choice for casual or semi-casual use. Portel also features their belt in other colors too: black, red (looks more like a chestnut color), dark brown, and more. Visit their Etsy store to view their current, available colors in both aged leather and buffalo leather.



At $149, the Portel Belt, whether in aged leather or buffalo leather, is a bit more expensive than many of the other belts we’ve reviewed on BestLeather. However, given their unique design along with the high quality components, and hand crafted detail work, they are a solid buy.


Just like Portel says, “superior comfort, refinement, and individualism, without compromising on strength and durability”…these two belts will just get better with age and will last for many decades, which makes them well worth the initial price point.

Paul Evans Grey Belt Review – $149

Over the past few years, the online market for dress shoes has proliferated, but few companies produce anything that can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Alden, Allen Edmonds, and Crockett and Jones. Paul Evans is one of the few. Frustrated with the limited offering of stylish and affordable shoes from traditional manufactures, Ben Earley and Evan Fript set out to design a well-constructed, stylish shoe for a reasonable price. All of their shoes are hand built in Italy using Italian calfskin and are finished with a sleek Blake construction. But, I’m not here to talk about their shoes. They also provide belts and I have to say, they are pretty slick.



The belt is handmade from thick, fine Italian leather, uses heavy-duty thread for stitching and is finished with a solid brass buckle. Everything about the construction screams durability and style, but the craziest part is that the belt is cut-to-fit. When I heard this, I immediately had images of the dual sided belts from the discount store come to mind, but once I realized how it worked, I was pleasantly surprised.

Paul Evans Shot1
Paul Evans Shot 2
What Paul Evans does is very tasteful. The buckle is a separate assembly that connects to the rest of the belt with a hefty Chicago screw. The part that is cut off is hidden between the buckle assembly, which gives the belt a seamless unity. Of course, this means that the owner must cut his new belt and then punch a hole for the screw or take it to a shoe shop to have them fit it for you. Even though the build quality is top notch and the materials are excellent, for the price, I would like the belt to fit me before it comes to my door. The design is ingenious and definitely allows Paul Evans to provide customers with more selection, but having measured or made-to-order belts available instead would definitely increase the value.


The belt from Paul Evans held up my trousers with style. Outside of doing exactly what a belt is supposed to do, its surprising thickness gave me confidence that I will be wearing it for many years to come without much worry of the leather breaking down.


Paul Evans did a great job with this belt. The color is rich and deep and the look can be dressed up or down with relative ease making it incredibly versatile. On mine, the Chicago screw is exposed and the stitching is very noticeable making it a little bit harder to wear in extremely formal settings, but adds class to an otherwise casual look. The only part of the belt that looks rough is on the backside where some dye has bled through the stitching. Both of these issues are minor and probably have been remedied since their newer offerings have covered the screws and down played the stitching for a sleeker look.


Paul Evans makes one mean belt. By putting together great styling with quality materials, this is one is tempting, but for the price, I would like to have it ready to wear as soon as I got it. If you do not mind the extra work and your are looking for dress belt that stands out, check out the selection on their site. While you are at it, spend some time drooling over their shoes.

Check out Paul Evans at

Southwind Leather Bridle Leather Belt Review – $58

A belt or two, as many of us know, is an essential part of every man’s wardrobe. Whether it is a less expensive one for work to just hold up your jeans or a more casual/ dressier one for the office or outing, a belt adds a lot to the overall attire. When buying a belt there are a few factors most have in mind. The strength of the belt- to withstand the test of time and stretching. The color-to go with a chosen pair of pants or shirt. The style-to fit with the theme, dress, and look of person wearing it. Southwind Leather of England captures all three of these issues and makes beautiful hand crafted bridle leather belts from the finest and strongest materials ensuring a sturdy and stylish product thats not only built to last but meant to look better with age.



Owner Dan Mroz started working with leather in 2012. His hobby of making something tangible and useful turned into a business selling fine leather goods such as belts, cellphone cases, and wallets.

This belt is constructed with full grain leather sourced from J & FJ Baker and Co. tannery in England.  J & FJ Baker is the last known tannery in England that uses a traditional method of oak bark tanning. The addition of the oak bark in the tanning process makes way for a stronger fiber and leather grain while keeping the leather lighter in weight which makes it a fine leather for boots and belts.

The leather is thinner at the edges (4mm) and thicker in the center (5.5mm). The belt is one strip of leather and is smooth and shiny on the front side with a more rough and natural finish on the edges and back side. The sticking is hand stitched using waxed Irish linen cord. The hardware is solid brass.







This is a fine belt. The color, London Tan, is a light, warm and rich tone that looks great alongside denim and allows the belt to really pop. The simple yet elegant minimalist design showcases the leather and the beautiful color. Out of the box, I was surprised to find how light and less stiff it was compared to other full grain leather belts I have owned. The brass has a nice weathered and antique look and feel that complements the leather and the design without being to shiny or heavy. Lastly, the stitching was a nice touch as well. The white brings the leather color and the brass together nicely and is neither too much or too little. I really like how there is just a small amount of stitching near the buckle rather than the whole length of the belt. This really adds to the handmade feel of this piece and the art. there are a good amount of standard belts on the market that have similar color stitching that is less noticeable. It is clear that Dan chose these three colors and materials to compliment each other rather than one or two to be either unnoticeable or overdone.



When buying a belt obviously an key thing to note is the sizing. Here in the United States most are accustomed to buying a belt according to their pant waist size. Dan suggested that I use a tape measure to measure my waist in inches to get a more accurate fit. Upon receiving the belt, however, I was slightly disappointed that the belt was actually a tad too large for me. My suggestion would be to either go with a length of a belt you already own and are happy with or the measurement of your pant size.

BestLeather Conclusion

After using the belt for a solid month I can already see it wearing, stretching and getting some lovely aging marks. This is a belt that will look better with age for sure. At first I was concerned that the color wouldn’t go with anything since my belt buying habits have always been to lean towards darker brown and black. I was pleasantly surprised on how much I like this color and am now considering other leather goods in a similar tone. I appreciate the simple design as it is not overdone with too many stitches or rivets. It is simple and elegant and lets the materials and craftsmanship shine. Check it out here.

Dan was also kind enough to offer a 10% to BestLeather readers. Mention the code: ‘SPECIAL10’ when shopping on the Southwind Leather site.

Who Makes A High Quality Men’s Leather Dress Belt?

There are a few good ones that we know of. Allen Edmonds belts are good. A Simple Leather Belt makes a very cool cinch belt. Paul Evan’s had a nice belt reviewed here. Most of what we have reviewed are heavy rugged belts so we haven’t seen many dress belts…

Send a postcard in the comments below. What is your favorite leather dress belt?

Update: The Thrux Lawrence 1.25″ Bulwark Belt. It’s not exactly a dress belt but certainly less rugged than the 1.5″.

One Star Horween Chromexcel Leather Belt Review – $60

One Star Leather is a one-man (Keegan) and one-dog (Buzz Lightyear) operation out of Los Angeles, California.  He makes fantastic, thoughtful small leather goods, from key fobs to notebook holders to wallets (his Park Sloper series really put him on the map), and he also squeezes in time to make great looking belts.

One Star’s Horween Chromexcel belts are made from … um … Horween Chromexcel (which you can read more about here), and are available in black, brown, or natural leather.  Keegan will also let you choose from several different buckle styles, though he does caution that this is “not a dress belt,” which I agree with.  The ruggedness of the leather cannot be hidden, and this is a belt that was made to hold up a pair of jeans, not a fine pair of slacks.4

The buckle is secured with two rivets, and there is a date stamp as well.  It is a fun, playful detail, since this is a belt that will far outlast however long the time in your life is that you wear this size.  There is also a small star stamp on the end–the one touch of branding you’ll find on the belt.

The one downside to using chromexcel

BestLeather conclusion

It is a belt.  It holds up my pants.  But, even in this crowded field, One Star Leather has made it stand out, with the little touches that come from a guy, just working in his shop, that really cares about creating and delivering the best stuff he can.  Highly recommended; pick one up here.

Ended – A Simple Leather Belt Giveaway – Two $60 Belts – Ends June 15th, 12PM PST

A Simple Leather Belt Co., which shall henceforth be known as ASLB, has undertaken the noble task of supplying America with tough belts custom sized to our various burgeoning waistlines. To say that these belts will do a good job holding up your britches is an understatement. I think I could tow my car with one of these (not a wise thing to do!). Now you can get one for free with this giveaway.

Pssst…. I know you are wondering where to enter the giveaway… Keep scrolling… Continue reading “Ended – A Simple Leather Belt Giveaway – Two $60 Belts – Ends June 15th, 12PM PST”

Basäder Handmade Leather Belt Review in Dark Blue – $55


Based in the bustling streets of Brooklyn, it is very easy to see the motive for Philip and Elin Antonelli’s designs: life in the city. Philip and Elin began Basäder on Etsy (read more about that here), an online hub for local startups and people looking to buy cool things.

They began by making artisan leather bags, one of which had the honor of being the first bag reviewed by BestLeather, the Messer Messenger Bag, and they soon expanded their line of hand-crafted leather goods to include multiple briefcases and satchels, as well as totes, keychains, and belts.

The Basäder Shop in Brooklyn, NY
The Basäder Shop in Brooklyn, NY


Basäder uses nylon thread in concordance with copper rivets to hold this strikingly beautiful blue belt together. The buckle is made of copper as well, and features an antique burnished look. The leather is 7oz vegetable tanned, which is then dyed blue (dark blue model). the rivets are tough solid hand hammered rivets which will excel hollow rivets by a wide margin. Solid rivets will break a weak pair of snips, that’s how tough they are.

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That blue color is very striking with denim.
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No doubt it would go well with a pair of chinos as well.

This belt is not dyed all the way through the leather. In other words, the blue will fade with time, which would give way for an interesting patina; however, if you are in search of a belt that will not fade, this belt, especially in this color, may not be for you.


A belt has a very simple purpose, one that may seem comical, but it is the truth. A belt is designed for the sole purpose of holding one’s pants up. Does the Basäder hold my pants up? Yes, it absolutely does. It is thin enough to fit through my belt loops and substantially thick enough to hold up to daily uses.

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That subtle scratch shows how the blue coating doesn’t permeate the vegetable tanned leather.


When a boutique leather company such as Basäder designs a belt, they go into it with an intent in addition to the purpose of holding the wearer’s pants up: uniqueness. There are thousands of belts out there and when you’re a cool but small company such as Basäder, you have to find a way to get your foot in the door with customers. In other words, you have to find a hook, a catch that draws customers and leather aficionados alike to the till. You have to make the belt stand out. And this belt definitely does.

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Jax Chemicals makes a very nice solution for antiquing brass pieces like this.

The blue dye is extremely striking. I’ve had people comment on the color. People commented on my belt. This belt really is unique. The blue combined with the copper rivets and buckle really creates a cool, striking, and extremely interesting accessory, one that is definitely unique. I mean, how many other blue belts with copper hardware have you seen?

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It’s a sharp looking belt.

BestLeather conclusion

This belt is, in a word, beautiful. I’m not really sure what it is, but I really like the way that it catches the light and how the light plays with the minor abnormalities in the leather. It’s very captivating. For $55, you’re getting a great piece of leatherwork. In this same price range, we also have the Woodnsteel vegetable tanned belt, which is a similar and sizeable comparison. I, personally, would take the Basäder over the Woodnsteel, as I prefer the copper hardware and the overall aesthetic. The Basäder is worth the money. As far as leather belts go, $55 is a great price and for it, you will be receiving a great product.