Belts have been holding our pants up for centuries. But aside from keeping our trousers in place, with a bit of creativity, a good leather belt can be a survival tool and do more than just hold up your pants. Here are ten things that you can do with a good leather belt.
1. Carry more
The most popular alternative use for a belt is for helping you carry important items that won’t fit well in your pockets. A handgun, with the help of a holster, can be easily and securely attached to your belt. Belt pouches and sheathes are available for many other items like spare magazines, knives, flashlights, or a canteen or first aid kit. You can also make a small bag where you can put other items that you think you’ll be using often, like maps, a compass, or energy bars.
The advantage to keeping things on your belt is ease of access. You won’t have to stop, take off your main bag (which is usually a backpack) and open it to get the item you need. It also lets you distribute the weight of your cargo more evenly throughout your body.
While a belt may not be the ideal tourniquet, tightened well enough it can be used as a makeshift one to prevent heavy blood loss until you can find help. To use, wrap the belt above the wound as you would with a tourniquet. You will have to stay with the victim until help arrives to make sure the belt is kept tight around the arm or leg.
3. Sling for an injured arm
A leather belt can also be used as an adjustable sling. Just loop it around your neck and wrist, and adjust the length until your arm is supported at a 90-degree angle. You can use a small face towel or a handkerchief as padding between the belt and the nape to make it more comfortable and avoid chafing.
You can also use it to keep a splint in place and immobilize an injured body part. If you can punch a new hole on the belt, you can wrap it around the splint and use it as you would use one around your waist.
4. Carrying firewood (and other items)
Anyone who’s carried a stack of firewood knows how hard it is to transport. A piece will fall and either you have stop to pick it up, or come back for it later.
Wrap your belt around the bundle and secure it. You won’t have to worry anymore about pieces falling off and, at the same time, it gives you a handle for one-handed carrying.
5. Sharpen your knife
A strop takes care of the small burrs on your knife and helps keep it sharp. It’s simply a strip of leather, and your leather belt can be used as the perfect substitute.
Hang your belt from a hook or lay it on a flat surface and use it as you would a strop. Hold your knife at an angle (around 25 degrees) and move the blade across the rough part (backside) of your belt, then flip the blade and do the same for the other side. Repeat the process until you’re satisfied with your blade’s sharpness.
6. Hoist items
You can use your belt to help hoist items from an elevated or lowered place. Just put the items in a bag or bucket, loop the belt around the handle, and use the other end to raise or lower it.
7. A Lifeline
Saving someone from drowning can be dangerous. Drowning victims will be in a panicked state, and if you’re not trained for it, attempting a rescue can get you killed.
If another person is drowning, and they’re too far to be able to reach your hand, you can use other items nearby to extend your reach, including your belt. Once they’ve grabbed ahold of your belt, you can pull them safely out of the water
You can also use your belt to extend your reach when helping people who have fallen through ice or into a pit.
8. Use as Padding
If you need to carry bucket full of water for a half a mile, the thin metal handle on those things can dig into your hand and quickly make the task uncomfortable.
Wrap your belt around the handle to form a pad around it. It won’t make the load lighter, but it’ll make it easier to carry around.
9. Protect yourself from getting burned
Ideally, the pot or pan that you’re using should have a handle that won’t conduct heat, or it’s covered in a material that you can safely hold so you can move your pot around without the risk of getting burned. However, this won’t always be the case.
If you find yourself cooking with a pot with a hot metal handle, you can use your leather belt to hold the handle safely. In this case, it’s more effective than cloth at protecting your hand from getting burned.
10. Defend yourself
If you don’t have anything to protect yourself with and running is not an option anymore, you can use the environment and anything else to defend yourself. In situations like these, your belt can be an improvised weapon.
Wrap the tip to your arm to keep it from slipping from your hand. You can use a belt as a whip or a flail, and with substantial force, the buckle and prong can do considerable damage (just be careful since it’s also easy to hit yourself). You can also use your belt to choke your attacker if you can manage to get behind them. Once you’re able to subdue your attacker, you can restrain them with the belt until help arrives.
Any leather belt will be able to do most of these tasks, but if you want a reliable multipurpose tool, you can’t go wrong with an old-fashioned, full grain cowhide belt. Some leather belts are also made with a steel or other core for added reinforcement and load carrying capacity without sagging, and should be able to provide you with years, if not decades, of service.
There are other belts out there that could also be used as multi-tools, but there are pros and cons to each. Paracord belts are nice and provides you with a good length of strong cord when needed, like when putting up a shelter, but it’ll take some time to make it into a belt again after unbraiding it. Tactical belts are also nice and very durable, but like paracord belts, they’re not an item that you can wear anytime, anywhere, any day. Most likely, when something does go wrong, it’s a leather belt that you will have with you.
Multi-purpose tools are great. They save precious space, weight, and help make things simpler—you know how important these things are if you’re carrying all your gear in a bag on your back. You’ll be able to bring with you more vital items like clothing, food, and water. It keeps your cargo compact and light and lets you be more mobile; enabling you to travel longer distances and move around on rough terrain. Having a couple of multi-purpose tools with you also lets you simplify your workflow and be more organized and efficient in completing your tasks. But this way of thinking doesn’t have to be confined to just the tools that we use, and it can also extend to the items that we bring with us daily and usually take for granted.
These are just some of the things that you can do with a good, quality belt. If you have other survival uses for your belt in mind, let us know in the comments section!