Toolboxes as we know them are never likely to become a thing of the past, but in the last year or two we’ve seen a new form of storage explode onto the scene. Soft-sided tool bags are quickly becoming the most popular way to transport the items you need to where you need them, and for several good reasons.
Firstly, the physical flexibility lets them conform to the irregular or unwieldy shapes of smaller power tools such as drills or jigsaws. Secondly, as Li-ion cordless tools continue to gain ground on their AC-powered cousins, you need somewhere to stash all those spare batteries! Bags often have pockets or tool tunnels on the outside designed for precisely this task, saving interior space for items that really need it. Finally, they can be folded up to save room when not in use, or partly collapsed if you only need to bring a few essentials.
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In a sense, this is where it all began. Belt-hung storage worn around the waist is probably the format people are most familiar with, and tool belts of various kinds continue to enjoy great popularity among DIYers and tradies alike. Today, modular nylon belts with mix-and-match pockets designed to hold specific items such as drills or measuring tapes are taking centre stage. Some even feature a matching harness or suspenders to keep extra-heavy tools securely on your person.
Designed to fit on top of a standard 20L bucket, this ingenious storage system takes recycling to a whole new level. Bucket bags usually have pockets or loops on the inside as well as outside, making it easy to carry long-handled tools safely, or transport materials such as lengths of pipe supported by the bucket itself.
Resembling the hardcore version of a sports bag, this often has a reinforced base as well as outer pockets and loops for holding pliers, spanners and similar items. Some have wheels mounted in the base that allow them to be rolled over flat surfaces like airline luggage.
This variant of the large tool duffel features a splashproof coating that won’t absorb water and protects the tools inside. Along with its dry-area equivalent, this type is usually capable of carrying the greatest number of tools.
A bit like a hybrid toolbox, this represents the best of both worlds. Tool totes usually feature a rigid frame and padded handle in addition to soft sides and a multitude of pockets. Some can be zipped completely shut, and many include a shoulder strap, making them easier to carry.
For the DIYer who wants it all, there is the option of two-in-one kits, as well as tool belts with pouches and holders that can be attached to bags from the same range. Some combo kits include a specialised belt clip system that locks a smaller pouch onto the main bag, with room to add additional pouches and interchangeable accessories as needed.