Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.
Traditionally, bridle leather has been used for saddlery, which requires several things from the leather. It needs to be strong and durable, comfortable for both horse and rider, and aesthetically pleasing. Given these qualities, bridle is also the perfect material for many leather goods — chiefly among them, belts.
Bridle is a vegetable tanned leather, which generally produces stiff, non-stretchy leathers; however, unlike most veg-tans, bridle is treated with oils, tallow, and waxes to create greater flexibility and give the leather a smooth finish on both sides.
No corners are cut in the production of quality bridle, so it doesn’t come cheap, but if you are looking for your forever-belt there is not better material to go with than bridle.
1) Rancourt & Co.: English Bridle Leather Belt
Rancourt & Co. may be known for their footwear, but like many other shoe companies, they make the belts to match. This option is much more sedate than many of the others on this list, but it’s natural finish will soon patina into your hips’ own unique expression. Plus it’s on sale.
Available for $49 at Rancourt.
2) Guarded Goods: Foundation Belt
Guarded Goods is dedicated to producing quality leather goods to their customers’ exact specifications. The sheer amount of options are mind boggling — where most companies only offer a few colors of bridle, GG offers eight. Combine that with their vast size range, buckle types, and closure methods, and you’ll certainly be able to get just the belt you are looking for.
Available for $120 from Guarded Goods.
3) Lockland Leather Works: Leather Belt in Chestnut English Bridle
Not all bridle leather belts have to break the bank. This English Bridle Belt from Lockland Leather Works uses leather sourced from Wickett & Craig, a well respected American Tannery. The “English” in English Bridle is not actually related to where the leather is tanner, but rather where the hides are sourced from. While the quality of this belt may not be up to par with some of the other belts on this list, the truth is it will still last you a very long time with very minimal care.
Available for $60 from Lockland Leather Works.
4) Hollows Leather: Rail Belt
Hollows Leather produces belts using English-tanned bridle leather, Japanese brass hardware, and a lot of hard work. The quality of their products cannot be beaten, which has earned them quite a large following. Their bridle leather, like many others on this list, experiences something called “bloom,” which is the oily white build up that rises to the surface of the leather. Due to the oils, tallow, and waxes that are impregnated into bridle, this bloom is unavoidable — in fact, it is sought after by many.
Available for $110 from Hollows Leather.
5) Filson: Bridle Leather Belt
Filson’s Bridle Leather Belt might not have all the bells and whistles that some of the other belts on this list have, but, to be quite honest, no one really needs all that stuff. What you have here is a sturdy, made in the USA belt–not too unlike the one they use on their renowned briefcases. It has good bones, and will hold up to just about anything you can throw at it. While it may be nice to own one of the more unique belts on this list, do you really need to?
Available for $58 from Need Supply.
Plus One – Equus: The Winchester English Bridle Belt
Equus might not be a brand that you recognize, but their products are top notch. Their bridle leather for their Winchester Belt is sourced from J&E Sedgewick, although they also use bridle from Baker’s. Each belt comes with a quick release brass buckle, which can be ordered in multiple finishes — they’ll even plate it in Palladium if you so wish. You’re also welcome to choose between many colors of bridle, thread material and color, and belt keeper options. These belts are certainly the cleanest on this list, so if you are looking for a slightly dressier belt there is no better option.
Available for £96 from Equus Leather.