2021 Gear Of The Year

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

As this year comes to a close we wanted to bring you our list of favorite innovations. In this year’s Gear Of The Year Article, we have something that will interest everyone from workwear to tools, PPE, and Tech. So if you’re curious about new innovations in the masonry industry be sure to check out each section of our lineup. 


Kodiak McKinney 6-Inch Composite Toe Work Boot

The McKinney 6-inch Composite Toe Work Boot has a composite safety-toe construction combined with the composite safety plate to provide essential protection on the jobsite. With seam-sealed waterproof construction and superior traction on everything from slick concrete to loose gravel, they’ll keep you dry and safe in every season.

It features waterproof leather as well as a seam-sealed membrane. To ensure debris is kept out the tongue of the boot is gusseted. Other features include Kodiak® SOS Smell out Science® odor control technology, abrasion-resistant, and moisture-wicking lining, and a Comfortzone®  footbed with OrthoLite®  comfort foam. For more information on this boot and more options check out www.kodiakboots.com

Carhartt Hi-Vis Sweatshirts

Stand out on the jobsite with Carhartt’s Hi-Vis Sweatshirts while staying warm and dry. Available in both pullover and zip-up versions, each is incredibly lightweight at 10.5 ounces and is made of 100% moisture-wicking polyester with integrated Rain Defender® durable water repellent. Both versions also feature a hood with adjustable draw-cord for added rain protection, and the zip-up version features an additional thermal-insulated hood lining for added warmth as well as a Vislon® Zipper front closure with a storm flap. 

Comfortable and stretchable, both versions of the Carhartt Hi-Vis Sweatshirt include Spandex-reinforced rib-knit cuffs and waistband, two front handwarmer pockets with flaps for added security, and a hidden media pocket as well as a sturdy locker loop for easy storage when not in use. Both options are made with ANSI Class 3, Type R compliant 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material and proudly feature the Carhartt label on the pocket. This durable sweatshirt also incorporates a segmented trim design that ensures performance through seventy-five home washings- that’s a lot of wear and tear! 

For more information, visit https://www.carhartt.com/c/sweatshirts-hoodies-high-vis

Terra ​​EKG Stealth 

The EKG Stealth work boot features bring extreme lateral stability to the jobsite while enhancing safety while improving agility. It has a biomechanically contoured midsole that stabilizes lateral movement, while the JETSTRIDE™ FOOTBED™ insole provides on-target cushioning in high-impact strike zones. Maximizing traction, the slip-resistant industrial rubber outsole is designed to grip indoor and outdoor surfaces. You can lace them up once, and from then on the discreet side zipper allows for easy-on, easy-off convenience— they’re always ready to go. 

This work boot also features PU-coated debris shedding leather with non-wicking, moisture-wicking lining with antimicrobial technology, slip-resistant rubber outsole, and much for. Check out www.terrafootwear.com for more information on the EKG Stealth work boot. 


US Tape ChalkShot 

ChalkShot is a brand new product to the US market. It is designed to mark any type of hard-to-mark surfaces. For example, a lot of times you have to drill when you're trying to attach a bracket to a concrete pad. It can be a bracket for anything; a post bracket or construction, or any type of bracket that works for attaching another item to a concrete pad, or post. Oftentimes, we'll have to pre-drill the concrete by dropping an anchor, and then you'll have to fasten it down with a bolt. It can be very difficult to mark that surface of concrete because it could be rough, dirty, cold, wet, or it could have grease on it. 

ChalkShot actually shoots the chalk down on the surface of that pad, which clearly marks where you need to drill. Instead of trying to stick a permanent market or a pencil down there, which could mess up the pencil or permanent marker, the chalk actually shoots down and marks exactly where you need to drill. It makes it much faster, and much more accurate than a regular pencil or a permanent marker. In addition, the product itself can be used just to make any kind of temporary mark you need for any other reason as well. If you just want to mark a stopping point, a starting point, a drilling point, or transfer measurements from the floor to the ceiling, and you just need to make a mark, you can use a ChalkShot to do that as well.

Every ChalkShot has 250 shots in the can and can mark on any surface. It can withstand cold and heat as it is an inert gas and a powder. This means ChalkShot won’t freeze up during cold conditions and doesn’t overheat in hot weather. There is a locking mechanism to avoid the tip firing while stored in the toolbox or bag. ChakShot uses a medical-grade container, ensuring it will last over five years or 250 shots, whichever comes first. You can find this product at www.chalkshot.com.

SOLA GO! Smart

The digital GO! smart from SOLA combines the functions of a spirit level, an inclinometer, and a protractor in a single device. Equipped with a backlit display and a magnetic base with a V-groove, this compact tool is great for a variety of applications. The GO! smart’s Bluetooth® interface means you have access to additional functions with the free SOLA Measures app. The GO! smart measures gradients and angles with maximum precision. Its compact size and integrated magnets make the device ideal for adjusting or confirming the angle of saw blades. Developed to meet the highest standards of accuracy, the GO! smart ensures precisely measured cutting angles for miters joints. The measured values can be displayed in °, %, mm/m, and in/ft. With the “Hold” function you can “freeze” the current measured value in the display, and with the “Inc” (for “inclination”) function, you can easily transfer angles.

At just over 3 inches (8 cm) in length, the compact GO! smart fits into any toolbox. The included belt pouch provides you with a safe place to store your GO! smart and enables you to keep it in reach at all times.

SOLA BIG RED Digital Levels with Bluetooth Tech

The BIG RED digital levels are ideal to use anywhere where inclinations, slopes, and angles need to be measured quickly and precisely. These digital levels are highly precise, with an integrated electronic inclinometer module and Bluetooth®, which interfaces with the free SOLA Measures app. The key feature of the BIG RED digital spirit levels is the integrated electronic inclination module (Solatronic module) with a measurement tolerance of 0.05° at 0° and 90° and 0.10° between 1° and 89°. The measuring results can be displayed via the “Mode” function either in °, in/ft, %, or mm/m. Use the “Hold” function to “freeze” the current measured value in the display, and with the “Inc” (for “inclination”) function, it is easy to transfer angles.

The BIG RED digital series is made up of one 10-inch inclinometer and three inclination/spirit levels measuring 24 inches, 48 inches, and 72 inches in length with patented SOLA FOCUS vials. The magnetic version BIG REDM digital comes in 24 inches and 48 inches and is fitted with extra-strong neodymium magnets, which are installed laterally in the profile for a seamless measuring surface and maximum protection of the magnet.

Applicable To Both Items Is The Sola Measures App

Work more efficiently and save time with the free SOLA Measures app The Bluetooth interface syncs the BIG RED digital spirit levels and with the SOLA GO! Smart with the free “SOLA Measures” app, giving the user access to useful functions. For example, measured values can be transferred to a mobile device in real-time, and functions on the digital level can be controlled via the app. With each measurement taken, real-time data (such as date and time) are automatically recorded in the app’s measured value memory. It is also possible to upload notes, photos, or videos for every measurement and to share these quickly and easily. The user-friendly menu navigation makes the app intuitive and easy to use. iOS and Android versions are available.

Quick Headers

Increased job performance is all about “innovation.” It’s about finding faster, more efficient, cost-effective, and safer processes for getting the job done. The time and money wasted building wood-bucks is simply an antiquated way of shoring structural masonry openings.

Quick Headers is a removable shoring system ideal for masons and General Contractors who are fed up with building and paying for the inefficiencies associated with wood “bucks.” This past year’s soaring lumber prices put a laser focus on just how costly - and vulnerable - your bottom line can be. 

Quick Headers install and remove in one minute or less. Compare that to hours spent building, removing, and disposing of wood bucks. Next, consider the cost. There is an average 40% to 50% savings to shoring costs when rented, or a 500% return on your investment - every year - if you own them. Now consider job efficiencies. With the brand new, Quick Coupler, any size of Quick Header can be linked together and propped to cross over virtually any size masonry opening. The widest opening to date has been 90 feet. 

No more costly work stoppages. Just install, level, and continue the setting block. Once the concrete has cured, the simple removal of a Quick Header support beam leaves clean, true openings for any downline trades. A green, environmentally sensitive building method.

Visit QuickHeaders.com or contact info@quickheaders.com or 801-675-5572 for more information.


Jobsite measurement errors are some of the costliest mistakes you can make. To eliminate errors, you want to use high-quality measurement tools such as steel blade long tapes. STABILA offers a brand new line of contractor-grade tapes, the LBM 1000 open-reel steel blade tapes, which come in lengths of 165’ or 330’ are said to be perfect for long layouts and establishing perfect squares. The LBM 1000 is perfect for extreme conditions, the Y-frame is designed for comfort when pulling measurements while the open frame allows for easy cleaning of the blade. It has an oversized, looped hook to fit on surveyor stakes and pins. A fold tab allows you to hook brick and block as well as a foundation or slab edge. 

In STABILA’s tape line the closed-case LBM 2000 is available in lengths of 66’ and 100’. This tape is more compact than the LBM 1000, with a high-impact design that allows for easy winding of the blade. The LBM 2000 utilizes the same hook style as the open-reel models. 

The BM 300 Pro Series pocket tape is available in lengths of 16’ and 26’ and is designed for durability and functionality. This professional tape includes a rubber-coated ABS plastic housing that is contoured to fit your hand comfortably. Additionally, a specially designed blade hook allows the blade to positively grab on any of its 4 sides when pulling measurements regardless of the materials surface.

Masons looking for a complete set of professional levels should look no further than STABILA’s Type 196-2 K GO Pack (#48296).  This heavy-duty 3 level set includes 48” and 24” Masons Levels along with a diecast, magnetic torpedo level all in a padded multi-pocket case.  STABILA is an industry known for having the only heavy-duty box frame designed specifically for masons.  The Type 196-2 K Masons Level comes with an integrated blow shield, specifically designed to be struck with a trowel. STABILA’s patented locked acrylic vial system will never shift or loosen from a fall or impact of a trowel and provides guaranteed accuracy for life!


The FLEXVOLT® 20V/60V MAX* 15.0 Ah Battery (DCB615), is the highest capacity lithium-ion battery offered as part of the DEWALT cordless system. Delivering a new threshold of performance in the FLEXVOLT Battery lineup, the 15.0 Ah Battery is designed to provide maximum runtime in heavy-duty commercial applications including concrete and masonry, metalworking, building, and remodeling. Utilizing patented technology to automatically switch voltage in accordance with the tool it is paired with, this battery is part of the 200+ products in the DEWALT 20V MAX* system and is compatible with all DEWALT 20V MAX* chargers. For extreme conditions, the battery operates in outside temperatures as low as 0° F and is designed with a three-light LED fuel gauge indicating the state of charge.

DEWALT is also releasing two new 60V MAX* Brushless SDS MAX Combination Rotary Hammers in 1-7/8-In. (DCH735) and 2-In. (DCH775) sizes, both ideal tools for use with the FLEXVOLT 15.0 Ah Battery. These high-performance 60V MAX* SDS MAX Combination Hammers offer fast concrete drilling in a wide range of applications. The 1-7/8-In. hammer delivers 13.3 Joules of impact energy** and a midweight design that allows for horizontal and downward drilling for #6 through #9 rebar dowel applications, dry coring up to five inches, chipping in lower to mid walls, ground rod driving, and bushing. The 2-In. hammer provides a powerful 19.4 Joules of impact energy** and tackles horizontal and downward drilling for #9 through #14 rebar dowel applications, dry coring up to six inches, chipping in lower walls or floor, ground rod driving, and bushing.

The rotary hammers are part of the DEWALT PERFORM & PROTECT™ product line, integrated with the Anti-Rotation E-CLUTCH® System® that shuts down the tools in bind-up situations, and the SHOCKS Active Vibration Control® System that reduces vibration felt by the user at the handles. For more information visit www.dewalt.com.

Kapro 905D Level

Welcome to the next generation in Digital levels.

Recently launched, Kapro’s 905D delivers the strength and accuracy you’ve come to know and expect from Kapro at a Digital level. This level was built specifically for masons, bricklayers, and tilers.

Based on its predecessor’s robust design, the Condor has inherited the same rubberized shock-absorbing end caps, break-proof vials, and silicon buttons. It was then combined with IP65 ingress protection against water and dust, making it practically indestructible, and Kapro offers it with a lifetime warranty for its accuracy. It also comes in a protective carrying bag.

You can now wash the 905 whenever you need to with no concern. The 905D features the largest and most highly lit display in its category, tilted 45° for optimal visibility from any angle, and a flipping digital readout when you use the level in an inverted position.

Digital functions include a mode function for selecting degree (0, 1, or 2 decimal), percentage, and, for the first time ever - pitch x/1 ft. displayed as a fraction, saving you the need to convert measurements. 

The hold button freezes a reading on the display for angle transfer and the False zero function lets the user manually set their base angle for quick and precise slope measurements as needed for ADA 4.8.2 ramp compliance. It also features a visual and audible slope indication and a low-battery indicator signal. You may set the auto-shutdown for 15, 30, 60, and 120 min of non-use to conserve battery life.

The 905 has a quick electronic re-calibration mechanism, so you don’t even need to place it in a leveled position to recalibrate it. When it comes to accuracy, the 905D is unbeatable with 0.05° at 0° and 90° digitally and 0.0005”/1” (0.5 mm/m) on its proprietary Optivision™ Red vials which are up to 8 times more visible than regular vials. 

“We love seeing it at jobsites because it makes professionals that haven’t used Digital levels so far realize how much it can help them work more quickly and accurately. It also shows them how robust it is and why they shouldn’t be concerned about taking it to harsh jobsites just like they would a regular level.” 

Makinex Hose To Go

The Makinex Hose to Go was invented to solve a few problems:  After arriving on-site, tradesmen found that they didn’t have access to a reliable water supply for their cutting tools.  Without water, there was no way to proceed with work.  Countless hours have been wasted trying to find a solution. 

In 2017, OSHA issued a rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, pulmonary disease, and kidney disease by limiting exposure to respirable crystalline silica. This meant that no cuts on the jobsite could be done dry or without a vacuum. The Makinex Hose to Go is a portable water solution that is easy to use, requires no maintenance, and allows you to get your job done faster, safer & easier.

The Hose to Go can be utilized or carried in any position. Key Features include:

  • No Pump which means greater reliability
  • No complicated electrics to breakdown
  • No battery to go flat and expensive replacements
  • No need to manually pump to get the water pressure you need
  • With Just under 4 Gallons, users get up to 30 minutes of constant flowing water

For more information visit www.makinex.com 

Norton Clipper Blockbuster BBM Series Mini Masonry Saw - Electric

Norton Clipper continues to be an innovative driving force in masonry industry equipment and the Clipper Blockbuster BBM Series Mini Masonry Saw - Electric is no exception. This original design is compact and features all-steel unibody construction with a strong honeycomb reinforcement design, providing users with optimum weight-to-strength distribution. A versatile 14” blade capacity offers an opportunity to maximize efficiency on a variety of projects, and the ergonomically-designed, three-position locking, cutting head provides an additional layer of protection with a safe, clear view of the work area. 

There are two available motor options for the Clipper Blockbuster BBM Series Mini Masonry Saw - Electric: a lightweight 3HP brush motor, or a 1.5HP induction motor for heavier commercial use. Either option includes overload protection, garden hose connection, and a channeled, flow water pan to direct dust and slurry away from the operator which meets OSHA silica dust control requirements. For mason contractors who are serious about power but not looking for bulky, oversized equipment, this is a serious option to consider. For more information, visit https://www.nortonabrasives.com


Malta Dynamics Safety Helmets

Malta Dynamics announced the release of its new safety helmets, which feature an innovative design that aims to maximize both safety and comfort on the jobsite. The new Malta Dynamics Safety Helmets meet ANSI Z89.1-2014 Type 1 Class C standards and can optionally come equipped with an attached clear or tinted visor.

The Malta Dynamics Safety Helmet features sliding adjustable vents to help with air circulation. The helmet’s six-point suspension system and adjustable chin strap improve comfort and provide greater protection in the event of an impact or fall. The low-profile design allows a more secure fit that sits lower on the crown of your head, which provides better coverage and makes wearing the helmet more comfortable than a higher-profile sitting hard hat.

For more information, visit maltadynamics.com.

Malta Dynamics X500

The X500 Free-Standing Anchor is a mobile fall protection unit that offers a 360-degree rotatable arm with an overhead anchor point. Perfect for loading and unloading applications, the free-standing unit provides a mobile 20’ high overhead anchor point that can always remain positioned above a user working on an elevated surface, providing tie-off for fall protection while minimizing swing fall hazards.

The X500 fall protection system offers quick, simple field assembly with bolt-together components and is rated for user assembly with minimal equipment required. The unit features built-in leveling jacks to accommodate any jobsite, forklift pockets for easy mobility, and a multi-position boom lock to provide a fixed-position arm when needed. The unit has a 5’ square footprint, weighs 5,900 lbs, and its steel construction with a tough powder coat finish is made in the USA.

For more information, visit maltadynamics.com.



CrewTracks field management software has evolved with masonry in mind for over four years, and 2021 saw a lot of innovation based on our vision and your feedback.  Here are some of the features we added: job types and templates, simplified photo exports, upload photos from web, web document editor, mass and auto-allocate time, clock status report, job notifications, photos in documents, view jobs by customer in mobile app, edit photos in mobile app, and select all copies of a document for export.

Underlined features are directly based on feedback from MCAA members. Upload photos from web is very useful if someone emails a photo to your office staff. Mass and auto-allocate time provides shortcuts for allocating several people’s labor time to the same job item.  Photos in documents is great for various reports wherein a photo must always accompany the document. Edit photos in mobile app means you can now draw directly on your photos in the app; this works seamlessly with our existing notes and photos feature.

Finally, select all copies of a document for export is the second half of a feature that allows you to house the same document in multiple contexts, for example, multiple jobs, crews, or pieces of equipment.  For further information about these features, please visit crewtracks.com/blog and use the search bar to find the feature that interests you.  You will find a written explanation and a video walkthrough for each feature.

Sonim XP3plus

The new Sonim XP3plus is an ultra-rugged flip-style phone that builds on the legacy of its durable, and very popular, predecessor, the XP3, to deliver enhanced capabilities for those who work in demanding environments and need simple, fast, and reliable voice communications.

The XP3plus features a larger display, additional programmable buttons to improve productivity, and a new intuitive user interface with dynamic soft keys. A larger battery that offers performance that will last extra shifts. Large, tactile, and glove-friendly PTT and Emergency/SOS buttons offer mistake-free communication when it matters most. For construction workers who are always on the go, the XP3plus is compatible with a wide range of industrial-grade accessories including headsets, remote speaker microphones, vehicle mounts and more.

The XP3plus offers a 100dB+ ultra-loud and clear audio speaker with noise-cancellation for noisy construction sites. The flip phone comes with Sonim’s 3 year comprehensive warranty. For more information visit www.sonim.com

Construction Robotics: CR’s MULE Method 

The use of oversized materials offers a significant benefit to masons at a moment when time and labor are both hard to find. Advances have been made by materials suppliers recently, many of whom are offering oversized materials, including 32” CMUs.

To maximize jobsite productivity and minimize wear and tear on an already shrinking workforce, Construction Robotics developed the MULE, Material Unit Lift Enhancer. MULEs do all the heavy lifting while masons perform their craft. Together, using what is called the MULE Method, masons and masonry will never have to work the same old ways!

Significant business benefits – proven on jobsites around the country – are available now using the MULE Method!

  • Up to 2X the productivity on site.
  • Safer work environments.
  • Smaller teams on each jobsite mean more sites can be worked on at the same time.
  • Optimize planning of resources to eliminate inefficient steps.

Positive impact on a mason’s team are major motivators for the CR team: 

  • Saving backs -- keeping team members healthy and working longer careers.
  • Adding value to team members through MULE training.
  • Addresses labor shortage challenges.
  • Greater potential to diversify the workforce.

Once more of the industry adjusts to using oversized materials, architects and engineers can design for 32” CMUs from the start. More savings can be had when factoring in higher compressive 32” block, reduced need for steel, increased strength as a result of fewer mortar joints, and potentially designing to 8’ wall heights.

Construction Robotics’ MULEs are industry-changing!

For more information, contact Info@Construction-Robotics.com, or visit www.Contruction-Robotics.com

Cat S62 Phone

The Cat S62 Pro smartphone features several exclusive enhancements providing thermal detail to help locate and diagnose damp, draught, leaks, hotspots, electrical shorts, blockages, or elevated temperatures.

Sensitive to minute temperature differences, the S62 Pro offers the opportunity to potentially monitor, diagnose, reveal, and save time while on a job. It’s powered by the highest resolution of the FLIR Lepton 3.5 professional-grade sensor. 

Other features include an upgraded 5.7” FHD+ display, increased memory, and a fingerprint sensor. The S62 Pro has a high-grade aluminum body, and scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass 6. It has dual SIM slots and expandable memory via microSD (1x SIM + 1x microSD / 2x SIM), a programmable key useful for PTT, and a fingerprint sensor. 

For more information on this rugged phone go to www.catphones.com

We hope you found at least one item of interest in this year’s lineup. MASONRY Magazine would like to thank each company on this list for their contributions to the advancement of the masonry industry and encourage you to search out more information and resources on all of these innovative products. Whether you’re looking for a large investment in new masonry equipment for the upcoming year or a simple sweatshirt to keep you warm and dry on the jobsite. 

Don’t see a product on this list that made a difference in your workday this year? Let us know! Send us an email at istein@masoncontractors.org, and we look forward to hearing from you. We hope you have enjoyed this year’s edition of the Gear of the Year! 

Masonry Safety Inspections

The look of confusion and utter loss on people’s faces when I tell them that I’m a safety inspector for a masonry company is often hilarious.

About: Safety
Dave Jollay Announced as Third Inductee for MCAA 2024 Hall of Fame

Following in the footsteps of his father, O.L. Jollay, the founder of Jollay Masonry, Inc., Dave Jollay has carved out a remarkable career in the masonry industry.

What AI Can Do For the Masonry Industry

If your pension fund doesn’t hold NVIDIA stock, your fund manager has some questions to answer. This week, NVIDIA became the most valuable company in the world, with a market cap exceeding $3.4 trillion. They have been at the forefront of AI mania that ha

About: Featured
Brick: A Resilient Product That Will Make You Proud

Originating as the very dirt beneath our feet, brick has proven to be a sustainable, enduring solution that has been trusted for hundreds of years. While modern consumerism tends to focus on providing fast, cheap merchandise that is not intended to last,