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It’s a rare occasion that we have a need to wear a tool belt around the shop — because, well, we’re around the shop, the very base of all our tool power. However, working at other people’s houses or doing plumbing or electrical work can make tool belts a necessity.

On this topic, reader Haglered writes us and asks:

What do you think about using tool belts? Some say you have to have one so you don’t have to set your tools down when working on a job or around the house. What do you think and where can you get a tool belt big enough for us big guys?

Honestly, Haglered, we don’t use a lot of belts so this might be a better question for the readers. We can say there are many different belt styles designed for certain type of work. For instance, a carpentry belt will feature a much different layout than, say, an electrician’s or roofer’s belt. In the end it’s really just some pockets on a belt that fits you, but you’ll likely find that many folks who wear one will have a definite opinion on the subject.

As for the larger sizes, I know Klein makes a range that fits at least a 48 inch waist and larger. Good luck in your search, sir!

What about you other Toolmongers — what advice would you offer someone in the tool belt market?

Street Pricing Klein Belts [Google Shopping]


33 Responses to Reader Question: Tool Belts

  1. Keith Melton says:

    Not a tool belt, but I do always wear a gardening holster when I am in the shop. It holds my pencils (a no.2 and a mechanical,) my tape measure, and a utility knife. Perfect for those things I always need on hand when wood working.

    I pretty much only wear a tool belt when I am doing roof or framing work. Its in the way for everything else I do.

  2. Jason Peacock says:

    I love nail pouches, but get annoyed at them being too simple, hard to sort my few tools.

    Full tool belts are usually overkill, get in the way, and don’t mix well with a handfull of nails or screws.

    My ideal manages both a few tools and supplies – and this is my favorite find so far:


    It’s cheap, comfy, lightweight, and just enough but not too much.

  3. jonnyp says:

    I have a similar belt as pictured, suits me fine.
    My brother , who is a pro uses a cloth nail pouch,hammer and tape holders, like my old man did.The difference is there are no nails in that cloth pouch.

  4. Aeroaggie says:

    I do mostly appliance and electrical repair and I usually keep something like this in the truck.


    I Keep wire strippers, crimpers, linemans pliers, neddle nose pliers, non contact voltage tester, 1/4 and 5/16 nutdrivers, knife, electrical tape, pencil, pen, klein 10 in one screwdriver, long phillips driver, and long slotted screwdriver. It all fits amazingly well in such a little pouch, and I don’t use a belt, it has a built in metal belt clip and I either clip it onto the pocket of my jeans or onto my actual belt I wear everyday.

  5. Ross says:

    I do a variety of tool intensive work professionally. I almost always avoid tool belts inside finished spaces by wearing Blakadler pants with utility pockets (and great knee pads) or a small belt pouch if I’ll be working off a ladder. I have a strong preference to work out of my Veto Pro Pack tool bag which is easy to carry around and keeps my hand tools organized. For me traditional tool belts are only useful for rough framing, siding, and roofing.

  6. Blair says:

    I use one similar to the one shown, but not with most to those tools in it, and the nail pouches are usually full of drywall screws, or nails of some sort, depending on what I’m doing at the time. My rig is also set up with suspenders, to help with the load all day.

    I don’t always wear it, it depends on the job, and where(don’t wear it much at all inside for instance), but it always goes on the job with me, due to it’s having the things I may need in places where I know where to find them.

  7. Larry says:

    I use a bucket tool organizer. I carries my tools and gives me a place for a drill or large parts

  8. Wheels17 says:

    We have two maintenance crews at work. One is day maintenance and the other is shift maintenance for round the clock coverage of running machine issues. The shift guys all use a leather version of Aeroaggie’s suggestion with great success. The day guys get into heavier stuff and use roll around toolboxes.

  9. blitzcat says:

    I use a homer bucket and a tool belt. The bucket keeps stuff from spilling when the belt is transported in the car.

    I just use the bucket if I can, or the tool belt if in an attic or basement.

  10. Dreamcatcher says:

    As a professional remodeler I keep 5 tool belts fully stocked and ready to go for individual tasks.

    My main belt is my framing belt; it is a CLC #5605 padded belt with a pouch on each side. It’s pouches are repositionable which I think is essential to framing work. I use the same belt for trimming by swapping out a few tools like the hammer, tape, catspaw, and nails.

    I have two ‘cheapo’ fixed leather bag belts; one has a single pouch that I use for roofing and I adjust the bag to the front where it is easier to dig in while working on a slope. The other is also a single fixed leather bag but set up for stapling up tyvek/vinyl siding/insulation where I want to move light and fast.

    I have an old AWP leather belt with two bags that I use just for hanging drywall. It has deep pouches to holster my screw gun, several DIY glue stabbers, screws, knife, etc. always ready to go.

    Then I have a CLC #1509 electrical shoulder bag… basically a purpose made, zip closed, cordura bag that came with a shoulder strap. I can keep it zippered up with all the tools in it then carry it from outlet to outlet and just lean it against the wall while i work. If I wire a light I can shoulder it while I work from a ladder.

    In the shop I don’t wear a tool belt… why would you? I have my shop laid out to provide quick access to any tool I need and I have my workbench to set tools down on while I work on a project. I hang an assortment of hammers, chisels, and layout tools above the bench and keep fasteners in Stanley organizer boxes that have individual pull out trays.

    The point is, when you work on contract, you need to be efficient in order to make money. That means being organized and having the right tool for the job even if that ‘tool’ is really just a tool belt.


  11. rob says:

    my belt is a must
    my most recent belt
    but I had a nice klien one for years I wish I could have found a new one

    as a full time electrician my belt carries most of my hand tools and I hang a drill or impact gun from it
    it deal with most stuff I need on a day to day needs
    I will change the tools in the pouch depending on what I am doing and the material pouch on my left side
    gets what ever I am using at the time
    for tasks that need me to be a little lighter I take most of the hand tools out and I am good I use it as a tool bag when working in finished areas

    but I will also second the veto pro pack that I have hold all of my secondary hand tools and power tool accessories very well and is the perfect bag to grab for all of those just in-case things it weights a ton with everything in it but there are so many tools in it that
    it is the perfect insurance that you can finish what ever your doing

  12. PutnamEco says:

    I like to work as light as possible, If I can get away without wearing a tool belt, I do it. If I can work out of a lumberyard nail apron, that is my first choice, hammer, tape measure, pencil, nails. I often wear cargo shorts/pants which I can supplement my nail aprons load out with a chalk box and or speed square. When I’m forced to wear a tool belt I really like the Oxy Light Pro Framers. I also have a few odd holsters/pouches that I use on occasion, such as a cordless drill holster, and a small generic pouch that I fill with 10 in 1 screwdriver, chisel, nailset, and utility knife.

  13. I rarely have need for a full-on tool belt. But I have a drill holster on a belt, and that’s about all I ever need. If I’m doing a lot of work on a ladder (hanging ceiling fans all day, etc) I have an open-top nylon tool bag (like a bucket organizer, but small and rectangular) that I actually screw to the top of the ladder and drop everything I need into it. Really, the only reason I would personally need a tool belt would be to hold stuff while I’m on a ladder. Anywhere else, and I can just keep the tools nearby.

  14. metis says:

    i just weak a utilikilts workman’s model, sizes 30-60 i believe, adjustable size hammer/driver/pint glass loop, tape measure loop, pen pockets, tool pockets, nail pouches…. the only time i put on a tool belt now is if i need a 2nd nail pouch, or extra hammer loop.

    plus, no knees to wear out.

  15. metis says:

    s/weak/wear. these 96 hour weeks may be getting to me.

  16. Smartisdumb says:

    Funny, I just said to the wife, ” the best thing I could have done is to bring out my tool belt.”
    I find the biggest time waster is looking for stuff, tape measure, pencil, square, etc…especialy nails for the nailer I am using.

  17. Dave P says:

    @metis: ha! I used to wear a kilt for work–did it for over a year. One day, I wore jeans to the hardware store, and the cute checkout girl I’d been flirting with said, “Where’s your skirt?” Never put one on since.

  18. tsander says:

    I have a toolbelt, but I don’t regularly use it. The only thing I use it for now is to hold tools when I’m using the ladder. That is, I attach the tool belt to the top rung of the ladder to hold the tools I need for the job at hand. Some stores will sell you a tool holder specifically to go at the top of a ladder for over $40.00, but an inexpensive tool belt is a much cheaper alteranative.

  19. Ben Granucci says:

    Depends on the situation. At work in my normal shop, I either work directly out of my workbox, or out of one of my plastic tote trays. In the field, I will sometimes wear a nylon CMC Rescue pouch on a tool belt. Lots of pockets with velcro closures and a large open area with a drawstring. Working at out sister shop and therefore out of a tool bag, I will often add a leather electricians pouch to the above belt, especially if I am dong a somewhat repetitive task and will therefore be using the same tools in slightly different locations. Here, the CMC Rescue pouch tends to get used more like a nail pouch, for sorting out different parts.

  20. Brew says:

    If I am working, I have my belt on. I wear dewalt leather bags that I have always hated(terrible layout) but they have held up for longer than 10 years, so I shouldn’t complain. I have been looking for a new set, but none are laid out the way I like it anymore, so I will keep looking.

  21. Eddie Hagler says:

    I asked the question originally after a blogger I read insisted that you can’t do the job right without a tool belt.

    I kinda had to agree when I found myself looking for tools I was using but couldn’t find them because I put them down after using them.

    I looked around for a good tool belt but have not yet found one big enough (and let’s admit it-cheap enough) I might be willing to buy one if I can find one big enough. I found them up to 53 inches but this is just not big enough.

  22. Dave says:

    Eddie, I’ve known an awful lot of folks that carried a tool pouch but didn’t wear it. Hang it on your shoulder when you’re moving and hang it up where you’re working when you get there. That’s what I have to do myself, because I have the opposite of your problem– I ain’t big enough around. The truth is that a tool pouch won’t create organization– if you don’t return your tools to the pouch after you use them you still might have a problem finding them. Speaking as someone who’s spent way too much time looking for that so-and-so I just had in my hand, the best thing to do is to try not to put things down without thinking about it. A cardboard box that you consistently return things to beats a toolbelt that just seems to consistently empty itself as the day goes on.

    • Dreamcatcher says:

      Quoting Dave: “The truth is that a tool pouch won’t create organization”

      Absolutely true. I warrant that most people who buy ‘organizers’ in an attempt to make them be more organized end up right back where they started in short time.

      I consider myself extremely organized but I’d bet that if I also wasn’t such a penny pincher that organization would go to pot. When you make money based on your efficiency and realize that disorganization cost you lots of money… well, that’s when you really shape up.


  23. NY Nick says:

    Since I didn’t see a new post for today – Sept 11,2011 – 10 yrs After – for the almost 3 thousand American people that lost their lives , may they Rest In Peace. 🙁

  24. Mike Lee says:

    I have a couple of belts, however, I find myself carring the belt instead of wearing it. When I do wear a belt, it when I need a bunch of nails and screws.

  25. PutnamEco says:

    Re:Eddie Hagler says:
    I looked around for a good tool belt but have not yet found one big enough (and let’s admit it-cheap enough) I might be willing to buy one if I can find one big enough. I found them up to 53 inches but this is just not big enough.

    Maybe a belt less system might be more appropriate, Check out Occidental Leathers belt less system. There are belt extenders to be had as well. Occidental might be persuaded to do a custom belt for you.
    Diamond Back tool belts go up to 60″, again they may custom build you a larger sized one as well.

  26. Bugler says:

    I don’t always wear a belt. I have one simple, nylon belt and a bunch of (mostly cheap) pouches. I keep a CLC electrician’s pouch on the belt almost all the time, and add other pouches only when I need them. I often use lightweight nylon pouches that clip directly onto my pants belt, too. I agree that a 5-gal bucket is handy for storing and transporting.

  27. metis says:

    @ dave p
    a kilt is defined by the oxford english dictionary as being a particular kind of skirt. sorta like a camero or a gto is a particular car. it’s not *just* a car, but it is a car as a blouse is a kind of shirt, or a hot dog is a kind of sausage.

    some guys get their undies in a bunch about words. me, i wear a kilt almost every day, a spray skirt when i kayak, have a number of friends who’s branches of their military use pleated skirts as dress uniforms, and am not gonna stress about skirt boards having a particular word in their name when i nail em.

    pants on the other hand, (outside of some very specific professions where they were provided as work protective gear, as employers provide respirators today) were popularized as fashion items by french fops (female impersonators) wearing what we would now refer to as “bloomers.” you fellas in trousers can keep your ladies underwear, i’ll stick to my historically masculine skirts 😉

    (n.b. i DO wear pants when i need skin protection, e.g. for downhill skiing in powder, or working with fiberglass, but the damn things just aren’t as functional except to keep bad things off my thighs.)

  28. Doug says:

    Great topic. I’ve got two toolbelts, one dedicated to electrical stuff (a smaller compartmental type) that I’ll throw onto any leather work belt and another (hailing back to my framing roots… the big fat wrap-around-you-waist-from-hip-to-hip-triple-decker-pouch-in-leather-type.) Probably the only “must-have” on any of these for me is a dedicated hammer hanger. I like to thread a leather-backed and metal-looped hammer holster with whatever I wear, so my hammer can hang right over my right hip (as God intended.)Leather loops suck, IMHO! Especially when they hang the hammer in front of your thigh. A metal hanger allows for quick retrieval and storage of your hammer, with none of the fumbling associated with a droopy leather loop.

  29. Paul says:

    I prefer tool bag / random box / bucket. I can be highly unorganized and find it better for my if I just have one big space for everything that way all I have to do is toss it in the bucket. I do have a tool belt for my bucket, I still end up just putting things in the bucket itself as opposed to the belt.

  30. tareko says:

    I guess it really depends on the type of work you’re doing, and how far it is from the toolbox.
    I find the tool belt handy when doing electrician work involving a ladder.

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