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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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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON June 16, 2021

It goes without saying that mechanics, electricians, plumbers, construction workers, and anyone who owns a vehicle need to have a quality set of tools to handle emergency repairs and even carry out simple maintenance. When you don't have a convenient place to store your tools to keep them safe and organized, that's when it becomes a problem. This is why you should invest in a quality tool box.

 

A tool box can help you store more tools than a tool belt. Most can even accommodate large power tools. A portable option is even better than the larger tool drawers that can easily get messy. Also, a portable tool box reduces the chances of your tools getting damaged when you move them from one place to another. Therefore, their quality is maintained for longer. With this in mind, you can rely on our guide to help you select the best portable tool box, so you never have to worry about leaving any of your tools at home or in your workshop.

Best Overall
DeWalt Tough System Tool Box
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Summary
Summary

This is a small tool case featuring robust structural foam walls, metal latches, and removable cups for storing smaller tools.

Pros
Pros
  • Water- and dust-resistant 
  • Keeps tools well protected from outdoor elements 
  • Large load capacity in a compact size
  • Comfortable lifting
Cons
Cons
  • Storage containers don’t come with a lid
  • Not ideal for storing large tools 
Best Overall
DeWalt Tough System Tool Box
Best Value
Akro-Mils 14-Inch ProBox
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Summary
Summary

This is a basic tool box with a removable tray and a comfortable handle at the top. It’s made of industrial-grade plastic.

Pros
Pros
  • Keeps small tools organized and within reach
  • Padlock guide accepts large padlocks 
  • Enough room for small and medium-sized tools 
Cons
Cons
  • Not ideal for storing large tools 
  • Has only one handle
Best Value
Akro-Mils 14-Inch ProBox
Honorable Mention
Milwaukee Packout Rolling Toolbox
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Summary
Summary

This rolling tool box is ideal for harsh job site conditions as it has heavy-duty construction and all-terrain wheels.

Pros
Pros
  • Features metal-reinforced corners 
  • Keeps out water and job site debris
  • Convenient extension handle 
  • Can store both small and large tools 
Cons
Cons
  • Wheels are non-removable and can easily get damaged with extra weigh
Honorable Mention
Milwaukee Packout Rolling Toolbox
The Best Portable Tool Box
Amazon

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Benefits of Portable Tool Boxes

  • Mobility. Many tasks are in remote areas 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. 
  • Secure your belongings. If you’re on a job site, you need to keep your tools under lock and key. Many portable tool boxes are compatible with padlocks to prevent this from happening. 
  • 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 measurement instruments, electrical tools, and so on. This level of organization promotes a streamlined work experience.
  • 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, road flares, and other emergency essentials, a portable tool box will certainly save space in the trunk of your car.

Benefits of a Small Tool Box 

If you only own a few basic hand tools, then a small tool box can be a decent choice. You can easily move it around and even have it in your vehicle so it can always be within reach. Also, small tool boxes are typically inexpensive so you can save some money before you consider investing in a larger box as you acquire more tools.  

Should I Buy a Metal Tool Box?

The main advantage of metal tool boxes is that they are durable, and that’s probably why they are a favorite of most handymen and mechanics. It can survive a fall, and can also handle heavy loads and remain strong. 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. However, most metal boxes are heavy and after a few years can look unsightly from all the dents and scratches on the body. Therefore, it’s important to choose one with an impact-resistant body and a chip-resistant finish. 

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. 

Types of Portable Tool Boxes

Conventional Tool Boxes 

Ideally, conventional tool boxes have a basic, no-frills design with a lockable lid that opens to empty storage space. Most are equipped with removable trays or containers where you can organize your tools. Generally, most are either made of aluminum, steel, or plastic. They also have a carrying handle attached to the lid or dual handles at the side of the box. 

Professional Tool Boxes 

Professional tool boxes are an improvement on the basic type where the designs aim to make the most out of the compact space. Therefore, some models have non-removable storage trays on top of the main storage compartment. The trays can extend in opposite directions so you can have all the tools out in the open and at the same time gain better access to the larger storage unit. Alternative models have a lockable lid that opens to the main storage space, and a series of two or three lockable drawers beneath it. 

Top Brands

DeWalt

Raymond DeWalt made a name for himself by perfecting the first woodworking machine back in 1922. Two years later, the DeWalt products company was formed, and today they are headquartered in Baltimore, Md. They’ve grown to become one of the most well-known suppliers of power tools and other equipment. 

Craftsman

Craftsman made its debut in 1927. It didn’t take long for it to establish its place amongst the masses at hobbyist and professional levels. Today, it is most recognized for its ability to provide quality tools at a price that appeals to the DIY crowd. 

Milwaukee 

Headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., Milwaukee is an electrical tool and accessories manufacturer that was founded in 1924 by A.F. Siebert. Its parent company is Techtronic Industries. Besides power tools, it also designs hand tools, job site apparel, batteries, chargers, and storage units.

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: If you are paying this much, then you are most likely paying for a professional model with more storage compartments. This may include extra drawers, extendable trays, or multiple removable containers in the box. Also, most are heavy due to the design extras so expect them to come with built-in wheels for easy transportation.

Key Features

Rigidity

Any tool box needs to be rigid. Metal models are the sturdiest, but many composites are sure to stand up to abuse as well. 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.

Other Considerations

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.

Compatibility

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.

Security

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.

The Best Portable Toolboxes Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
DeWalt Tough System Tool Box

Making up a part of DeWalt’s ToughSystem tool set, this small tool case is ideal for storing small tools that you frequently use and need to be within reach. It has a compact design so you can always have it in your vehicle for emergencies. The interior has a 110-pound storage capacity, and is divided into eight compartments with removable storage cups. For convenient carrying, it has two handles at the top and side while the shorter edges have latches so it can be stacked together with other Tough System storage units. The case has a robust construction made of 4mm thick structural foam, and the edges are integrated with a water seal to keep out water. The unit is also resistant to dust. A central locking mechanism helps to secure the box. Overall, it measures 21.26 x 12.99 x 5.91 inches. 


While the storage cups make it easier to keep your tools organized, they do not have covers so the tools may spill out when the case is roughly handled. Also, it’s only ideal for storing small tools so consider the larger ToughSystem storage units if you have larger tools. 

Best Value
Akro-Mils 14-Inch ProBox

The Akro-Mils 14-Inch ProBox is perfect for carrying small miscellaneous items, as it measures only 14 inches wide. It may not be ideal for large tools, but it is perfect for keeping diagnostic instruments. Piling electrical repair gear in with wrenches can create a hassle; By separating them into a dedicated box, you can improve overall productivity. This box is perfect, as it is also lightweight. It's not a hassle to retrieve, nor does it take up much space. It also features a removable tray for better organization of your materials. Furthermore, it lists at a very affordable price.


Being a small box, it may not be the best choice for general hand tools. Wrenches, pry bars, and socket sets would be better accommodated in a larger box.

Honorable Mention
Milwaukee Packout Rolling Toolbox

As part of Milwaukee’s Packout Modular Storage System, this rolling tool box is ideal for on-the-move tradesmen. To withstand harsh job site conditions, the unit is equipped with 9-inch, all-terrain wheels and is IP65-rated for water resistance. Plus, it features impact-resistant polymer construction with metal reinforcement at each corner and the locking point. The wheels are also connected to the unit with metal. To ensure you can move it around easily, it’s fitted with an industrial-grade extension handle that’s wide enough to offer a comfortable grip. The handle is easily collapsible with just the push of a button. The interior has a 250-pound load capacity, and also includes an interior organizer tray. Heavy-duty metal latches help to secure the box. Overall, it measures 22.1 by 18.9 x 25.6 inches. 


However, the wheels aren’t removable so you can’t replace them after they get damaged at the job site. The best thing to do is not to exceed the weight limit to avoid damaging the wheel or the axle.

Honorable Mention
Voyager Stainless Steel Toolbox

If you are looking for a heavy-duty metal box that can withstand almost any outdoor condition, we recommend the Voyager Stainless Steel Toolbox. Measuring 20 inches in length, this tool box features tough stainless steel construction and a dent- and impact-proof polypropylene base. For added strength, it’s equipped with a full-length, steel piano hinge. Inside the box is a full-length tote tray with a socket organizer, and there’s more space for larger hand or power tools. For easy carrying, the unit is fitted with a fold-down handle that’s further integrated with rubber grips for a comfortable and steady grip. Two metal security latches help to secure the box. 


However, since it’s mostly made up of metal and includes a reinforced base, it packs more weight than similar-sized tool boxes. Despite that, it's not so heavy that you won't be able to carry it around. 

Honorable Mention
Gearwrench 20

The Gearwrench 20" 3 Drawer Steel Tool Box is an excellent option to consider when you need a secure and reliable box. The steel construction and locking mechanism make this model very resistant to thieves or other unwanted visitors. That same powder-coated steel also promises this box can stand up to the abuse of any job site. It features three sliding drawers and one large storage compartment on top. This main storage compartment has a carry handle making it easy to transport to projects, and this design can double as a permanent storage solution. It can be placed onto existing chests or benchtops without standing out. The drawers make it great for this because they allow instant access to organized tools. 


Unfortunately, it’s a bit on the bulky side and doesn’t come with wheels. For this reason, it may not be the best option for frequent outdoor usage. 

Honorable Mention
Craftsman 3-Drawer Metal Portable Chest Toolbox

Lugging tool kits and power tools around is made easy with the Stanley 50-Gallon Mobile Chest. This model is actually considered a chest, but it is still worthy of mentioning. The large capacity of the main compartment is perfect for storing large items. That includes the equipment as mentioned above, but it can also hold things such as extra boots, first aid supplies, clothing, and other items you may need on the job. It even features a removable organizer tray that allows one to hold small tools here as well. 


Because of the size, portability is a concern. The two wheels on one end and a pull-out handle on the other solve this issue. This model gives you the ability to haul your entire loadout in a single run.

Honorable Mention
Keter Masterloader Rolling Toolbox

If you have to travel with your tools, the Keter Masterloader Rolling Toolbox is the one you need. It combines three boxes into one. A large tote with seven-inch rubber wheels moves a hand tool compartment with a removable divider, plus an organizational compartment with six removable bins for keeping nuts, bolts, and other small items organized. Two smaller boxes slide apart neatly on ball-bearing slides, keeping the overall footprint the same. It also features a metal sliding handle with a rubber grip, allowing the handle to be out of the way when not needed. The Masterloader incorporates a twist-type central locking system that keeps everything secure; add a padlock if you’d like. Keter claims the box weighs 13 pounds, with an 18-gallon capacity and a maximum load of 66 pounds.


While it may have a convenient design for outdoor usage, it’s not completely waterproof. Some of your tools may get wet if it starts to rain or water splashes on the box. 

Honorable Mention
Stanley Mobile Tool Chest 

Lugging tool kits and power tools around is made easy with the Stanley Mobile Tool Chest. Its 24-gallon load capacity makes it ideal for storing large and small tools alike. The main compartment is perfect for storing large items such as power tools, first aid supplies, work gear, and other items you may need on the job. It even features a removable organizer tray that allows one to hold small tools here as well. Heavy-duty metal latches and a padlock eye that can fit a padlock of any size help to secure the tool chest. A pull-out steel handle and heavy-duty wheels make it easy to drag this unit from one job site to another. 


The price is its most significant drawback. It’s more expensive than similar-sized, portable tool boxes. However, its heavy-duty construction and ergonomic design make it worth every penny.

Honorable Mention
Stalwart Heavy-Duty Elite Rolling Tool Box

If you're frequently toting around multiple tool boxes, you should consider the Stalwart Heavy-Duty Elite Rolling Tool Box. This is something of a combo package as it combines two different boxes into one. The upper box is ideal for the storage of smaller hand tools, hardware, and other odds and ends you need to organize. It even features a range of storage compartments for that purpose. The upper box can be removed to provide access to the large, single-compartment box, which offers one the ability to haul large items along with them. The lower box also features wheels and a pull handle to make it very easy to transport.


Due to the large size and the hassle of detaching both boxes, this isn’t the tool box you will rely on for quick tasks. However, it certainly is useful for extensive projects.

Tips

  • Before purchasing a tool box, consider how you will use it. Decide which tools you will keep in it and whether it will function as permanent storage. Decide what features you need before shopping.
  • More expensive doesn’t always mean better. Many low-dollar options will function just as you need them, too. If unique designs are, in fact, useful to you, then you can justify the expense. 
  • Don’t pinch pennies. If you do need features such as a locking mechanism, wheels, a large handle, and so on, selling yourself short will only allow your investment to go in vain. 
  • Always consider compatibility. Even if you can only invest in a single box, down the road, you may have more. Investing in a line that can be stacked together can be done one piece at a time.

FAQs

Q: Are extreme tool boxes any good?

In short, yes. They produce high-quality tool boxes and tool chests that are suitable for use in a professional environment. However, their portable designs are still large and intended for professional settings. They are intended for wheeling through pits and being loaded onto trailers for transportation. 

Q: How do I organize my tool chest?

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.

Q: What is the best tool box material? 

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?

It all depends on your trade. For a mechanic, wrenches, screwdrivers, and a pry bar may be essential tools. A construction worker may prioritize a hammer and a couple of power tools. Think of what you need most and buy a tool box with enough space to keep it safe and well-organized.  

Final Thoughts

With its compact design coupled with heavy-duty construction, the Dewalt Tough System Tool Box easily 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 box with a basic but functional design, consider the Akro-Mils 14-Inch ProBox