Thursday, April 22, 2010

The 5 Best Travel Money Belts

Our investigation of the best travel money belts found two primary options - nylon webbing and leather belts. We went very deep into research to compare both types, along with all the models we identifies. In the end, we feel that none of the leather travel belts surveyed quite make it into the top, either because of issues intrinsic to the fact that they are made of  leather -such as weight or zipper pocket thickness- or because of design issues -such as a slipping buckle  for Thomas Bates' reversible belt. There are times, though, when a canvas belt or plastic buckle, however discrete, does not quite cut it. As a consequence, we decided to have a specific leather category separate from the general travel belt category.

The best leather travel belt
  • #2 leather travel belt: Thomas Bates reversible leather belt. This $35, 1.25" full-grain leather reversible belt is made of good quality leather, and sports a black side and a brown side. it comes in several sizes instead of our preferred one-size-fits-all M.O., possibly leading to ordering issues on line. Its carries a small number of reviews, mostly good, but a worrisome percentage of them identifies buckles issues - breakage (it happens to plastic buckles) or slippage. The belt does not come with a cash pocket, and is also available from Magellan. We really want to like this belt because it is such a good idea for travel, but, while this is our second choice for a leather travel belt, we believe that it needs some buckle improvements in order to make it a top contender.
  • #1 leather travel belt: Travelon money belt. For $35 to $40, the  1.25" Travelon money belt comes in very well finished leather, in business black or more causal brown, in a convenient one-size-fits-all model. Reviewers comment on the goof fit-and-finish. Its good quality metal buckle is easily removed at security - a design choice that we find quite elegant when one needs the good looks of a true leather belt. Be aware that stuffing too many bank notes in the zippered pocket will definitely make it noticeable when wearing your shirt tucked in your pants...

The best overall travel belts

  • #3 overall travel belt: TDU belt by 5.11 tactical. This belt in NOT a money belt, but an excellent travel belt. It comes in two widths, 1.5" and 1.75", and three colors, black, brown and khaki. It carries excellent reviews from a law enforcement community  that isprone to use it in difficult environments. It is lightweight, and its nylon webbing is robust and long lasting. It does not have a money pocket. Regrettably, it comes in multiple sizes rather than a one-size-fits-all model, leaving the door open to  common online ordering problems. It is very utilitarian, and inappropriate for business use. We are, however, impressed by the robustness of its plastic buckle, which was the only one with few or no reports of buckle breakage or slippage. This appears to be the toughest belt available for the job.
  • #2 overall travel belt: Bison Designs T-lock money belt. This 1.2" belt comes with a Delrin cam buckle and many available patterns, including topstitch solid black, brown and olive. It is carried by many online stores and has many very positive user reviews across the web, including some with many years of use. The nylon webbing is robust and long lasting, and the belt is lightweight.  It comes in 2 sizes, Medium (up to 38" and Large (up to 42") - we prefer one-size-fits-all models for ordering convenience. It has a full length hidden zipper pocket for cash - longer than the competition. There are reports of buckles breaking when stepped or sat upon (particularly when open). A black and an olive model will take you through all situations,  including most business uses ,except for the dressiest ones. If you do not travel with two belts, you might consider carrying in your pack a $2.50 spare lightweight military brass buckle.
  • #1 overall travel belt: the Eagle Creek All Terrain Belt. Our favorite is a $18, 1.25" nylon webbing belt with a Delrin cam buckle. The strong nylon webbing comes in black, brown, dark khaki and navy, and the belt is lightweight. It carries many very positive user reviews across the web, quite a few of which cover multiple years of use.  There is a 3/4 length hidden zipper pocket for cash.There are some reports of buckles breaking when stepped or sat upon, especially when open. We find the black and khaki versions perfect to take along any pleasure trip, and even business trips that are not too dressy - black for dark suits, khaki for casual. While the cam buckle is very unlikely to break during a trip, it might be a good idea to carry a $2.50 spare lightweight military brass buckle.

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