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The 5 best toolboxes in 2021

Business
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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

A good tool collection is only as good as your ability to find what you need when you need it. Whether you’re a DIY-er who tackles serious home repair and maintenance tasks or an apartment renter who wants to hang a few picture frames, a reliable toolbox is essential.

This simple piece of equipment will save you a ton of time and energy when it comes to locating the tools you need. You won’t have to spend time locating loose screws rolling around a drawer, searching through boxes for a specific screwdriver, or looking for the correct charger for your drill battery.

All toolboxes aren’t created equal, though. There is probably more variance than you might think when it comes to size, functionality, and storage options. During my time as a residential and commercial carpenter in New York City, I used a variety of toolboxes. Based on this experience, I compiled different options for this list that will suit almost anyone who owns more than a couple of tools.

Here are the best toolboxes you can buy

Best toolbox overall

image of rigid 221733 toolbox on white background, best toolbox of 2021

Combining portability and durability, the Ridgid 221733 22-Inch Pro Toolbox provides a safe and convenient home for your tools and accessories, all at a price that won’t break the bank.

Pros: Affordable price, large enough for power tools, durable construction

Cons: Not ideal for many small pieces

I’ve always been a fan of Ridgid toolboxes, but what really sold me on making the Ridgid 22-Inch Pro Toolbox our number one pick is its convenient size. It’s large enough to hold longer power tools and materials like piping or dowels, but you can still easily store it on a shelf. This size also makes it comfortable to carry without it bouncing off your legs, as some wider boxes do.  

I was also really impressed by the durability of this toolbox. The thick resin construction seems like it can take a beating and also gives it a nice, solid feel in your hand. Despite this heavy-duty build, the Ridgid is lighter than I thought it would be and is comfortable to carry when empty. The long padded handle gives you a nice solid grip when hauling it around. 

The integrated seal that surrounds the lid makes this box well-suited for wet climates or for use in areas where it could get splashed or accidentally hosed down. A dual section tray fits on top of the storage area too, which is great for keeping your frequently used items like screwdrivers, pliers, or wrenches close at hand. 

As part of the Ridgid Pro Tool Storage System, this toolbox is compatible with other Ridgid Pro Tool Storage 22-inch boxes. This makes the Ridgid Pro Toolbox great for anyone just starting out. Whenever you accumulate too much gear to fit in one, you can add another that will easily stack on top.  

You can padlock the metal latches, which is a useful perk, and I like the high-visibility orange trim that makes it easy to spot on a busy job site or cluttered garage.

Best extra-large toolbox

Image of a construction worker stacking toolboxes on top of dewalt tough chest, best toolboxes 2021

If you need to store and transport large and bulky power tools and accessories, this 63-gallon DeWalt DWST38000 Tough Chest won’t let you down.

Pros: Rubber wheels for rugged terrain, comfortable handle, extra-large storage capacity 

Cons: Lacks a storage tray, may be too bulky for some users

Getting power tools to and from a job site can be a challenge, which is where extra-large toolboxes like the DeWalt Tough Chest come in. Not only does this box have the storage space to fit a huge amount of gear, but it’s also durable enough to keep your valuable tools safe. 

The rugged exterior should stand up to the abuse and wear and tear of a heavy job site, and its IP53 rating means that you shouldn’t have to worry too much about dust or water entering the unit when closed. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the DeWalt Tough Chest is totally waterproof. It will stand up to “water sprays less than 60 degrees from vertical,” which is still pretty good.  

I’m also a big fan of the 8-inch rubber wheels on the DeWalt Tough Chest. Unlike plastic wheels that you can find on cheaper, lower-quality toolboxes, rubber wheels will not crack or snap off. They also give you a lot more traction when being pulled over uneven or wet ground.  

I also appreciate the twin support rails on top of the unit, which allow you to strap on extra gear using bungee cords. Little features like this can really come in handy, especially when you find yourself working alone and don’t want to make extra trips back and forth. Plus, thanks to the impressive 154-pound load capacity, packing sawhorses, an extra milk crate, or a smaller toolbox on top shouldn’t be an issue.  

The one drawback to the DeWalt Tough Chest is that it lacks a storage tray for smaller hand tools or accessories. This isn’t a dealbreaker if you already have a dedicated storage space for those items, but it would have been nice to have a little more organizational functionality. 

The padlock eye also makes it easy to keep your gear secure from curious kids who shouldn’t be handling dangerous power tools. 

Best compartmentalized toolbox

image of man holding Milwaukee 10-compartment toolbox, best toolboxes of 2021

The Milwaukee 223875 10-Compartment Portable Toolbox keeps your accessories, fasteners, and small items organized, and the clear lid makes it easy to find what you need. 

Pros: 10 separate storage bins, affordable price 

Cons: Cannot attach to Packout toolboxes

No more searching through zip lock baggies or hunting down screws that have spilled into the bottom of your toolbox or bag. The Milwaukee 10-Compartment Portable Toolbox features eight small bins and two larger compartments, providing an impressive amount of functional storage. 

My favorite aspect of this toolbox is that these bins can all be removed and carried separately to wherever you happen to be working. This will come in especially handy when you need to take your bin of screws to the top of a ladder or if you’re working with a second person and you can each have your own supply. Plus, by removing bins, you can create an empty storage space in the box itself and use that for anything you like. These bins also feature handy little screw slots on the back, so you can even hang them on the wall if you want.  

The lid of the Milwaukee toolbox also forms a complete seal with the top of the bins, so even if the unit is tossed around or flipped upside down, your items won’t get mixed up. An integrated weather-seal gasket makes the bins watertight as well, which makes this box well-suited to wet environments. 

My favorite aspect of the 10-compartment Milwaukee and what separates it from similar toolboxes is its ability to attach itself to a second identical box. Even with them attached, you can still access either box without having to remove the other. 

It’s worth noting that this box is not part of the Milwaukee Packout series of toolboxes, so it won’t be able to attach itself to any boxes from that series. In my opinion, the small size and convenient design of the Milwaukee Portable Toolbox mean that’s not a dealbreaker. 

Best heavy-duty toolbox

Image of man on construction site rolling milwaukee packout toolboxes, best toolboxes of 2021

This weatherproof Milwaukee 48-22-8426 Packout 22-Inch Rolling Toolbox and its metal reinforced body will protect your tools from nearly anything on your job site.

Pros: Resistant to water spray, extra-durable, 250-pound load capacity 

Cons: Expensive

It might be overkill for the occasional use, but if you plan on using your toolbox frequently and for serious home DIY projects, you’ll be glad to have a box as heavy-duty as the Milwaukee Packout Rolling Toolbox

It’s pretty clear when you look at this box that it’s designed with durability in mind. In addition to its thick polymer body, the sides are also reinforced with metal corner pieces, adding to its already impressive impact resistance. With a 250-pound load capacity and 15 gallons of space, you can fill this box up with a decent amount of gear.  

I was initially pretty skeptical about the strength and durability of the extension handle on the Packout but was pleasantly surprised when testing it out. It didn’t have the flimsy, plasticky feel that I expected. Even after wheeling it around for a bit, I never felt like it could break or crack easily. I also enjoyed the extra-long handle, which made it comfortable to maneuver around corners and over obstacles. 

I’m a stickler for water-resistant products, which is why I’m such a big fan of the IP65 rating that comes with the Packout. This rating is higher than any other box on our list and will protect its contents from low-pressure water jets from any direction. A rubber gasket runs around the box’s lid, which creates a tight seal when latched closed. 

The 9-inch wheels help this box traverse pretty much anything you’re rolling over, including staircases and gravelly or uneven surfaces. I’m also a fan of high-visibility color schemes for any tool or accessory, and the bright red color of this box is a great example of why. You’ll always be able to spot it from across the room, and if you’re using it in a public place, it is flashy enough to dissuade would-be thieves from trying to walk away with it.   

My biggest issue with the Milwaukee Packout Rolling Toolbox is its price tag, which may not make sense for those who just need a basic box to store their tools. That being said, its durability and water resistance could make it worthwhile if you think your valuable tools could get damaged by using an inferior box. It’s also the base unit of the Milwaukee Packout series, so you could eventually expand your toolbox collection with compatible boxes.

Best budget toolbox

Image of Stanley toolbox on plain white background, best toolboxes of 2021

The handy Stanley STST13331 1-Gallon Essential Toolbox provides a decent amount of durability and more storage options than you might think, all for about $10.

Pros: Good variety of storage spaces, low price, compact size for easy storage

Cons: Not as rugged as more expensive models

I’ve purchased a few of these Stanley toolboxes over the years and am always impressed by how useful they are for such a reasonable price. They won’t be rugged enough to be tossed around a busy job site or loaded up with heavy gear, but if you’re just looking for a sturdy toolbox to keep your hand tools and smaller items, the Stanley 1-Gallon Essential Toolbox is a great choice. 

My favorite feature of the Stanley Essential Toolbox is the pair of storage areas located on the top of the lid. This allows you to easily access them without opening the box. I’ve found this helpful for keeping my frequently used items, like drywall anchors or wood screws. 

Inside, there’s a removable tray for organizing your longer items like screwdrivers and pliers and a main compartment for bulkier pieces like tape measures, hammers, or even compact drills.

It’s not the largest toolbox, but this compact size makes the Stanley a good option for storing only tools that you need for specific projects, like working on your bike or for drywall repair. This size also makes it convenient for fitting inside a larger box, like the DeWalt Tough Box.  

Even if you already have a larger primary toolbox, the low price and functionality of the Stanley Essential Toolbox make it a great choice as a supplemental option to keep in the trunk of your car or in a boat or RV. It even has a padlock eye so you can keep any valuable or dangerous items — like sharp blades — away from young children. 

What else we considered

The Milwaukee Packout Small Parts Organizer: This is similar to our other Milwaukee pick, the Milwaukee Deep Pro, but its $50 price tag was twice as much and not much better if you’re just using it as a standalone toolbox. That said, if you’ve already got other Packout boxes and are looking to build your collection, this would be a great addition for organizing all your small bits and pieces. 

The Ridgid 22-Inch Pro Organizer: Our previous top pick, this Ridgid model has a good balance of storage and organization, but upon further review, it just doesn’t have enough space to make it a useful primary toolbox. It’s still a durable, reliable product with a low price tag, so if you don’t need a ton of space or are just looking for a secondary box that’s easier to store or transport, this model could be a great choice.

Methodology

I’m a former residential and commercial carpenter. Whether I was transporting power tools to walk-up apartments; carrying my brackets, anchors, toggles, and other small parts for a full office space install; or loading up gear for custom furniture projects, I learned that different toolboxes are better suited for different tasks. 

When choosing the options for this list, I first compiled a long list of the toolboxes I used as a carpenter and the ones I use around my house now. I then used that list to compare my personal favorites with the most popular and high-quality options based on reviews. 

After pairing my list down to about 10 options, I traveled to several hardware stores in my area to ensure that I had hands-on testing with all the options I wanted to feature. I kept several factors in mind when testing these toolboxes, including durability and organizational functions, as well as size and weight. This testing process allowed me to confidently land on the five options listed here.

Toolbox FAQs

What’s the best toolbox brand?

Any of the top tool brands will offer high-quality toolbox options, including Milwaukee, DeWalt, Ridgid, and Stanley. The more tools you’re going to be storing and the heavier the weight, the more you’ll appreciate a name-brand box.


What should I put in a toolbox?

It all depends on what you’re using your toolbox for. If you’re storing your home’s primary tool collection, you should make sure it’s large enough to fit all the essential tools needed to tackle basic repair and maintenance tasks. If you’ve got a power drill, a few screwdrivers, pliers, and a few drywall anchors, you’re off to a great start. 

You can also use a smaller toolbox to store items for a specific task or procedure, like bicycle repair or an automotive emergency kit for the trunk of your car or in an RV.


Should I buy a toolbox that comes with tools?

If you’re just starting out, a toolbox that comes packed with tools can be an affordable and convenient way to ensure you’re prepared for anything. These can also be a great house- or apartment-warming gift for amateur DIY-ers. 

They’re also usually designed with organization in mind and tend to have molded storage areas that make it easy to find what you need when you need it. Keep in mind that the tools that come in these boxes are usually not the most durable, and you’ll want to start collecting higher-quality tools for the long term.

Check out more guides to the best tools

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