LAST UPDATED: May 30, 2018

The Best Tool Vests (Review & Buying Guide) in 2020

Best Choice stanley tool vest Stanley FMS530201 Fatmax Tool Vest
Premium Pick occidental work vest Occidental Leather Oxy Pro Work Vest
Best Value bucket boss duckwear vest Bucket Boss Duckwear Supervest

A tool vest can be an extremely useful item. However, they are often designed with an electrician in mind rather than car enthusiasts like us.

The features and design of tool vests for electricians may differ from the type of vest that is useful and practical when you’re working on a car. What may be a great design feature for them may not work so well for you, and vice versa.

For that reason, we’ve researched some of the best tool vests on the market to create a list of vests that are specially tailored for the more mechanically minded buyer. Take a look, see which ones you like, and then read our handy buying guide and FAQ at the bottom of the article for more information.

Best Rated Tool Vests in 2020:

This tool vest is an excellent option. For one, Stanley is one of the premier tool manufactures in the world. If anyone is going to make a great work tool vest it’s these guys.

We have an array of pockets of various sizes and depths to easily hold a multitude of tools. A breathable mesh material helps keep you cool even when you’re working in a hot garage or out in the sun, while adjustable shoulder straps allow you to customize the fit.

Great design, top-quality material and construction plus a name that you can trust – all that, and it’s one of the most affordable vests on the list too.

One complaint about this vest?  Well, it has a tendency to ride up a little at the back if you put too much weight in the pockets. But mainly, the only thing we dislike is the name.

Key Features
  • Multiple Pockets
  • Made of Breathable Material
  • Adjustable Shoulder Straps
Specification
  • Brand Stanley
  • Model FMS530201
  • Weight 1.67 lbs

Here is one of the lesser eye-catching vests available, though of course that could be a good thing.

It’s also one of the least expensive options on the list. While it may not have the flashiest design, it does have a number of useful features. Probably the most impressive is the effort that has gone into making it as comfortable as possible.

That high comfort factor starts with a material blend of 65-percent polyester and 35-percent cotton. The polyester provides strength whilst keeping the vest lightweight, while the cotton adds a degree of breathability to the material to help keep you cool. Add to that a pair of nice wide shoulders that help to distribute the weight of the tools and you have a very comfortable vest.

The pockets are large and well distributed, and it’s nice to see a couple of small pockets mounted on the back. They will be handy for storing screws, washers, nuts and bolts in a place that could be more convenient to reach if you are prone on your stomach under the hood.

Key Features
  • 65:35 Polyester & Cotton Blend
  • Wide Shoulders
  • Safety Straps on Front Pockets
  • Front and Rear Small Item Pockets
Specification
  • Brand Blacklader
  • Model 311018609900L
  • Weight 11.2 oz

If you are in the market for a work vest with pockets then this could be the one for you, because this model from Occidental Leather has 28 of them.

Of course, as far as a work vest goes, it can’t be judged simply on the quantity of the pockets. They need to be well placed and they need to be designed to accommodate a range of tools and items to make the design as useful as possible.

There are special pockets to accommodate tape measures, pencils, notebooks, screwdrivers and spanners – to name just a few. There are so many pockets and loops and attaching points you’ll probably run out of tools to carry well before you run out of space in your vest.

Extra-wide shoulders spread the weight of all the tools for comfortable and even weight distribution, while an open back design keeps you cool.

This product doesn’t come cheap, and this is one of the pricier options on our list. However, see past that price tag and you will have yourself a truly well designed and constructed vest.

Key Features
  • 28 Pockets
  • Open Back
  • Excellent Weight Distribution
Specification
  • Brand Occidental Leather
  • Model 2575
  • Weight 2.55 lbs

This vest from Vest Tech is another premium quality option, so expect a price tag to match. For that cash, however, you are getting a really well made vest that has a number of useful features.

The nylon construction is a stand out, making it an exceptionally strong vest – though it also makes it one of the heavier on the list. The pocket distribution is a little different in this design too with fewer enclosed pockets and more hooks and loops. It’s almost a tool belt suspender as a lot of the tools are designed to hang down. That can make them easy to grab and less likely to get lost in deep pockets.

Weight distribution is great, and the high visibility design could certainly come in handy. You could keep it in the trunk to slip on and make yourself  more visible at the roadside during an emergency or a break down.

­One final cool feature is the rear pocket designed to take a two-liter hydration pack. You can fill it with water for a cooling drink, perfect if you’re going to be working on your car out in the heat for a prolonged period.

Key Features
  • Comfortable Nylon Construction
  • Pocket for 2-Liter Hydration Pouch
  • Chet Size Adjustment From 40 to 60 inches
Specification
  • Brand Vest Tech
  • Model Vesttechtoolvest
  • Weight 4.06 lbs

Despite coming in at the lower end of the price range there are still some good features and design points on this vest. The removable pouch is good (you don’t get too many tool pouch vests after all), while  the mesh back is a nice design to keep you cool. In addition, there are a decent selection of pockets, though perhaps not as many as you may find on a higher-end model.

As we mentioned, this is one of the cheaper vests on the list, so it does sacrifice a few features that you would find on a more premium model. For example, the tool pockets are neither enclosed (for the most part) nor particularly snug fitting, so tools may easily slip out as you are bending over.

Still, if you’re looking for a good budget priced tool vest, this is one of the better products on the market with a price tag that won’t break the bank.

Key Features
  • Mesh Back
  • Multiple Pockets Including a Removable Pouch
  • Attractive Design
Specification
  • Brand Holmes
  • Model 10-3530-MHBLK
  • Weight 1 lbs

This vest is nearly identical to the other Vest Tech model that appears on this list. It’s the same except that is a far more toned down, mainly black model. That means you lose that element of high visibility but it also means that you don’t have to walk around looking like you work for the power company.

Aside from that, all the great features are present here as well, including that great pocket for a hydration pouch.

This really is a well-designed and constructed vest. The fact that it is available in both the high visibility color and this more toned-down black version is great, allowing you that little bit more choice in the design that suits you better.

Key Features
  • Extra Tough Nylon Construction
  • Even Weight Distribution
  • Built in Support Belt
Specification
  • Brand Vest Tech
  • Model Vesttechtoolvest
  • Weight 4.4 lbs

Our final vest is this design from Bucket Boss. It’s one of the less expensive products, however it does have a few eye-catching features.

In addition to several very deep pockets (and a pair of removable pouches that are always handy), one of the more striking design features is the construction material. Nineteen-ounce Duckwear canvas makes up the front panels, while mesh is used on the shoulders and back panel for breathability.

That canvas is very tough, so if you find your overalls constantly smeared with oil and grease this could be a good option for you.

Fourteen pockets (plus two pouches), strong material and a good design with high breathability – all that makes this is a very interesting, if slightly unusual looking, tool vest option.

Key Features
  • Mesh Shoulder & Back
  • 14 Pockets & 2 Removable Pouches
  • Sturdy Canvas Construction
Specification
  • Brand Bucket Boss
  • Model 80450
  • Weight 1.9 lbs

Best Tool Vest Buying Guide & FAQ

That is our list of the best tool vests on the market right now. They employ a range of materials, designs, and other factors, making each vest unique. They also have a wide price range, stretching from less than 50 bucks to over $150.

Choosing the right one that packs in the features you require and looks good at the same time will really help you to make the most of your purchase. Below we take a look at some of the features to look out for, and we answer some questions about this type of product.

tool vest

What to Look For in a Tool Vest

Here are some of the features to bear in mind when making your selection. Choose the ones you think you’ll need to ensure the vest you select has the functionality you require, and ditch the features you can do without to keep the price low.

  • Adjustable Straps – We are all different shapes and sizes, which can make finding a vest that fits you tougher than it should be. A good design will have adjustable straps to allow the vest to fit comfortably over different people. This is important for both comfort and safety.
  • Pockets – This is what we’re here for after all. Bear in mind that even a very basic mechanics tool list can be pretty long, and it should be obvious why you need sufficient pockets and loops on your vest. The whole point of this type of product is to keep the tools you need most often close at hand – look at it almost as a tool organizer as much as anything else. A high number of well-designed pockets and loops help make that easier.
  • Safety Features – See if it has reflective strips or a high-visibility finish. Whether you need this or not will depend heavily on where you anticipate doing most of your work. If it’s at home or on the driveway, then you likely won’t need the high visibility. If, however, you sometimes do roadside work – especially after dark – then a high visibility element can help keep you safe.
  • Breathability – Whether it has mesh panels, an open back, a material blend that incorporates cotton – or a combination of all these things – a good tool vest will be designed to keep you cool whilst you’re working.

Benefits of Owning a Tool Vest

The main benefit of owning a vest it to keep the tools your use most often close at hand. So when you’re on your back underneath a jacked up car (don’t forget to use Jack Stands!) you won’t have to come back out just because you forgot to grab a wrench – it’s right there on your chest.

They are also very handy to help you properly organizes your workspace. If you’re like us, sometimes tools don’t find their way back into the toolbox or up on the rack precisely because we know we’ll be using them again soon. Instead of leaving them lying around a tool vest allows you to store them in one convenient and accessible place.

Tool Vest vs. Tool Belt

Coke versus Pepsi and Ronald McDonald versus The Burger King, some arguments will never be solved.

This is unfortunately another one, as you will easily find vocal proponents of both the tool vest and the tool belt. The truth is that both are good options, so it really depends on personal preference.

tool vests

Not much help, huh? Well, a vest is going to have more space for pockets (owing to the larger surface area), while a belt will generally be better suited for carrying one or two heavy items (like a drill).

A vest will also distribute the weight across your shoulders, while a belt hangs it all on your hips, so just consider which sounds more comfortable.

Best Tool Vest FAQ:

We get a lot of questions about all the products we review here, and vests are no exception. In no particular order, here are some of the more frequently asked ones:

Q:  Who Needs a Tool Vest?

A: Who doesn’t need one is the better question, right? Okay, not everyone needs a vest. If you find yourself working on your car with an oily screwdriver wrenched in your teeth, then you may benefit from a tool vest. If you have to leave your car to go back to your toolbox or garage to grab a wrench head, then a vest could help.

Q:  How to Use a Tool Vest?

A:  Put your arms through the holes, fill the pockets with tools and have a great time!

Our Top Pick

We’re going to go against the norm a little here and have two winners – it’s our list, so we can do what we want.

We’re choosing two because the winning options are pretty similar anyway – our top pick(s) are the two Vest Tech options. They are just really well designed, exceptionally tough vests that pack in a lot of features and innovative design points.

Comfortable to wear, tough construction and lots of storage means that these vests simply tick so many of the boxes, it’s impossible to not name them as the top picks from the list.

Sources:

  1. Basic Mechanic Tool List – Popular Mechanics
  2. Breakdown Safety Tips – Telegraph