Carbon fiber belts for speeding through airport security

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

NickelSmart Specialist Carbon Fiber Belt
It’s lonely at the top.

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.

Get it here.

2) NickelSmart CF 2.0 Belt

CF 2.0 Specialist Carbon Fiber Belt
For the iconoclast.

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.

Get it here.

3) Bison Designs Carbonator

Bison Designs Carbonator Metal-Free Belt
Not sure how I feel about the asymmetry, but oh well.

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.

Get it here. There are similar options out there from JJMG and Cinchy.

4) The Carbon6 from Grip6

Carbon6 Carbon Fiber Belt
“Which way is up?!?!”

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.

Check it out here.

Alternative options

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.

About SnarkyNomad

Eytan is a pretentious English major whose rant-laden sarcastic tirades occasionally include budget travel tips and other international nonsense. You can follow his every narcissistic word on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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22 Comments on “Carbon fiber belts for speeding through airport security”

  1. The nickel names are likely because a common problem that causes people to seek out non-metal belts is Nickel sensitivity.

    Several women in my family have it, which has caused quite a few instances of painting nickel rings and earrings with acrylic. Belt buckles are the same. Even if they are steel, they are likely plated with nickel since it is shiny.

    Using an alternative to metal obviously solves the problem.

    1. Yeah, that’s what I learned from all this. I was looking for these from the perspective of being a lazy airline commuter, but they exist for solving nickel allergies. I suppose this is also why jean tacks and other items are advertised as nickel-free.

  2. I’m curious. Have you ever worn these belts and not have a TSA agent ask you to take them off before going through the detector?

    My last trip to Puerto Rico, I had to take mine off and laugh when they told me to pull up my jeans in the scanner (whatever those detectors are called, the one where you stand, raise your arms, and scan you).

    I was like, that’s why I needed my belt. but they told me to take it off before I walked in so that’s why I’m curious if they actually let you through with a belt and how do they know it’s okay?

    1. I think if you have an untucked shirt, they often won’t bother saying anything, and if they do, you can tell them it’s not metal, and they might let it slide. TSA is likely to do all sorts of crazy things that make no sense, but it’s at least worth a try. The worst thing that can happen is that sometimes you might have to take it off, but most of the time you can probably get away with it.

    1. I’ve gotten into the habit of not wearing a belt at all, and I can see why spending extra money wouldn’t be that enjoyable, but if it can last indefinitely, it’ll eventually work out.

  3. I have the Bison belt. I gave up on it TSA always insisted I take it off. Metal or not. Untucked shirt isn’t to my liking but could perhaps alleviate the issue.

    1. Yeah, it’s still a potential nuisance, but I think untucked shirts should take care of it. I’ve always been an untucked sort of person, so it’s fine for me.

    2. Interesting. I wear one of the Bison belts. I’ve had it for about 5 years now and never been asked to take it off by TSA or any of the international security folks … even at Heathrow in London. Even the few times I had to take my shoes off, the belt stayed on.

  4. I work at a nuclear power plant and have to go through metal detectors multiple times every day. I picked up a nylon t-lock belt from Cabelas’s for $18. It makes it through the metal detectors at work just fine. However, I’m still asked to remove it when I go through airport security. Like you said, if your shirt is not tucked and they don’t see it, you won’t set off the alarm. But if they do notice it, they’ll have you take it off.

    Belts are like shoes. Even if there’s no metal in it, they still want to x-ray them to make sure you don’t have any explosives inside. The explosive sniffers that are being installed in most airports are supposed to take care of that, but many airports don’t have enough of them to make everyone go through them.

  5. try one of the webbed belts with plastic snap buckles. Available at REI in the western US, and online…I think Bison makes them. They’re cheap, and last forever –unless you stupidly step on the buckle, which I did–the company had me send in the belt, and replaced the buckle, for free.
    I flash that at the TSA operator (!) and they usually just let me pass thru without removing it.

    1. I agree, although for some reason I’ve noticed that certain companies make pants or shorts with built-in belts that have a better design than the belts you can buy alone. I don’t know why this is, but I got a pair of shorts just to get one of those belts, because it was faster.

  6. can anyone comment on the current “official” TSA policy regarding any belts going through the XR Body Scanner? even if not metallic, they often make you take off your belt, just like making me remove my cheapo plastic sunglasses from my travel shirt pocket. it’s not really just a “metal detector” thing now, it’s some insane idea of the dangers lurking behind a belt, or sandals, or sunglasses, or even your wallet in your pocket. i’m going to start trying the untucked shirt trick.

    they swiped my tiny, poorly-fabricated, given-as-a-crappy-gift-to-all-employees multitool with a dull blade of about 1-3/8″. i thought they gave up on such tiddly things, like fingernail clippers.

    1. It’s ever-changing silliness. I think the untucked shirt is good enough. Even if they see in the scanner that you’re wearing a belt, they might just be lazy enough not to bother with it.

  7. I got a plastic belt to wear through airport security, but I have to say it’s not that great. The whole length of the belt is a silicone-like plastic that is prone to stretching (I don’t know why they didn’t use leather). However the plastic buckle locks onto the belt with teeth, so, in retrospect, I could probably have clipped the plastic buckle to a leather belt instead.

    All that said, I think I would just as soon wear a thin webbing belt through security and pack my real grown-up belt.

  8. The Specialist belt looks like the most normal option, but it apparently only comes in black. I needed a brown belt. I bought the buckle by itself (item 3077-NS) for $45 from the No Nickel website and paired it with a $17 brown belt (item BS105032) from Belts.com. It ended up being cheaper than buying The Specialist and it fits my needs better.

    Any 1 1/4 inch belt with snaps to secure a separate buckle will work with that particular carbon fiber buckle. If you are searching the Belts.com website, don’t search for 1 1/4 inch because you’ll get all results with 1 in the product (1 1/2, 1 1/4, etc.). Instead, search for just 1/4 and you will only end up with the results you want to fit that buckle.

    The brown belt strap looks fine with the black carbon fiber buckle.

    1. Thanks for the tip. That’s a pretty decent weight savings, especially if you have the tools to fix the buckle to the belt on your own, or if you have a shop nearby that can do it.

  9. Hi! Love your blog! Doing quite a lot of (ultralight) business travel.

    I have the Grip6 belt and love it. Works in airports unless the local policy requires to take off any belt. This policy changes quite frequently as a function of personnel, local policy, security level and some x-factor :-)
    However, the belt is fast to undo and get on again, far less bulky than the other options out there and also works in a business setting

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