What does your safety vest do for you? For most working people, a hi vis safety vest fulfills one main function that’s incredibly important: It provides the high visibility protection that people need in order to stay safe and stay seen on the job. Anything else is just icing on the cake — right?
Not so fast! Safety vests can fulfill other functions, too, and they can do them extremely well. One of the most common roles for safety vests is to help people carry their tools and materials during the workday. It might be a surveyor’s pencils and field books, an electrician’s wire cutting tools or whatever your tools of the trade may be. Let’s get introduced to surveyor vests, a special type of safety vests with pockets for carrying your workday essentials. We’ll talk about what makes these vests different, how they’re designed and 10 of the best available from HiVis Supply.
Let’s Talk About Pockets
Ah, pockets. Where would we be without them on the job? For many working folks, pockets are essential for carrying the tools they use every day. You’ve gotta have the ability to transport some essentials around with you without constantly running back and forth, so clothing with pockets is the logical answer.
For some people, the pockets that come on their everyday workwear will be enough. But for others who have a lot of gear, the pockets on their favorite work pants alone might not be sufficient. This is why it’s especially important for women to have high quality women’s workwear since a lot of women’s clothing isn’t equipped with enough pockets to begin with.
Lots of today’s best workwear includes abundant pockets, including garments like coats and jackets, on which most people expect a solid number of pockets. However, there’s also another workwear piece that’s a common choice for people who need extra pockets: surveyor style safety vests.
What’s Different About Surveyor Vests?
A typical surveyor vest has significantly more pockets than a normal safety vest and is often built using more rugged materials and designs. Those are the most obvious differences, and they’re usually the main reasons that people choose surveyor vests as part of their high visibility workwear ensemble.
The design of the pockets themselves is also different compared with other kinds of pocketed vests. Many standard safety vests include at least two pockets on the front of the vest, but these pockets are often relatively small and can’t accommodate larger tools. Surveyor vests, by contrast, have generously sized pockets that can fit a lot of different items, as well as specialty pockets for items like smartphones and spray paint.
Pocket closures are also an important aspect of surveyor vest design. Hook and loop closures are the most common method, but surveyor vests may include hook and loop closures designed for extra durability, or their pockets may include more secure closure methods like snaps and zippers. Surveyor vests designed for harsh conditions may also have waterproof or water resistant pockets.
Finally, pockets in surveyor vests often include special modifications. Grommets are one of the most common: metal eye holes that are useful for attaching tool keepers, carabiners, or other small add-ons to your vest; additionally, larger grommets in the lower pockets are designed to provide quick access to flagging tape. Some vests also have support straps attached to their pockets that allow the pockets to hold themselves open if necessary.
Surveyors popularized the pocketed vest, but it’s now a common style in many different industries.
History of Surveyor Vests
Land surveying was the first occupation in which pocketed hi vis vests became standard. Since surveyors often have to move around public places near vehicle traffic when they’re doing field work, it’s long been standard practice for surveyors to wear high visibility clothing. Safety vests have historically been a common choice for surveyors because they’re comfortable, practical, cost-effective and versatile.
That versatility leads to a big range of options in vest styles, and a specific style of rugged, pocketed vest quickly gained popularity among surveyors. Many surveyors found that these vests were perfect for carrying around the numerous small tools that they required to do field work. A surveyor vest allows them to keep their writing utensils, field books, compasses and other key items close at hand for whenever they need them.
It’s not just surveyors wearing pocketed safety vests today, though. Far from it — in fact, professionals in many industries appreciate the convenience and functionality that pocket vests bring to the table. By combining high visibility with cargo storage, pocket vests offer a uniquely versatile take on the hi vis vest.
Who Should Wear a Surveyor Vest?
A surveyor vest can be a perfect choice for an agriculture worker in a vineyard who carries their harvesting tools with them. But it can be equally good for a logistics worker who’s carrying a tablet, a big set of keys and packaging tools on them when they’re in the warehouse. Mining and construction workers also frequently wear them, to help them transport small hand tools and safety equipment.
Surveyor vests are also useful for any safety protocol that requires both visibility and tool access, particularly the mustering station protocols widely used during an emergency evacuation situation at a work facility. In a mustering drill or an actual emergency, workers need immediate access to their most important tools, and hi vis surveyor vests are an ideal way to make employees easily visible to each other. The takeaway: Surveyor vests are a versatile solution for your on the job visibility and gear needs, whatever they are.
Pockets in a Safety Vest
The pockets that you’ll find in a surveyor style safety vest will include some combination of the following:
- Front Pockets: Most surveyor style vests include at least three full-sized pockets on the front of the vest. These pockets are large, conveniently placed and perfect for the stuff you use the most during your workday.
- Cell Phone Pocket: Many peoples’ jobs require them to use their smartphone constantly throughout the day. That’s why a lot of surveyor vests now also include a cell phone pocket that will safely store your device. Look for a secure closure, such as a zipper, on this pocket.
- Inside Pockets: Sometimes you’ll want to keep your tools a little safer inside your vest. That’s when it comes in handy to have a vest with inside pockets, which provide an extra degree of security.
- ID/Badge Pockets: You might need to display an ID badge while you’re on the job, which is why many surveyor vests include a built-in transparent pocket to hold your ID.
- Pen/Pencil Pocket: Tired of losing your writing utensils? Grab a vest with a pen pocket. These small, tubular pockets are perfect for sliding any writing implement into, especially if you have a pen or pencil with a clip that allows it to attach to the pocket.
- Back Cargo Pocket: Probably the single most defining characteristic of a surveyor vest is its large back pocket. This pocket is easy to reach from the front of the vest via the access zipper(s). Back pockets are perfect for storing larger items like tablets, small tools, important documents, or other necessary supplies or gear for completing the job.
- Spray Paint Pocket: If you’re rocking a vest that’s specifically designed for surveyors, it might even include pockets –– usually low and on the sides –– for the small cans of spray paint that surveyors use. Another great use for this pocket is carrying a bottle of water; so you never go thirsty.
Other Surveyor Vest Features
What other features should you expect from a hi vis surveyor vest? A combination of some or all of the following, depending on your needs:
- ANSI 107 High Visibility Rating: First, you need to be aware of whether your job requires ANSI 107 rated hi vis clothing. Determine whether you need an ANSI 107 rated vest, including which level of ANSI protection you need, by checking your company’s safety standards. See our beginner’s guide to ANSI 107 to learn more about these standards.
- Mic Tabs: Spend a lot of time on the phone while you’re wearing your vest? Mic tabs on a vest can save you a lot of headaches by providing a convenient place to attach the microphone from your earbuds.
- Durable Fabric: Most surveyor vests are made from a fabric that stands up to hard wear –– usually some kind of ripstop polyester blend.
- Cooling and Breathability: Your vest can become hot and uncomfortable if you’re wearing one that lacks sufficient ventilation features, which is why lots of people choose vests made with breathable designs and lightweight mesh fabrics.
- Neck Padding: A vest can rub uncomfortably on your neck when it’s fully loaded with gear. To prevent this, many surveyor vests include a padded neck that helps protect against skin irritation and discomfort.
Find the Perfect Work Vest with Gear Storage
HiVis Supply is the #1 name that professionals trust for supplying the very best in hi vis work vests. What you might not know –– but will soon –– is that we supply all kinds of work vests beyond the basic hi vis vest. In fact, some of our most popular work vests include our vest models with extra pockets and storage. It’s time to find a safety vest with all of the storage you need. Check out some of our favorite options below:
National Safety Apparel VIZABLE Enhanced Visibility Solid Safety Vest: This enhanced visibility model is the perfect example of how durable and practical a surveyor safety vest can be. Its resilient orange canvas fabric and reflective material gives workers a visibility boost, and its large pockets provide plenty of space for storing whatever you need.
Kishigo S5002/S5003 Black Series Class 2 Surveyors Safety Vest: Need serious visibility protection on the job that also offers convenient storage? This offering from Kishigo might be just your style, with its sleek black trim, zip-up front closure and robust pockets.
Work King S313 Red Class 1 Surveyors Safety Vest: You’ll love the full complement of features on this ANSI Class 1 surveyor vest. Numerous extra large pockets equipped with grommets and straps? Check! Side snaps for adjustable airflow? Check! High contrast design? Check!
National Safety Apparel VIZABLE FR Enhanced Visibility CAT 2 Survey Vest: This tough vest combines CAT 2 rated flame-resistant performance with enhanced visibility on the job. A great choice for anyone whose job requires flame-resistant garments that are also comfy, practical and packed with storage.
Radians SV7B Class 2 Black Bottom Surveyor Safety Vest: This great economy option boasts five pockets and an ANSI Class 2 design. It is the perfect middle ground between a normal hi vis safety vest and a heavy duty surveyor vest, with just the right combination of features to give you outstanding performance on the job.
Radians SV59Z-3 Class 3 Hi Vis Heavy Duty Zippered Mesh Surveyor Safety Vest: This ANSI Class 3 vest gives you the best available protection at a highly affordable price. Plus: a whopping eight pockets! That’s some crazy storage and, thanks to the vest’s lightweight mesh design, it’s also one of our most breathable options.
GSS Safety 1511 Onyx Series Class 2 HiVis Ripstop Surveyors Vest: It’s hard to beat this ANSI Class 2 ripstop vest for its combination of slick design, tons of pockets and durable construction. A poly mesh back keeps you nice and cool, and it’s easy to secure your tools where you want them, thanks to the vest’s numerous hidden pockets.
Kishigo S5021/S5022 HiVis Class 2 Women's Black Series Heavy Duty Surveyors Safety Vest: We’re proud to stock some of the world’s best safety workwear for women, and this ANSI Class 2 women’s surveyor vest is a prime example. Hard working women will appreciate the rugged construction of this vest, as well as its abundant pockets, many of which include zipper closures and load bearing straps.
Kishigo S5010/S5011 Class 3 Professional Surveyors Safety Vest: Toughness and functionality make this ANSI Class 3 vest one of our best. It’s equipped for maximum visibility on the job site, but its eight pockets also give you tons of options for organizing your most essential stuff.
Radians SV59W Class 2 HiVis Ladies Heavy Duty Surveyor Safety Vest: Another superb choice for the ladies, this ANSI Class 2 vest is an ideal choice for women workers who need budget-conscious hi vis protection with tons of pockets.
Whatever you need from your hi vis vest, HiVis Supply can get you outfitted for performance. See our full selection of durable work vests to learn about the tons of additional options we have available. While you’re at it, don’t forget to read up on breakaway safety vests, another crucial type of safety vest feature that HiVis Supply offers.