Review: UAG Apple Watch bands offer much needed variety in a crowded market

in Apple Watch edited January 2021
Urban Armor Gear's new lineup of Apple Watch bands are a breath of fresh air, adding much-needed differentiation in a crowded market of third-party bands. We take a look at the new leather strap, NATO strap, and Active strap.

UAG releases a trio of new Apple Watch bands. The Leather (left), Active (middle), and NATO (right).
UAG releases a trio of new Apple Watch bands. The Leather (left), Active (middle), and NATO (right).

Each band on their own offers something new we haven't quite seen from others, so let's take a more nuanced look one by one.

UAG Active Strap

The Active Strap is the most rugged and durable not only in UAG's lineup but of any Apple Watch band we've seen.

UAG Active Strap in Midnight Camo
UAG Active Strap in Midnight Camo

It is a chunky band at almost an inch and a quarter wide. We've never quite seen a band that is so wide as this one is here.

The extra width helps on a couple of levels. By being wider there is a larger surface area for the hook and loop fastening, creating a more secure hold. The hook side of the fastener is large so will hold on in the toughest of circumstances and not come free inadvertently. It also is just more of the nylon strap which has far less chance to be cut or torn.

The material is a durable nylon-like material that comes in several different colorways like a grey camo or vivid orange. There is are two patches added to the strap that have UAG's wordmark on them as well.

The Active Strap lugs are quite large
The Active Strap lugs are quite large

This band also has custom stainless steel hardware. That includes both the buckle in the center and the individual lugs. The lugs we find particularly interesting. Looking at them off the Apple Watch it looks odd with the band being nearly as wide as the lugs and the lugs not being tapered to the sides as every other lugs we've seen. On the watch, however, it looks great.

With the Active Strap UAG stepped outside the box we've seen with normal nylon bands and it has a polarizing appearance that most will either love or hate with little room in the middle.

You can grab the UAG Active Strap for $59.95 in black, orange, or midnight camo.


The NATO strap is the most run of the mill of UAG's new lineup. Not to say it isn't an excellent band, it just follows a lot of the norms we see with other NATO-style straps.

UAG NATO strap
UAG NATO strap

It is made out of rugged, durable woven nylon but with a much thinner width than the Active Strap. It also uses more custom stainless steel hardware to finish off the look. The lugs are just different enough from other's we usually see and there are three metal rings on the band for much adjustment and management of the excess strap.

To help differentiate it are some striking colors and a large UAG patch on one end.

If you love the NATO Strap, you can grab it for $49.95.

Leather Strap

Last in UAG's new lineup is the classic Leather Strap but with a more rugged twist.

The leather UAG Apple Watch strap
The leather UAG Apple Watch strap comes in black or brown

Out of the box you can smell the genuine, high-quality leather that is used. It is soft to the touch and really starts to look great over time as it starts to break in. If you haven't caught the theme yet, it uses durable stainless steel custom hardware just like the previous two bands. The buckle has a matte finish with the UAG logo stamped right in the center. The tang used to hold the band is very wide which helps make it more secure and less likely to bend side to side. The lugs used are the same as on the NATO Strap.

This snap helps keep the band in place
This snap helps keep the band in place

What separates this strap apart from others is a snap mechanism to hold the band in place. On the short side of the strap is a normal collar which goes over the protruding band when on the wrist but in a rugged-inspired move, it has a snap under it to prevent that band from ever coming loose.

The band also features simple stitching down the side and a subtle UAG imprint on one side.

UAG's Leather Strap will run you $69.95 in black or brown.

Rating: 4.5 out of

Where to buy

UAG releases a trio of new Apple Watch bands. The Leather (left), Active (middle), and NATO (right)
UAG releases a trio of new Apple Watch bands. The Leather (left), Active (middle), and NATO (right)

The only detraction from the excellent UAG Apple Watch bands is that they carry a slightly higher than normal price tag -- which we believe is warranted by the quality -- and they don't come in as many colors or sizes as others do.

If you want to pick one up, you can grab the UAG Active Strap, the UAG Leather Strap, or the UAG NATO Strap now on Amazon.


  • Reply 1 of 8
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 965member
  • Reply 2 of 8
    bonobobbonobob Posts: 380member
    Variety does not make up for butt ugly.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    thrangthrang Posts: 1,000member
    Can no one other than Hermés make a thin, elegant, SIMPLE and soft leather strap? Apple's were always way too think and stiff...
  • Reply 4 of 8
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,779member
    thrang said:
    Can no one other than Hermés make a thin, elegant, SIMPLE and soft leather strap? Apple's were always way too think and stiff...
    I have the opposite opinion of the Apple leather strap (the normal classic one). I’ve had two, and feel it’s too supple and thin, it stretches and gets malformed too readily.  
  • Reply 5 of 8
    tommikeletommikele Posts: 599member
    How much did UAG pay this advertorial?
  • Reply 6 of 8
    burnsideburnside Posts: 17unconfirmed, member
    Many larger men would like a wider watch strap. Unfortunately, the styling is aimed at the 12-16 year-old demo.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,344member
    I've got the Apple Classic Leather band and like it a lot. Thin and elegant, it looks great my my Stainless Watch.

    Most of the other leather bands are too bulky looking for the clean style of the watch. Something like putting 24" off-road tires on Jaguar Mk 1 or similar. The look of a basic leather belt with no semblance of elegance. If they have stitching, it's usually heavy thread, attempting to pass for 'detail'.

    This leather band is nicer looking than most third-partly leather, but I don't care for the heavy buckle, wide tang and rectangular slots. The stitching is nicely done and looks good. Still, not enough to make me  buy.

  • Reply 8 of 8
    These are ridiculously hideous and overpriced. They should be paying _us_ to wear that huge tacky logo! On both the band -and- the strap no less! Whoever designed these is utterly psychotic. (Also, this reeks of advertorial, which you should clearly disclose if it is.)
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