Arcade Belts Company is a small enterprise based in the snow resort of Squaw Valley in Northern California, USA. Arcade Belts design and manufacture just one product: Trouser belts.
The business was founded in 2010 by three local powder hounds who just wanted a better belt for skiing and board riding. They needed a belt that didn’t have a buckle which dug into their stomachs, or became loose and let snow into their pants.
Today, the company markets itself internationally to much more than skiers and snowboarders, with belts designed for all walks of life, and even a range of suspenders. Arcade now have a range of 10 different belt models, comprising a total of 85 variations.
Product Overview: We are reviewing Arcade’s best-selling model, their Adventure Belt. This is an elastic low-profile belt, intended for outdoor activities. It is lightweight, micro adjustable, travel friendly and machine washable.
Arcade boldly claim it is the World’s Most Comfortable Belt. Wow, let’s take a closer look.
Buckle: The Adventure Belt has a quick release buckle which snaps shut with a satisfying click. The buckle is flat and only 6mm thick – about half the thickness of a regular backpack style waist buckle.
The buckle is moulded from an engineering grade thermoplastic called polyoxymethylene, or POM. This is a high strength, low friction material, an excellent choice for this application.
Plastic buckles are fine for going through airport scanners, unlike metal buckles, and this belt can be left threaded in your trousers for washing and drying.
Webbing : The belt’s webbing is 40mm wide and 3mm thick. The webbing has a soft, luxurious feel and is comprised of 90% nylon, 10% rubber, which gives a good mix of strength, durability and stretch.
The webbing is elastic up to 150% of its length, since only about 105% of stretch is needed for normal use, the elasticity should be long lasting.
Colour: The belt we reviewed is in ‘Midnighter’ colour, and it is a very dark black. Together with the black buckle this popular combination looks archetypal Melbourne gothic.
Adventure Belt models are available in over 40 different webbing colours and patterns, so there’s sure to be something to appeal to even the most discerning of fashion victims.
Size and adjustment: The belt is a “One Size Fits Most” size, (which is the politically corrected version of “One Size Fits All”). At its maximum, it is 104cm long (41”), unstretched. The belt is then infinitely adjustable down from this maximum. The excess sits neatly and unseen on the inside of the belt, and a retaining loop is provided. It is sleek and clean looking.
No permanent changes such as hole punching or cutting are needed for adjustment. If your circumstances change, the belt can be adjusted up or down to suit.
Weight: The Adventure Belt weighs 73 grams. My usual bushwalking belt is not quick release and made from non-stretch nylon. It weighs 32 grams. I consider the Adventure Belt’s weight premium well worth it for the extra comfort and ease of use.
Packaging: Adventure Belt is attractively presented for retail on a heavy card hanger. The hanger is reinforced with a plastic panel glued to the back and has a fabric retaining strap with chromed steel press stud rivets. The packaging looks good and has the trademarked slogan: ‘Lighter. Stronger. Better’ as well as the bold claim ‘The World’s Most Comfortable Belt’.
The card has a recycling symbol on it, which is disingenuous as, on closer examination, the packaging requires significant deconstruction to allow the card component (only) to be recycled. Most people wouldn’t know and happily fling the whole assembly into the recycling bin thinking they are doing the right thing.
Australia recently faced a major crisis when our largest receiver ceased taking our recycling materials due to contamination issues. Arcade should move to more easily recyclable packaging, or delete the misleading recyclable symbol.
Logos: The Arcade brand logo appears 4 times on the belt, as well there is also a stylised ‘A’ of the brand engraved on the buckle. That’s five. It’s as if the manufacturers are a tad insecure and afraid of not being noticed, which is odd, as the overall belt design is very good and confident. While the logos are mostly discreet and inoffensive, the overall number is excessive.
What about real-world performance?
I’ve been a fan of elastic belts ever since they crossed the Tasman with wide comb sheep shears and other Kiwi shearing innovations of the late 1980s. I still use an elastic shearers belt when I’m performing heavy outdoor work, as it gives a small but useful amount of lumbar support without limiting flexibility. The belt helps prevent fatigue and I’m sure has saved me from back injuries many times.
The Arcade Adventure Belt is a more refined version of the shearers belt, with a comparable amount of elastic support. I found the initial Adventure Belt length adjustment a bit fiddly, due to the very snug fit of the webbing in the buckle slot. This is not a big deal as for most people it’s a one-off, or possibly just annually, say every Christmas afternoon.
The two buckle ends mate up well and you don’t need to be looking at it to be able to close it. The 40mm webbing width is a snug fit through trouser belt loops, which helps keep the belt fitted in the trousers when taking them on and off. The belt doesn’t fall out and need rethreading like slippery leather ones can do.
The low profile buckle helps prevent it from digging into your stomach when you are doubled over or performing domestic gymnastics such as cutting your toenails. The slim and flat buckle design also assists with the bulk of the “double belt” bushwalking scenario, where you find your backpack belt is stacked on top of your trouser belt.
Adventure Belt’s custom buckle is a different shape and much thinner than backpack waist buckles. When bushwalking this difference makes it possible to distinguish between the two buckle types without looking. This is super handy as it can prevent one inadvertently dropping one’s dacks when simply attempting to take off a backpack.
I’ve worn this belt now for long periods of time and for a variety of activities. These included bushwalking, bicycle touring, general outdoor work, building construction, and perhaps most testing of all, sitting at a computer desk all day.
I really like the security and snugness the belt affords, overall, I found the belt to be unquestionably comfortable and a delight to use.
But is it really the World’s Most Comfortable Belt, as claimed by Arcade?
Yep. Quite likely it is.
Design, Comfort & Durability (Rating: 95%)
This is a well-designed, quality product benefiting from the singular product focus of the business. Arcade just do one thing, and they do it well.
I’ve used the Adventure Belt daily for two months. Given its quality, materials and simplicity, I would expect it to last for many years.
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 85%)
The Adventure Belt is a bit fiddly to initially set up due to the snug fit of the webbing into the buckle. Once set, though, it’s very easy to live with. Especially considering it’s machine washable and able to be left in the trousers for washing and drying.
What I Like
- Elastic comfort.
- Nice amount of lumbar support.
- Fully adjustable with no cutting or hole punching required.
- Simple, elegant design.
What I Don’t Like
Not much to grumble about, a couple of minor points are:
- Too many logos. One should suffice.
- Greenwashing: the packaging is not practically recyclable.