Over the few years that I have been carrying a pistol I have generally been satisfied with my Wilderness Instructor belt. Although it is now a few years old, it’s been maintaining its cross-sectional rigidity. However, over these years there were times when I wished that I had a belt that had less of a “webbing” look and a buckle that didn’t look like it was made for rappelling from helicopters. Over the course of 2015, I saw a number of “names” in the “business” begin advocating for the Ares Gear Aegis belt. I then read plenty of online reviews by others who decided to pony up the coin and purchase one, and so I decided to treat myself to one for Christmas. This review is based on the last 4 months of wearing the Ares belt.
The Ares Gear Aegis belt comes in two flavors: the “standard” and the “enhanced”. The enhanced version is advertised as having additional rigidity. I opted for the advanced mainly because, at that moment, it was listed on the Ares site as being in-stock and ready to ship in my size (extra small!) and in my color preference (black scuba webbing with black Melonite buckle).
The belt arrived within about a week of my order being placed. The belt was packaged inside of a clear plastic bag together with some Ares swag. The bag, in turn, was inside of an appropriately sized cardboard box.
Upon taking it out of the protective bag, the first thing I noticed about the belt was that it did not “unwind”. Instead, it maintained a roughly circular form. This belt is quite rigid! Indeed, the belt is so rigid that it is possible, with some patience and belt loops on the pants that are loose enough, to put the belt on one handed just by holding the buckle end! Think about that for a minute.
The belt buckle (a “box-frame” type) was a little thicker in cross section than I had imagined, and sits quite proudly. This is a necessary evil, however, as the scuba webbing from which the belt is made is quite thick, meaning that the buckle must accommodate that thickness. The belt is so thick that I had to adjust the pull-the-dot loop that secures my fixed-blade knife to the belt (letting it out one eyelet’s-worth). When wearing the belt, if I rap on the belt with my knuckles as if knocking on a door, the sound is……well….not unlike knocking on a door! I’m not going to test it to see if it offers ballistic protection, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it made a decent showing against low-caliber projectiles!
Another measure of how rigid the belt is can be shown by the fact that it comes with an extra loop of thin webbing (actually, it comes with two in case you lose one, as it’s not attached to the belt, but just slides onto it). This extra loop can help secure the “tail” of the belt which otherwise tends to stick out. Between this loop and the belt loops on the wearer’s pants, this “tail” of the belt is kept from sticking out.
Four Months On
I have worn this belt most days, even when not wearing a pistol and holster on it. I have worn it to work, worn it on long car drives (8 hours or more), and worn it in a couple of classes. What follows is based on this nearly everyday usage.
The thickness and rigidity of the belt comes at a bit of a comfort cost. There are times when the edges of the belt do dig into me a bit. This rigidity means that the belt does not really flex with the body. For example, when squatting down like a baseball catcher, the belt tends to stay aligned to the vertical plane rather than to the wearer’s back.
The captive pin in the box-frame buckle can sometimes get stuck, so stuck that I have to utilize a tool (something simple , like a pen, toothbrush, etc.) to lever against it to get out of it. This happens to me at least once a week. Maybe my fingers are just weak. The good thing is that there seems to be no chance of the buckle coming loose when you do not want it to, and there are not too many situations I can imagine where I would need to get out of my belt in a hurry (is it obvious I’ve been married a while?).
The belt is not cheap. At about $120, it is at least double what a Wilderness Instructor belt costs.
What the belt gives you, however, is major security. I have worn this belt with a fully loaded Glock 19 in its holster, a mag carrier with two spare Glock 17 magazines, and a fixed-blade knife, and done so in comfort, with virtually no shifting of the load or its parts at any time. I’ve experimented with adding two HSGI Rifle Tacos (with loaded AR magazines) on a Raven Concealment Moduloader, together with everything outlined above, and the load is carried with ease and with less “play” than the Wilderness belt I already owned. It feels as secure around my waist with such a load as a military-style web belt with suspenders. I would almost go so far as to say that the belt is more comfortable WITH a bunch of gear on it than not.
It’s thickness and rigidity also works incredibly well with my new holster of choice, the Raven Concealment Eidolon (review here). It works very well with the “claw” on the Eidolon to lever the grip back into the body, making this the best concealment combination I have found for my body and the Glock 19. The belt’s rigidity also means that the wearer does not have to cinch it up quite as tightly in order for it to do its job, which allows it to be more comfortable than such a rigid belt should be.
The belt also provides a less “tactical” look. The scuba webbing—while obviously not leather—does not have as much of a “military” look as the webbing on a belt like the Wilderness belt. In addition, the buckle does not look like it is designed for rappelling, and the choice of the black Melonite finish helps the buckle stand out even less (although the buckle is usually covered by my untucked shirt, it’s nice to have options). Finally, I really like the lack of noisy Velcro, which draws less attention at public restrooms and the like.
I really like this belt. While not cheap, it is excellent at doing its major job of securing the assortment of items that I carry. One must always keep in mind that the keys to properly concealing a firearm are a good belt, a good holster, and good cover garments. The belt therefore forms a key part of that equation. The finish on the buckle has yet to show a mark, and the belt itself, while now not perpetually in a form-fit circle when off the body (though it doesn’t hang straight from a hook in my closet, either. It is more like a steady curve), seems as though it will maintain its rigidity in cross-section for years and years to come.
John asked me if I had to do it all over again if I would purchase the “regular” or “enhanced” versions of this belt. I wish I could give a definitive answer. Unfortunately, I have never handled or worn the “regular” version, so I cannot compare/contrast.
If any anomalies appear over time I will come back and update this post, but at this point, the belt seems good to go, and I would definitely recommend this product. As always, we welcome your comments and questions below. Thanks for reading!