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From One Pioneer Powerlifting Belt to Another

Garage Gyms Review - Custom Pioneer Power Belt

I recently ordered and received a fancy 10 mm powerlifting belt from Pioneer (aka General Leathercraft). I’ve been wanting to do more with the Garage Gyms branding for a while now and I figured putting the site name across my favorite power belt was a great place to start. Now that I have it in my hands, I figured I’d take some time to show it off while also praising Pioneer for all the great work that they do.

The Garage Gyms branded Pioneer 10 mm Power Belt

I positively love my new belt, but before I get into all that I want to first thank Matt at Pioneer for his help putting it together. With so many possible suede and thread color combinations, and me not having a good eye for style, I had a hell of a time committing to a color scheme. Matt was patient with me and my indecisiveness, and with very little clear direction from me he was still able to put it all together. I love it, so thank you again, Matt.

Black hardware instead of chrome works well with the gray suede

The inner suede is orange to match the Garage Gyms logo on the back of the belt

Now I could have gone with any number of manufacturers for my custom power belt but I’ve been happily using a Pioneer for years now. I was already of the opinion that they made the finest and most comfortable 10 mm belt for the money, so I saw no reason to go elsewhere. Matter of fact, I was so happy with my current Pioneer that the only thing I changed was the coloration and the custom embroidery. It’s the same 10 mm, 4″ wide, single-prong belt that I was already very happy with.

Well technically I also updated the sizing a little bit to get back to using the center hole, but that’s still not really a change.

My original Pioneer Power Belt alongside the new Garage Gyms Power Belt

My original Pioneer has been used daily for years. It has sweat stains, it has conformed to my shape, and I’ve even moved in four holes, but the belt is still 100% functional. No rust, and not a single stitch out of place. Solid belt.

Why am I so fond of Pioneer? Well, many reasons! They use only high quality leathers and components, they have very reasonable prices, nearly too many customization options, and they are the only belt-maker with a seemingly flawless customer service record. Of course I’m not saying all other belt-makers have poor customer service and bad products, but none of them can compete with Pioneer’s quick response time, quick shipping time, eagerness to help with custom orders, and reasonable prices.

In other words, there are other companies that make killer power belts, but generally you’ll either pay more (sometimes a ton more), wait months before you ever see your belt, and in some cases wait weeks before you even get into queue because of how long it takes to get each email response. With many popular belt-makers, you’ll go through all that only to end up with an expensive and beautiful belt that will never break in. Of course you can always order ‘off the shelf’ belts from Rogue or Mark Bell, but these aren’t built nearly as well, and there is nothing in the way of customization options.

Speaking of breaking in belts, that is one of my favorite things about using Pioneer’s belts; they don’t need to be broken in. Yes pricing, customer service and a bunch of customization options is great, but comfort is king, and Pioneer belts are way more comfortable than belts from Inzer or Crain. I actually have numerous Inzer belts, and as you can see in the picture below they are not used much. Yeah they are great belts; built to last forever (and they will); but that kind of durability is not exclusive to the likes of Inzer. It is possible to make a long-lasting belt that’s actually comfortable to wear; even from day one.

Two Inzer Forever Belts that go mostly unused because of my preference for Pioneer

Two Inzer Forever belts and my maroon Pioneer. Pretty clear which belt I prefer to use.

Am I obviously a Pioneer fan? Yes. Do I think they are the only ones making good belts? Of course not! It’s just that when you look at the big picture; the prices, options, service, quality and durability; they just stand out the most. And for the record, Pioneer does not pay me for advertising or referrals. I just really like their belts.


Video Review

Check out this lengthy and thorough review of the top nine power belts on the market. Now I realize this review is being done by the CEO of Pioneer (General Leathercraft) and you might be inclined to think that this is pretty biased, but believe me when I say this review is legit. Honestly, Matt doesn’t give himself enough credit for his contribution to this industry.


Pros and Cons of Pioneer 10 mm Belts

Pros:

  • Extremely competitive prices. Single prong belts start at $75, lever belts start at $95.
  • The highest rated customer service in the power belt industry.
  • Shorter lead times than most competitors, even when custom work is involved.
  • Belts are made from 100% genuine sole leather and garment suede.
  • Six different default sizes are available, but custom sizing is possible simply by asking.
  • Customization options are endless:
    • Choose single or double-prong, or lever.
    • Choose rounded or tapered tongue.
    • Choose both outer and inner suede colors (20 colors).
    • Embroider text on outside of belt in font of your choice.
    • Embroider text on the belt loop in font of your choice.
    • Embroider images or branding on the outside of your belt.
    • Personalize the inside of the belt.
    • Select stitching color, buckle/lever color, and black edging.
  • Belts are made to IPF specifications.
  • Pioneer Power Belts are guaranteed for life.
  • No fillers for achieving thickness means no break in time.

Cons:

  • Customization options like embroidery can quickly make the belt expensive.
  • Pioneer belts are not IPF approved.
  • Holiday queue times are long, but duh.

Summary

I am a huge fan of Pioneer’s belts, and if you follow any of the big YouTube and Instagram athletes you’ll see that I’m not alone. Pioneer has been around for nearly four decades now. They have the experience, and they have a higher standard for customer relations than the other big belt manufacturers. Sure they could probably raise prices a little, respond to email slower, and make no effort to ship in a timely matter while still selling a ton of belts, but they don’t, and that’s commendable.

Honestly if it weren’t for the branding on my new Pioneer, I’d never have stopped using my original Pioneer. Considering how often I use the thing, how much I sweat on it, and how many holes I’ve shifted over the years the belt looks fantastic. It’s supportive, and it fits like a glove.

So whether you just care about function and comfort, or if you want catchy colors and your ‘words of wisdom’ embroidered on the back of your belt, I strongly suggest you put Pioneer on your short list. You won’t regret it. Don’t take my word for it though, ask around!


Question

I am giving serious thought to offering a version of the Pioneer belt that I just picked up as a product to sell on this site; to help fund reviews and all. I’d love to hear what you all think of that; especially you consistent readers and subscribers. Yes, an actual Pioneer.


 

Mine😍 #pioneerpowerlifting #americanmanufacturing #pioneerbelts

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Tony October 18, 2017, 1:35 pm

    Bad. Ass.

    • jburgeson October 18, 2017, 7:58 pm

      Thanks Tony. I love it.

  • Joey October 18, 2017, 2:02 pm

    That belt is SWEET! Great color combo and logo. They do phenomenal work and have a pretty quick turn-around. I just purchased a lever 10mm this month and it took about 2 weeks from order to delivery. I’m very impressed.

    • jburgeson October 18, 2017, 8:00 pm

      Thanks Joey! I provided my logo in multiple colors and the three or four suede colors I was leaning towards. Pioneer made the final judgment call. I was scared, but they did great!

  • Dunkman October 19, 2017, 11:22 am

    What a great looking belt. Almost wish I didn’t have my Rogue belt already. This is definitely something I would be in the market for.

    Funny you mentioned selling one on this site… when I saw the first pic I thought “He should sell that here.” I say go for it.

    • jburgeson October 19, 2017, 11:29 am

      Awesome, thanks Dunkman

      • Tony October 19, 2017, 11:54 am

        Yeah I already have a rogue belt also. It’s a sweet belt, but now I also wish I held out since I’d love to support this site. Have you figured out a ballpark on pricing yet or is it based on demand?

        • jburgeson October 19, 2017, 12:20 pm

          I actually am not sure yet. My goal would be to make it cost as close to the same as what it would cost direct from Pioneer to have all the same customizations done. I’d like it to be slightly less if possible, but I don’t know all the particulars regarding my cost. I definitely won’t inflate the cost – it’s already kind of expensive to do that much embroidery and add all the black edging and hardware.

          I do have a test run of t-shirts going to print this week (finally). Maybe some hats too. I don’t ever want to offer junk so I’m sticking with the good brands; Next Level blend shirts, Otto/Flex Fit hats; stuff like that. Baby steps though – it gets kinda expensive quick, and for all I know I’ll never sell a single shirt haha

          • Shawn October 22, 2017, 11:23 am

            Shirts? You’re going to have shirts for sale soon? I can’t wait. I’ve built my garage gym with a ton of help from you, and I’ll be glad to buy a shirt to help support the site.

            • jburgeson October 23, 2017, 11:20 am

              Yes hopefully by the end of the week. Working on a store section as we speak. It will look so sad and barren with one product lol. baby steps!

  • M October 19, 2017, 5:45 pm

    I normally avoid logowear but like the color choice, which is the same as my gym decor, pretty much (gold-yellow and black range). If a third color is needed, deep red goes well with those. It’s basically the Buddhist temple colors brought to regular life.

    • jburgeson October 19, 2017, 5:51 pm

      I’ve actually considered that. The artwork I would use cleverly retains the sites logo while making the belt look like a representation of one’s own garage gym… if that makes any sense.

      • M October 20, 2017, 4:52 am

        Makes sense to me — I suggested that before, as you may recall. You may cleverly get me to wear a logo this way :)

        Maybe not on a leather belt, though — I’m going with Spud nylon ones for now.

  • WFD426 October 20, 2017, 8:46 pm

    I already have 2 Pioneer belts (4” for squats and presses, 2.5” for deadlifts) and agree they are fantastic but I don’t think I can justify a third. But I would be interested in supporting the site via a T-shirt purchase.

  • Shawn October 22, 2017, 11:27 am

    I’ve already got a nice Pioneer belt, and a belt from EliteFTS. The only belt I use is the Pioneer. It would be hard for me to justify another Pioneer, unless you offered a lever option.

  • Lukacs February 2, 2018, 10:53 pm

    Thanks for the article and great website! I just emailed Matt at General Leathercraft for his opinion on a belt. I recently learned that he made the APT wrist wraps that I purchased many years ago. I’m in the market for a new belt and ran across this article. What a coincidence?

    • jburgeson February 2, 2018, 11:21 pm

      Thanks Lukas. Yeah Pioneer rocks, and Matt’s a great guy. Totally the best customer service in the belt world.

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