Myself, I don’t like wearing a tool belt. I use suspenders to offset the load on my hips, but as soon as I think I can lay it down I do. That said, a tool belt makes me more productive keeping essential tools and fasteners at hand.
So, if I’m going to wear one, I want it to be as lightweight, comfortable, and flexible as possible.
A basic tool belt setup consists of a belt, a tool bag, and a fastener bag. If you’re right handed the tool bag is on the right and vice versa for lefties. Here we look at a two identical setups from Occidental: one in all leather, the other a leather/nylon mix.
These sets are made from individual components I brought together myself. I paired a three pouch tool bag with a three pouch fastener bag over a 3” leather belt. This is your basic carpenters belt. I then added a hammer loop, which turns this into a basic framers belt. For me this is now a frame to finish belt that I can add to or subtract from as needed.
The tool bag has 3 pouches and 8 tool holders. The fastener bag has 3 pouches, a speed square slot, and 5 tool holders.
Leather vs. Nylon
Aside from the difference in material, these two sets are the same. The only dimensional difference is the nylon outer fastener bag is 1” longer than the leather. This is a better size for nail strips. Another difference is in how they are sewn.
The leather pouches are folded into themselves and a the bottom. The nylon bags are sewn around the outer edge, and are rounded at the bottom, making them easier to work out of. The leather bags together weigh 3.7 lbs and the leather/nylon weighs 2.7 lbs.
The pre-assembled component system I’ve been using for the past 6 years (seen above) is Occidental’s 8080DB. That system comes with a low hammer loop, which I was never able use without my framing hammer constantly tapping my legs.
For this setup I chose the high mount hammer loop model 5059, shown below. I still get a tap here and there but it’s a 98% improvement.
The front hammer loop is great for my trim hammer, which is 3″ shorter than my framing hammer. So it’s not such a knee knocker. I also like the rear tool pouch for an impact driver.
One cool thing that’s changed with 3 pouch tool bag since I bought my 8080DB (below left) is Occidental now rivets the inner tool holder to the outer pouch. This creates a better drill holster and keeps the pocket closer in, which I prefer. It also creates a third inner tool holder where before there were only two. I use the third for my level as seen above.
Tape Left or Right?
I like to keep my chalk line in the top left fastener pouch so I picked up the High Mount Tape Holder model 5037. But I find the belt more comfortable without it. It’s better if you center it in the back but I don’t like to reach that far.
Many right handers prefer the tape on the left and the pencil on the right because it saves a move when using a speed square. Vice versa for lefties. For me, being right handed, I find it easier to grab and replace the tape from the right. Half the time I’m using a tape it’s not to make a mark anyway and using it left handed means reading it upside down. But I’m getting used to it on the left and that’s probably all it’s about, what you’re used to.
So Which One Is Better?
The leather setup is a pound heavier but I can barely tell the difference. And, even though it’s not broken in yet, I find the leather more comfortable than the nylon. It’s quieter too, as it slides against the leg. Cost wise, the leather runs around $15 more per bag over the nylon.
The leather nylon hybrid, on the other hand, is easier to work out of due to the way the pockets are sewn. With my large to XL hands the more open pockets won the day.
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If you’re in the trades you know what you want in a tool belt. If you’re just starting out a component system is great because it can be built up or down to suit your needs. I like this particular set up because, as a remodeler, it gets me from frame to finish.
Anything you get from Occidental is top of the line so it’s hard to go wrong. To learn more about this particular setup check out this video review. Thanks for stopping by.