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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 (who are way cooler than run of the mill electricians).
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:
We don’t really like bragging about ourselves here at Car Bible – we prefer to let our awesome lists and buying guides do the work for us. Every now and then though we unearth a product that ticks so many boxes, we have to pat ourselves on the back just a little.
This tool vest is one of those products. First up, no less a brand than Stanley, one of the premier tool manufactures in the world makes it. They’ve forgotten more about making tools than some companies will ever know, so 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 help keep you cool even when you’re working away in a hot garage or out in the sun, whilst 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 cheapest vests on the list too. Are we great, or what?
Only real complaint about this vest? Well, one is that 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 disliked was the name. Fatmax? Thanks Stanley, now you’ve hurt our feelings.
Made of Breathable Material
Adjustable Shoulder Straps
- Weight1.67 lbs
The main danger with this vest is that you may be mistaken for a SWAT team member, and rushed off to help end a bank siege. Ok, that’s not too likely, but this is one of the less eye-catching vests – though of course, that could be a good thing!
It’s also one of the cheaper on the list with a price point of around 50 bucks. So whilst 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% Polyester and 35% Cotton. The Polyester provides strength whilst keeping the vest lightweight, whilst 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.
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 & bolts in a place that could be more convenient to reach if you are prone on your stomach under the hood.
65:35 Polyester & Cotton Blend
Safety Straps on Front Pockets
Front and Rear Small Item Pockets
- Weight11.2 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 is all about the pockets – 28 of them in fact.
Of course, as far as a work vest goes, it can’t be judged simply on the quantity of the pockets the design boasts. 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.
So we have special pockets to accommodate tape measures, pencils, notebooks, screwdrivers and spanners – to name just a few. There is in fact 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 these tools for comfortable and even weight distribution, whilst an open back design really keeps you cool.
This outstanding 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.
Excellent Weight Distribution
- BrandOccidental Leather
- Weight2.55 lbs
This vest from Vest Tech is another premium quality option, so expect a price tag well north of a hundred bucks. For that cash though 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 a far less 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 – perhaps keep it in the trunk to slip on and make yourself more visible at the roadside during an emergency or a break down.
Oh, and one final cool feature to mention is the rear pocket designed to take a 2 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. Of course, we won’t tell anyone if you decide to fill it with beer instead…
Comfortable Nylon Construction
Pocket for 2-Liter Hydration Pouch
Chet Size Adjustment From 40 to 60 inches
- BrandVest Tech
- Weight4.06 lbs
Despite coming from the lower end of the price range there are still some good features and design points on this vest. The removable pouch is good to see (you don’t get too many tool pouch vests after all), whilst the mesh back is a nice design to keep you cool. In addition to that pouch 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.
Multiple Pockets Including a Removable Pouch
- Weight1 lbs
This vest is extremely similar to the previous Vest Tech model that appeared earlier in our list. In fact, as the more observant of you will have already noticed, it’s identical, except that is a far more toned down, mainly black model. That means you lose that element of high visibility that we had on the previous model – 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 and correct here, including that great pocket for a hydration pouch / mini keg.
Joking aside, this really is a well-designed and constructed vest. The fact that it is available in both the high visibility and this more toned down black version is great too allowing you that little bit more choice in the design that suits you better.
Extra Tough Nylon Construction
Even Weight Distribution
Built in Support Belt
- BrandVest Tech
- Weight4.4 lbs
Our final vest is this design from Bucket Boss. It’s one of the cheaper products, however it does have a few eye-catching features.
In addition to several very deep pockets (and a pair of removable pouches, always handy), one of the more striking design features is the construction material. 19 Ounce Duckwear canvas has been employed for the front panels, whilst 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.
14 pockets (plus 2x pouches), strong material and a good design with high breathability – all that and change from a 50 dollar bill makes this is a very interesting, if slightly unusual looking, tool vest option.
Mesh Shoulder & Back
14 Pockets & 2 Removable Pouches
Sturdy Canvas Construction
- BrandBucket Boss
- Weight1.9 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.
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.
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.