The 10 Best Tool Belts
Why Quality Matters: Tool Belt Edition
If you have a wider waist, you'll want to make sure you find a belt that's capable of fastening in your size.
Either way, if the material and its stitching aren't reinforced, metal points can easily cause those pockets to tear, and might even puncture your skin.
The most important thing to know when selecting a tool belt is what type of instruments you need it to hold. There is a question of durability, to be sure, especially given the fact that different professions require different tools, some of which may be sharp, heavy, or hazardous, but the first order of business is to make a list of all your essentials tools, so you can find a belt that will comfortably accommodate them all.
After that, take a look at the materials out of which a given belt is made. This is especially important if you plan on using smaller pockets to store tacks, screws, or nails. Leather is a reliable option, as it protects the skin from any sharp points or edges that might protrude from within the belt. Polyester and nylon are also excellent options for their durability if you are in any way averse to leather. Either way, if the material and its stitching aren't reinforced, metal points can easily cause those pockets to tear, and might even puncture your skin.
If you've got a bad back (or a narrow waist), you may want to consider a tool belt with suspenders, which will help to hold the belt in place while taking its weight off of your lower back. If you have a wider waist, you'll want to make sure you find a belt that's capable of fastening in your size. And, regardless of your size or pain issues, if you've got delicate skin that is given to bruising, you'll want a belt that includes some type of padding in its design.
All Within Arms Reach
Tool belts aren't all that complicated. They're designed to equip you with any the tools you may need to get a job done without running back and forth to your toolbox, saving you time and, potentially, eliminating the need for a second pair of hands.
The overlying pockets on most belts are designed by using polyester or nylon, while the underlying belt is made of reinforced leather (usually gray, brown, or black). These pockets store anything from a screwdriver or a tape measure, to a set of drill bits or pliers. Most belts also feature what are known as D-clips, or rivets, for looping in a hammer, a cat's paw, a speed square, or a level. A belt's smaller pouches are reserved for storing tiny accessories, like a box of screws or nails.
Certain belts come equipped with suspenders or padding, both of which are meant to minimize the burden that a person's midsection has to bear. Heavy weight or high friction in the area of the lower back might result in anything from blisters to muscle pain and even spinal alignment issues after chronic use.
A Brief History of The Tool Belt in America
Belts, as a concept, have been in existence since the Bronze Age. And while it is difficult to pinpoint when the term "tool belt" came into being, it's not a stretch to assume that people have been attaching tools to their waists since the dawn of the Roman Empire. (We know, after all, that Roman soldiers wore swords on their belts, at least.)
But as American hardware grew into a major industry, self-styled handymen took pride in assembling a small arsenal of tools that they could use around the house.
In America, throughout the Gilded Age and the Industrial Revolution, most craftsmen and laborers carried their tools inside of a satchel. Considering the daunting images of brave men scaffolding early New York skyscrapers without so much as a rope to save them if they were to fall, it's pretty surprising that these workers wouldn't want to minimize their movement at such heights. Tool belts would have at least made it a little easier on them.
But as American hardware grew into a major industry, self-styled handymen took pride in assembling a small arsenal of tools that they could use around the house. The tool belt, which arose in part as an implement aimed at such DIY-ers, achieved its peak during the 1980s, thrust forward thanks to a variety of television shows hosted by experts including Bob Vila and a 1990s favorite, Tim "the Toolman" Taylor.
Since the turn of the 21st century, a lot of companies have turned their focus toward electronic appliances and digital power tools. These are progressive additions to the everyday workbench, but they in no way replace the tools a handyman still needs to keep around his belt.