5 Best Tool Backpacks of 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews
If you owned a few tool backpacks before, you know a couple of things. First, they rarely last forever, and second, they greatly vary in quality and usefulness.
If you’re looking to upgrade your experience and get a tool backpack that lasts a long time and that you also love using, you’ve come to the right place. It can be tough to shop for tool backpacks online because manufacturers aren’t shy about making big claims about what their backpacks can do while downplaying any potential problems.
We believe that a well-informed consumer makes great decisions, which is why we’ve created this list of reviews of the best tool backpacks of 2020. We’ve also created a buyer’s guide, which should teach you about tool backpacks, and help you think through the buying process. Reading this article means you’re just a step away from finding a tool backpack that you’ll love.
A Quick Comparison (updated: 2020)
|Best Overall||DEWALT DGL523||
|Klein Tools 55421BP-14||
|Best Value||Rugged Tools||
|CLC Custom LeatherCraft 1132||
|Jackson Palmer B0788VCCKX||
The 5 Best Tool Backpacks
1. DEWALT DGL523 Tool Backpack – Best Overall
The DEWALT DGL523 backpack is a good choice for anyone who needs a high-capacity storage solution in a slim form factor. This model manages to pack 57 pockets into a standard-sized backpack, giving you nearly unparalleled storage capacity. It also comes with an awesome LED light that has three light levels, useful for finding the right tool in the dark, or for illuminating a wide area so that you can get to work. It comes with a padded handle and straps, which makes carrying it around a more pleasant experience.
It’s also very durable and holds up well to the kinds of abuse that you often encounter on the job site. However, it’s not quite perfect. There are some quality control problems with this model that result in either the LED light or one of the two primary zippers breaking. This is disappointing, but it’s a rare occurrence, limited to just a few units. Many users get long, frustration-free lives out of this pack, which is a huge part of the reason that it’s ranked first on our list. If you’re looking to get the best tool backpack on the market, this is the model for you.
2. Klein Tools Electrician’s Backpack for Tools
The Klein Tools 55421BP-14 is an interesting backpack and one that has the potential to be very good for electricians or other tradesmen. Its distinguishing feature is its hard-shelled outer pocket, designed to protect safety glasses. This feature alone is very valuable, as you won’t have to expose your safety glasses to abuse when you’re not using them or carry around a bulky case that’s easily lost. It comes with 39 pockets for tools, which isn’t as great as the previous model but is still very good overall.
It’s also a tall backpack, which means it holds long screwdrivers and other thin and tall tools and parts very well. The bottom is also modeled out of a hard plastic, which allows it to stand up when placed on the ground and protects the bag from any incidental damage that could arise from ground contact. Unfortunately, the pocket design, while great for narrow tools, is bad for bulky tools. So, if you’re planning to carry around something like a power drill, you’ll probably want to consider a different model. However, if you need a backpack with safety glasses storage and many pockets for narrow tools, this is the model for you.
3. Rugged Heavy-Duty Tool Backpack – Best Value
The Rugged Tools Tool Backpack 28 Pockets is a good overall tool backpack and our choice for best for the money. It comes with reinforced pockets and zippers, which means you should expect fewer problems in those areas than you would on similar backpacks. It also comes with 40 pockets, which gives you a ton of storage options that will fit most of your tools. Like the previous model, it also comes with a molded bottoms that are designed to help it sit upright while you find your tools, and also protect the bottom from any damage that contact with the floor could cause.
However, the very best thing about this tool backpack is the price. You can get it for a few dollars cheaper than the top two models on our list, and as you can see, there’s very little difference between this model and those that came before it. We would rank this model higher on our list if it didn’t have some minor quality control problems that cause some units to wear out too quickly. Overall, this is still a great tool backpack, and if you’re looking for a great deal, this is the backpack for you.
4. CLC Tool Backpack
The CLC Custom LeatherCraft 1132 has some potential, especially for a buyer that’s looking for a very high capacity for small tools and parts. This monster backpack comes with six zippered compartments that split between them 75 different pockets for storing tools and parts. That’s nearly double the number of pockets that you’ll get out of most other backpacks on this list. However, that also means that the pockets are, on average, very small, and that means that some of the problems with other backpacks affect this one too.
If you’re looking to carry around multiple large or bulky tools, you’re going to be out of luck with this backpack, since the pockets are so small. However, it does include a nice plastic tray that you can use to store very small parts, which is useful if you know you might need them on the job. This backpack has the potential rank higher, but it has low-quality zippers that often break under light use. An issue like that is too big to ignore. While this backpack could be the thing for people who want something that can store a ton of small tools, it will frustrate most potential users.
5. Jackson Palmer Tools Backpack
The Jackson Palmer is a good example of a backpack that is designed with the end-user squarely in mind but fails to live up to its promises both in usefulness and in quality. The first thing you’ll notice about this backpack is the price. You can get it for about half the price of other bags on the list, which should be your first red flag. While it does have a nice rubber base like those found on other tool backpacks, many units don’t stand up straight, even when empty, which can make it frustrating to use.
While it has many large pockets, and space for bulkier tools, the lack of which plagues other backpacks on our list, the quality of this model isn’t that great. The straps and handles are prone to breaking, sometimes within just a few days of getting the backpack. The screwdriver pockets also aren’t deep enough to hold standard screwdrivers, which means they end up loose in the bottom of the bag. While it is very cheap, it’s not a backpack that many people will enjoy using. If you want to get one that will make your job easier, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
We hope that our reviews have already taught you some things about tool backpacks. If you’re not sure which one is right for you just yet, don’t worry. This guide is designed to help you think through all the features that are available in tool backpacks. Reading through this buyer’s guide should help you get the best bang for your buck, and will give you some insight into our reviews so that you can better understand what you should be looking for when you go to buy.
Nearly every manufacturer includes at least some information about the number of pockets that come with their backpack, and the reason is simple. A high number makes it sound like a high-quality backpack. That’s not always the case, and furthermore, too many pockets might mean that you can’t use the bag for your intended purpose.
Generally speaking, the more pockets a backpack has, the smaller those pockets are. That means if you want to carry around a lot of medium or large tools, you may be better off getting a backpack with fewer pockets because it means those pockets will be larger and will hold your equipment better.
You should also pay attention to the variation in pockets. If the majority of pockets are designed for screwdrivers or other very small tools, you may not be getting the carrying capacity that you think you’re getting. You also need to keep in mind that in some designs filling or overfilling a pockets makes it so you can’t use others, so there’s a chance that you may not be able to use every pocket at the same time.
Purchasing a backpack that doesn’t last that long is always a bummer. If you want to get a model that will last a long time, one of the best things you can do is read consumer reviews. People don’t like it when their backpacks break early, and they aren’t shy about sharing their opinions online.
You can’t always tell if a backpack is good quality from the promotional images or product description, though there a few indicators that generally indicate that the backpack is of above-average quality. If you can find a backpack with double-stitched seams, you should strongly consider it, as these seams will hold up much better than those that were only stitched once.
You should also look for backpacks that have reinforced zippers. One of the most common points of failure on a backpack is the zipper. Many companies use cheap zippers, and it shows in the final product. So, if you come across a backpack with reinforced zippers, you should give it special consideration.
You should also ignore the phrase “ballistic material.” Many manufacturers like to advertise that their product is made from this material, but that doesn’t mean much when it comes to sturdiness or durability. These backpacks aren’t going to stand up to gunshots, and some models that claim this feature tear easily, so it doesn’t mean anything.
Some extra features may not add a lot of value for most users but could make for a great deal for some people.
For instance, the LED light is something of a gimmick. Most people aren’t ever working in low-light conditions, so having a light to look inside your bag or to illuminate the workspace isn’t much of an added benefit. However, some people, especially those who work in attics or crawl spaces may find that the LED light is a great addition to their arsenal.
Some tool backpacks come with a laptop or tablet sleeve. Your electronic devices should always be in a heavy-duty case while you’re on the job site, but these sleeves do a good job of adding an extra layer of protection while you’re in transit. This can be a great feature if you make use of these devices, but take up space you’ll never use if you don’t, so you may want to avoid models with these pockets if you don’t use electronic devices while you work.
Some backpacks include a safety glasses case built into their outer shell. This makes it easy to keep your safety glasses safe while in transport, while also meaning that you don’t have to carry around a separate case that you might forget or lose. This adds a lot of value to a backpack if you use safety glasses, so it’s worth looking for a backpack that has this feature.
Other types of tool storages:
The DEWALT DGL523 is our top tool backpack, due to its 57 pockets, LED light, and padded handle and straps. The Klein Tools 55421BP-14 has a great safety glasses pocket, 39 pockets, and a molded bottom, but misses out on first due to its incompatibility with bulky tools. The Rugged Tools Tool Backpack 28 Pockets has 40 pockets and molded bottom, and its good price earns it the title of “best value” on our list. The CLC Custom LeatherCraft 1132 comes with 75 pockets spread among six zippered compartments, and includes a plastic part tray, though its low-quality zippers and lack of usefulness when it comes to large tools drops it to fourth on our list. The Jackson Palmer B0788VCCKX is cheap and comes with a rubber base, but is generally poorly-made, and has other flaws that will cause it to break prematurely and be frustrating to use.
Hopefully, our buyer’s guide and reviews have helped you better understand tool backpacks. You should now be able to find a backpack that you’ll love using at a price you’ll love, too.
- A Quick Comparison (updated: 2020)
- The 5 Best Tool Backpacks
- Buying Guide