Best Portable Tool Boxes: Store, Organize, and Protect Your Tools
Whether its a rolling box or just small and compact, carry all your tools in one portable place.
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If you're brand new to wrenching and just starting to amass a decent set of tools, a portable tool box is a must-have. If you own a roll cab that's big enough to buried in and costs more than your first car, you still need a good portable tool box. Whether fixing a broken car on the side of the road, adjusting anti-roll bars in the paddock or even just fixing a faucet in the house, you want a way to carry your tools and keep them organized when you're outside of your garage.
Depending on your exact needs, portable tool boxes are made to carry anything from the very minimum of hand tools, up to a selection of power tools. A good tool box will keep everything protected during storage and transportation, so your willingness to invest money on a decent tool box up-front, can save you money in the long run.
DeWalt Tough System 2.0 Tool Box Set
- Water- and dust-resistant
- Keeps tools well protected from outdoor elements
- Large load capacity in a compact size
- Comfortable lifting
- Requires unstacking to access boxes
- Not easy to get up stairs
TICONN 16in. Tool Bag
- Saves money to spend on more tools
- Size and shape are flexible
- Zippered wide-mouth opening for easy access
- Won't protect tools as well as hard case
- Be mindful of carrying sharp tools
Kobalt Mechanic Tool Set With Case
- Includes Metric and SAE tools
- Saves money over buying individually
- Everything has its own spot
- Still needs a few tools added to be complete
- Not much space for expansion
There are dozens of different types of portable tool boxes for consumers to choose from. Each one of those types has sub-categories and then inside those are dozens of brands who all make slight variations. I used years of experience in working with tools and tool boxes to narrow down the field for this buying guide. Then through personal experience owning them or doing hands-on testing, the finalists you see here were selected. As usual, online reviews were also read to see if actual customers had encountered pros and cons I had not. My ranking factors included durability, value, usability and in some cases, expandability. All the portable tool boxes you see here are top choices and hopefully one of them meets your specific needs.
Best Portable Tool Boxes: Reviews & Recommendations
Modular system allows for total customization
Tough construction and lifetime warranty
Wheels make it easy to transport to where you're working
Proprietary locking system keeps you stuck with one brand
No choice in color means your case looks like all the rest on a site
Could use more internal storage container options
Less than the price of most 1/2in drive ratchets
Big opening makes it easy to find tools
Squishes and bends making it easier to pack into trunks
Doesn't protect from impacts
Allows tools to rub against each other
Be careful of sharp tools poking through
Enough tools to get you started at a good price
Organizational enthusiasts will love layout
Reliable tools with backing of huge retailer
Still required to buy a few necessary tools
Case doesn't leave much space for expansion
Not ideal for keeping in your car
Not just a tool box but a family heirloom
Ball-bearing drawers are joyful to use
It will get better looking the longer you own it
It's too heavy to really be considered portable
You will spend money accessorizing it
At some point it will fall on your toes
Our Verdict on the Best Portable Tool Boxes
With its compact design coupled with heavy-duty construction, the Dewalt Tough System Tool Box takes the top spot on our review. It also has multiple storage containers that help to keep your smaller tools well organized. If you are looking for a more affordable tool carrier with a basic but functional design, consider the TICONN Tool Bag.
Features to Consider
Benefits of Portable Tool Boxes
- Mobility. Many tasks happen outside your garage or workshop and you will need to haul your tools to them. A portable tool box prevents time wasted making trips to and from your main chest.
- Keep things organized. Portable tool boxes offer excellent means of keeping tools organized. One box can be dedicated to hand tools, while another can be used for measuring equipment, electrical tools, and so on. This level of organization promotes a streamlined workflow.
- They double as permanent storage. Separating specific tools into specific boxes is something many folks can do to organize their shop. Many tools can reside in portable tool boxes permanently, taking up less space in other areas.
- Can be used for emergency tool kits in vehicles. Every vehicle should have an emergency tool kit. Even if it's only used for storing jumper cables, lighting, and other emergency essentials, a portable tool box will certainly save space in the trunk of your car.
Should I Buy a Metal Tool Box?
The main advantage of metal tool boxes is that they are durable, good looking, and evoke great memories. They work great, if you aren't having to constantly carry them around. If you get one made of rust and corrosion-resistant metal such as stainless steel, then you’re guaranteed that it will stay in good condition no matter the season. Realistically, plastic is a far better choice and gives you more options including modular snap together systems and molded plastic drawers provide a better means of organization.
Is a Mobile Tool Box Better?
In terms of a mobile tool box, we are thinking of a compact option with wheels and a telescopic or a basic pull-out handle so you can move it around easily. If you walk around with large, heavy tools, then this may be the best option for you since you won’t have any difficulty bringing your tools to any workstation. You also won’t have to limit the number of tools you can carry so long as there’s enough space for them.
Portable Tool Box Pricing
- Under $50: Most small tool boxes usually fall within this price range. Expect the units to have basic designs with only a single handle at the top, a removable tray, or multiple removable containers.
- $50 and up: This is where you start moving into tool boxes that are part of modular systems. They may also include extra drawers, extendable trays, or multiple removable containers.
Any tool box needs to be rigid. Metal models are the sturdiest, but many composites are sure to stand up to abuse as well or better. The material you select should be balanced with the intended use of the box. The work you do and the tools kept within should be taken into consideration as well.
Robust latching mechanisms are just as crucial to reliability as the body of the box. Flimsy latches often fail and can lead to the box spilling open during transportation. Latch location is also vital, as it can determine whether the model is stackable and can save space in storage. Robust, side-mounted latches are highly desirable.
How large the box needs to be is something you must decide for yourself. Tool size and tool count are determining factors in how large the tool box must be. Space isn’t everything. How you can organize your tools is important, too. Removable trays, storage compartments, and drawers are key factors to consider when selecting a tool box. Remember to account for future tools which always follow the n+1 rule.
Carry Handle Size
If your box is loaded up with equipment, you need to make sure you’ve got a good handle on it. Most portable tool boxes have a small plastic handle that works fine. However, if you know you’ll be pushing its capacity, you should look for a model that features a wide and sturdy handle. Also, be considerate of whether your hand will fit while wearing a glove.
Many models are part of a line of compatible boxes. Most of the time, they are designed to stack on top of one another to save space in storage. Others can be fitted to select carriers and even larger chests. Even if you are only purchasing a single box at a time, this is something you should keep in mind.
Most tool boxes are lockable in one way or another. Lower priced models feature openings on the lip. This is acceptable for many users, as they will hardly ever rely on it. However, if security is of utmost concern, the only option is a model with a locking mechanism built into the lid. Tool boxes with this feature are often of metal construction as well, so that they are tough to break into. Ultimately, if you have a portable tool box, the thief will likely take the whole thing.
Q: How do I organize my tool chest?
A. The best way to organize a tool chest is to lay out and organize your gear in a way that will increase efficiency. Decide which tools you will need to use most frequently and place them in the most accessible point; reserve lower compartments for things you use rarely. First order retrievability is key.
Q: What is the best tool box material?
A. The best material is the one that makes your life easier. If the environment is harsh or security is necessary, metal is a clear choice. Otherwise, lighter materials, such as plastic, are perfectly fine and will save weight.
Q: Which is the most important tool in a tool box?
A. This will change with every different job you do. But, from experience things like lights, pliers and sturdy and sharp knife will see a lot of use. Model your tool box around what you are most likely to encounter, but try to keep everything within easy reach.
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.Learn more