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.

byMichael Febbo|
Make sure you're prepared for a fix with one of the best portable toolboxes.

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BYMichael Febbo/ LAST UPDATED ON September 9, 2021

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.

Best Overall

DeWalt Tough System 2.0 Tool Box Set

This is a modular tool case set featuring tough plastic construction, metal latches, removable push/pull handle, and all-terrain wheels.
  • 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
Best Value

TICONN 16in. Tool Bag

A soft-sided tool bag makes sense when space and budget are at a premium. This will smash down to the size of your tools or warp into that weird shape in your car's trunk.
  • 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
Best Starter Tool Kit

Kobalt Mechanic Tool Set With Case

If you're new to wrenching and need not only a tool box, but a tool set, this has most of what you need to get started.
  • 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

Summary List

Our Methodology

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

DeWalt’s ToughSystem 2.0 tool box set is ideal for storing everything from larger power tools to frequently used small hand tools. The modular design is compact enough so you can carry one of the smaller boxes in your vehicle for emergencies. The bottom box is large enough to carry several power tools and batteries. The bottom box also has 8-inch all-terrain wheels and a detachable handle. The middle box is ideal for larger hand tools while the top box not only holds smaller tools, but has sealed compartments for fasteners and other parts you might carry with you. Each box has side and top handles for easy lifting. The metal latches for closures are easy to operate and the stacking latches are one-touch-release. The boxes are IP65 rated, so they are resistant to water and dust. This set is a great deal, but if it doesn't meet your needs, you can buy pieces individually. DeWalt backs these tool boxes with a lifetime warranty, so you know these are a one time purchase.


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

Sometimes a softsided bad just makes more sense than an actual tool box. The TICONN 16 inch Tool Bag will shrink down to the size of your tools, to a certain extent. The flexibility will allow you to stuff the bag into corners or odd shaped spots in your trunk that a hard case would never fit in. This particular case has a wide mouth opening which makes it easier to see inside the whole bag at once, meaning you won't have to paw around as much to find that socket that fell into the bottom. The outer pockets will let you keep often used tools like flashlights or air pressure gauges easily accessible. It's easy to spend at least twice the price on more familiar name brands, but the dollar to functionality ratio will quickly see diminishing returns. If you do eventually replace this bag with a bigger box, repurpose it as a gym bag, people in the locker room will think you're a hitman.


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

For new enthusiasts, it's likely you may not have a portable tool box because you don't own the tools to justify it. If that sounds like you, then Kobalt offers a mechanic tool set, which includes a hard case. The kit has both SAE and Metric sets of ¼, ⅜, and ½-inch drive ratchets and sockets. It also includes combination wrenches, allen wrenches, and drivers with interchangeable tips. You will still need some pliers, real screwdrivers, and a torque wrench, but this is a good start for most people. The downside of the case, is that it doesn't leave a lot of room for the other tools you're going to need. But, if you are new to working on cars, this will save you a great deal of money and allow you to add new and better tools as funds allow.


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

For many of us, this is literally your father's tool box. Although Craftsman may not have the brand cache it once did, it still has all the nostalgia. The drawers are on ball-bearing sliders and have a satisfying glide going in and out. The top shuts with a thunk and the chromed latches jingle just as you remember. This is considered a portable tool box, but it weighs 20 lb empty. All of us remember trying to pick one of these up, loaded to the gills with tools, when we were 8 years old and helping around the house. They still feel just as heavy as an adult. These tool boxes scratch and get dinged up, but patina along with a smattering of stickers is how big red boxes like this should look anyway. This isn't a sensible buy and it shouldn't be your only portable tool box, but if you have the space, one of these deserves a place in your garage.


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.

Key Features


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.

Sturdy Latches

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.

Storage Capacity

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.

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