I’ve decided to add a new feature here at Amid the Ruins: reviews of the gear and equipment I use on my journeys. I’m going to start it off with a review of my signature item (yes, even more than my hat) – the thing that has served me well on every single adventure I’ve had since I got it, way back in 2012. My very favorite piece of treasure.
I’m talking, of course, about my adventure belt. This isn’t the kind of belt that holds up your pants; this is the kind of belt you use to carry things. Think like a workman’s tool belt, or Batman’s utility belt*. It’s brown leather and metal, two of my favorite materials for clothing to be made out of, and it’s my favorite thing I own.
It’s got four exterior pockets, two large and two small, symmetrically across the waist (so there’s no added bulk in front or behind like with a fanny pack). In the left small pocket I keep my change; in the left large, my pocket knife and handkerchief (I used to also have a flashlight, but it recently broke); in the right large, my cash and all my cards; and in the right small, earplugs, a USB drive, a hairpin, glow in the dark duct tape, a magic amulet, my mini library card, and my ring. It also has two zippered interior pockets that you can’t get at without taking the belt off, which I use to keep a few emergency bills.
That’s everything that I want to carry. I can grab my belt and immediately be ready to go, and know I’ve got everything I need for any adventure that comes. Plus it leaves my pants pockets free for anything else that I may pick up or carry along the way. Or, in the case of women’s pants, leaves their pockets free to not exist.
Next to my hat, this is the sturdiest thing I own. During the four years I’ve owned it, I’ve worn it every single day, and only ever done maintenance on it once – I rubbed some oil into it a few months ago. In all that time, it’s only ever had two problems, both of which were easily fixed. One of the metal snaps got bent enough to come apart, but I just put it back in place, put a screwdriver against the bent piece of metal, gave it a wack with a hammer, and bam! it’s worked perfectly for three years since then. The second thing that broke was a small leather circle that held the back part in place, which finally wore out a few months ago, which is what prompted me to finally put some care into it, after all the care it’s taken of me.
Here you can see a brand new one of these belts, and below is mine, after four years of daily wear and one oiling.
I fully expect this belt to last me the rest of my life, and if it doesn’t, I’m going to get a replacement. I got it on my first trip to Thailand: wandering down the dark and glowing streets of Bangkok, I spotted it, and fell in love. I love it enough that a few years later I went back and found the same leatherworker who made it, and got a messenger bag from him as well.
*I was once told by a Malaysian airport officer to “Take off belt. And… Batman”