If you’ve been lifting for any length of time, you undoubtedly know about the Inzer Forever Power Belt and the Pioneer Double Suede Power Belt. You may also know that there is no shortage of praise and positive reviews for both of these belts – so much so that telling you that these belts are awesome wouldn’t exactly be breaking news. So setting that aside, the question then becomes how does one choose between two popular and seemingly identical belts?
Well I have both the 10 mm Inzer Forever and the Pioneer Double Suede. I also have both the lever and the buckle versions of each of these. Rather than preach about how fantastic each belt is in its own right, I’m going to compare the two side-by-side. I’ll share what I think the pros and cons of each belt are, and let you decide which (if either) of these belts would work for your needs.
I’ll tell you right now that even though both of these belts have the same basic design and application, and they look the same at a glance, they are very different when it comes to the finer points. There are situations where one belt is clearly a better option than the other and some situations where it’s a wash and just comes down to price.
Update: prices are current as of January 15 2018.
Quick Specs Rundown
The table below summarizes and compares the more important specifications of the Inzer Forever and the Pioneer Double Suede. I’ll go into more detail below when necessary.
|Inzer Forever Belt
|10 mm buckle ¹
|10 mm lever
|11 mm x 10 cm
|10 mm x 10 cm
|turnaround time *
|1″ on center
|1″ on center
|size range (waist)
|made in USA
¹ – Your choice of single or double prong from both brands.
² – Customizable meaning embroidered names & logos, stitch color, etc.
* – The holidays tend to increase delay time among all belt manufacturers, of course.
I like both of these belts equally; just for different reasons. The Inzer Forever is perhaps the most durable leather belt on the market – and it’s also IPF-approved. The Pioneer is easier to break in, and is far, far more comfortable. Pioneer’s buckle belt also have a slightly lower starting price. They both have their place in the market.
Crafting & Hardware (Durability)
When it comes to which belt is assembled to a higher standard, I used to think Inzer had an upper hand because their belts are so thick, and they use massive rivets and more rows of stitching than Pioneer does. I’ve come to learn that the extra thickness of Inzer belts is from the use of a hard filler (the reason Inzers are so hard to break in), and the jumbo rivets and extra stitching don’t really make for a a better belt. That is to say, it’s just overkill.
A Pioneer belt is actually 10 mm in thickness – two layers of suede and the inner hide. The Inzer belts have an extra mm-plus of material – that filler I mentioned. If belts were actually prone to tearing or something maybe the stiff bonus filler would be fine, but they’re not, and that filler just keeps the belt super rigid; lacking pliability.
So sure the extra large NASA rivets are a nice touch, and extra stitching won’t hurt, right? Correct, but if I wanted a stiff, thick power belt I’d buy a 13 mm belt. I didn’t want a 13 mm belt, I wanted a 10 mm belt that can be broken in. A Pioneer is pliable, and the smaller (and 50% increase in quantity of) normal rivets are never coming out of that leather, nor will that suede ever separate from the inner hide simply because it doesn’t have 4 rows of stitching.
So in terms of durability I seriously don’t expect either the Inzer or the Pioneer to ever come apart. However, if you were somehow able to equally accelerate decades of use and abuse while intentionally trying to pull the belt apart, perhaps the Inzer would hold better from the giant rivets. Be that as it may, both belts have lifetime warranties and I’m confident that you aren’t going to go out of your way to destroy your expensive belt.
The hardware on the lever belts is the same on both the Pioneer and the Inzer Forever – literally the same. Be that as it may, the Inzer Forever Lever Belt is not only less expensive than the Pioneer, but it has the extra stitching and its IPF-approved. Because of all this, the Inzer is going to be the go-to for the majority of people when it comes to a lever belt.
The exceptions to this would be if you want to customize the belt with embroidery, you want the belt crafted specifically to your current waist size, if you want the belt to actually be 10 mm rather than 11 mm or more, or you want a belt that will actually break in. All of these are perfectly valid reasons to spend an additional $5 to $10.
Customization and Sizing
As far as belt sizes go, Inzer does offer bigger belts than Pioneer (62″ maximum waist size versus 52″). However, Pioneer offers smaller sizes than Inzer (22″ versus 25″.) The bigger boys are probably going to need an Inzer Forever Belt, while young lifters and smaller girls may need a Pioneer.
Pioneer does have an advantage in the sizing department, and that is the fact that General Leathercraft will craft your belt to your exact specifications simply by asking. What does that mean?
Let’s say that your a size 34″ waist. That particular size falls at the high end of small and the low end of medium; neither of which is ideal. Well you can just give your 34″ dimension when you order and ask that the belt be made so that the 34″ hole falls in the middle. This gives you the most freedom with the belt to gain or lose weight (shall we say; bulk and cut.) With Inzer you just have to make due with the closest size.
In terms of customization, Inzer has none beyond color and size. With Pioneer’s belts you can add embroidery and logos, change the stitching colors, have a different color suede on the inside and outside of the belt, choose different hardware colors for buckles and levers, add edging, and on and on. All of these “upgrades” cost more money, of course, but you can easily have the most unique belt on the block with a Pioneer Double-Suede (examples below – see mine in there?)
With Inzer you can have a belt in about a week if you order black in normal sizes (S-2XL). If you order any color other than black or any extreme sizes (XS & 3XL+), your shipping time shoots up to about a month or more. The Forever is one of the best belts in the world so the wait is the wait. The only other drawback to the long turnaround time is the mysteriousness of it. You will not be notified when it will ship, or even when it does ship. It will just show up one day.
Pioneer belts are on a 1-2 week time table, and this is for any color or size belt. Obviously this is the way to go if you need a belt in a hurry (relatively.) I believe that the only thing that delays an order significantly is embroidery. Changing stitching or hardware colors should not slow your order down.
To give a little perspective though, some custom power belt companies take a few months to ship your belt, so even Inzer seems pretty quick by comparison. Honestly I don’t know what in the world takes anyone 2 or 3 months to make one belt, but what do I know about making belts!
Both belts function identically, but the fact is that Inzer Belts are certified for use by the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation), and Pioneer is not. If you’re going to compete, you need an Inzer; or some other belt off the IPF List of Approved Equipment.
Comfort is secondary to function obviously but it still matters, and the Double Suede is the more comfortable belt of the two. It’s more pliable than the Inzer Forever, and that cuts that break-in time down considerably. The Double Suede just feels great right out of the box.
My Inzer has some miles on it, so it’s not nearly as stiff and rigid as it was new, but it’s still less comfortable overall. I don’t find that all that extra rigidity in the Inzer makes it any more effective, not to mention that the stiffness can lead to some very uncomfortable pinches in the hole; pinches I don’t get in the Pioneer. I could further break-in the Inzer, but why? With the Pioneer sitting there I tend to just grab that all the time.
Keep in mind though that fit, feel, and comfort is all subjective. How a belt feels on me at 6’4″ and 230-pounds may have absolutely no similarities to how a belt fits and feels on you and your frame. Also keep in mind that the Inzer Forever is one of the best-selling belts in the world, and if they couldn’t be broken in and made to conform to our different bodies, they wouldn’t be this popular.
Buckle vs Lever
Personally I prefer a single-prong buckle over a lever, and I think most people do as well. I know levers are all the rage on YouTube but I prefer to take my belt off in-between my sets. Lever belts are not meant to come on and off, only to be loosened. Levers are just not for me – but your preference is your preference.
In terms of Inzer vs Pioneer, I see no significant difference between brands. The levers are identical in every way, and both companies use what might as well be identical buckles. I will point out that both companies use seamless rollers though; just so you know.
I do have one double-prong belt, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much of a pain in the ass it is to use. Removing that thing can be an exercise in patience – especially when it’s new and super firm. You should probably avoid double prongs.
Pioneer Double Suede Belt Pros
- Practically no break-in time. Comfortable, pliable, yet supportive right out of the box.
- High-quality craftsmanship – Pioneer belts are sourced and handmade in the USA.
- Inner hide is single-piece (not layered), 100% genuine vegetable-tanned sole leather.
- Suede is high quality garment grade, and the colors really look sharp.
- Super fast turn-around time on non-embroidered belts.
- More customization options than just about any other belt on the market.
- Customer service is amazing, and simply by asking when ordering you can have your belt custom-sized to your exact waist measurement.
Inzer Forever Belt Pros
- Prong belts have over-sized rivets that simply cannot fail, and all 10 mm Forever Belts have four rows of stitching instead of the standard two.
- More color options than most belt manufacturers, including a couple multi-colors.
- Buckle prongs do not waver back and forth. They only slide one direction; in and out of the hole.
- Sizes go all the way up to 62″ so that even the biggest of the big can wear a Forever, and prices for these massive belts are no higher than the smaller belts.
- Lever belts are actually cheaper with Inzer than Pioneer.
- Inzer Forever Belts are made in the USA using US-sourced materials.
- Inzer Advanced Designs is on the International Powerlifting Federation list of approved equipment providers, which of course means they are competition legal.
If all you want is a functional, reliable power belt, and a slightly better price matters more to you than bells and whistles, I think you need a Pioneer Double Suede single-prong belt. It’ll set you back $75 and you’ll have it at your door in no time. It does the job exceptionally well and it feels amazing right out of the box – almost no break-in needed.
If you prefer a lever over a pronged belt, I could argue for either. Inzer is less expensive but Pioneer will be more comfortable sooner (and will still never fail.) If you want any kind of customization besides suede color, Pioneer is your only option of the two. If you need an IPF certified belt, you have no choice but to go with the Inzer.
If I’ve overlooked anything or you have a question, use the comments. If you’re feeling kind, please share this article.