Whether you’re framing, wiring, plumbing, or remodeling, having the tools you need at the ready makes for a more efficient job. Using a tool belt (aka “nail apron”) or carting a toolbox around is one way to keep what you need close at hand. But tool belts get heavy and space becomes limited quickly, and toolboxes are best kept in one spot. So when mobility is important, consider donning a tool vest. You’ll likely keep more tools on you, and the weight will be better distributed.

The Shop Pockets Vest

Shop Pockets tool vest system
Shop Pockets tool vest system Shop Pockets tool vest system

Inventor Michael Frank, an HVAC contractor in Wisconsin, developed the vest because he didn’t like the tool carry systems available to him: Standard tool belts hurt his back, suspenders cut into his shoulders, and the vests he’d used were too hot. The Shop Pockets system aims to remedy those problems. Like other vests, it spreads the load across your shoulders. It's made from a breathable synthetic mesh that sheds dirt and won’t absorb sweat. The vest is comprised of a modular system, making it highly customizable as well. It also accepts tool pouches from other manufacturers using a proprietary adapter.

The vest and two pouches sells for about $100; accessories run $20-$30 each.


The Blaklader Kangaroo Vest 3120

Finish carpenter Frank Caputo opts for the Blaklader cotton-canvas Bantam Kangaroo vest over a toolbelt. Deep-hanging pockets hold a tape, speed square, chalk box, and other tools while chest pockets hold a cell phone and pencil. It’s equipped with multiple hanging pockets as well as chest and utility pockets. It’s available in sizes S-XXXL

The vest sells for about $55 online.


The Builder’s Vest™ 2535 from Occidental Leather

Designed for woodworkers, carpenters, and other trades, Occidental’s Builder’s Vest 2535 features handcrafted duck canvas and leather pockets. The vest can be worn on its own, or with Occidental’s clip-on bags and holsters. A leather tool sleeve, calculator pocket, leather phone case, large utility pocket, pencil leeves, a notepad pocket, safety glasses pocket are among the many things preconfigured into the vest. The vest is also available with a framer’s package, or drill package, or both.

The Builders Vest sells for about $140 online.


View other vest options and read more here.