Fairwin Ratchet Web Belt: On Trail or in Town
Fairwin’s Ratchet Web Belt does a little bit of everything. With a unique ratcheting buckle design mounted on a coarse nylon belt, it’s functional on the trail but manages low-key cool for casual wear. I’ve worn many hiking belts (and a lot of things as hiking belts that aren’t really belts at all), and the Fairwin was unique in my experience thus far.
Unfortunately, it might not belong in my permanent rotation due to a couple of minor quality snags. Nonetheless, it impressed me by managing some differentiation in a saturated category. Read this review to learn how I kept my pants on.
Fairwin Facts: Hiking Belt Anatomy
Fairwin’s novel ratcheting buckle uses a progress capture system. As the user feeds the belt’s tail through the buckle, a spring-loaded cam captures progress. The tail feeds underneath the belt, making it “invisible.”
The belt itself is a 1 5⁄16” wide (or just over 1.25”) strip of heavy woven nylon with deep vertical ribs. The ribs help the cam hold the belt wherever the user wants it. They may also be what adds rigidity to the material. Something does — in my test sample, the material was stout, and its edges were firm.
To release the Fairwin Ratchet Web Belt, the user pulls a discreet lever on the bottom edge of the buckle. This motion disengages the cam, and the user pulls the belt’s tail free.
That’s all there is to the theory; here’s how it worked in practice.
The Fun Part: Review Findings
As I said, I found the Fairwin Ratchet Web Belt rigid. Right out of the box, it was impressively stiff. I thought this would lead to discomfort, but it was never too noticeable. My size-small belt was 40” long (measured from the end of the buckle to the tip of the tail).
First impressions, other than the material’s rigidity, were that I found the ratcheting action pleasing. As the belt passes through it, the cam clicks along mechanically, like a good socket wrench. It’s not only a cool tactile effect — I also found the cam super effective. It made the belt easy to put on and take off, and micro-adjustments in either direction were equally simple.
The belt also never crept. At first, I thought the release lever might occasionally catch on my pants or get awkwardly forced open as I high-stepped over trail obstacles. But I didn’t experience this under any circumstances.
The Fairwin Ratchet Web Belt wasn’t noticeably heavy, and it looked cool no matter where I wore it. Unfortunately, the buckle scratched easily (as seen in photos), so it won’t belong in my casual rotation. But I hike pretty abrasively — often scrambling over rocks or slithering through the undergrowth. A more casual hiker should be able to wear the belt as a reliable crossover.
My final complaint is that the belt had a weird tendency to turn outward at the top in the back. This happened no matter how snugly I wore it and was problematic for anything I carried on my back, which would invariably catch the belt’s top edge.
Bottom Line: Differentiation, Analysis, Pricing of the Fairwin Ratchet Web Belt
At the end of the day, the Fairwin Ratchet Web Belt is a unique idea with promising crossover potential and moderate execution. It achieves uncommon utility as a hiking belt because of its easy adjustment and its resistance to slip. With its understated style, it also belongs at cocktail hour. However, a couple of minor issues hold it back from an elite performance in either category.
Fairwin lists the ratchet web belt at $26 MSRP. At the time of writing, Amazon listed the belt at $10 to $14. It comes in five sizes and several colors.