After reading a forum thread and seeing frequent mention of Diamond Back, I asked the company to send me their Raptor model to review. Developed by Jim Skelton in the 1990s, they are produced in Alaska and are 100% American made.
The bags are made from DuPont Cordura fabric and feature triple layer sandwich type construction. They’re stitched with Dabond 2000 60 pound test, a thread that resists UV, bleach, mildew, and rot—and is the industry standard for sail making. As for Cordura, it’s used in popular brands of work clothing (like Blaklader) because it resists abrasion. Diamond Back says these bags will outlast anything on the market. Having seen them in person I don’t think it’s an exaggeration.
Pouches connect to the belt with Velcro wraps and are easily swapped out. The ones I got were designed for framing, but pouches are also available for electrical work, drywall, and general or finish carpentry. Nearly every pouch and accessory for Diamond Back bags is available in lefts and rights, for left- and right-handed tradesmen.
The belt comes four, six, or eight inches wide; I went with the six-inch model. A smaller included Velcro belt can be worn through the loops of your pants. If you tuck in your shirt you can connect the Velcro belt to the back of the bags to prevent your
pants from sagging (it works amazingly well). Diamond Back sells two types of suspenders for use with the bags.
It would take forever to describe every tool holder in the pouches (best to see the manufacturer’s website for that). Suffice it to say, there isn’t a tool I carry that won’t fit somewhere in the bags.
My belt is equipped an optional hammer sleeve that tucks behind the right pouch (for right handers; left pouch for left handers). This is an awesome feature if you use a wooden handled hammer; my Stiletto Tibone has a rubber handle, which makes it hard to slide the thing in and out.
Instead of using the sleeve, I use the hammer loop on the rear of my right pouch. This is the perfect spot for a hammer; it’s within easy reach but the handle doesn’t bang on the front of my leg as it does with my Occidental bags. There was no “break in” period to using this loop; my Tibone slid in without any hassle.
After using these bags for more than a month I lent them to another framer. He’s worn them for a month and his observations are the same as mine.
The bags come in large and medium. The large bags are about an inch longer. I ordered mediums so they wouldn’t hang down too far. I found that with the medium size pouches it was harder to get nails out unless the bags were full. It’s an irritation that would go away with larger bags; I’m just not tall enough to wear them.
Aside from that minor problem, there’s nothing negative I can think to say about these bags. Basically, they’re awesome.
As tool bags go, the Diamond Backs are expensive (the Raptor rig starts at $249). But then the guys I know who wear cheap bags are always replacing them. I frame five days per week and would rather buy a top-quality tool belt and keep it “forever”. These bags are extremely well made and I expect them to last a very long time.