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Review: Best Tool Bags

Tool bags have become more popular in recent time, especially for tradesman and maintenance workers who want quick and easy access to their tools. Using a tool bag makes it easy to organize those tools, while still having them contained in a way that they are easy to carry from project to project while working. With all of a tradesman’s essential tools inside, he’s got everything conveniently at hand.

Although best tool bags in 2021 seem like a new arrival on the scene, they've been in existence for quite some time. I can’t find any data showing when they were first used, but some trades have used them for centuries. Farriers (those that shoe horses), have always used a tool bag for their nails, files, hammer and hoof trimmer. Pipefitters working on the cooling system for the Boulder Dam used tool bags to take their tools from worksite to worksite. Even the Army has used tool bags for years, at least as far back as World War I.

The nice thing about a tool bag, as opposed to a tool box is its convenience. No matter how well organized a tool box is, it can’t keep everything ready at hand like a tool bag can. The open top and flexible sides make it easy to carry a variety of things, while the sewn-in pockets make it easy to organize a wide variety of tools.

I was amazed when I started looking at tool bags for this article, to find how wide a variety of tool bags were offered and how expensive some of them are. Of course, like anything else, you get what you pay for, so those high-dollar tool bags are better than the low cost ones that you might find at your local building supply center.

Tool bags are constructed out of a combination of heavy canvas, leather and plastic. Some have hard sides, with pockets sewn inside and out, while others are all soft-sided. What works better for your needs depends a lot on the tools you need to be able to carry with you and your personal work style.

The key to these bags is how sturdy they are built. I have an old all-canvas one that I've had for years. While I've managed to poke a number of screwdrivers, chisels and knives through it in one place or another, I can’t say that I've really damaged it. Clean it up and it’ll look just about as good as new. The bigger risk for breakage actually comes in the ones which have plastic supports and sides. Those might break, especially if kept in the heat or cold a lot, as both heat and cold can make plastics brittle.

The other thing to look for is the number of pockets that the tool bag has, and whether they are the type of pockets you’ll need for the tools that you need to carry. Some of these are designed for specific purposes, and if you end up trying to use them for some other purpose, you’ll end up pretty frustrated.

One other thing I’d like to say about these is that they are not for the person who doesn't put things back where they belong. The whole concept of a tool bag is to have everything neatly organized where you can grab it easily. If you’re the type of person who is likely to throw your tools in the middle compartment, rather than put them in the pockets, don’t bother with a tool bag; you’ll just end up frustrated.

Comparing the Best Tool Bag

best Veto Pro Pac OT-XXL Tool Bag

Veto Pro Pac CAMO Small Tool Bag

Veto makes an extensive line of tool bags, which are considered some of the best in the marketplace. This particular bag is huge. It can hold a 24 inch level in either of the two main compartments. Plus has 58 vertical tool pockets and four zippered pockets. An outside mounted stainless steel clip holds your tape measure. The PVC impregnated denier sides and 3mm polypropylene base are both waterproof to protect your tools. Marine-grade rivets help protect the bag. The bag will hold and organize over 100 tools. A heavy-duty, wide shoulder and ergonomic padded handle make it easy to carry around.

Veto Pro Pack XLT Laptop-Tool Bag

Yes, this is another product from the same manufacturer. Like I said, they make the widest selection and some of the best. This bag is unique in that it takes into consideration that the modern tradesman often needs much more than his tools to get the job done. This tool bag combines storage for 39 tools with a soft-sided, but still rugged, briefcase, so that you can carry your laptop computer and other office essentials with you. A great combination. Built of the same materials as the one in our number one slot, it’s designed to outlast you or your laptop.

Occidental Leather 5585, Stronghold Journeyman’s Tool Bag

Before seeing this tool bag, I didn't realize that anyone was still making all-leather tool bags. In a way, this is a bit of a throwback to yesteryear. Nevertheless, being made of leather, you can count on your grandkids being able to use it as well. This one doesn't have as many tool pockets as the cloth ones, but it does divide the center section into nine center compartments, allowing you to split your tools into sections. The leather construction is fairly rigid, making it so that the bag always sits upright. A reinforced bottom helps ensure long-term durability.

DeWALT 18" Open-Top Carrier Tool Bag

For those that don’t want to spend a fortune on a tool bag, DeWalt makes a very nice 18 wide unit. This one comes with 18 exterior pockets and 16 interior pockets. Plus, there are three flap-covered pockets and one zippered pocket for small parts, testers and other easy-to-lose items. A collapsible bar handle allows for excellent visibility and easy access to all tools. The padded shoulder strap makes it easy to carry.

Custom LeatherCraft 1528, 23 Pocket Extra Large Electrical and Maintenance Tool Carrier

This bag is very similar in design to the leather one that we looked at above, except it is made of fabric instead of leather. It also has more pockets, allowing easy organizing of your tools. Being designed for electrical maintenance workers, it comes with a bottom compartment, which hides a multi-compartment plastic tray for holding crimp lugs or other small parts. Elastic loops in the main compartments help keep tools upright. The square design is almost impossible to tip over.

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