Ever needed a 10mm socket and opened your toolbox only to find a sea of random sockets rolling around in complete chaos? If that sounds too familiar, this month's Truckin Tough shootout is perfect for you. We went out and purchased nine different socket organizers and then put them through our rigorous testing procedures. We evaluated how securely each organizer held ¼-, ⅜-, and ½-inch drive sockets, how well each fit into a standard 22.5-inch wide drawer (commonly found on most toolboxes), how many sockets each organizer could hold, whether they could accommodate impact sockets, and how each organizer identified the various socket sizes. In addition, we factored in value, warranty, and country of manufacture. Much to our surprise, this test had the widest price variation yet with the cheapest coming in at $2.29 and the most expensive tugging at your wallet for $59.97. Check out the results to find out which socket organizer will bring sanity back to your toolbox.
Pittsburgh 3-Piece Socket Tray/Organizer
PN: 68100 and 68102 $15.98 (for both SAE and Metric)
Purchased locally from Harbor Freight, the Pittsburgh three-piece organizers were easy to read, easy to handle, and accommodated a total of 168 sockets, placing it in a tie for third highest capacity. Large impact sockets fit with no issues, the organizers feature a lifetime warranty and both SAE and Metric sizes only put us out of pocket for $15.98—an incredible value. Our only gripe was the little tabs at the end of the tray, which we cut off to better fit our toolbox drawer. Overall, for weekend warriors or lifelong mechanics, the Pittsburgh socket/tray organizer is certified Truckin Tough.
GRIP 6-Piece Socket Organizer Set
We didn't realize it until we had both organizer trays side by side, but the Pittsburgh and GRIP trays are probably made in the same Chinese factory. They're identical in every way except color. Because of this, it shouldn't come as a shock that the GRIP trays ranked highly in nearly every test. The Pittsburgh trays were cheaper, hence their higher placement, however, for a few more dollars you can have both GRIP trays shipped to your door and never have to leave your couch.
Kobalt Multiple-Drive Steel Storage Tray
PN: 338551 $24.99
Taking a different approach to socket organization, Kobalt impressed us with their steel storage tray. Whereas it only holds a total of 86 sockets, it does so with strong ball-detent tabs, it's completely portable with a convenient carrying handle, and it easily fits in toolbox drawers of all sizes. Featuring ¼-, ⅜- and ½-inch sockets on a total of four rails, the Kobalt accommodates impact sockets, adapters, extensions, and U-joints in one tray. The weak link is the lack of socket identification. If your sockets don't feature large size IDs, you may have to dig a little to find the right size. With a lifetime warranty, the Kobalt storage tray is a solid choice for the weekend warrior who needs to take his tools on the go.
Hansen Global Inc. Socket Tray Six Pack
PN: HNE92000 $50.95
Out of the box, we felt the Hansen socket trays were the perennial favorites, as they are made in the USA out of strong ABS plastic, feature easy-to-read socket size labels, and have a good range of small to large sizes (172 total). That said, several sockets would not fit over the plastic pegs, such as ¼-inch drive Snap-On sockets, and larger ½-inch drive impact sockets. They do fit into a standard toolbox drawer, but they are tall with impact sockets in place and require a deeper drawer than some. Also, when grabbing a few sizes, the pointed plastic pegs actually cut into our fingers. It's a competent tool, however, for the money there are better units to be had.
Socket-to-Me Toolbox Socket Organizer
PN: 178495 $13.99
If points were given for clever tool names, the Socket-to-Me from Northern Tool would garner all of the First Place votes. A funny name only gets you so far, and in our testing, the toolbox socket organizer suffered from lack of portability, only a 12-month warranty, and the struggles we found with fitting large impact sockets. Those are the only weak points however, as the organizer will hold 167 sockets, as well as additional ratchets and extensions. Made in the USA, the Socket-to-Me fills out an entire drawer but lacks any real size identifiers.
Lisle Magnetic Socket Holders
PN: 40120, 40200, 40900
$59.97 (for all three sizes at local Sears store)
Some tools just work—and you love them for it. These Lisle magnetic socket holders work well for securely organizing your sockets, however, each holder can only accommodate a maximum of 28 sockets (for the ⅜-inch drive), so you would be forced to buy two sets to complete a SAE and Metric set. Spending $60 for three is already expensive enough, but we did like the convenient carrying handle, magnetic strip on the backs of the ¼ and ⅜ trays, and the fact they're made in the USA. Some of our testers liked the lack of socket identification because the holders became more universal. However, for a set, identification is needed. All-in-all, the Lisle organizers were a solid product with a price tag that made them less competitive.
Pittsburgh 3-piece Socket Rail Set
PN: 68103 $2.29
A mainstay in most toolboxes, the traditional socket rail is both useful and inexpensive. This three-piece kit set us back less than three bucks yet could still hold 45 sockets. They fit all types of sockets, adapters, extensions, and easily fit into our toolbox drawers. What they don't have is size identification and during our testing, the socket tabs were extremely difficult to slide into position. If you simply want a way to keep your sockets from sliding around, this may be the best $2.29 you can spend.
Ernst Mfg. Dura-Pro Twist Lock Complete Socket Storage System
PN: 8470 $49.95 (from summitracing.com)
Eagerly anticipated by all of the testers, the Ernst Dura-Pro Twist Lock system seemed to have all of the storage boxes checked—until we were done with our testing. With an as-tested price of $49.95, it was the third most expensive, however, it held the second fewest number of sockets. Add to that the 384 I.D. stickers that would take a serious time investment to place onto the plastic rails and we were left with only disappointment. We liked the Made in the USA sticker and the lifetime warranty, but we couldn't look past the limited sizing and high price tag.
Craftsman Socket Organizer Set
PN: 65172 $24.99
The Craftsman organizer was a tough nut to crack. It is not portable, it is not made in the USA, and it only has a 12-month warranty. However, it will hold up to 180 sockets, though to do so it requires two toolbox drawers. Also, it will fit impact sockets, but not every size impact socket. It has ID markings for socket sizes, but they're the same gray color as the surrounding plastic, which makes them difficult to read. Basically, it's a decent organizer with things you'll like and things that will drive you bonkers.