There are several stacking and modular tool storage systems currently available in the US market – Festool (and Tanos) Systainers, Bosch L-Boxxes, Dewalt Tough System cases, and the Dewalt’s Tstak cases are nearing release.
While quite fond of Festool’s Sytainers, I find Bosch L-Boxxes and Dewalt Tough System cases to be easier on my wallet. When I have gift cards to spend, I add Systainers to my tool storage setup. When I need maximum bang for the buck, I go for Dewalt and Bosch’s offerings.
My intent is not to present a comprehensive comparison, but to cover the major points for why I bought into both systems.
Dewalt Tough System Cases
I reviewed the small Tough System case nearly a year ago, and continue to think favorably of the system. Taking advantage of Amazon’s holiday/year-end $25-off-$100 Dewalt promo, I added another 14 Tough System boxes to fill with hand tools, power tools, raw materials, and random accessories. This is in addition to the 6 or so I purchased last year and the 4 review samples Dewalt sent my way.
- very well built for rough and tough use
- sealed for water/weather resistance
- convenient side handles
- strong metal latches
- small size has useful inner-lid organizer, large size has removable tray, extra large size is taller and wider with a removable tray and vertical hand tool organizer
- a little heavy when unloaded
- can be extremely heavy when fully loaded with tools (this is where side handles are most appreciated)
- rubber water-tight seal means the boxes have a strong new tool box smell
Best Used For:
- jobsite use
- heavy duty storage
- transport of heavier tools and kits
I purchased quite a few L-Boxxes, including about 8 more this month, taking advantage of Amazon’s soon-expiring $25-off-$100+ Bosch discount. This brings my total to 24, with about 10 supplied by Bosch and the rest purchased during last year’s holiday sales promo.
- L-Boxxes kits are now available for the most popular Bosch corded, cordless, and pneumatic power tools
- easy stacking
- optional foam makes smaller 2 sizes well suited for delicate equipment and non-tool-related usage
- less industrial indoor-friendly looks
- plastic looks somewhat thin
- stacked boxes must be unlatched from the sides for removal (i.e. there is no easy option to have stacked boxes not latched and locked together)
Tough System vs. L-Boxxes
I am currently still working to transfer more of my tools from industrial bins and totes to my expanded collection of Tough System cases and L-Boxxes, but there are enough full cases to allow for a few generalizations.
Power Tools: a mix of L-Boxxes and Tough System cases, depending on tool type and frequency of use, but mostly Tough System cases
Hand Tools: mostly L-Boxxes
Woodworking Tools: L-Boxxes (mostly size 2)
Electronics Tools and Equipment: Systainers and L-Boxxes
Equipment and Supplies: L-Boxxes
Can you see the trend here? I tend to use L-Boxxes for more indoor tool storage needs, and Tough System cases for tools I mostly use outdoors or less frequently.
Moving forward, I will be using the new Tough System cases for off-site tool storage and transport. Since my storage units are not environmentally controlled, I figure the Tough System cases will hold up a bit better. Plus their larger and more comfortable side handles make them better suited for heavier loads.
Which to Buy?
That’s a hard decision to make, and as mentioned I went with both systems because the fulfill different needs.
If you’re looking to outfit your truck or crew with multiple units, buy one of each for testing and evaluation purposes. Neither system is readily available via retail stores, so you’re going to have to order them online.
For the sake of simplicity, I would recommend Dewalt Tough System cases for heavier duty jobsite use, and L-Boxxes for medium duty jobsite use. If you’re going to be tossing the tool boxes around, go with the Dewalt cases. If you need something for indoors construction and renovation work that looks less industrial, go with the L-Boxxes.
I have zero regrets with both systems, and will likely purchase additional units in the future. Both systems are very recommended.
Festool’s Systainers are also highly regarded, and I have 8 of those. Five were purchased empty, one came with a purchased plunge-cut saw, one came with a purchased dust extractor accessory kit, and one came with a router review sample.
Looking forward, Bosch is expanding their L-Boxx lineup with additional units and accessories. Rumor has it that they might eventually license additional Sortimo storage products for distribution in the USA, Europe, and elsewhere.
Dewalt has not really expanded their Tough System lineup, but they don’t really need to. An indoor-friendly 4-wheel dolly would be great, as would a wall and van-racking system. But Dewalt does have the Tstak system coming out, which features some nice tool and supply organization options.
*I have purchased many Tough System cases and L-Boxxes, but I have also received review samples. In total, 20/24 of my Tough System cases were purchased, and about 13/23 L-Boxxes were purchased. This is accurate as of 12/21/12.