A wrench here, a screwdriver there, few things are more likely to slow down your big DIY project than constantly having to search around for all the different tools you need to get the job done. It’s for this reason that for anyone serious about their home improvement projects, a good quality tool belt is an essential, yet often-overlooked investment.
Of course, that leaves just one problem:
How do you decide which one is the best tool belt currently on the market for you?
That’s where we come in.
Today, we’ll take an in-depth look at a broad cross-section of quality belts. Whether you need to keep drill bits and assorted odds-and-ends close by or you need easy access to your favorite set of screwdrivers while working; we’ll help you determine the best model for the kind of work you do by weighing up the pros and cons of some of the best brands currently available.
For those new to DIY and home improvements, we’ll also answer your key questions about choosing the best belt for your project.
Not sure what to look for when buying a tool belt? Are you confused about all the different types that are available?
We’ll provide all the information you need and then some, but first, let’s look at why you may even need a tool belt in the first place.
Why Use a Tool Belt?
For those unfamiliar, a tool belt is exactly what it sounds like. A belt that you wear on the outside of your work gear which serves as a hold-all for anything and everything from screws and screwdrivers to tape measures, hammers, spirit levels and more.
At first glance, this may not seem like the most necessary investment in the world. After all, you already have your trusty toolbox to keep everything together, so why not just use that?
The truth is that using a tool belt when working on a project adds an extra level of convenience that helps you work more efficiently and keep your workspace relatively clutter-free at the same time.
Let’s say you have one toolbox for your larger items such as hammers and spirit levels, you then keep your spirit levels in their own special case, while other items are in a separate toolbox altogether.
This might work well for day-to-day storage, but when it comes down to actually getting the work done, it adds a whole new level of complications.
For one thing, it means keeping three separate boxes close by and constantly having to fish around in different ones to find the tool that you need, taking up valuable time and space. That’s not to mention the extra hassle involved if you’re working at the top of a ladder or in a space where there’s simply not a lot of room.
Every time you need a new tool, you have to climb down, pick it up, and climb back up again.
Talk about pain.
Investing in a good quality tool belt eliminates all of this hassle.
Before each job, you simply select the tools you need to use, store them in your belt, and get to work. That way, getting the right tool is no more difficult than reaching down to your waist and picking it out of your belt.
What Types of Tool Belt Are There?
When most people think of a tool belt, their first thoughts are likely to be of the standard belt which wraps around the waist and contains multiple pouches for different items.
While these are pretty common, they’re far from the only option out there, and may not necessarily be the best fit for your project.
Other options you might want to consider include:
Suspender Tool Belts
These are the ideal solution if you’ll be carrying a lot of heavier tools with you as you work. Rather than simply wrapping around the waist, these belts come with two harness-like straps which fit over the shoulders, providing additional support to the standard waist belt.
This prevents you from bearing the weight of those heavy tools on your lower-back, saving you from feeling sore at the end of a long day’s work, and potentially even saving you from back-related injuries.
Holster Tool Belts
Looking not too dissimilar to a gun holster, These rest on your hip and typically contain room for just a handful of tools.
On the plus side, this does provide a greater level of flexibility as you can bend over and move around without your tools digging into your stomach or otherwise hampering your mobility.
On the downside, holster belts usually don’t have as much space as other types of belt, making them the ideal option if you only have one or two tools you need to take with you.
Work Aprons with Built-in Tool Belts
A great option for those working on heavy-duty projects with greater risk of damage to their clothing -or even to themselves- aprons with built-in tool belts work provides all the protection of quality safety gear along with the added convenience of a tool belt.
Usually made of rubber or canvas materials, work aprons are generally lightweight and comfortable while offering plenty of storage space for a wide variety of tools.
Just like the suspender models, over-shoulder straps provide added support, so it’s easier to carry heavier tools around with you.
What to Look for in a Tool Belt
Having looked at the different types available, how do you decide which is the best tool belt for you?
On the whole, there are several key features you need to look out for:
Storage space and capacity
Though most tool belts are ideal for a variety of environments and projects, it’s helpful if you first consider what kind of work you’re most likely to be doing when wearing your tool belt as this will largely determine the amount of space you need.
If your typical work involves little more than a few small hand tools, then you’ll generally need less space than you would if you were carrying drills and other heavy items around with you.
From nylon and cotton to polyester and multi-blend fabric, it’s possible to buy tool belts made from all manner of different materials. There are even organic hemp cotton canvas options out there for the more eco-friendly workman. On the face of it, all of these different materials have their advantages and disadvantages.
A cotton toolbelt, for example, will be more comfortable wear and offer greater flexibility, perfect if you’re moving around a lot while working on your project. However, it also lacks the strength and durability that you may need for carrying heavier items and can easily be damaged.
Alternatively, nylon belts are well-regarded for their lightweight design, making them a popular choice for older users or those struggling with back pain. They also have the added bonus that nylon is typically a strong material, making them a good choice for heavy-duty work.
Meanwhile, canvas remains a popular option. It’s a seriously heavy-duty material, guaranteeing the peace of mind that when you buy one, it’s going to last you a long time.
OK, so canvas belts may not be the most aesthetically pleasing designs out there, but what they lack in style they more than makeup for in strength and durability.
What’s more, the canvas is such a readily available material that the cost of canvas tool belts is typically lower than those made of other materials.
As an alternative to canvas, you might want to consider a leather option, but only if it’s good quality leather. The typical two-ply designs tend to come apart easily, which isn’t what you want if you’ve got to carry a lot of tools around with you. A thick, flexible material like saddle leather, however, may just do the trick.
It probably goes without saying, but the last thing you need is all of your tools and loose odds and ends flying all over the place when you’re moving around, especially if you’re climbing ladders or positioning yourself into awkward spaces.
As such, you’ll find it helpful to look for a tool belt that comes with a zipper so that you can keep everything safe and secure.
Naturally, a one-size-fits-all belt is going to serve you much better than one which comes in a pre-fixed size.
Not only does an adjustable belt strap save you plenty of time in trying to find the right size belt in the first place, but it also affords you greater flexibility to ensure that your belt always fits comfortably over the course of several years.
Even if you opt for one of the more durable materials like canvas or leather, reinforced pockets are always a smart investment.
In the short term, they will allow you to carry heavier items around with you without the risk of them causing a tear or damage. In the long-run, they’ll ensure that all that extra weight won’t have a detrimental impact on the lifespan of your belt.
Other Considerations When Choosing the Best Tool Belt For You
Above, you’ll find some of the key components of a high-quality tool belt, yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that all good belts are built alike. Nor is it that belt that your buddy swears is perfect for him necessarily going to be perfect for you too.
Think about it:
If you spend most of your time working on small-scale DIY projects which really only require a few small tools, then that huge, heavy tool belt with the million reinforced pockets is going to be too much for you and may even slow you down.
So, when it comes to finding a belt that’s truly the right fit for you, there are several questions you may want to ask yourself.
What kind of projects will I be working on the most?
If you’re an electrician, carpenter, or plumber, then you’ll find that some tool belts come tailor-made for your profession, with just the right capacity and storage options for the kind of tools you’ll need the most.
If, on the other hand, you’re something of a jack-of-all-trades, then a multi-purpose belt may be more suitable. In that case, you’ll want to think about the kind of tools you’re most likely to carry around with you as this will affect the capacity you’ll need.
How much moving around will I be doing?
Plumbers and electricians, in particular, may find themselves crammed into all kinds of weird and wonderful positions, requiring a good level of flexibility. If this sounds like you, then you may find that a large, heavy belt hinders that flexibility and makes it more difficult to move around.
As such, you may want to consider opting for a lightweight option made from nylon or other flexible material, rather than a heavy, rigid version made from canvas.
How much am I willing to spend?
Though it’s true that the more you have to spend on a tool belt, the better quality belt you can afford, keep in mind that with a bit of research you can still get your hands on a great belt that meets all of your needs without spending a fortune.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what we consider to be the top ten tool belts currently on the market, weighing up the pros and cons of each one so that you can make the best decision on which belt is right for you.
Top Ten Tool Belts 2019 – An Overview
Don’t have time to dive into our comprehensive tool belt reviews right now?
Don’t worry, here’s our brief overview of this year’s top products.
Fits size 29″-46″
Fits sizes 32-48″
Fits sizes 26″ – 49″
Fits size 32” to 41”
Fits size 31″ to 40″
#1 Dewalt DG5617 20-Pocket Pro Framer’s Combo Apron Tool Belt
Whether it’s table saws, demolition hammers or workwear, Dewalt has earned a reputation as purveyors of premium quality products, so it’s no surprise to find their Pro Framer’s Combo Apron Tool Belt at the top of our list.
As the name suggests, this one comes with an impressive 20 pockets, with nine large gusset-style pockets for storing tools and other larger items, as well as eleven smaller pockets that are perfect for holding screws, pencils, nail sets, and other loose pieces.
The small pocket at the front comes with a zipper so that you can keep valuables safe and avoid losing those small little bits that often have a tendency to go missing.
What we really like about this one is the yoke-style suspenders that go over your shoulders and can be easily adjusted to fit just right. This gives you the additional support you need to prevent injuries and general back pain when working on a longer job or carrying heavier items.
Dewalt DG5617 specifications
Here’s what you need to know about the 20-pocket Pro Framer’s Combo Apron tool belt:
- Weight: 2.75 lbs
- Size: Fits sizes 29″-46″
- Pockets: 20
- Material: Nylon
Pros of the Dewalt DG5617
- Yoke-style suspenders for extra support
- 5″ Padded Belt for added comfort and stability
- Easy to adjust
- Cell phone storage pocket.
Cons of the Dewalt DG5617
- Higher cost than other belts
2: ToughBuilt – Handyman Tool Belt Set
We’ll be honest; it was a very close call between the ToughBuilt Handyman Tool Belt and our number one ranked Dewalt belt.
Certainly, this unique, three-piece kit has plenty going for it to make it a viable contender for the top spot. Unlike most belts where the pockets are fixed in place, this one comes with separate parts that you can mix and match to create the perfect set-up for any job.
At its core, you have a solid belt with additional padding for comfort and lumbar support. For seriously heavy-duty jobs, the belt also comes complete with four hooks so that you can attach a harness, alleviating some of the weight of your bigger tools.
You then have the option to attach two separate large pouches with a combined total of ten pockets between them. Altogether, you’ll find a purpose-built knife pocket, hammer loop, screwdriver loops and even dedicated pockets for a notebook and cell phone. There’s also a handy kickstand so that you can take the pouches off and stand them up next to you in your workspace.
Add in the fact that this is one of the lowest-priced belts on the market, and it’s no wonder ToughBuilt has been earning rave reviews for this innovative piece of kit. Yet not everyone is a fan.
If there’s one thing that keeps this tool belt from ranking any higher in our list, it’s that we’ve heard of several people complaining that the nylon material starts to wear after repeated heavy use and the clips that are used to attach a harness to the belt tend to come away a little too easily for our liking.
All told, it’s fair to say that this one is hard to beat for light use, but if you’re planning a lot of repeated heavy work, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
ToughBuilt – Handyman Tool Belt Set Specifications
- Weight: 3.97 lbs
- Size: Fits sizes 32-48″
- Pockets: 10
- Material: Nylon
Pros of ToughBuilt – Handyman Tool Belt Set
- Detachable pockets so you can build your own ideal tool belt
- ToughBuilt – Handyman Tool Belt Set
- Extreme-duty hammer loops
- Option to attach a harness for added safety
Cons of ToughBuilt – Handyman Tool Belt Set
- Nylon materials wear easily
- Harness clips are reported to break easily with repeated use.
3: Gatorback B145 Carpenters Triple Combo Belt
Though it may be marketed as a carpenter’s tool belt, the Gatorback B145 is both versatile and durable enough to serve a variety of functions.
Though it only has seven individual pockets, it’s worth pointing out that the main pocket is eight inches deep for ample storage while the additional pockets come with organizers to help you maximize the number of items you can carry.
On top of this, you’ll find a designated drill slot which we’ve found fits most power drills, a 602-Hammer Holster, measuring tape holder and pocket for your speed square. Meanwhile, the box design means that the pouches remain open and accessible without tools poking holes through the bottom. Yet what marks this as one of the best tool belts out there is Gatorback’s commitment to strength and comfort.
Expertly crafted from 1250 nylon with plastic-lined interiors and reinforced stress points. This is one tool belt that is seriously built to last. Gatorback is so confident of the belt’s almost indestructible design. So much so that they offer a free one-year warranty with each one.
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the patented airflow technology, an important factor for what is one of the heaviest belts on our list. The airflow helps to reduce sweating and to chaff, making this a more comfortable belt to wear despite its 5lb, pre-tool weight.
Gatorback B145 Carpenters Triple Combo Belt Specifications
- Weight: 5 lbs
- Size: Fits sizes 26″ – 49″
- Pockets: 7
- Material: Duratek Nylon
- Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5
Pros of Gatorback B145 Carpenters Triple Combo Belt
- An excellent lower back support
- Strong and durable
- Airflow technology
Cons of Gatorback B145 Carpenters Triple Combo Belt
- Rough material makes it uncomfortable to wear
- Heavier than other belts
4: Occidental Leather 9855 Adjust-to-Fit Fat
Boasting an impressive 24 different pockets and tool holders, the Occidental Leather 9855 is truly an impressive piece of kit.
At ten inches deep, the main bags come with a generous amount of space for your larger items. Furthermore, its purpose-designed hooks are built-in for holding hammers, wrenches, and other heavy-duty tools. Yet it isn’t just the storage capacity that makes us such big fans of this one.
It’s built from durable yet highly pliable leather, with canvas bags reinforced with extra leather. This is seriously one of the most solid and well-designed tool belts we’ve come across. In fact, it’s so strong that you may never need to buy another tool belt again once you own this. That’s perhaps just as well given how expensive it is.
It’s retailing in most places for just under $300. This makes the Occidental Leather 9855 may be a better option for the working professional more so than the amateur enthusiast. The high price tag is one of the main reasons that we didn’t rank this one higher. But it’s not the only one.
At over 5 lbs, this is also one of the heaviest tool belts we’ve looked at, and its large size does mean that you lose out on some of the added flexibility you get with lighter belts.
Still, Occidental Leather 9855 do at least try to make up for this with a cool, ergonomic design and hand-specific tool holders for maximum working rhythm and efficiency.
Occidental Leather 9855 Adjust-to-Fit Fat Specifications
- Weight: 5.2 lbs
- Size: Fits sizes 32” to 41”
- Pockets: 24
- Material: Leather/canvas
- Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Pros of Occidental Leather 9855 Adjust-to-Fit Fat
- Leather and reinforced canvas makes this one of the most durable tool belts available
- Lots of storage space and tool hooks
- Ergonomic design provides easy access to tools
Cons of Occidental Leather 9855 Adjust-to-Fit Fat
- Very expensive
- Its heavyweight reduces flexibility
5: TradeGear Electrician’s Belt
Last but by no means least, we come to TradeGear’s Signature Electricians Belt. It comes with suspenders as an optional extra for additional support and comfort.
While we’ve tried to feature as many multi-purpose options on our list of the best tool belts of 2019, we were so impressed with the way TradeGear really seem to understand the challenges electricians face on the job that we couldn’t resist giving them a mention.
Along with the aforementioned optional suspenders, a key feature of this heavy-duty electricians tool belt is the padded lower lumbar support which makes moving around a breeze, even when you’re carrying heavy tools with you.
As with other belts, this one is made from hard-wearing DuraTek nylon with Bar-Tak stitching and metal rivets reinforcing the major stress points. Altogether, this makes this one of those premium quality belts that should last you a lifetime.
Durability isn’t the only area where TradeGear shine. Their electrician’s tool belt comes with two deep pouches and no less than 27 different pockets perfect for holding everything from wrenches and wire strippers to hammers, screwdrivers, pencils, electrical tape and more. This means there’s no electrical job that this belt isn’t perfectly suited for.
TradeGear Electrician’s Belt Specifications
- Weight: 4.35 lbs
- Size: Fits sizes 31″ to 40″
- Pockets: 27
- Material: DuraTek Nylon
- Amazon rating: 4.2 out of five stars
Pros of TradeGear Electrician’s Belt
- Heavy-duty material
- Extra padding for lower lumbar support
- 27 total pouches
Cons of TradeGear Electrician’s Belt
- Additional shoulder straps can rub and be uncomfortable
- Velcro holding the bags in place wears down with heavy use.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tool Belts
Finally, let’s take a look at some of the more common questions we get asked about tool belts.
Which are the most popular tool belt brands?
In our guide above, we’ve listed some of the more well-regarded brands such as DEWALT, ToughBuilt, Gatorback and Occidental Leather.
However, other brands, such as Dickies, CLC, and Carhartt are also well worth a look.
Why do some tool belts come with suspenders?
Tool belts with suspenders are a good idea for anyone who needs to carry a lot of heavy equipment around. The suspenders attached to the belt via clips and can be worn over the shoulders.
This bears some of the weight of the belt and takes much of the pressure off the lower back. It reduces the risk of injury and prevents from awful back pain, which is common after a hard day.
How should I take care of my tool belt?
That depends on the type of material your belt is made from.
Leather belts should be treated with nothing more than a damp microfiber rag. While nylon belts are better cared for with a bristle brush. You can also buy products such as Leather Sealer and Soft Sole to help protect your belt.
As you can see, each of our top five best tool belts would be likely to serve you well under a variety of conditions. Even our number-five ranked TradeGear Electrician’s Belt could be used by a jack-of-all-trades in the right circumstances.
So when it comes to picking the best tool belt for you, it really does come down to the kind of job you’ll be working on. Keep in mind that if you’ll be working long hours with heavy-duty tools. Then, you’ll want to look at heavy-duty belts that provide plenty of padding or the option to attach a harness or suspenders.
This ensures that not only does your belt provide adequate strength to hold those tools without getting damaged. However, it also keeps you comfortable while lugging around all that weight. For our money, the Dewalt DG5617 20-Pocket Pro Framer’s Combo Apron Tool Belt perfectly ticks all of these boxes and then some.
Built from durable nylon material, it comes complete with over-the-shoulder yoke-style suspenders to protect your lower back and prevent injuries. All this, while giving you ample room to store all of your essentials in 20 pockets of various sizes.
The best part, of course, is that it does all this whilst weighing under three pounds without any tools which allow for greater flexibility and movement while still providing all the strength and support you need. Whatever your needs may be, rest assured that with a little research, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect tool belt to fit you.