How many times have you felt frustration atop a ladder because the tool you need is back on the ground? For under $40, a good tool belt or apron will keep hammers and hardware in reach and make ladder work, especially, safer and more efficient. But not everyone likes them: When loaded up, they can strain your lower back (so some putterers support their belts with suspenders). And they can get in the way when you crouch or bend over. Multi-pocketed tool vests can carry more stuff, with better weight distribution—but are they worth dropping hints for Father’s Day? We asked Wayne Lennox to vest-test two models.
Occidental Builder’s Vest
The nylon Occidental Builder’s Vest is versatile: The starter model can carry enough tools to do many chores; for heavyduty construction, I’d buy some clip-on accessory pouches (there’s one for tools and one for fasteners) and a drill holster. Like a good backpack, this vest is adjustable for a customized, ergonomic fit—but at the end of a long day, a fully loaded vest will probably take a toll on your shoulders. (Lee Valley, $129)
Stanley fatMax Xtreme Tool Vest
This fly-fishing-style vest won’t carry a lot of heavy gear, but it has plenty of storage capacity for all the small tools I’d need for installing a new ceiling fan or repairing my bike. The lightweight, breathable polyester vest even adjusts to fit over winter jackets. Several pockets have linings to keep nail or screw heads from poking through. (Rona, $60)
In-vesting tip #: Load pockets and clips that you can reach easily with the tools you use most often and hold with your dominant hand.
In-vesting tip #2: Keep nails, screws, and other hardware opposite your hammer or screwdriver. One hand grabs the tool, the other pulls out a fastener.