Tool Vest VS Tool Belt – Whats The Difference?

Both tool vests and tool belts serve the same purpose. They help you have your tools around you while carrying out a project. It is essential to have your tools around you whenever you are working. It is very convenient to reach and pick any needed equipment from your waist. Secondly, it saves a lot of time.

You won’t need to leave the site to walk over to pick any tool, and return it after use and it also prevents you from drop the tools on the ground where you risk tripping on them or stepping on them. So, people are often torn between either opting for a tool vest or a tool belt. The problem here is that you can’t say one of them is better than the other. 

5 Differences Between Tool Vest and Tool Belt:

1. Weight Focus

A tool belt focuses the weight onto the hips and keeps it away from your back and shoulders. This minimizes the strain from the back and also reduces the potential for injuries on the Jobsite. On the other hand, a tool vest distributes the weight of the tools and hardware over a larger area.

2. Coverage

A tool belt covers lesser parts of the body than vests do. They are usually cooler to wear in hot weather or high humidity. On the other hand, tool vests cover more body parts, providing an added layer of protection against abrasions and bruises.

3. Use

A tool vest is a perfect option if you have to reach or climb up to something with tools. It’s the perfect fit for a job that doesn’t require you to bend over. On the other hand,  as tool vests add bulk to the torso, it may cause trouble if you’re working in a compacted crawl space or closed attic. In that case, a tool belt is the better option of the two.

4. Fit

If you have a lean body and don’t want to invest in a suspender to keep a belt on your hip, then a tool belt is not the right option for you. You may find your pants sliding downwards by the weight of the waistband not fitting correctly. In that case, a tool vest would be the better option.

Properly fitted vests distribute the weight of your tools and hardware evenly around your upper body and remain secure.

5. Variations

Tool belts have way more variations in design than a tool vest. It is said that there seem to be as many types of tool belts with as many variable features as workers are using them. On the flip side, the selection of vests is smaller than tool belts, and an improperly fitted vest might do more harm than good.

What is a tool belt?

A tool belt is a belt that has multiple pockets or pouches attached to it where you can insert your tools. There are several types and brands of tool belts. Some of them come with a suspender while others don’t.

What is a tool vest?

A tool vest is a small jack-like vest with numerous pockets where you can put your tools. It usually comes in navy blue, black, or brown. It is made of tough materials. There are several types of tool vests.


Tool belts can be worn as a belt, and they have numerous pouches where you can put your most useful tools. Some of them come with a suspender to prevent only your waist from bearing all the weight. Tool belts take the weight of tools away from your back and shoulder, so they reduce your chances of developing back pain.

Since it does not cover your whole body, a tool belt is a better choice in very hot weather. The best part is that tool belts come in a wide variety, giving you more options.

Vests distribute the weight of tools over a larger area of the body more than a tool belt that makes the hips bear most of the weight. The distribution of weight reduces the chances of developing any ache or pain. Tool vests also provide an additional layer of protection against scratches.

You’ll appreciate their warmth if you have to work in cold weather.  When you are working on a project where you have to stand straight and maybe, stretch, bending over to pick your tools in your tool belt will be discomforting. A tool vest is great for that situation.


Has a door handle or a nail caught your belt loop before? Yes? It means you are already aware of the most significant disadvantage of a tool belt. The chances of this occurring will increase when your tool belt is filled with tools. A fully loaded belt will still strain your hip over time, and this is why you should fill the belt with only the tools you need. 

If your tool belt does not have a suspender, the tools may drag down your pair of trousers exposing your boxers. Besides, leaving only your hips to bear the total weight of your tools will eventually tell on your health.

Unfortunately, your tool vest will make your torso very bulky. The bulkiness may be a problem if you have to crawl into a narrow space to do some repair work. A tool belt is better in this situation.

Besides, a tool vest will add to your heat when you are working under the sun or in a hot condition. Vests don’t hold your tools firmly, so it is possible for them to drop off when you bend over or kneel to assume the best position for a job.

When you keep overloading your vest with tools, you’re making both chest pain and back pain inevitable. It may not be serious now. The real health issue will manifest when you get much older.

Precautions for wearing a tool vest or tool belt:

1. Take only necessary tools

The most crucial tip to apply when wearing either a tool belt or tool vest is to fill them with only the tools you need for that particular project. People are usually tempted to fill all the pockets of their tool vest and tool belt to the capacity.

So, after including all the tools they need, and there are still empty spaces, they’ll fill the spaces with additional tools that they won’t need immediately. They think they are using their vest/belt to capacity that way.

Unfortunately, they are also killing themselves gradually. Subjecting yourself to the weight of your tools all the time isn’t a good idea. It is better to keep the weight as low as possible. The only way to achieve that is to carry only the necessary tools.

2. Buy only a tool belt with a suspender

Always buy a tool belt with a suspender for two reasons. First, it will prevent the weight of the tools from dragging your trousers downwards. Secondly, it will share the weight of the tools between your shoulders and hips. Without a suspender, only your hips will bear the weight for a long time.

3. Take note of clearances around you

Take note of the clearances around you because once tool belt or tool vest is filled with tools. Your body will become bulkier, and you’ll need more space when you’re passing, turning, or when you are trying to maneuver. 

Tool Vest VS Tool Belt

Final Verdict

There’s no picking a winner when it comes to tool vests and tool belts. Even though both have the same functions and do the same thing, their differences are pretty evident to the eyes as well. Both the items work best in particular situations. It’s up to you and your preference on whether to choose a belt or a vest to keep your tools in check.