Probably Overkill But So Nice: Austere Manufacturing 1″ Pin Ladder Lock Review


Probably Overkill But So Nice: Austere Manufacturing 1″ Pin Ladder Lock Review

We love the products Austere Manufacturing is producing in Northwest Washington state. Uriel Eisen’s clever designs have taken a critical look at items you can buy from hardware stores and injected real engineering into the design process, resulting in more robust, longer-lasting products that operate as well as they look.

We’ve been using the Cam straps for a while now on our bike tours and even in our 4×4 buildouts, but today, we’re checking out Uriel’s latest creation: a 1″ Pin Ladder Lock buckle (stainless pins $16.95 / ti pins $19.85). These are meant to replace the plastic ladder buckles found on your bags and packs that can break out in the backcountry.

John took delivery of some early production 1″ Pin Ladder Lock buckles and put them to work on his trusty Realm Crossbody Pack. Let’s check out the process below!

This new buckle is a 1” Pin Ladder Lock that can replace the buckles the common plastic buckles used on shoulder strap and cinch straps on a typical backpack. These buckles are milled from billet aluminum with two titanium or stainless steel pins and can be secured to an existing bag in under 5 minutes with no sewing needed, but you do need some tools…

Reviewing the Procedure

The process for installing these sexy aluminum buckles is relatively easy. First, find a bag with either a broken plastic buckle, or your favorite bag you want to upgrade. Before cutting anything, ensure you’re using a 1″ Pin Ladder Buckle on 1″ webbing. If you have 3/4″ webbing, Austere makes 3/4″ Pin Ladder Buckles.

Sizing the Knipex pliers against the pins. Looks like this wrench will work perfectly! Note: We’re not pressing anything just yet; we’re simply ensuring these will work with the 1″ Pin Ladder Buckle…

Then, use a set of the handy Knipex Plier Wrench to size the correct spread. You could also use a common pipe wrench, but the plier ends will definitely mar the beautiful buckle, so get creative with either wood blocks or some other material that won’t ruin the stunning powder coat finish!

In my case, I wanted to add some bling to my favorite hip bag, the Realm Crossbody Bag. These side compression straps use a plastic ladder buckle, so I snipped the plastic off with some side cutters, being mindful of how the 1″ webbing is routed through the buckle.

Next, install the buckle by sliding the pins outward and feed the webbing through the pins. Make sure your webbing is routed correctly because the next step is final!

Take the Knipex pliers and cover the ends with either electrical tape or use a rag to prevent the buckle from being marred by the pliers. Press firmly, and you’ll feel a “pop” as the buckle pins nest into place.

That’s it. You’re all done! 

In Closing

The Pin Ladder Lock offers an absurdly durable and probably overkill alternative to plastic buckles that can be installed without sewing. No bar tacker is required in the replacement of a plastic buckle! This CNC-machined aluminum buckle is made in the USA, powder coated a number of tones and colors, is lighter than many plastic buckles, and is way stronger. Unlike plastic, it doesn’t get brittle in the cold–when they’re most likely to break–and personally, I think it’s also way easier on the eyes. Plus, the olive drab looks so good!

Buckle Specs:

  • Designed for 1″ webbing
  • 1.26″ Wide x 1.08″ Long
  • 10.2g ti / 11.9g stainless steel pins
  • Machined from billet aluminum, with Ti or SS pins

Tools Needed:

  • Knipex Plier Wrench
  • Side cutters to remove old buckle
  • Electrical tape or other protective covering for the pliers


  • Indestructible
  • Replaces brittle plastic that can break
  • Made in the USA from CNC’d aluminum
  • Available in four stock colors


  • Not crazy expensive, but at $16.95/$19.85, each Ladder Pin Buckle is more expensive than a $.50 plastic ladder buckle


Check out more at Austere Manufacturing!