The Groove Life company was founded by Alaskan adventure guide Peter Goodwin in 2015. The business was created out of a need for a breathable, tough, and safe wedding ring. Groove has since expanded from silicone wedding rings to watch bands and trouser belts for active lifestyles.
Groove Life’s headquarters and manufacturing operations are based at Spring Hill, about 45 km south of Nashville, Tennessee USA. They have grown rapidly from one employee in 2016 to over 100 today.
Product Overview: We are reviewing the Groove Belt, a trouser belt with a novel buckle and stretch characteristics suitable for everyday and outdoor activities. Groove initially examined all the available belts in the market to understand their various flaws and features, and then combined this information to design their belt. Groove Life boldly claim that this is “The Best Belt in the World”. Let’s get into it.
Buckle: The buckle body comprises two diecast aluminium alloy pieces: a front and a rear plate. These overlap each other and mate over ramped hooks, with the assistance of high strength rare earth magnets. The two buckle plates are placed in close proximity, and they simply jump into place with a satisfying snap.
The buckle body components are coated with Teflon, which gives the buckle a luxuriously smooth and silky feel and helps with the automatic magnetic closure. A selection of textured and coloured faceplate buckle trims are available.
The front of the buckle appears quite large at 68mm x 45mm, but it is very flat and slim at just 10mm thick. Edges and corners are neatly chamfered all round.
Three stainless steel Torx screws in tapped holes attach one end of the webbing to the rear buckle plate. The other end is looped over a moulded bar inside the upper plate. This all seems secure enough.
The tensile force of the belt is held by two integrally moulded buckle hooks. The embedded neodymium magnets ensure the hooks mate and are held into the holes. The buckle closes with a satisfying solid click that lets you know it’s locked in securely. You don’t have to visually align the buckle ends to connect this belt: so, plus-size folks with, ahem, a front verandah will find it very easy to connect. You just need to get the two ends roughly together and it literally jumps into place.
The novel buckle design is secure and very easy to connect and disconnect. This design is so clever and easy to use, I think it could find use in other applications such as automotive or aircraft seatbelts.
Webbing: is tightly woven from a blend of 80% polyester and 20% rubber. Groove say it is proprietary webbing with 5% elasticity. The webbing feels strong and firm and not too stretchy. The webbing is 37mm wide, most belt loops seem to be 40mm, so the belt threads easily through the loops. The buckle also has no projections which can catch while threading the loops. The belt webbing is elastic enough to accommodate daily changes in personal circumference yet is stiff enough to resist folding or curling up lengthwise.
Colour: The belt we reviewed is a bestselling Gun Metal/ Black combination. Groove Life currently have 27 different webbing and belt fascia plate options, including camouflage and woodgrain. The different color and style options make it easy for anyone to find one or more belts to like.
Weight: The Groove Belt weighs 156 grams, twice as much as Arcade’s Adventure Belt we reviewed previously. It is much stiffer and feels more solid than the Adventure belt. The Groove belt’s attractive appearance lends itself more to neat casual or dress-wear use, where weight is not so much of an issue.
Size and adjustment: The belt is offered in five sizes: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and Extra Extra Large. The excess webbing sits inside the belt, and an elastic retaining loop is provided. No permanent changes such as hole punching or cutting should be needed for adjustment. If your waist measurement changes, the belt can be easily adjusted up or down to suit.
I chose a Medium, to suit waist size of 84 to 91 cm. However, the supplied webbing length was almost 30 cm too long. I would have expected and considered generous, about 10 cm extra to be provided at the most.
With 30 cm excess, the double-layered section sits annoyingly on top of my left hipbone, and I consequently will need to trim about 20 cm off the webbing, and then heat seal the end.
Not a big deal, but I don’t see the point in offering the belt in five sizes if the purchaser needs to trim it themselves. A simpler “One Size Fits Most” size, (which is the politically corrected version of “One Size Fits All”) would be easier to supply, and purchasers would know in advance they have to do a bit of work themselves.
Packaging: My Groove belt arrived in a custom bubble envelope printed with a contour map overlay, which was very nice. The Groove Belt itself is packed in a simple cardboard sleeve. The packaging contains sizing and warranty information, and a warning about the potential dangers of the high strength magnets.
The card sleeve is made from mixed Forest Stewardship Council products and is recyclable. No issues with this.
Logos: Groove Life initials appears on the belt fascia, on the rear plate and on the retaining loop, these are discreet and inoffensive.
Manufacture: The belt components are made in China, and the belt is assembled in the USA.
Warranty: Groove Life offer a 94 year “ No BS” warranty on their products. Groove has established a slick online process to facilitate this. They will even cover product damage and loss for a nominal fee. Proof of purchase is required – so make sure you keep your receipt in a safe place. (I can’t seem to find receipts just a week after purchase, so I would struggle with 94 years.)
What about real-world performance?
I like elastic belts; I find they provide a useful amount of lumbar support without limiting flexibility. I prefer them for physical, active applications. While this belt looks suited more to neat casual dress, I decided to stress test it in a rugged outdoor environment. So, I hitched my heavy-duty bushwalking pants up with the Groove Life belt and took it on a 3-day off-track walk in the Gariwerd (Grampians National Park) along the most spectacular part of the Serra Range. This was a strenuous exercise involving much rock scrambling, cliff line ascents, pack hauling and tree and scrub wrangling.
It took a couple of adjustments initially to get the belt length just right, but once I found the sweet spot it was fine for the three days.
The belt stayed secure all day and was comfortable enough not to notice it. The slim buckle profile worked well together with my rucksack waist belt. The rucksack buckle sat happily right on top of the flat Groove buckle.
Despite all my contortions, the Groove buckle never came undone by itself, which was something I thought might happen. While the front face of the buckle is perhaps larger than it needs to be, it never dug in while scrambling under fallen logs and negotiating narrow rocky passageways. I however did manage to put a small scratch in the fascia plate while waltzing face to face along a rock ledge, but the durable Teflon buckle coating remained unblemished.
On the descent from the ridge, we needed to follow a bearing through some head-high scrub. I found my compass needle spinning and oscillating wildly which was puzzling. On investigation, with the compass held at arm’s length, I got a true bearing, but any closer and the neodymium belt magnets would play havoc with the compass needle. Something to be aware of.
The belt is stiff enough to support belt-mounted pouches for 2-way radios or Leatherman type tools or torches or whatever you might want to hang off it. It doesn’t tend to fold or curl up under loads like softer webbing would.
I really liked the security and support the belt affords, and I found the belt to be very easy to live with and a delight to use.
But is it really the World’s Best Belt, as claimed by Groove? Hmmm. Could be. I haven’t found a better one.
Design, & Durability (Rating: 95%)
This is a well-designed product benefiting from solid research and a first-principles design process. The belt is attractively styled and has a high-quality appearance.
The belt has no buttons to press or squeeze, having no flexing or moving parts should ensure a very long life. The Teflon buckle coating is nice to touch and is very durable and abrasion-resistant.
I’ve used the Groove Belt daily for a month. Given its quality, materials, and simplicity, I would expect the Groove Belt to last for many years.
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 95%)
The Groove Belt is a bit fiddly to initially set up due to the snug fit of the webbing into the buckle, but this is once-off adjustment. The buckle is delightfully intuitive to close and open.
The belt is stiff and functional enough to allow for tools or other items to be hung off it.
What I Like
- Elastic comfort. Nice amount of lumbar support.
- Novel magnetic buckle design.
- Professional, clean appearance.
What I Don’t Like
- The only thing I would grumble about is the excess webbing length.
The Groove Belt can be purchased online direct from Groove Life.
Disclaimer: Groove Life provided a belt for testing. This has no influence on the opinions presented in my review.
Have you tried the Groove Life Belt? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.