Ever had a friend call you up and say they needed help with a water pump, alternator, or brake install? It always goes something like this, "Hey, do you mind coming over and helping me do a brake job? Dont worry Ill buy lunch. Oh, but can you bring some tools?" Because youre a nice guy and a good friend, you always put down the remote and head to the garage. It's this very scenario that makes this months Truckin Tough test an important one. Trying to throw heavy and oddly shaped tools into a grocery bag or book bag never turns out well. With that said, you dont want to drop $50 or $100 on a tool bag you dont use all of the time. To help you make an educated purchase, we present you with the $20 tool bag test.
In the world of tools, spending a President Jackson wont get you very far. However, what we learned during this test is that good quality, durable, and comfortable tool bags can be had for less than $20. First up, we selected a variety of tools that could be used to swap a water pump, do a brake job, add a custom exhaust, and install an air intake. The tools weighed in at 40 pounds and retailed for a total of $1,175. When carrying more than a grand in tools, you want a bag that will hold up. To find out which bag was best, we examined materials, zipper quality, handle comfort, shoulder strap ergonomics (when applicable), pocket design, and storage capacity. We also factored in value, warranty, and aesthetics.
1. Husky 18-inch Tool Bag
From the initial once-over, all of the testers appreciated the quality of materials, large zipper, and comfortable handles found on the Husky 18-inch tool bag. What we didnt expect was its ability to swallow all of the tools in our test with room and pockets to spare. It was incredible. With a grand total of 28 pockets, the 18-inch Husky maxed out the category, and fully loaded with the 40 pounds of tools, the shoulder strap was both strong and comfortable. Featuring a three-year warranty at a price under $17.00, the Husky bag was unanimously the best bag in our test.
2. Husky 17-inch Open Tool Tote
Husky did not pay us off. As much as it may look like it with both of their bags in the top 2, we didnt receive a dime. The reasons for taking the top 2 spots were the 600 denier Spun Tuff heavy-duty material, sturdy steel handle with comfortable foam cushion, and a total of 20 pockets. Ingenious features like the tape measure clip, tape roll strap on the side, and rubber feet on the bottom made everyone give the Husky 17-inch open tool tote thumbs up. Handily accommodating all of the tools, the tote even had space to spare. The open design allows for quick tool identification and the rubber feet keep the bag off of dirt or water. Either of these two Husky bags are smart and inexpensive ways to carry your tools to the job site.
3. AWP 16-inch Monster Tool Bag PN: 0121133
Marketed as having an extra-wide Monster opening for easy access, the AWP 16-inch cargo bag proved itself to be a heavy-duty bag capable of carrying all of our tools and then some. The keys for the AWP bag were the well-engineered exterior pockets, padded bottom, and double-wall 600 denier construction. A solid zipper and 11½-inch height allowed taller tools to still be enclosed and protected in the bag. Things that hurt the AWP bag included the short one-year warranty, poor shoulder strap ergonomics, and relatively low number of total pockets (15).
4. CLC 16-inch Bigmouth Bag
On our way back from buying our tool bags from local hardware stores, we decided to swing by Pep Boys, and to our surprise we found a quality CLC Bigmouth bag for $19.99. Besides the torturous shoulder strap, the 16-inch Bigmouth bag had all of the features we like, including 22 total pockets, double stitching on the high-stress/wear areas, and quality material. The CLC had no issues holding all of our tools, but it simply didnt stand out enough to crack our top 3.
5. Western Safety 19-inch All-Purpose Tool Bag
The large 19-inch Western Safety tool bag easily ingested our assortment of tools, but it did so with a sub-par zipper, strong but not overly comfortable grips, and pockets that didnt feel extremely secure. For light-duty chores, the all-purpose bag is a good value at $14.99, but the 40 pounds we stuffed in it maxed out its capacity.
6. Summit Racing 20-inch Giant Tool Bag
More of a duffel bag than a tool-specific bag, the Summit Giant bag suffered the only catastrophic shoulder strap failure when the plastic hardware gave way to the 40 pound tool load. The reinforced bottom did feature antiskid rubber feet, but the canvas construction wasnt up to the standards set forth by the competition. Receiving middle-of-the-road scores for zipper quality, handle comfort, and warranty, the Summit bag suffered from inadequate pocket design and overall sub-par material quality.