A good tool belt or vest is an extension of your body – no one choice is right for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all tool and hardware carrying solution for every single contractor. Some people prefer vests, some prefer belts, some prefer another solution altogether. But when it comes to choosing between tool belts and tool vests, there are a few clear advantages for choosing one over the other.

Tool Belt Advantages

A good tool belt is a classic tool of the trade for contractors. A good belt has enough pockets arranged in a comfortable way, allowing you to find everything you need in a matter of seconds. From a design standpoint, it focuses the weight away from your back and shoulders and onto your hips, minimizing back strain and the potential for injury on the jobsite. Tool belts cover less of your body than vests and are usually cooler to wear in hot weather or high humidity. There are as many types of tool belts with as many variable features as there are contractors to buy them.

Tool Belt Disadvantages

If you’ve ever caught your belt loop on a door handle, you’re already familiar with one of the biggest disadvantages with choosing a tool belt over a vest. Prepare to get caught or snagged if you aren’t constantly aware of your spatial position and clearance while wearing a fully stocked tool belt. Fully loaded belts can be heavy enough to strain your back anyway, especially if they’re overloaded or improperly fitted to your frame. If you’re lean and don’t invest in a pair of suspenders to keep the belt on your hips, you may find your pants sliding ever downward as the day drags on.

Tool Vest Advantages

Properly fitted vests distribute the weight of your tools and hardware over a larger area than tool belts, making way for the possibility of less aches and pains at the end of a long work day. They’re durable and provide an added layer of protection against abrasions and bruises from wayward tools or elbows. If you need your hardware and tools accessible above your waist – for example, if you’re working on a job that requires you to reach rather than bend over – a tool vest may be a winning choice.

Tool Vest Disadvantages

Tool vests add bulk to your torso, so if you’re working in a tight crawl space or closed attic, you may have trouble entering, turning or moving around comfortably. Because they cover more of your body than belts, it’s also easier to overheat in a vest.

If you’re bending over or kneeling a lot, the items from the pockets of a tool vest can scatter or spill. People with broad chests or larger upper bodies might find tool belts too restrictive or have trouble properly fitting the vests available on the market. The selection of vests is smaller than tool belts and an improperly fitted or overloaded vest makes back pain or injury nearly inevitable.

There’s no right answer to the question of whether you should choose a tool belt or tool vest. It’s a matter of what you’re working on, your personal preference and proper fit. If your vest or belt is properly fitted and not overloaded, either one can be a valid option for contractors.