Kangaroos Rejoice – a Basic Guide to Tool Belts and Nail Pouches

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I’ve owned a dozen nail pouches in my life, but I’ve really only ever used one. It’s so old and ratty that even the flies don’t want to get near it. I’ve had to make quite a few repairs on it, so now it tends to resemble a Frankenstein monster too. Everyone tells me to get a new pouch, but I’ll never listen to them. In fact, I’ve bought a few new pouches in the last several years, but I keep going back to my old one because it’s so familiar. It’s like that old holey pair of underwear you keep around just because they are so comfortable.

A serious rig - Courtesy of Occidental Leather
A serious rig – Courtesy of Occidental Leather
From framing to concrete to lathe work, just about every building trade uses a pouch. But not all nail pouches, tool pouches and tool belts are the same, and each one is designed for specific tasks, tools or trades. If you’re looking for a nail pouch or tool belt, you may want to consider the following advice before you make the purchase. Or you can just duct tape the holes in your old pouch and spray it down with some Febreeze like I do!

Ask your Pouch

The old man's pouch isn't complete without his headband
The old man’s pouch isn’t complete without his headband

There are tons of different nail pouches that are used for all sorts of projects. There are electrician’s pouches, plumber’s pouches and framing pouches – just to name a few. There are also lots of pouches that don’t really work well for anybody. Before you head out to the store and pick out the first pouch you see on the shelf, ask yourself these four questions and you’ll be more likely to find the right tool pouch design that suits your needs best.

  • What am I going to store in it?
  • How will I wear it – front, back or to the side?
  • What accessories can be attached to the belt?
  • Does it make my butt look big?

Alright, so maybe the last question doesn’t really need to be answered. But the other three questions are pretty important.

Anchored Pouches

Fixed pouch in action
Fixed pouch in action

My dad’s been in the construction industry for nearly 40 years. And, he still wears the old school fixed pouch. He likes it because it’s so light, it’s easy to take on and off and it’s fixed so that the pouches are in the front. Anchored pouches work best for light materials and tools but if you’re looking to carry around lots of tools and supplies, you’re better off with something a little stouter.

If you’re looking for an anchored style pouch, choose a pouch that has larger pockets or you’ll end up spending more time trying to extract the gear out than you actually using it.

Moveable/Adjustable Pouches

A moveable/adjustable pouch is one where the tool belt is separate from the pouches. This allows the user to add-on new storage devices like a knife sheath, cell phone holder or a hammer loop. This is my favorite type of tool belt and it’s what I wear on every job I do. It allows me to carry a bunch of stuff, but it does have one major drawback. It gets heavy quick.

Electricians Pouch  by Custom Leathercraft or CLC
Electricians Pouch by Custom Leathercraft or CLC

If you’re looking for some relief from a heavy tool belt, look for a design that offers a large padded belt. Some larger pouches can even be used in conjunction with suspenders to help take the weight off of your waist.

Three Things to Look for In a Quality Pouch

Pouch posturing
Pouch posturing

Whether you’re going for a huge hold-everything tool belt / pouch system or you just need a little bag to carry around a few nuts and bolts, there are a few features you should look for when purchasing a new nail / tool pouch or belt.

  • Solid Corners- With so many pointy objects in your pouch, it’s no wonder you don’t look like a pin cushion after your job. By making sure that your pouch has riveted reinforced corners, your pouch will be better prepared against rips and tears.
  • Righty or Lefty- Just because you’re a south paw, doesn’t mean you have to live with a right hander’s pouch. A moveable pouch can accommodate both righties and lefties.
  • Materials- Lots of tool pouches are made out of leather. But the problem with those is that they can chafe like a pair of burlap panties. Nylon and other synthetic materials are not only softer against the skin, they also resist stains (particularly sweat stains) better than leather.

What type of pouch or tool belt do you use? What do you like/dislike about it? We’d love to kow in the comments below and you could even win a free tool. Visit our free stuff page for more details on winning cool tools each month!

The new Dickies 57023 Grey/Tan 4-Piece Carpenter’s Rig shown at the top of this article retails for around $60 on Amazon, where you can also find a huge variety of alternative pouches, belts and gear.

Photo of author

About Eric

Since Eric built his first skateboard ramp in his parents driveway; he’s breathed, slept and eaten DIY construction. As a second generation master carpenter who runs two Florida-based construction firms, Eric’s had the chance to work on everything from Mcmansions to your local mall to the cat lady’s bathroom. So when it comes to dealing with construction s@#t; he’s the man—literally. There isn’t a tool or construction material that Eric hasn’t used and abused, and if there is; it’s rocking in a dark corner nervously waiting for him to show up for work.

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