When it comes to getting to work on a job site or even in your hobby shop at home, there’s one essential piece of equipment that can make or break your rhythm — and that’s your tool belt.
With a well-designed and feature-packed tool belt rig, you’re making sure that you have access to all the tools, materials and other knick-knacks you need when you’re working on a project, and that means less downtime and more time working.
For those of our readers in the trades businesses, managers of construction and landscaping firms or just the avid weekend DIYer, these tool belt rigs are going to make your team’s lives, and your life a lot easier.
All of these fantastic tool belt rigs were tested at work sites across Australia for durability and practicality by a number of users, and online reviews let us know all the good and the bad about these belt rigs.
That said, if you’re looking for something durable, versatile and practical enough to make your day’s workflow even faster, you’ve come to the right place.
All of the belts on our list are fantastic for all-day use and are going to be your ultimate worksite companion for years to come. They’re designed with quality in mind and can easily take a battering each and every day.
That out of the way, let’s get into our list of Australia’s best tool belt rigs for 2021 and some of our honourable mentions.
Our Overall Winner — the Leather Building Framer Tool Belt by Occidental
Off the top, our winning tool belt comes from Occidental and we’re confident in saying that whatever trade you’re in, this is the belt you’re definitely not going to want to leave behind.
The Occidental B5625LH tool belt is our top choice for a few reasons and these include being designed and made in the USA, ensuring high quality. You’ll also find that there are a tonne of pockets on offer here, 24 to be exact.
We’re sure that with all of these pockets and access to plenty of tool grips, you’re going to be able to keep all of your essentials on your person — all day. That means fewer trips back to the shed, the truck or to the toolbox.
On top of this, the Occidental Tool Belt comes with a leather material that’s already been pre-worn-in, which means you’re not dealing with those harsh and rather uncomfortable rubbing marks. The belt is somewhat ‘soft’ and malleable right out of the box, and that’s a big plus for us and a lot of tradies.
The only true downside we found with this tool belt was the price, with a price point of over $400 you might be sceptical and tempted to overlook this belt, though if you’re looking for something that will last as long as you do in the trade, this is the one for you.
The Top Choice for Contractors — the Construction Leather Belt by AWP HP
Taking out the second spot for us is the AWP HP tool belt, which we will aim to our contractor readers.
We know that our contractors have rather unique and ever-changing workflows and that means a belt that’s well-suited to a number of different tools and materials was important to us.
The AWP HP leather built offers all of these perks here and you’re going to be able to rely on this belt to hold and store a tonne of different tools for your daily workflow. This will mean you’re spending less time at the toolbox and more doing what you need to do.
On top of this, the too holder notches in the belt are well-sized to fit just about everything you’ll need to hold, which gives you the chance to simply slot these tools into the belt without needing to bend down and set them on the floor, and pick them up again.
That in mind, we’re standing by this tool belt for contractors who are looking for improved efficiency at work.
One of our favourite features of this tool belt, and a feature we’re sure you’ll enjoy too, are the supply bags built into the sides. This is where you’ll be able to store all of your tools, and other smaller items. Pair this with the larger ring holders that are perfectly sized to just about every tool, and you have a combo of tool-holding features that make life a lot easier.
There’s a D-ring set here too, so using suspenders with this belt isn’t an issue at all.
To end, this belt is relatively affordable hovering around $100 and you’re going to be able to rely on some pretty serious durable leather here too, meaning a good few years or more is expected out of this tool belt rig.
The Electricians Perfect Companion — the Tool Apron by Klein Tools
Stepping aside from our contractor readers, the electricians on our website will be happy to know that there’s an incredible apron-style tool belt on offer for you too.
There’s a certain, rather tricky workflow that comes with being an electrician and that means there’s a good chance you’re not keeping a lot of all the tools and materials with you at all times.
With that in mind, this tool belt comes with just about everything you need to store your primary tools but also a tonne of little screws, wire nuts, cutters and more. This means fewer trips back to the car and more time to get your work done.
On top of this, there’s holders designed explicitly for tools like meters and wire strippers and other essentials as well, so you’re able to make sure that there’s plenty of space here for the things you’ll actually be using.
Add to all of these features the fact that the belt comes with a soft-touch suede material and you’re getting the assurance that reaching in and fumbling about for your screws and tools isn’t going to scrape and cut your hands or fingers.
One of our other favourite features, and a big winner for reviewers online are the spaces for marking tools — and the NCV detectors too. You’ll find a steel tape holder on offer in this tool belt and there’s a few sealed pockets here as well, so you’re not going to see anything falling out of the belt as you work.
To end, the tool belt is the perfect sized companion for the electrician looking to hang on to just enough of their tools and materials without going too far.
You can typically find this tool belt for under $100 too, which makes it a steal!
The Best Apron for Contractors — the 767-E Contractor’s Apron by McGuire Nicholas
Although we’ve touched on our top choice belt for contractors, we’d also like to delve into the apron-style options for these tradies.
Of course, you’ll want all of the space essential for holding tools like hammers, squares and marketing tools, though when it comes to keeping a hold of the more small items like nails, screws and bolts, we’re going to suggest an apron here.
To add, if you have some odd little knick-knacks, for example, these are going to find their ideal home in an apron tool belt too.
That said, the affordable contractor’s apron by McGuire Nicholas is our winner for you.
This apron tool belt is also one of our top choices for those who are left handed, as you’ll find an even layout of loops and tool holders on both sides of this belt. That means a hammer, screwdriver or anything else can be found on the right side of the belt for easy access.
For the pouch we mentioned above, for the storage of screws, nails and other smaller items, it’s sitting in the ideal location where you can effortlessly reach into it and find whatever you’re looking for. It isn’t too forward nor too far to the back, ideal for getting work done without being bothered by the pockets.
One downside we do have to mention though, is that this belt is riveted into a set of sizes, which may be too large for some of our readers. This may mean you’ll find the belt being a bit too loose or not fitting you at all.
To end, with a price point coming in at around $65 you’re certainly going to be investing in something affordable for the long term.
Our Top Choice for Affordability — the DG5372 12-pocket The Carpenter’s Apron by DeWalt
When it comes to affordability and practicality above all else, we’re confident in saying that the experts at DeWalt have you covered here.
The biggest selling fact, at least in our opinion, is the minuscule $45 price tag.
And when you pair this price for what you’re getting; a 12-pocket set up, with 5 larger pockets for tools and essentials and 7 smaller pockets for things such as nails and screws, then you’re on to a winner.
To add, like in the more expensive models on our list, you’re getting a suede feel here along with handles that make this belt a tonne more practical. You can tug on these handles to adjust the belt while you’ve got it on, or you can use these to make the belt a sort of tool box that you can carry around.
To end, the belt also comes with plenty of steel-loop holders for tools like hammers, so you’re not running the risk of tearing or damaging anything if you find that you do slide or throw your tools down into the belt with a little too much force.
With all of that said, if you’re looking for a budget friendly option that gives you the chance to get a lot of work done on site, you’re in good hands with DeWalt.
Some Tool Belt Essentials
With our list of the best tool belt rigs in Australia for 2021 out of the way, we’d like to go over some essentials to know about your tool belt and a few tips for your daily workflow.
There’s a good chance that if you’ve spent a decade in the trade that you’re already aware of some of these, but for our readers or anyone new to working in carpentry, the electrical field or just as a DIYer we have some points for you to keep in mind.
A Common Carry
In your day to day, there are a few different tools you’re likely carrying with you, and these all should be considered when you’re investing in a new tool belt.
You want your belt to be able to carry as much of your essentials as possible as to make sure you’re not needing to make countless trips to your toolbox, or way back out to the car mid-project or mid-workflow.
That said, if you’re a builder or work in construction, there’s a pretty good chance you don’t want your crown moulding activities to be interrupted because you forgot something, or couldn’t have it on your person in the tool belt.
With those key points in mind, we have a list of a few things you might want to consider holding in your tool belt, and use these to help better decide which belt is best for you:
- Your Nail Sets
- A Framing Hammer
- Standard Measuring Tape
- An End Cutter
- A Pry Bar or a Nail Puller
- Your Ruler — preferably a folding ruler
- A Pair of Pliers
- A Level or Torpedo Level
- Set of Pencils
- Your Screwdrivers
- An LED Flashlight or Headlamp
- Utility Knives or Stanleys
With some of those items in mind, we think it might be a little easier to gauge the size of the tool belt you need, and what you’ll need to store inside of it.
Making Use of the Tool Belt
For those who are entirely new to making use of a tool belt, we have some tips and reassurance for you.
You may not be used to wearing something with all of your tools on it, or more attuned to a workflow that gives you the chance to make your way back to your workbench during your projects, though you’ll get used to the improved efficiency.
We will say that repetition and using your tool belt will take some getting used to, and you’ll build muscle memory over the coming weeks.
That in mind, you might find that when you first invest in a new tool belt that you’re fumbling and not able to find where things are, which can be frustrating and really slow you down — though this won’t last forever.
If you keep your tool belt on your person for as long as possible, and in your everyday workflow, we’re confident that you’ll soon latch on to the efficiency provided by it and be able to find everything you need to complete a task without even looking down at your belt.
Get Good Use Out of the Belt
One thing we’d like to point out is not to baby or be pedantic about keeping your tool belt in good shape.
All of the belts we’ve listed, and essentially all tool belts on the market are designed to take a battering, and this means you shouldn’t need to slow down and carefully place and remove things from the belt.
Over time you may find that pockets become loose or you notice a tear here and there, though this is generally to be expected.
Essentially, what we mean by this is use your tool belt and don’t be stuck behind being as careful and calculated with keeping it looking like new. You’ll slow down your workflow and also be overlooking the whole point of a strong and durable tool belt rig — its durability.
What Went Into Choosing Our Tool Belts
As we’re sure you’re keen to know, we took a tonne into consideration when choosing our list of the best tool belts above to ensure our readers were getting access to something long-lasting, practical and comfortable to wear.
We began by delving into reviews and reaching out to those who actually worked in the field above and collected their opinions on what it was like to work with those specific belts.
From here we took a look online at a tonne of user reviews and correlated this with the experience of workers in the fields the belts were designed for. This gave us plenty of information on how these tool belts performed and whether they were the perfect companion to improve workplace efficiency or not.
A big part of these selection processes was asking our team, and finding users who could pack up their tool belts with as many tools as possible and get to work. The belts which caused the least amount of slowdowns took out first place, as did the ones which were comfortable and generally made life easier for those who were wearing them.
When it came to the design of the product, we factored in a few things:
- The Quality of Materials
- The Durability of the Design
- The Fit and the Finish of Materials
- The Level of Customisation in the Belt
- Overall Value for Money
- The Tradesperson Most Likely to Use the Belt
- The Pockets Included and Level of Practicality
- Support for Essential Tools
- Locations of Tool Holders and Pockets
All these points out of the way, and we found a few of the belts above offered the best experience that met all of our rather complex demands.
Relying on Durability and Fit and Finish
Before we delve into some of the other types of tool belts to consider, we’d first like to touch on the durability and finish of a tool belt.
As we’re certain you know already, a lot does go into the design and manufacture of tool belts given that they’re going to be used quite often and with some force. That said, there are some things that do significantly affect a tool belt’s usability and longterm life span.
If you have the chance to look at a tool belt in store, rather than ordering directly online, we would suggest taking a deep dive into things such as the comfort, the materials as well as some minute details like the seams, materials, rivets and the stitching.
All of these things are going to tell you whether you’ll be getting a long life out of your tool belt or whether you might need a replacement a little sooner.
Keep in mind your own use case here too, if you’re someone who’s relatively gentle with things, then some lesser-quality stitching or materials might not be too much of an issue for you.
When it came to use and our review process, we were inclined to choose tool belts that come with really high build quality and features leather materials that were the top of the crop. In line with this, we also wanted to provide our readers with tool belts that came with huge and strong rivets and padding, which also makes for a longer use case.
That in mind, a good set of loops and handles was also on the cards when we reviewed our belts.
On to comfort, it’s also important to note that a good portion of reviewers online, and the trades people we convened with for part of this review stated that oil-tanned leather was not something they enjoyed working with. These were often quite uncomfortable and also offered fewer customisation choices.
All that said, your own comfort preferences and use case should be considered when you invest in a tool belt, and it’s always a good idea to choose something that’s going to be comfortable for you. Try something on in store, test out how it feels and let this guide your decision-making process.
Using Old-school Nylon Tool Belts
If you’ve been in the trade for quite a while, you’ll know that at one point nylon was the be all end all for tool belts. It was light, durable and much-loved by a lot of tradies out there.
However, leather seems to have taken nylon’s crown.
That in mind though, there are still nylon models on the market and these might be the better option for you if you’re after something light weight and still quite durable. The nylon tool belts are made of nylon, as expected, and these are a lot lighter than leather.
You’re also getting some rather high quality options here too, just be sure you’re investing in something that’s double-layered or at least quite thick. The thicker your nylon is, the more durable the tool belt will be.
One other thing to keep in mind is that stitching is far more important on nylon tool belts. Given that leather is something dual-supported by rivets, the stitching isn’t all that vital, though nylon will rely entirely on the stitching to keep your belt together.
That said, take a good look at how high-quality a nylon tool belt’s stitching is before you make a purchase.
To end, take a look at some of the added features and levels of customisation on offer by your tool belt too, as nylon belts do still offer a fair bit. Whether it’s something that allows you to hold a rather specific tool, or anything else, it’s always worth considering some nice added perks — regardless of whether you’re choosing leather, nylon or canvas.
Before we get into comfort, we’ll touch quickly on leather and why not all types of leather are the same.
As we mentioned above, there are a few different types of nylon and this means you’ll be choosing between thin and thick variants. The same goes for leather, though it’s a little harder to see the difference.
For a cheat sheet of sorts, always look to see if the leather on a tool belt is firm or soft as more suede of soft leather tool belts are going to be likely to break sooner. These are sometimes lighter too and can be rather convincing when you consider that you’ll be wearing them all day — though thin and light leather just doesn’t last.
From our list of the winning tool belts, we mentioned that AWP was a good option, and this was down to the multi-ply leather and high-end stitching. That in mind, you might want to consider something more like this — though two-ply and multi-ply leather isn’t always of the highest quality.
There is also the option of choosing bonded leather, which again, isn’t as durable as a simple thick single sheet of leather. The bonded models out there can also fray and tear and you’re not going to get much use out of these either.
That in mind, we would highly suggest doing your best to look out for thick and pliable leather or saddle leather for your tool belts. These are the highest quality and you’re going to be able to go about your work day for years on end without needing a new tool belt.
Understanding Fit and Comfort
Another key consideration in choosing the best tool belt for 2021 is getting the right comfort and fit.
As you’ll agree, not all belts are designed in the same way and use a range of different material arrays to get the belt looking and feeling just right. And with that said, there are some rather integral considerations here too.
From nylon to saddle leather, you’re going to want to take a look at the shape and added hardware on the belt itself. If the buckles are too big or the rivets are in odd places, you might find that you’re being poked, prodded and rubbed the wrong way while you’re working.
Keeping that in mind, it’s always good to look for tool belts that offer up at least some form of customisation for you. This way you’re able to slightly spin buckles, slide them along the belt or move the belt around entirely to get a better fit.
When it comes to the rivets you’ll find on leather belts, we highly suggest staying on the lookout for options that are as low-profile or as ‘flat’ as possible. With a tone of small pointy rivets digging into you throughout the day, you’re certainly not going to be in very good spirits.
Like we mentioned, the materials and leather tanning process also comes into play with fit and comfort too. The oil-tanned options are a good reliable choice, though they can be a little firm and a bit too heavy for some. The primary compartments here, however, will be more likely to maintain their shape over time because of this tanning process, and because of this, you may want to consider oil-tuned models.
To the suede or the ‘soft leather’ options now, and you’re less likely to get years of use out of these, though they are more comfortable than most of the other options out there.
In line with comfort, the suede leather tool belts will have compartments that essentially flatten over time, so it can be a bit difficult to get things in and out of these pouches over the year or so. However, there’s added customisation on offer herein that you can slide your compartments across the belt, making for a better fit.
In all, as you can see, there are a few different comfort and fit requirements that are dictated by the materials you choose, and when it comes to the best tool belt in 2021 you’re going to want to keep these considered.
Capacity and Customisation
Going further into getting the best experience out of your tool belt, you’ll want to make sure there is room to adapt and alter how the belt works to better suit you.
The top thing to keep in mind is that you’re going to want to choose a belt that lets you hold everything you need in a way that’s also comfortable. There are a tonne of tool belts on the market that have plenty of space, though, getting something you can alter and customise is the best thing for you.
Of course, the most important thing is ensuring there’s room for the tools you’ll be using the most, and that means checking that the pockets and the tool holders are all on offer, and come in the right size — if they don’t, look elsewhere.
Also be on the search for things that a lot of tradies often overlook, like pencil holders and marker holders. You’ll greatly appreciate having these compartments by your side, and so keep them in your sights when it comes to buying into a new tool belt.
To end, make sure that the pouches on your tool belt are large enough for storage of the things you’ll need to use most often — whether it be nails, rivets, screws or even zip-ties, make sure there’s space!
The Compartment Quantity Also Matters
As we’re sure you’ll agree, getting a lot of work done and not needing to get off a ladder and walk back to the car is a major plus.
To help you out here, and keep you working during the day, you’ll want to look for something that has a tonne of compartments. We’re going to go as far as saying that you can never have too many compartments and pockets, even if they take away a little of the comfort.
We know that you want to keep all of your favourite tools right by your side, and that means getting as many holders and pockets on your belt as possible.
When it comes to this category though, make sure that the weight of the belt is evenly distributed, or you might be dealing with adjusting it all day long. Look for a design that has an even amount of pockets on either side, or off-sets the weight of a few pouches with a hammer hold for example.
For us, and our reviewers, the most common choice was to choose a belt that came with a tool holder inside some of the pockets. These allow the tools to be kept organised and also give you the option to keep things from flailing everywhere as you move.
In all, the more compartments and pockets you have, the more you’ll be able to store on your belt, and continue working away on a project without stopping.
Match Your Trade!
The final thing we’d like to mention when it comes to getting your hands on the bed tool belt is making sure that your belt is designed for your trade.
Seasoned tradespeople will already know this, but each type of tool belt has been designed to suit a specific trade’s workflow. This means that if you don’t keep an eye out for your trade when buying a belt, you might be left a little confused with some of the compartments, or miss out on something important that you needed.
Specific worksites may need ultra-low-profile belts, and of course you’ll want to make sure you have this wrapped around your waist. However, other workflows like a painter’s, for example, needs to be supported by a belt that prevents tools from hitting up against walls.
In all, make sure to check with your belt and the supported trades before pulling the trigger.
With all of our information about Australia’s best tool belts above, we’re sure you’ll have everything you need to choose the best belt for your worksite and workflow.
It’s good to be as pedantic and choosy as possible here as you’ll be wearing this belt for a long time, and of course, it’s quite literally spending time on your body for a good majority of the day — so you may as well have something that’s designed to be comfortable and to make your life at work a lot easier.
From the size of our deciding factor list, we’re sure you’ll agree that there is a lot to consider when choosing one type of tool belt over the other, however, it remains important to take the time to really gauge what’s best for you.
You don’t want to be stuck with something that’s too heavy or isn’t going to hold all of the tools and materials you need to keep on your person, and that means making a thorough assessment of everything you can.
On top of this, be sure to keep an eye on the materials used and the types of leather or nylon you think would work best for you. These materials will, again, dictate how long you can wear and use your belt for and how long it’s going to last in the workplace.
In all, work to research as many tool belts as possible and find something comfortable, tuned to your personal workflow and designed with longevity in mind — and you’re all set to find the best tool bet for Australia in 2021.