Tool Bags, Pouches and Belts
There are very few jobs that require only a single tool. Normally, undertaking a home improvement project may call for a selection that includes such items as a hammer, tape measure, nails, screwdriver, fasteners, pencil and chalk line, among other things. You can waste valuable time making countless trips back and forth to your toolbox, or you can make things easier by using a tool bag, pouch or belt. Strapping on one of these handy devices is like having an assistant who knows exactly what you need at the precise moment you need it. Consider the following questions to get a better handle on which type of storage accessory will benefit you most:
• What types of bags are available?
• What types of pouches can be used for storage?
• How are different tool belts configured?
• What other devices can be used to keep tools handy?
• Are there any special features you'd like to have?
Bags, Pouches, Belts and Other Storage Devices
With so many different types of tool belts and holders available, it is important to consider what your primary needs are and how frequently you'll use the device. In most cases, you'll probably end up with a combination of products, such as a belt designed to accommodate several pouches and separate holders for a hammer, flashlight, tape measure and more. If you're using a belt, make sure to set it up so that it positions tools in the most convenient way. Keep frequently used items such as hammers, pencils and wrenches on the same side as your dominant hand and helper tools and fasteners, such as chisels and nails, on the opposite side.
Bags: Tool bags are lighter and easier to carry around than conventional toolboxes. With their soft sides and flexibility, they can also fit into smaller, more irregularly shaped spaces. Bags often feature center sections that provide ample space for larger tools and side pockets and pouches for holding small tools, nails, screws and other items. Small bags are perfect for a number of different applications, whether you're building a tree house in the back yard or need a way to keep network administration tools handy when you're on the go.
• Bags are often made from leather, burlap or nylon
• Can be used for special sets of tools, such as a ratchet or drill set
• Offer a professional appearance for contractors
• Some bags can be attached to belts for greater convenience
Pouches: Pouches, like bags, are often designed to meet the needs of a specific contractor, such as a plumber or an electrician. There are, however, also a number that have been designed with both frequent and occasional do-it-yourselfers in mind. Pouches may be anchored, or fixed in place, or moveable. Anchored pouches are often worn in the front while moveable pouches can be worn off to the side or back. Pouches are available with a wide range of pockets, running anywhere from a small four-pocket pouch to one with eighteen or more. Pockets may be small for holding nails and fasteners or large for holding drills and other tools. Single-pocket pouches clip onto belts and are ideal for holding nails and small tools.
• Pouches are often constructed of saddle leather
• Specialized pouches, such as electrician's pouches, are configured for specific tools
• Anchored pouches are present on aprons and some belts
• Moveable pouches, also known as tool rigs, are often used in conjunction with tool belts
• Pouches often include hammer loops and other handy features
Belts: Storage belts, also called tool belts or utility belts, provide plenty of room for a host of pockets. They can also hold pouches and allow the use of clip-on holders. Belts can provide much-needed back support to help reduce fatigue. They range from simple devices with a few pockets to versatile configurations that feature several pouches, small tool pockets, hammer loops, sleeves for holding crowbars, flashlights or other tools and more. Modular tool belts allow you to rearrange and customize belts every time you work. Avoid leaving tools in your belt after you're done working, since a fully loaded belt may stretch over time, causing it to crack or wear out more quickly.
• Belts are typically fastened with notches or clips
• Padding makes belts more comfortable over long periods of use
• Some belts may include matching suspenders
• Belts may be made from leather, cloth, nylon or canvas
Other Devices: There are a number of other storage devices that will come in handy, some of which can be used individually and some of which are used in tandem with other items, such as a belt or suspenders. Aprons and tool holders are amongst the most commonly used. The chart below describes various storage devices, their uses and some of their features.
Uses and Features
|Apron||• Features pouches, pockets and holders
• Worn around the waist
• Available with anywhere from two pockets to twelve or more
• Accommodates a variety of waist sizes
• May feature a centrally located tape measure holder
• Easy-release buckle makes use simple
|Bucket Seat||• Seat provides a place to sit as well as storage for small tools and fasteners
• Use the buckets for storing larger tools or equipment
|Cell Phone Holder||• Keeps phone nearby for business use and emergencies
• Clips on to belt or features a belt loop
|Drill Holster||• Designed to hold cordless drills and drill bits
• Some also hold a tape measure
• Available in various sizes
• Belt loop fits most belts
|Hammer Holder||• Clips onto belt
• Sits high on hip so hammer is easy to reach
• Look for hardware that keeps hammer in place while you move
|Pen and Pencil Holder||• Belt loop fits most belts
• Designed to hold a number of pens and pencils
|Tape Measure Holder||• Available in various sizes
• Some feature straps that keep the tape measure in place
• Look for a unit that makes one-handed removal a snap
|Utility Knife Sheath||• Belt loop fits most belts
• Holds utility knife in a convenient, easily accessible place
|Vest||• Distributes weight evenly across chest and shoulders
• Features numerous pockets for small tools and fasteners
• May feature hook-and-loop fasteners for attaching pouches and other
Reinforced Corners: Tools and fasteners often have pointy ends, and pointy ends can easily puncture clothing. Look for belts, pouches and bags that feature reinforced corners to avoid rips and tears.
Suspenders: Tool belts and other storage systems can become quite heavy when fully loaded with various tools and accessories. Specially made suspenders help distribute the weight more evenly, preventing stress on your back and keeping you more comfortable so you can work for longer periods of time. Some suspenders even come with pockets and pouches of their own.
Left-Handed Accommodation: If you're a southpaw, make sure the belt you purchase allows you to adjust pouches and other holders to positions better suited to your needs.
Materials: When it comes to tool belts and pouches, leather is a popular material. Oil-tan, top-grain, suede and saddle leather are all frequently used. Leather is both durable and resistant to tears and punctures. Nylon and synthetic materials are also used for belts, bags and pouches.