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Once you have a collection of tools, you need someplace to stash them. For some people, that means a toolbox. For others, it’s a tool bag. While the choice ultimately comes down to preference, there are quite a few reasons you might prefer a tool bag to a box.
Tool bags are lighter, which is a major issue if you carry your toolset with you while working. Plus, they take up less space than a bulky box, another big issue for those with limited storage space. And many DIYers like being able to easily see and grab tools as they need them, which a tool bag makes easy.
Of course, tool bags come in a variety of sizes and styles. Some have multiple pockets, which makes it easy to organize your tools. Some are open in design, while others have zippers or fasteners to close the pockets. Some have frames, and others are soft. Some are geared towards specific professions or types of tools, while others are general-purpose. And, finally, there are tool bags made of different materials, including leather both real and faux, nylon, polyester, and canvas.
To simplify your decision, we researched the top tool bags available today and then whittled the choices down to the best in various categories. Here are our favorite tool bags.
Best Overall: Custom Leathercraft 1539 Multi-Compartment 50 Pocket Tool Bag
50 pockets total
Padded shoulder strap
For a large, durable tool bag that checks all of the boxes, we love the Custom LeatherCraft 1539 Multi Compartment Carrier. This polyester tool bag can handle all of your tools and it won't stretch out or break.
A spacious inner compartment serves up space for power and hand tools that can be awkward or bulky. The large exterior compartments unfold to reveal 50 pockets for bits, handheld screwdrivers, and other tricks of the trade that can get lost in the bottom of a cavernous bag. The zippered side panels give you extra storage space and you won't have to worry that something will fall out. Plus, the padded should strap will help prevent back and should pain, especially if you tend to carry heavy power tools.
Best Budget: WORKPRO 16-Inch Wide Mouth Tool Bag W136007A
21 pockets and eight loops
Interior pockets are small
If all you need is a lightweight tool bag to keep your tools organized and near at hand while you work, then there’s no need to break your budget for a pricy bag with all the bells and whistles. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for something less than you’d like. The WORKPRO 16-Inch Wide Mouth Tool Bag has a lot of great features for such an inexpensive bag, and it’s sturdy enough to last for years if treated properly.
Made of rugged 600-denier polyester, with a rigid plastic base and padded sides, this is no flimsy bag that will tear easily. It has a sturdy internal metal frame to provide extra support and prevent sagging or drooping, even when heavily loaded with tools. The frame also holds the “mouth” of the bag wide open when desired so you can easily grab what you need without having to root around inside the bag.
There are pockets galore–13 on the bag’s exterior, eight on the inside, and an additional eight belts to secure wrenches, pliers, and other long tools. Padded handles and an adjustable shoulder strap make the bag easy and comfortable to carry, and a double top zipper keeps the whole thing securely fastened when not in use.
The bag measures 16 x 11 x 8 inches.
Best on Wheels: Klein Tools Rolling Tool Bag
24 pockets total
Few complaints about the telescoping handle
If you're constantly moving from one location to another, a tool bag that has wheels might be the best pick for you. While it's not exactly lightweight (it weighs 19 pounds), this tool bag has a reinforced metal frame and can store up to 100 pounds of tools, making it one of the most durable rolling bags on the market.
This tool bag has a ton of pockets to keep your tools organized, and the wide mouth cavity allows you to store bulkier items such as power drills and extra tool batteries with ease. Plus, the bright orange interior makes your gadgets super easy to find. No longer will you waste your time searching for tools in a dark bag. Other notable features include a telescoping handle and oversize wheels, which allow this rolling bag to handle rough terrain and rain-slicked surfaces.
Best for Carpenters: Occidental Leather 9850 Adjust-to-Fit Fat Lip Tool Bag Set
Belt adjusts for waist sizes 32 to 41 inches
Very sturdy with leather for durability
Multiple storage options
Somewhat stiff at first
This well-designed, very comfortable, durable tool bag provides easy access to all different kinds of tools–not just those used for carpentry. It may be more expensive than other options on the market, but it's big enough to hold all of your tools and it will last for years.
It's crafted from high-density neoprene and commercial nylon and has a leather FatLip that runs around the bag to keep the structure from sagging. The ample interior has 24 pockets for a wide variety of tools and a 10-inch deep main bag for larger items. The deep pockets allow you to store sharp tools easily, so you can grab them quickly and won't have to worry about snagging the tool on the bag’s material or punching a hole through the seams.
Best for Plumbers: Veto Pro Pac TECH-LC Tool Bag
Perfect for professional service people and technicians
Very sturdy construction
53 pockets total
A plumber or other service technician has to be able to multitask, and so should his tool bag! For a plumbers bag that checks all of the boxes, we recommend the Veto Pro Pac Tech-LC Tool Bag. It has convenient storage options and an ergonomic design that's comfortable on the back and shoulders. It's the perfect choice for electricians, HVAC technicians, plumbers, or anyone else who needs to tote a large collection of tools to multiple work locations each day.
This tool bag is made from 100% denier nylon, which has a thicker weight and more substantial weave. It has 53 pockets with ample room for bulkier tools, and eight smaller pockets perfectly sized for drill bits and extensions. With numerous compartments (some are even zippered), it makes it easy to find what you're looking for so you don't waste time fumbling in your toolkit.
Best Backpack: Custom Leathercraft 1134 Carpenter's Tool Backpack, 44 Pockets
44 pockets total
Comfortable padded straps
Few complaints about comfort while wearing
The Custom LeatherCraft Carpenter’s Tool Backpack provides a unique solution for technicians, installers, and carpenters who need to climb ladders while still having easy access to their tools. It allows for hands-free tool access, whether you're on a roof, ladder, or ledge.
To organize your tools there are two main compartments: one compartment for smaller tools and a larger compression pocket that is able to fit bulkier tools like a cordless drill. The Custom LeatherCraft bag has padded back support and shoulder straps that make carrying the bag easy on your body. Finally, dual handles at the top make it easy to grab and go.
Best Lighted: Klein Tools 55431 Tool Bag with Padded Shoulder Strap and Handles
31 pockets total
Work light is very useful
Strong and durable construction
When you're working in a dim setting, having a lighted tool bag can illuminate your workspace and help you find the tools you need to get the job done. The Klein Tools Tradesmen Pro Organizer Lighted Tool Bag is a great option, as it has a removable LED light that can be positioned to face inside or outside the bag.
Not a one-trick pony, this bag has other convenient features. There are 14 internal pockets and 17 external pockets that can hold items you reach for frequently. Klein designed this relatively lightweight bag with 1680D ballistic weave and an orange interior that helps your tools stand out. The molded base protects it from water and gives it a sturdy position in precarious places, such as on a ledge, roof, or ditch.
Best for Electricians: DEWALT Electrician’s Tool Bag DG5582
23 pockets total
Strong, durable construction
Some complaints about comfort of shoulder strap when bag is heavily loaded
Loaded with storage options and lightweight, the DEWALT Electrician’s Tool Bag was built for the hardworking electrician or handyperson who needs a constant stable of tools at the ready. Measuring 11 inches long x 10 inches deep x 17 inches high, the bag has a total of 23 pockets, sleeves, and slots to make organizing and carrying your necessities a breeze. There’s even an 8.5 x 6-inch multi-compartment plastic tool tray to sort and hold small items like screws, nuts, and bolts.
The padded nonslip shoulder strap and carrying handle are easy on your shoulder or hand. But best of all, the box-shape, stable design of the bag means that it stands upright and open on its own, making it easy to find what you need when you need it without fumbling or frustration.
Sturdiness, versatility, and size make the Custom LeatherCraft Multi Compartment Carrier (view at Amazon) our top choice for a tool bag suitable for casual DIYers all the way up to professionals. But if you want to spend less without sacrificing too much quality, the WORKPRO Wide Mouth Tool Bag (view at Amazon) has lots of storage versatility, along with a very reasonable price, although it’s not quite as durable as our top choice.
What to Look for in a Tool Bag
Most tool bags are made of nylon, canvas, or polyester, as these are all lightweight and reasonably strong. You’ll also find tool bags made of leather, but keep in mind that these bags weigh quite a bit more than their synthetic counterparts. A rubber or heavy plastic bottom on any bag is a nice feature, as it helps prevent moisture from seeping into the bag when sitting on the ground, plus it provides stability to keep the bag sitting upright.
There are tool bags that are little more than a basic pouch and others that provide multiple zipped and open compartments, clips, belts, and pockets. Consider how many tools you plan to carry, how easily you want to be able to access them, and where your tool bag will be stored when deciding on the type and amount of storage options you need.
Eamon Lynch, Director of Warranty Service at Power Home Remodeling, offers further advice, saying, “The best organization and storage system will depend on your space and the amount of tools in your collection. But the most important thing you can do is to store your tools in one place and put them back after each use. There’s nothing worse than wanting to start a new project and not being able to find any of the tools you need.”
The best tool bags have padded shoulder straps and handgrips so you can tote them without discomfort, even when the bag is full and/or heavy. Look for products with straps that can be adjusted in size and length, so that just about any user can carry the tools comfortably with just a simple adjustment. A wide-mouth opening is another nice feature, as it makes it easy to grab what you need quickly. Just make sure to look before grabbing to prevent accidentally cutting, pinching, or piercing your hands and fingers.
What is a tool bag?
A tool bag is similar to a tool box in that it is made specifically for carrying tools. However, instead of a heavy, rigid material, tool bags are made of flexible, lightweight material, like nylon, canvas, polyester, or leather. They typically have a set of handles or a shoulder strap to make it easier to carry the tool bag around the job site, and these products also have a variety of interior and exterior pockets to improve organization.
How do you set up or organize a tool bag?
The first step in organizing a tool bag is to look for the specialized pockets that have been designed for specific tools. These pockets tend to have distinct sizes suitable for drill bits, screwdrivers, or hammers. Fill these pockets with compatible tools that you use frequently because the pockets tend to be the most accessible part on a tool bag.
The tool bag likely has a larger pocket or compartment without organizational dividers. Use this area of the bag for small power tools, like an impact driver. The space can also hold tool sets, like screwdriver sets or socket sets. Zippered front and side pockets are great for miscellaneous items, like nails, screws, or zip ties.
How do you organize sockets in a tool bag?
Sockets can get jostled out of position, even in a closed case, so socket sets are often found mixed up and disorganized. To help avoid this problem, consider investing in a socket organizer, socket rails, or even color-coordinated foam trays that can make it easy to quickly find the correct socket, while keeping the set safe in the tool bag when it's not in use.
Socket organizers, socket rails, and foam trays that are make for sockets tend to have a tighter fit than a standard socket case. This makes it possible to store the sockets without having them fall out of position when you walk around with the tool bag.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article is edited and updated by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs. For this roundup, she considered dozens of tool bags, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and feedback from customers. She also incorporated input from Eamon Lynch, Director of Warranty Service at Power Home Remodeling.
Additional research for this article is provided by Timothy Dale, a seasoned home improvement expert who specializes in a number of topics, including plumbing, construction, and product recommendations.