How to choose the best tool bag to transport and protect your equipment
Tools can be big, heavy and expensive, but also notoriously tricky to carry. So to ensure you have everything you need for a job away from the workshop, a tool bag is an essential piece of kit.
They’re not just useful for keeping everything in one place, either. The best tool bags can help protect tools from bangs and knocks, plus they’re easy to carry, ensuring you’re not getting a screwdriver or drill jabbing you in the leg as you walk along. They’re just that little bit easier to deal with than a tough tool box.
There are many different types of tool bags, ranging in price from around £15 to more than ten times that. Some are on wheels, while others have rigid sides. Depending on how and where you’re carrying your tools, an open tote might provide ideal access, while hauling tools long distances could mean a rucksack is better suited.
The majority of quality tool bags at the affordable end of the market are made from tough, hardwearing fabric, but spend more and you might find a surprisingly stylish leather tool bag fits the bill.
Below you’ll find our pick of the best tool bags in a range of different styles and configurations. We’ve taken into account quality, brand reputation, all-round usability and value for money before making our final decisions.
How to choose the best tool bag for you
What size of tool bag do I need?
It’s the six million dollar question. There’s no hard and fast rule as it really depends on how much kit you’re planning to carry, and how big the tools are. But it’s usually better to consider the shape of the bag: rolling tool bags are often taller and squarer, while bags with rigid sides generally offer improved carrying capacity over more squashy bags.
What tool bag features should I look for?
Again, it comes down to the tools you’re carrying, but for many users, the more pockets, the better. They’ll allow you to organise your tools more easily, reducing the amount of time spent digging around for that vital tool to complete your job. Pockets mean you can group your tools together in a way that’s logical for you, but it’s still important to ensure the main section is big enough for larger tools.
A bag with a hard base will help prevent sharp tools such as screwdrivers, chisels or a jigsaw tearing a hole in the bag. And look for a high-quality zip or buckle – the last thing you want is the fastener failing and your tools falling out.
What kind of tool bag opening is best?
Look for a tool bag with a framed opening because it will allow you to unzip and open the bag wide for the best possible access. It also means that it will be easier to pick up and return tools to the bag as you swap between them. A bag with a floppier opening will require more effort to open each time, meaning you’re more likely to leave the tools out – defeating the object of using a tool bag.
If ease of access trumps security, then an open tote bag could be the answer. These are bags that are open to the elements, but make it really easy to find tools and return them afterwards.
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The best tool bags you can buy in 2023
1. Silverline 268974 Tool Bag: Best-value tool bag
Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon
As a low-cost tool bag, the Silverline is deeply impressive. Costing a fraction of some of the other bags here, it’s a good size for the home DIYer, and boasts 13 internal pockets and eight external pockets, eight tool loops, two side straps and a clip to attach keys to. In fact, there’s not much it doesn’t offer.
It has a tough zip and a rigid opening, making it easy to load tools and find them again when they’re inevitably languishing at the bottom. The 1.2m shoulder strap and comfortable Velcro grip that binds the handles together means it’s comfortable to carry. Equally impressive is the fact that you get a lifetime guarantee once the product has been registered online.
Key specs – Size: 42 x 25 x 22cm; Material: Reinforced nylon; Number of pockets: 21; Additional features: 2 side straps, shoulder strap
2. VonHaus Rolling Tool Bag: Best rolling tool bag
Price: £80 | Buy now from Amazon
The VonHaus looks like a piece of carry-on airline luggage on first inspection: the tough construction and heavy-duty stitching looks more than enough to protect against the most careless cargo crews. The bag weighs just over 4kg but can carry up to 25kg, which will be more than enough for most, especially given its size. Even so, the wheels – which don’t protrude far from the bag, making them less susceptible to knocks – and the extendable handle make it easy to move.
A total of 11 pouches outside means it offers some of the usability of an open tote bag, but the seven pockets inside, plus a sizeable main compartment, afford it the security of other zip-up bags. It has a rigid opening, allowing the mouth to stretch to the same size as the rest of the bag, so larger tools will slide in easily.
Key specs – Size: 47 x 28 x 42.5cm; Material: Polyester, plastic; Number of pockets: 18; Additional features: 2 side straps, shoulder strap
3. Stanley 1-93-951 Fatmax Open Tote Tool Bag: Best rigid tool bag
Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon
The beauty of an open tote bag like this one from Stanley is that you can put your tool bag down and have instant access to anything it contains – perfect for quick and easy DIY jobs around the house. The steel handle with rubber grip and a shoulder strap make it easy to hold and carry, and the hard base will provide protection for both the bag and the tools within.
The exterior is clad with open pockets; covered pockets, one of which is suitable for drill bits; a metal clip for holding a tape measure; and a zipped compartment for carrying a saw safely. Inside, there are tool loops for arranging other items. Two rubberised Velcro straps attached to the bag’s shoulders are designed to carry longer items, such as a 600mm level.
Key specs – Size: 48 x 25 x 35cm; Material: Steel, 600-denier fabric; Number of pockets: 9; Additional features: Steel carry handle with rubber grip, non-slip velcro straps
4. Stanley 1-95-611 Fatmax Tool Backpack: Best tool backpack
Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon
It’s hard to think how Stanley could improve on its excellent Fatmax tool backpack; it’s an amazingly well-designed product. It’s as hard-wearing as Stanley’s other tool bags, the fabric should provide reasonable protection against rain, and it’s a good size, too.
That’s not what impresses most, though. It has some 50 pockets and tool holders inside and out, and it also has space for a laptop – an increasingly common sight on the building site. The removable system of internal dividers can hold myriad tools and can also be lifted out and spread out to form a work surface.
Tha bag’s rigid structure means it retains its shape when standing, and has a double-ended zip revealing a huge opening. Straps outside are helpful for holding larger tools, plus there are pockets for water bottles. All told, this is a classy tool bag.
Key specs – Size: 36 x 46 x 21 cm; Material: 600-denier fabric, leather; Number of pockets: 50; Additional features: Padded handle and shoulder straps, removable dividers