Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve only worn two straps: NATO-style and single pass nylon. They’ve come with me to the beach, camping, hiking, writing at my desk, and everything in between. Both are Everest straps, and yes, Everest is a company I work for. That said, my thoughts and opinions are formed by my own experiences with these straps, one of which saved my watch from falling in a campground toilet. More on that later.
When it comes to watch strap materials, nylon is often overlooked. People tend to opt for leather, rubber, or metal. While those materials are all excellent in their own right, nylon is one of the best everyday strap materials. It’s strong, light, waterproof, comfortable, and inexpensive compared to its counterparts. There's something to be said for a strap that can be thrown in with a load of laundry. Nylon also offers a lot of variety, coming in multiple styles and colors. Today we’re looking at two of those styles, both offered by Everest: NATO-style and single pass.
Everest NATO-Style Nylon Strap
What’s commonly referred to as a “NATO strap” – a woven nylon strap with an under keeper – was originally created in 1973 for the British Ministry of Defense. Being a military-issued material within the NATO alliance, the strap had a NATO stock number (NSN): the source of its nickname. You’ll also hear these straps referred to as “G-10s”; soldiers were required to fill out a “G1098” form to obtain the strap. They go by a lot of different names, partially due to the 2010 trademark of the term “NATO” (as it relates to watch straps).
Whatever you call them, these straps are defined by their woven nylon construction, metal hardware, and most importantly, an extra piece of nylon on the underside (sometimes referred to as an under keeper). In theory, the under keeper (see curved piece above) prevents your watch from sliding off the strap. In reality, this is only important if your strap is too narrow for your watch’s lugs, or similarly if the metal has worn down a bit, as is the case with many vintage watches. The biggest utilitarian appeal for NATO-style straps (and single-pass straps, for that matter) is their pass-through design. Because the strap is one long piece, hugging the watch under both spring bars, your watch is safely secured in the event that a spring bar breaks. You might be asking yourself – does that ever happen? Until a few days ago, I wondered the same thing.
Inside the bathroom of a particular PNW campground, I found myself lifting a toilet seat (bummer, I know). To my surprise, the seat’s hinges were completely loose. The heavy seat swiveled to the side, escaping my hand and falling with full force on my watch. Expecting a broken crystal, I noticed that my spring bar had the real issue: it had completely popped out. Thanks to the nylon strap’s one piece design, my watch was still secured to my wrist with just one spring bar.
While any NATO-style strap would have saved my watch from its smelly demise, Everest NATO-style straps are unique. They're constructed of seatbelt nylon: a tightly-knit, soft to the touch, slightly shiny woven nylon that's as comfortable as it is strong. Everest NATO-style straps also have stitching about two inches down from the buckle, preventing your watch from sliding up too far. This means that the buckle and extra folded material will sit on the bottom of your wrist, much like a traditional two piece strap (but unlike most NATOs). Available in seven colors and two sizes (20mm and 22mm), you're sure to find the right fit for your watch.
Everest Single Pass Nylon Strap
Because an under keeper is rarely needed, many people simply cut them off and melt the frayed end: a method made popular by Hodinkee’s James Stacey. This mod makes for a slimmer profile on the wrist, removing a layer of nylon and third metal keeper. If you like this style, but don’t want to take scissors and a lighter to your new strap, you should take a look at single pass nylon straps. Luckily, Everest offers single pass nylon straps in seven colorways. Truth be told, I found myself wearing this more than the NATO-style.
Single pass nylon straps offer most of the benefits of the NATO-style without the bulk. They’re still waterproof, comfortable, lightweight, and strong. However, since there’s no under keeper, single pass straps have a much lower profile. There's no stitching near the top of the buckle as there is with the NATO-style straps. Ironically, this makes for a more traditional NATO-style experience: a double loop near the top of your watch (pictured below).
Like their NATO-style siblings, Everest single pass straps are equipped with 316L stainless steel hardware. They feature brushed finishing on the top and bottom surfaces, with polishing on the chamfers and sides. This attention to detail is apparent all throughout the strap.
NATO-Style or Single Pass?
Everest single pass nylon straps come in seven colors and two sizes (20mm and 22mm), just like the NATO-style offerings. So which should you choose? Of course, it's all about personal preference. If you're at all concerned about the bulk of a NATO-style strap, I recommend going for the single pass. It's a bit slimmer in every dimension, and honestly, you'll forget it's on your wrist. Still, the NATO-style strap is a comfortable option. Both are strong and breathable. Both can be melted if the weave starts to fray. Both are perfect for everyday wear. At the end of the day, these were intended for military use: they're designed to be worn in any and every situation. Over the years, they've been adapted for civilian wear. They're more comfortable, adjustable, and colorful than ever. We're truly in the golden age of NATO-style straps. Oh – and they might save your watch from falling into a toilet.