The EDC Tool Roll: VIM Tools HBR5 Ratchet

The EDC Tool Roll is a feature on Jerking the Trigger in which we profile various every day carry worthy tools. The tools shown aren’t multi-tools but rather real tools, that by virtue of their compact size, light weight, usefulness, or unique functionality, can find a place in any range kit, emergency kit, or every day carry bag.

Feel free to comment on the tools that you carry so we can all learn! The discussion on these posts has been very valuable so far.

I used to have a small ratchet from Home Depot’s Husky line that I found extremely useful for its small size and versatility. I gave it to a friend thinking I could just buy another one but when I tried, I found that they had changed the tool. Fortunately, I came across the same ratchet under a different brand name – the VIM Tools HBR5.

The HBR5 is an extremely compact and thin ratchet that can be used with both bits and sockets. One side accepts any standard driver 1/4″ driver bit. The other side is a 5/16″ hex that comes with a removable 1/4″ socket adapter installed. Both ends are reversible and have a textured speed wheel for turning the bits or sockets with your fingers. The ends are offset and have 52 tooth ratchet mechanisms that require a short 7 degree sweep.

There are similar ratchets available with finer toothed mechanisms but I have never found anything that is is quite as thin and compact as the HBR5. At 4.5″ long it is easy to carry in your pocket or range bag and long enough to apply solid torque on fasteners. It is thin enough to get into places that don’t have room for a traditional driver. The ratchet ends are the pass-through type so even with a bit installed, the tool is very low profile.

The HBR5 is easily the best tool of its type that I have tried and is one of my all time favorite tools. It splits its time between my EDC kit where it is used mostly as a bit driver with an extension and my range bag where it is kept with two Altoids tins full of 1/4″ Craftsman sockets.

Where to Buy: These used to be available in the Husky line at Home Depot and they still offer a similar tool but it is larger, thicker, and feels more coarse. The only place I have ever seen VIM Tools is online. I purchased mine at Amazon: VIM Tools HBR5 at Amazon

Alternatives: There are a number of bit ratchets on the market but I haven’t found any that are as refined as the HBR5. Chapman makes a number of excellent ratchet kits with similar functionality but they use proprietary bits. Gearwrench makes a similar tool in kit form but the tool itself is thicker. Stanley also makes a kit under both the Stanley and Bostitch brands that you can find at some Wal-Marts but again, it’s thickness makes it less useful. Finally, a reader named Brian recommended the Tekton 1485 bit ratchet which could work if you like a padded handle. Thanks Brian!

Do you have compact bit ratchet that you prefer or another tool you would like to recommend? Tell us about it below.

7 Responses to The EDC Tool Roll: VIM Tools HBR5 Ratchet

  1. Chalky April 5, 2017 at 13:30 #

    It should be against the rules to post any more tools until the MK-7’s are back in stock or an acceptable replacement is posted.
    My cargo pockets are about to bust!

    • Matt April 7, 2017 at 09:02 #

      Chalky, the Micro and Mini Kits are perfect for me but I already own several. In the interest of finding an alternative, I have another pouch that I am trying that I think will fit my needs and be more readily available. Stay tuned!

  2. Brian April 6, 2017 at 18:56 #

    Got a shout-out, hot damn! My tool kit isn’t based around EDC or being low-profile/sized for a cargo pocket. It’s mainly set up as a breakdown kit to keep in the car. The Tekton has worked well around the house and in the garage, but I ended up ordering the VIM to try out, along with the Channellocks; nothing wrong with an extra arrow in the quiver.

    Matt: Are you thinking of including a small white light in this feature? I’ve always used Surefire’s G2X, but Streamlight has some slimmer/smaller offerings that look pretty interesting.

    • Matt April 7, 2017 at 09:00 #

      Thanks again for the tool suggestion Brian! I wasn’t considering covering lights because I always carry one without or without the tool kit and I fear it might be a larger topic than I can cover here. I definitely agree with your suggestions though. The Surefire polymer lights are great tool lights and I own several of the smaller Streamlights that I used frequently.

      • Brian April 7, 2017 at 19:26 #

        Covering lights would create a bit of sprawl for the feature, very true. I was looking at my kit and the light is just such an integral part; I was browsing Streamlight’s site at the same time so that may have influenced my comment a bit haha. Keep up the great work and hopefully the comments/discussion continues with each post! It’s been interesting to see the perspectives and suggestions here.

      • Jon April 11, 2017 at 09:36 #


        If you do end up covering lights, here’s a suggestion on a tool kit light that I have found very useful:

        These lights are made for many different brands, and in a few configuration, but they all have about the same form. The best feature is the magnetism. The light can be stuck to parts under a vehicle when doing repairs, and small parts like screws/nuts can be stuck on the light to keep them from rolling away while you work.

        If you buy a multi-pack (which I have, and keep one in every vehicle and in my tool kit), you can get them as cheap as $3 a piece.

        • Matt April 11, 2017 at 09:48 #

          Jon, that is an interesting light. I can appreciate the more tool-like features it has versus the lights most of us carry daily. Something like that could fit the pocket tool kit concept. Thank you!

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