Jim: That means a lot coming from you man. Thanks for that.
brady_bogenreif: Regarding belt preference, my absolute favorite belt has been a 13mm Inzer Forever lever belt. Got it in 2011, and been using it every since. It'll make you feel bulletproof. Very stiff and supportive. Only drawback is that I've had to replace the lever twice because I would drape the belt on my GHR and then it would fall prong first and break on something. I've since learned to store it on the floor.
As for sleeves, I've got both the elitefts HD and SHD knee sleeves. The HD are great for everyday wear, but I'd only use the SHD in competition/1 set of very heavy work. There is no way you can wear them all workout, because they will compress the crap out of your legs. Still, you get a slight performance boost out of them without having to use wraps.
As for WHY I use a belt or sleeves: I can lift more weight with them than without them. It's not a safety thing at all. In fact, I'd argue it's actually LESS safe to use these things, because it means lifting even more weight. When I blew out my ACL and lateral meniscus/fractured my patella on a 775lb yoke walk, I was wearing my 13mm belt and SHD knee sleeves. The first thing I asked for was someone to get the sleeves off me, because it was compressing my knee while it was rapidly filling with blood. Had I not been wearing those things, I most likely would've been safer, as I wouldn't have been able to move the weight in the first place.