As many of you may know from following this blog, I like to complain. Occasionally I complain about important issues, and occasionally I complain about nearly-irrelevant minutiae that aren’t nearly as important as my unyielding outrage would suggest. But in some ways, it’s the tiny problems that are the most annoying, because they could be solved so easily that I lose faith in the intellectual capacity of human civilization whenever I see them.
Anything that involves the airport security process falls into this category. It’s a pointless ordeal that costs ridiculous amounts of money and accomplishes next to nothing. But until we have sensible politicians in office (snicker!), we’ll just have to make do with this nonsense and live out our lives with our heads down and our spirits broken, and do whatever we can to smooth things over in the meantime.
This is why the world needs more carbon fiber belts.
What’s so great about carbon fiber belts?
Carbon fiber isn’t metal, which means it won’t set off the metal detector in the airport security checkpoint. This means you don’t have to go through the silly process of removing a belt in the middle of a busy airport, and life is just a teensy bit easier.
In some cases, this wasn’t the original intention; carbon fiber belt buckles are also useful for people with allergies or other sensitivities to metal. I didn’t even know this was a thing, and perhaps this is why we don’t see more of them. If you’re busy focusing on the metal-allergy market, which is relatively small, you might not be thinking about the annoyed-at-airports market, which is huge. So until people figure out this is a win-win for everyone, we’re stuck with just a few options.
They’re admittedly kind of pricey, but since carbon fiber is stronger than steel, they’ll probably last a lifetime. Really the only problem (aside from the aesthetic difference) is that there just aren’t enough of them out there.
Here are some of the winners:
1) NickelSmart Specialist
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this is the only carbon fiber belt in the world that I can find that looks like a regular belt.
If you just want a carbon fiber belt that looks just like a normal one, except from the dark, woven-fabric appearance of carbon fiber, this is it. Literally.
It reminds me of the old saying from Henry Ford in the early days of the Model T: “You can have any color as long as it’s black.”
It even has a lifetime guarantee, and it’s also made in the USA.
2) NickelSmart CF 2.0 Belt
I don’t know what the name is supposed to mean, but this is another option from the same company as the one pictured above, in a not-so-traditional, modern style.
I’m allowing two entries from the same company because these are the only ones that I know of at the moment that include a leather strap. The rest will be nylon, which may or may not be appropriate, depending on what sort of outfit you’ve got.
Also made in the USA and includes a lifetime guarantee.
3) Bison Designs Carbonator
Bison Designs makes quite a few nylon webbing belts, in just about every color and pattern you can imagine.
I actually like nylon belts quite a bit, because you can wear a backpack with a hip belt over it, and it won’t interfere at all, whereas a thick leather strap might get in the way, depending on where you like the pack to fit.
I own a different belt from Bison Designs, and although the nylon webbing isn’t quite the strongest (I’ve noticed a few threads sticking out here and there), it’ll be quite easy to replace with a new strap.
4) The Carbon6 from Grip6
This was a massively successful Kickstarter project, which just goes to show how lucrative the market of “pissed off people who hate airport security” truly is. Or maybe they just thought it was neat. Either way, win win.
As you can see, this is a completely non-traditional design, with a nylon strap and a flat rectangle of a buckle, which sits flatly enough that there’s no visible bulge. This means it’ll work nicely with a backpack hip strap, and just looks less bulky.
It also comes in a variety of colors and patterns. I don’t know how soon it’ll be available for the non-Kickstarter crowd, but it’ll happen sooner or later.
Other metal-free belts certainly exist, especially in the form of those with plastic belt buckles. Those are certainly functional, although personally I think carbon fiber looks a lot nicer, and last longer. But the plastic ones are a lot cheaper, so maybe that’s a plus.
There’s another interesting option called the Booyah Belt, which allows you to remove the belt buckle without having to remove the entire belt, which is kind of neat.
But, given how frequently people complain about TSA policies and absurd airport security measures, I’m surprised we have so few options. But at least we’ve got these.