The best tool belts all have one thing in common: they work for you. A bag slung around your waist isn’t enough to get the job done. Most manufacturers make the mistake of just assuming you’ll be complacent with clunky construction, heavy and poor materials, and just “suck it up.” Well, we think that’s a garbage way to approach the topic, which is why we’ve compiled the seven best tool belts on the market. When you’re getting under the hood or looking for a solution on the road, you need a tool belt that’s fit to handle whatever you throw at it. Without further ado, let’s get into the best of the best, maintenance, and all the burning questions you want answered.
The Best Tool Belt
First-timers, seasoned veterans, lend us your ears: this is the last tool belt you’ll ever need. Not only do you get ten pockets for ample storage, including enough space for a cordless drill, a sturdy buckle system to ensure it doesn’t fall off, but this is also one of the most versatile work belt models on the planet. You can shift and mix around your pockets, which is pretty cool, but you can also attach a harness to the triangle loops along the belt’s height if you’re heading up a ladder or taking to a different scene than you’re used to. You get a three piece set, save a crazy amount of cash compared to other top models, and you’ve also got TroughBuilt’s patented ClipTech hub going on. Everything you need, not a hint of what you don’t.
Three piece set
Includes their Patented ClipTech hub
Compatible with suspenders for a holster-style work belt
Ten total pockets
Unique design lets you build it your own way
- Weight4.19 pounds
Our personal favorite material for any and all tool belts has to be leather. Not only is it designed to last decades with proper care, but when it’s through a killer company like Occidental Leather, it’s just done right. First of all, you get plenty of durability in each pocket, thanks to the padded reinforcements to properly hold the awkward weight of your tools and materials. It’s a bit heavier at nearly 5 lbs when empty, but does come with triangle loops to attach a harness to if you need. This one would have peaked the top of the list, but we’re looking out for your wallet: this one’s a lot higher than our award-winner at the top, but if you’re all about going leather, and getting it done better, Occidental is your go-to.
Multiple designated tool holsters
4.9 lbs when empty
Handle design for quick carry to and from spots
Fantastic cafe brown leather design
- BrandOccidental Leather
- Weight4.9 pounds
We’re going big guns on this one. Gatorback isn’t inherently expensive, but definitely brings that larger-than-life look, in the best possible way. They’ve got five sizes for multiple waistline ranges, so even if you’re thinking it’s not going to fit, they definitely have a size for you hiding somewhere. They slapped on a one-year warranty with this bad boy, but trust us, you’re not going to need it. When you get down to it, bigger belts run into bigger problems, namely sweating. This work belt comes with patented airflow technology to keep it close to you, but not causing that sweat vacuum that a lot of gents run into. Above all else, stress points along the pocket fixtures prevent this from just dragging down on your pants.
Excellent and accurate sizing chart
Reduces sweat through airflow technology
Comfortable lower lumbar support helps with everything
Stress points are reinforced on all pockets to prevent drag
Backed by Gatorback’s one-year warranty
- Weight5 pounds
Apron-style tool belts are a bit more of an acquired taste, but definitely has a time and place. This insanely inexpensive tool belt is perfect if you’re doing some smaller tasks around the house, like a Sunday maintenance/chore list, and you know exactly what you’re doing. I’ve personally used it to keep sectaurs and zip ties in when tending to the lawn outside, and even though it’s grass-stained to hell and back when I’m done each time, it still comes perfectly clean and gets the job done. Straightforward design with five pockets, an excellent sizing chart with 20” between sizes to play around with, and a one-year warranty. To add a bonus here, it comes with the belt, not just the apron itself.
Five pockets in total
One-year warranty, backed by Dickies
Canvas construction w/ reinforced pockets
Custom fit adjustments in a 20” range
- BrandDickies Work Gear
- Weight9.6 ounces
Dewalt might as well be the most-trusted brand in America when it comes to tools, tool storage, and killer work belts. While they’re not as flashy as Stanley and other high-hitting companies, they know their market, and know you’ll keep coming back for more. Classic black and yellow design, 31 total pockets for insane storage space, and a Dri-Lex padded liner along the interior of the belt to cut down on sweating. We’ve put a cleaning guide for nylon belts in the buying guide below, but just know that nylon is one of the easiest things in the world to keep clean and properly maintain. Dewalt sits in the middle of budget pricing, because they simply refuse to cut down on quality to meet some market standpoint on the price tag. Buying a tool belt for the long haul? Here we go.
31 pockets in total
Zippered pocket for security
Padded with 6” of Dri-Lex liner
Six pounds empty weight
Top quality nylon construction
- Weight6 pounds
Short, sweet, and to the point: CLC did the unthinkable, they made a killer hybrid between nylon and leather. While you usually have to go one way or the other when it comes to materials, they put the main strengths of each in a single belt that’s fitted to last you for decades to come. There’s a decently wide range in sizing, anywhere from a 29” to a 46” waistline, with a ton of pockets. You get seventeen in total, either of them being main tool/large pockets for high capacity storage. It’s a simple formula: easy to maintain nylon, top grain leather, and a bit of a cushion for your back when you kick the boots off at the end of a long work day.
Eight main pockets w/ nail and tool slots
Tpp carry handles for moving around the jobsite a lot easier
Sizing between 29” and 46”
Made of ballistic nylon and top grain leather; nothing can stop it
- BrandCustom Leathercraft
- Weight4.51 pounds
Last but not least, this camo-inspired suspension belt is exactly what you need when you’re hoisting yourself up high in the rigs. The harness gives you full range of motion while sticking close to your shoulders, enhanced by the padding along the top and the interior of the belt itself. There’s more than enough space for everything you need, thanks to these high capacity bucket pouches. Even though it looks daunting, it’s actually under five pounds total empty weight, and with the harness you’ll barely feel an extra ounce around your hips. For those medium-tough jobs, the ones that keep you on your toes, Bucket Boss turns the tables.
70% elastic for maximum contour
Steel buckle system keeps it fully stable and sturdy at all times
Excellent capacity on those pouches
Partially made from 2-ply poly for enhanced durability
4.7 lbs empty weight
- BrandBucket Boss
- Weight4.7 pounds
Best Tool Belt Buying Guide & FAQ
Now that we’ve covered the best models on the market, it’s time to discuss what you should be looking for to fit your personal needs. We’ll help you identify your primary use, discuss materials, maintenance, and go in-depth on the topic to cover all the bases.
What to Look for When Buying the Best Tool Belt
- How it Fits - If it just hangs loosely on you, it’s not the right fit. There are so many tool belts out there that only get by on how many pockets they have, but it’s supposed to fit you and your body shape first and foremost. If it doesn’t fit, it’s going to cause you back problems, it’ll be too loose when you go to grab a tool, and it won’t be enjoyable.
- Comfort - If you’ve nailed the fit, it doesn’t necessarily mean the comfort will come. This also comes down to materials, skin sensitivity, how prone you are to profuse sweating, and a ton of other factors. At the end of the day, you don’t want to peel this off your side and feel chafing. Comfort matters.
- Durability - It needs to be tough as nails - literally. You’ll be stashing nails, bolts, wrenches and what not in the pockets; durability is the power to withstand sharp edges and heavy materials. The most durable belts are made out of nylon and leather.
- Pocket Number - Storage can be a big one, especially if you don’t know what you need for the job. If you’re just starting out and here for your first tool belt, first of all we’re honored to be of service, and second, your pocket number will definitely play a role in how your co-workers perceive you on the job. Carpenters need ample space, plumbers could go with a little less, and so on. Find out what the average is for your industry, and proceed accordingly.
- Empty Weight - It’s impossible to determine how much it’s going to weigh each day. Your gear changes, jobs switch, and it’s just downright impossible. The only control you have over your encumbrance is the starting weight of the belt before you load it up. An extra pound or two can really make the difference when you already have a ton of weight on your shoulders.
Why Should You Wear a Tool Belt When Working?
For one, you’ll save time by having multiple items at the ready. This is especially useful if you’re heading up the ladder, and you don’t have some new labor around to bring items up to you. Not to mention the fact that they’d probably bring the wrong tools or screws. You have to get the job done right, but you’re also on a time crunch, so make every minute count.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve lost something because I didn’t have my tool belt. I have a dirt driveway at the moment, and had to change out the coolant. When I went to drain the radiator, I misplaced the cap, thinking I wouldn’t need my belt on-hand. If I’d just had it with me, it wouldn’t have taken ten minutes to find the damn thing. It keeps things in their proper spots, so you’re never left scratching your head.
On top of all that, some jobs requires you wear a tool belt practically at all times. Carpentry fields often want you to keep it handy because they have a lot of temp help, and don’t want things to go missing around people they don’t really know well enough yet. Apart from that, the convenience of having your tools on-hand is also extremely beneficial.
Last but not least, you stay organized when you’re rocking the tool belt. Nothing’s worse than fumbling around in a tool bag, fighting the urge to pour it out all over the floor to find what you’re looking for. Keeps you staying ahead of the game.
Who Needs to Use a Tool Belt?
Anyone who’s working around the house, really. Whether or not that means you’re heading out to change a few things on the car or truck, or you’re just zipping left and right to maintain your home, there’s always a need to have essential tools handy. When one single thing breaks or needs a bit of elbow grease, we’re all guilty of putting it off. When the time comes around for us to take care of it, you have a shortlist of things that need to be done. Bring the belt, get it done quickly, and get back to enjoying that Sunday morning.
As stated previously, contract workers who deal with carpentry, plumbing, and even electricians all need to have various tools handy in a work belt, especially when they’re in a pinch. There’s nothing better than reaching to the wayside, and finding exactly what you were looking for.
While most of them end up sitting on the floor, you’ll also see auto mechanics lugging theirs around from spot to spot. Even though it sometimes acts as a tool bag, it’s versatile to use around the shop, and is far more organized than the dark reaches of a tool bag where you don’t know where anything is.
Different Types of Materials Used
This is where it gets tricky to not inject personal bias. We’re going to lay out each main material that most tool belts are made out of, where they sit on the price scale, and why they’re viable choices for your next tool belt.
- Synthetic Materials - Synthetics keep it cheap, making it a perfect choice for your first lightweight tool belt if you’re new to the job, or just looking to get your shed stocked up after buying that new house. Affordable, fairly durable, although they come with less lifetime expectancies than other materials. On the plus, these are an absolute dream to clean.
- Nylon - One of the two most popular choices for a work belt material, (a lot of Dewalt tool belt models are made of nylon), nylon is simple to clean and can withstand far more than you’d imagine. Whether it’s filled with nails or beaten against the floor time and time again, nylon withstands.
- Poly - Not as great of an option, though poly can still be fairly durable. These are often in the median price range, and offers you a lot of versatility. Fairly lightweight tool belt models are made out of poly.
- Leather - The big leagues, leather is right alongside nylon as the most durable material for tool belts. It’s a toss up at times, and although leather is usually a little more expensive, it’s rated to last you ten or more years. It’s all about how you take care of it, and lock in those essential oils found in the natural leather.
Best Tool FAQ:
Q: What is a Tool Belt?
A: A tool belt can either sling around your waist or over your shoulders like a harness. It’s a durable series of pouches, pockets and compartments dedicated to making your time up on the ladder or under the hood of a car that much more simple.
You gain access to materials you may need for your task, like screws, nuts, bolts, nails, washers, you name it. Tool belts help you save time by maximizing efficiency during the middle of your tasks. In some situations, you might run into unexpected problems, but due to having your tool belt on you, you’ll be able to overcome obstacles without leaving your post.
Q: How do I Pick the Right One?
A: It depends on a few things: what profession you’re using it for, what your intended use it, and how long you expect it to last.
When you’re picking one for a specific trade or profession, you want to see what the expected amount of pockets and type (harness or waist belt) is according to HR or whoever is in charge of the job. In some cases, they might even be able to point you towards a specific brand or model that holds up well in those conditions.
If your intended use is personal, you’ll need to think about what you’ll be doing around the house. If it’s a general maintenance tool belt, you’ll want to stick with leather, a medium amount of pockets, and there’s no need for a harness in these circumstances. Not unless you’re going to be fixing the roof on your own.
Lastly, materials play a major role in how long the belt is going to last. Nylon needs to be cleaned from time to time, but leather needs to be clean carefully, have oils applied to it, and be sealed back up to lock those in and prevent cracking.
Q: What Are the Common Tools to Keep in a Tool Belt?
A: For the sake of answering this question, we’re going to assume you’re a Jack-of-all-trades kind of guy, and this is a basic list of all the essential tools you should have in your belt at all times. We won’t be getting into materials since those are very specific to your situation, task, etc. Let’s get into it
- Flathead Screwdriver: An absolute necessity, used about 30% of the time when you run into screws.
- Phillips Head Screwdriver: Your predominant screwdriver head. Better than replaceable heads on mechanical screwdrivers.
- Utility Knife: When don’t you need a knife? Cutting dried spackle, sheetrock, you’ll find a use before the day’s up.
- Vice Grip: One of those essentials that everyone asks, “Hey do you have a vice grip?” and hopes that somebody was smart enough to bring one.
- Pry Bar: Getting a small one for your belt means you’re at-the-ready, no matter what. Though you won’t pull this one out often, it will come in handy in various situations.
- Gerber Multitool: Even when you have a designated tool for the job, sometimes a multitool just gets it done better. Never hurts to have one of these lightweight pieces in your belt.
- Pliers: I can think of ten reasons to have pliers on-hand off the top of my head.
- Wire Cutters: More used for electricians, but also very useful to cut steel ties.
- Nail Nippers: Hey, nobody blames you for putting the nail in wrong. Well, maybe the nail gun guy.
- Putty Knife: I tend to use these more for scraping dried spackle than actually spackling; these come in handy when you least expect it.
- Hammer: It’s the ultimate basic tool, you should always be with one, preferably a claw hammer.
- Level: Most tasks call for perfect measurements and stability. Fortunately, you’re the guy with the leveler.
- Tape Measure: You’ll use this twenty times throughout the work day, and that’s being modest.
Q: How Should I Take Care of my Tool Belt?
A: If only it were that simple. It’s broken up into two different cleaning methods, so let’s hop right into it. Between cleanliness and general maintenance, you won’t have a terribly hard time keeping up. On average you’ll have to maintain your tool belt once every year, twice per year if you’re using it in the nine to five grind.
How to Care for Your Leather Tool Belt
- Even when you get down to it, leather is a durable material, inside and out. Empty the bag out, and ensure all dust and debris has fallen.
- Next, take a dry rag and wipe down the entire thing, inside and out. Half of the battle is removing dust. Now it’s time to get down to cleaning.
- Take another face cloth and add a bit of water, but nothing more. No soap, just water.. Leather is naturally water resistant, so you’ll be able to wipe this clean with little to no problems.
- Hang it up to dry before continuing. Even if you dry it out with a few paper towels or something, it should still have six hours to air dry in a well ventilated area.
- Apply sealant or leather protector, and wait the recommended 24-48 hour average for it to dry before loading it up again. Clean off your tools in the meantime, so you’re not immediately muddying the belt.
How to Care for Your Nylon or Synthetic Material Tool Belt
- You’ll have an even easier time handling this. Remove your tools, and be sure to kick away any materials that fell out.
- Get a bristle brush, and while it’s dry, rub circles into the nylon or synthetic material. Since most of these are tightly woven and not solid material like leather, there’s a lot of air flowing in and out. This will release all the dirt, and make it breathable again.
- Super simple ending to this. Grab a vacuum cleaner, and find the narrowest attachment you possibly have. You’ve broken up the dirt, now you need to lift it. Wetting the nylon or synthetic materials aren’t going to do you any good. Vacuum it, and you’re done, just hang it up to air out and remove any chemical scents from whatever you were storing in there.
Our Top Pick
The ToughBuilt Handyman Tool Belt Set took the cake for more reasons than one. We just wanted to go a little more in-depth on why it was our favorite, and expand on the features a bit more.
Whether it’s around the house, first day on the job, what have you, the versatility of this belt and how you can move the different pockets and parts around is truly astounding. Even if it doesn’t seem like it’s that big a deal, when you get up on the ladder or you’re moving around the house, the features stretch a long way. You can attach a harness, or use it as a waist belt. We ultimately chose this for how many different ways you can twist it, but also for the unmistakable quality.
- 10 Multifunction Tools on the Market - HowStuffWorks