Yesterday I posted a quick first-look at the new Milwaukee Packout modular tool storage system, which will include 8 different products at launch – a roller tool cart, small and large tool boxes, compact and full-width organizers, and 3 sizes of tool bags.
Milwaukee Packout tool boxes and tool bags can be used together, as part of a system, or individually.
At first glance, the Milwaukee Packout modular tool box system is simply brilliant and unconventional. They’re calling the new stacking and connection system Mod-Lock.
The tool boxes, organizers, and bags connect together quickly and easily, from what I saw at Milwaukee’s NPS17 new tool media event this year.
I was immediately deeply impressed with the Milwaukee Packout system. Not knowing whether they’ll be available in brick-and-mortar stores for readers to check out themselves, I sought out to examine and photograph every aspect which might be of interest to potential buyers.
Basically, the following is a discussion of every little Packout detail that I looked at, at NPS17.
The new Packout tool storage products are a little pricey, so I wanted you to know what to expect, so you’re not buying blind.
ETA: September 2017
Table of Contents
- Sample Packout Configurations
- Small Tool Box
- Large Tool Box
- Rolling Tool Cart
- Small Organizer
- Tool Bags
- The Competition
- Future Potential
- Purchase Links
At the bottom of each section, there will be a link back to this table of contents:
One of the things I like about the Milwaukee Packout system is that you can have very different setups to cater to very different needs.
Here, there’s a short Packout stack with a large tool box, small tool box, organizer, and compact organizer, and another stack with rolling tool cart, organizer, and a tool bag.
There’s one potential complication – how do you carry the short Packout stack? Do you just use the middle-most front handle and just lug the connected boxes around? That’s one of the few downsides. If you don’t have a roller cart, your transport options can be a little limited.
If there was ever a “standard” configuration, this would be it: bottom rolling cart, large tool box, and a small tool box on top.
Don’t worry, we’ll go over all of the different Packout products in a little bit.
One of the great things is that Milwaukee designed the Packout system with all kinds of users in mind. Do you want to pair a small tool bag with a small organizer? Why not?!
The emphasis at the media event was mostly about how different modules could come together on top of a rolling cart, but why not just have a tool bag and organizer?
Although a little awkward, you can pair a large tool bag with a full-width small tool box as well. But if you ask me, this doesn’t hold the same appeal as the previous example.
Two of the tool bag options are half-width, as is the small organizer.
There’s also a full-width tool bag that is two thirds as deep as the tool boxes.
A “standard” tool stack is easily portable over all kinds of terrain.
I haven’t tried wheeling a taller Packout stack around, but this product photo by Milwaukee makes it look like a cinch.
Small Tool Box
This small Packout tool box is, as you probably noticed, very complex-looking, even for a modular tool box.
It has a large front handle, and smallish side handle recesses.
Like the other Packout tool boxes, except maybe for the rolling cart, you can place it on its rear side, as you would a briefcase.
Like the larger tool box and rolling cart, there are aluminum corner protectors.
There’s a lot of space around them, allowing them to also serve as grab-handles. In this photo you should be able to see drain holes that ensure water doesn’t pool up around the seal of a closed box.
The aluminum bar is a little too narrow to serve as a handle.
Hmm… maybe this will accept certain accessories in the future? Say, a large side handle?
Or maybe it’s just a corner guard.
Inside, you have 3 zones – two outer zones that come with removable organizers, and a central zone.
There are grooves that look to accept some kind of divider, but right now no such divider accessory exists.
You don’t need to keep those organizers inside the box – there’s more on this in a bit.
There are 2 bottom bins, with removable dividers, a shallow lidded organizer box, and a shallow open compartment tray.
But you can’t just put them anywhere. The two bottom trays have to go on the bottom, and the two top organizer trays have to go on top of them. There’s no mixing and matching, aside from maybe swapping things right to left and vice versa.
The small tool box can fit quite a bit of stuff – an M18 Fuel impact driver kit, some hand tools, markers, impact screwdriver bits, and a lot of fasteners.
Raise your hand if you want to see Milwaukee bundle Packout tool kits with select Milwaukee M18 cordless power tool kits! Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s in the works.
The small tool box felt nicely manageable – a nice size as a standalone tool box, but perhaps a bit too pricey unless a part of a larger system.
Large Tool Box
The large Packout tool box is like the smaller one, but double in size. Or at least I estimate it’s double in size. Maybe 1.7x? It’s hard to say, Milwaukee hasn’t released dimensional specs at the time, and I didn’t think to measure it.
All of the tool boxes measure a little over 21″ – I’m taking this at the product manager’s word – so as to be able to fit longer tools such as Sawzalls (reciprocating saws) and Hole Hawgs.
This large tool box was sized so as to be big enough to fit a circular saw.
It has a large top handle that provides a wide gripping surface.
And like all of the other Packout boxes, the large box has a front handle and can be placed down vertically along its hinge side.
One thing about the handles – they click into place. That’s why they look so neat in these photos, because they’re clicked into their stowed position. Pull them into their active carrying position, and there’s a positive click there too.
That means you can stand the handle up, as shown in the above photo, and they’ll stay that way until you fold them down again.
The front of the large box has all of the same features as the small box, which we’ll get into in a bit.
It has shallow side handles and large aluminum corner guard handles.
The side handles felt deep enough so as to be somewhat useful, but might be too shallow to be comfortable when lugging around heavier loads.
It’s a good thing then that the corner guards can double as spacious handles. It might be awkward to carry the tool box using these handles alone, but they could make a difference between easily pulling the box from a truck, and having to climb up and in to get it.
The box is fairly large and looks like it can hold a good amount of tools. As mentioned, it’s sized to fit a circular saw.
There’s a half-size removable tote.
If you look closely there’s a groove sized for some kind of divider that does not yet exist.
It’s unclear as to whether Milwaukee has something in mind for this groove, or they were simply future-proofing the box in case something came to mind.
This box gives you more bang for the buck, respectively.
Rolling Tool Box Cart
Other than the large tool box, the roller tool cart seems like the next most practical box for standalone use. It has spacious storage capacity, large wheels, a strong-feeling extending handle, and some nice usability features.
Like the other boxes, its top has a grid of grooves 4 wide x 3 deep, for connecting other tool boxes and bags to.
Unlike the other Milwaukee Packout tool boxes, this one has actual side handles.
Its extending handle requires two-handed operation.
If the choice is between two-handed raising and lowering of the handle, or a floppy mechanism that doesn’t quite work right, I’ll take the two-handed mechanism.
The rubbery wheels were large and overbuilt – as you would expect and want to see on a rolling tool cart like this one.
I’d like to have seen… nothing done differently. Some field use might change that impression, but I don’t think so.
A beefy axle goes to both wheels.
This is my favorite feature – an easy-tilt step that allows for heavy loads to be quickly prepped for rolling. Grab the handle, push down on the step, and the Packout stack is tilted and ready to go.
The handles were surprisingly complex, no doubt to give it extra strength and rigidity. The rolling tool box is designed to support “box loads” of up to 250 lbs, and so the handle was designed to help move loads of up to 250 lbs.
The handle extended and collapsed smoothly and easily.
I have a heavy duty carrier cart from another brand, whose name starts with B, and it’s strong and supportive in many respects, but its extending handle lock flat out stinks.
This one has a large recess. I didn’t take a close enough look, but I’d guess this is where a locking bar slides into, for keeping the handle in place when fully collapsed. There’s likely another recess like this for keeping the handle fully extended.
At the very bottom of the front, there’s a large metal loop, which can serve as a quick handle, or an anchor point for straps and hooks.
There’s a pivoting hook at the rear of the top, providing another anchor point. Let’s say you want to secure a tool bag, a bag of sand, or something else that doesn’t lock to the Packout system. You can use these centrally located hook or strap anchor locations to help secure it.
The inner lid is reinforced with cross-ribs for added strength. There’s a place to mount a One-Key Tick tracker, right at the bottom center of the lid.
The wheel bays don’t take too much away from the rolling tool box’s storage capacity, and neither does the extending handle. This does make the tool box larger overall, but inner walls of the storage space is at least less awkwardly shaped.
The new Milwaukee Packout organizer is just a little larger than their standalone organizer.
Both have space to accommodate removable bins 4 across and 3 deep, but this one has an added central span for holding longer accessories and what-not.
The central storage strip is a little lower than bin height.
The bins have small notches, for hanging off of hooks, in case you want to mount them outside the box, such as on the wall of your workshop.
The organizer has a clear lid, and lacks the aluminum corner guards of the Packout tool boxes, but other than that it has most of the same features and strengths.
You have to be a little careful about how you return the bins to the Packout organizer, due to the way the lid is configured.
The Milwaukee Packout small organizer is a half-width organizer. It can stack on top of any Packout tool box, and the 2 smaller tool bags can attach on top of it.
Like the full-width organizer, this one has a clear lid, strong latches, a front handle, and rear support for standing it up briefcase-style.
The small organizer feels every built as sturdily built as the rest of the Packout tool boxes.
The front of the case is a little more tightly designed.
I hadn’t checked at the time, but I think you can still open up a small organizer even if it’s docked next to something else, such as another organizer or one of the smaller tool bags. There should be enough space to throw the latch.
Other than being smaller and with fewer cleats, it has the same Mod-Lock connection hardware.
The handle is narrower, but still spacious, and looks to have the same strong pivoting hinge as the other boxes’ handles.
The latches are smaller too, but still easy to toggle open and closed.
You also still have a weather seal.
One of things I noticed is that if you rearrange the removable boxes in a certain way…
You can accidentally prevent the organizer from closing. The same is true for the larger organizer. Milwaukee’s product manager wasn’t too happy about my wanting to take these photos, but it’s important to show you.
It places some limit as to how flexible the organizers can be. You cannot, for example, load this compact organizer with 6 small boxes. That box in the middle HAS to be a large box, or nothing. The same as the large organizer. This has to do with how the lid is shaped. I am not sure why it couldn’t have been molded differently.
If you ask me, this is a very minor concern, but it’s still something to be aware of.
This is the 10″ tote, with floppy handle (for lack of a better description).
This one is the 15″ tote, with hard handle.
And this is the 20″ tote tool bag, also with a hard handle.
The smallest Packout tool bag seemed as well-built as the other tool bags, despite being a lot smaller in size and differently featured.
The 15″ tool bag has a few zippered compartments, pockets on the outer sides, and a large space for holding bulkier tools and perhaps smaller cordless power tools.
On the other side, more pockets.
The 20″ Packout tool tote seems to be an extended version of the 15″, but there’s perhaps more to it. Sorry, with limited time I focused on the hard tool boxes, giving the tool bags less attention.
There are pockets-galore on one side, and a wider open space on the other.
A tape measure dock and pockets on the outside can hold additional tools.
One thing I didn’t check out was whether the handle could support the weight of a fully-load tool bag PLUS the weight of a packout tool box or organizer underneath.
10″ Tool Bag: 48-22-8310, $80
15″ Tool Bag: 48-22-8315, $100
20″ Tool Bag: 48-22-8320, $130
The 10″ tote costs as much as the small Packout tool box, and the 20″ tote as much as the rolling tool cart.
The latches were super-sturdy.
One thing I liked is that they all felt strong and secure. On some other brands of modular tool boxes, sometimes there’s a standout lock that feels differently, either too strong or too weak compared to other tool boxes of the same size or style. Not so with these, although the sampling was limited and could have been cherry-picked.
Here you can see how the cleats on the bottom of a full-size box are arranged. You don’t have full locking on all 12 cleats, presumably so as to make attachment and removal easier while still providing as much strength as practically needed.
The attachment tabs seem to be very strong, with little chance of unintentional breakage.
The same could be said of the cleats on the bottom of the tool tote bags. The positive locking latch on the tool bags was a little different, but the mechanics of attaching and removing the tool totes are the same as for the tool boxes.
Milwaukee says the impact-resistant hard molded bases on their tool bags are up to 5x more durable than competitive bags’ bases.
There are 3 locking grooves on each lid. The central one is for full-width attachments, and the others are for the half-width compact organizers and smaller tool bags.
These tabs, which made with the cleats on the bottom of Packout accessories, don’t look the least bit fragile, and I’d bet they’re designed to stand up to jobsite grit and debris.
There’s a rubber grommet laced around the perimeter of the tool box lids, for weather sealing to IP65 standards.
A ridge along the inside of the tool box mates up with the rubbery seal. There are also drainage channels, to ensure that water doesn’t pool up outside the ridge.
The hinges are as strong as you would expect from the rest of the box.
Here is the spring-loaded locking tab, which helps keep everything from sliding apart. It’s easy to disenage with one hand.
Here you can also see a loop for locking the organizer. All of the Packout tool boxes have a similar security feature, even the smaller organizer. Unless I’m remembering incorrectly, and the images are misleading, the Packout tool boxes, but not the organizers, look to have metal-reinforced padlock loops.
The central locking groove is shaped a little differently. I was told that this is just how it was molded, but I’m not entirely sold on that..
I found that the shape of the central groove makes it a little softer on the hands…
Making it comfortable and easier to disengage and remove a top-mounted organizer or tool box from a stack. I was able to do this with one hand for the smaller Packout boxes.
As for the larger tool box, it’s possible, but not very comfortable. It would be a better idea to try to press on the unlocking ring while pulling the handle. Or just use two hands.
You can open a tool box, even if another Packout product is docked above. Obviously this becomes harder to do with greater loads or taller stacks.
This opens up the potential for smaller Packout organizers, jobsite radios, or LED lighting products that are designed to sit on top of a tool box with nothing else above it.
The small and large tool box have easy to spot Tick tracker placements. Also notice that the lids are designed to keep the organizers in the small box and removable tote in the large box perfectly in place.
The Tick mounting holes on the lid of the roller tool cart are a little harder to spot, but they’re there.
It’s a rather convenient place to mount your Tick.
Hmm, it’s recyclable as PP – polypropylene. After asking about this, we were told that it’s not simply polypropylene, as other components – “special sauce” – are added in for strength and durability.
There’s a “No Step” warning, but some people tried it anyways, with some flex becoming noticeable when some bounce was added. I’ve found that everyone tests “don’t step on this” surfaces in the same way – first they stand on them, and then they bounce.
It’s obvious that Milwaukee has their sights on Dewalt and their ToughSystem tool storage system. There are pros and cons to both, which I’ll cover in a comparison once the Milwaukee Packout tool storage system hits the market.
Dewalt’s rolling cart, which came out last year, isn’t perfect, but you can currently buy it for $69, or two for $118 after $20 off $100+ seasonal promo. Milwaukee’s is being introduced at $130.
This Dewalt ToughSystem 3 tool box stack, with rolling tool box cart, large tool box, and small tool box, went on sale last holiday season for $129. You can also buy it now for $129 for all 3 pieces, after $20 seasonal promo.
A similar Milwaukee 3-piece combo will be $280 at launch.
If I had to tell you right now, based on limited experience, which I liked more, I’d point to the Milwaukee hands-down. But aside from a few isolated issues discovered at the moment of delivery, my Dewalt ToughSystem tool boxes had never let me down.
It’s going to be a tough comparison. Dewalt’s ToughSystem tool boxes and accessories are tried and true, but Milwaukee’s is more advanced and holds much more potential for future expansion.
There’s a lot of potential for what we might see Milwaukee come out with. Perhaps internal organizers and dividers with added features. Or different types of accessories for the tops of Packout tool boxes, such as an aimable LED worklight. A Packout jobsite radio?
A Packout box built to charge M18 and M12 battery packs?
A Packout cordless air compressor? Maybe one that doubles as a rolling tool cart?
A Packout dust collector or wet/dry vacuum?
Milwaukee designed the Packout modular tool storage system to be future-proof, and I expect many more great things to come to the lineup.
Maybe we’ll see a large Milwaukee jobsite box, with a Packout lid that can fit tool boxes next to each other? It could be twice as wide as the Packout tool boxes are long.
Maybe there will be some type of accessory that takes advantage of the corner guards? Surely they’re not just there as corner protection and as convenient handles. What could users possibly want to mount here?
Maybe there will be a top handle accessory, for mounting to the tops of the tool boxes? That would explain why the tops and cleat patterns are designed the way they are.
It surprises me that there are no folding side handles except on the rolling tool cart, and no top handle except on the large tool box. Some compromises are sure to be made.
Overall, WOW, just WOW. I think that Milwaukee did a great job, and some hands-on testing or long-term use will surely only confirm that.
The price point will be disagreeable for a lot of users, but many will get over it. When buying high quality tool storage, you have to pay more to get more.
I’m hoping Milwaukee chooses to come out with other colors, such as black. That would surely spread its acceptance in other fields outside construction and the trades, such as by photographers. I think that these boxes have a chance at taking on Pelican cases, although they’ll need to come out with some kick-ass internal organizational accessories first.
All of the new Milwaukee Packout tool storage products are now available at Acme Tools:
- Small Tool Box
- Large Tool Box
- Rolling Tool Box
- Small Organizer
- Small Tote (10″)
- Medium Tote (15″)
- Large Tote (20″)
Keeping in mind that I don’t have any of these new Milwaukee Packout tool storage products in front of me at the moment, is there anything else you like to know?
I don’t have any dimensions – yet. All I was given is that the boxes are a little over 21″ long.
Well, there’s nothing that really compares to a Sortimo T-Boxx, but other than that these look pretty killer. T-boxxes aren’t really targeted to the construction crowd anyways.
Nope, but I chimed in about that. I prefer shallower tool storage, an area Milwaukee and some other brands tend to ignore, in favor of taller, wider, and deeper bins for construction fasteners.
these boxes EMPTY are to Heavy to carry, don’t mention if you add some screws and tools – good luck then,
this cart with tiny wheels is a joke …
This Milwaukee Packout System is one of the best stack units I have. Dealt, Ridgid, suck. I have had both of them, they will not stand up to the Packout. It is well worth the money I have spent.
I’m impressed with what I see and the with the pricing which is not insane at all.
How can you say that the pricing is not insane at all? You can get the entire dewalt system for less than the base of the Milwaukee set. Rigid sets are even cheaper than dewalt. These boxes are extremely over priced. They came out with some cool innovations, but seeing those prices makes it a clear choice to buy from another brand.
I don’t think they are overpriced. Expensive, yes, but not overpriced. I have well over $300 invested in 4 tough system boxes. The Milwaukee boxes are comparable. If the new boxes don’t sell they’ll lower their prices, but what if, IF, they are BETTER than the tough system. Wouldn’t that possibly be a good reason for a higher price?
Nice review and pics!
One huge benefit to the corner guards on the boxes would be tie down points so it could be used as a mobile tool box that one could throw on the back of an atv/side x side.
Maybe Milwaukee could make a thermal insert so they could be used as a cooler. Or an actual Packout cooler.
Here’s what I’m thinking about the corner guards. Imagine standing next to your pickup with the tailgate down and you want to grab a box. The corner guards will make it easier to reach the boxes and pull them out. Much easier than trying to fumble for a fold down handle or trying to grab and edge or corner.
Another option, at least on the small tool box, is throwing a couple of carabiners on the corners and clipping a shoulder strap to them. Might work on the large as well, but those tend to get pretty heavy.
The cooler was my first thought when i saw these. That base box screams that it wants to be packed down with ice-cold Frosties!
Actually this would be something they could really tackle with this that dewalt isnt even touching with toughsystem. Coolers are everywhere on jobsites. They could do a couple different versions. A smaller one to fit your lunch, a cooler version of the base box with the wheels, and even a drink cooler would be nice.
Nice system. Looks really great especially the tote integration but a bit pricey. One thing I wish they would have done tough is to make the totes modular as well just like the toughbuilt system. Now that would be the greatest storage system 🙂
Tough choice when you can buy a complete toughsystem set and a complete Tstak set for less…..
These things look amazing. But oh my, I already pay a premium for red tools that I use. There’s not much left over for a super deluxe case system. I have been REALLY looking forward to an offering from Milwaukee because I’d been eyeing the Dewalt system. Now I have seen and have to pass until they become more reasonably priced. Milwaukee has me hooked on the tools. But when I can buy THREE sets of the Rigid rolling toolbox trio for what one of these sets is going to cost me….
Sorry Milwaukee, late to the party and priced out of the market.
I had a question. Once you’ve placed two small organizers on the top, could you switch back to a full width toolbox or tote ? Will the patterns still align ?
I didn’t see anybody try that configuration. To be honest I’m not exactly sure why you’d want to do that.
To answer your question: I don’t think it would work. If you look at the full width boxes the latching mechanism is in the middle. It interfaces with the locking slot in the top of the next box down. If you have two small boxes there is no locking slot in the middle.
It does work. The small organizers have 2 recess pockets on the lid on right and left edges when placed together create the latching point in the middle. A little hard to see in the photos.
I saw those protrusions, didn’t know that’s what it’s for.
I’ll be convinced when I can try it in person.
Wow I may be wrong on both points.
I thought about it. I forgot about the tote that fits across the top that would use the middle locking slot, so I guess there is a good use case. Otherwise, I was thinking why not just put the two smaller boxes on top. I’m still having trouble seeing a use case where you’d put a full width box on top of top half width boxes — maybe you just wan’t quicker access to the stuff in the full width box?
That’s a good catch on the partial slot, I took a look at my photos and some other peoples photos and I can’t find a good photo of those recess pockets. I guess I assumed it was a design element.
I have eight of the packout system and you can stack any way you prefer. Best tool organizer I’ve ever had.
This little looks great! I’m pumped! I have the tough system and I love it. Why am I pumped? I guarantee you that dewalt is looking at this and trying to figure out a better way to improve the tough system. I have a feeling all of us will win with the competition that’s on the horizon.
This^. Everyone has an option if red or yellow or blue or whatever color are the best. But what really matters is when all colors are in the game, the consumers gets choices. In the end, the companies are chasing our dollars and they will have to continue to improve in order to keep getting our money. I love this competition.
They look great….but the price premium as described – more than 2x dewalt – is a complete non-starter.
Forgot to note that the price will likely get even more insanely ridiculous up here in the great white north (Canada) where the dewalt rolling cart (not the combo – just the cart) sells for $180 vs. $70 across the border in Bellingham, WA.
WOW…I’m blown away! I just regret having invested so heavily in Makita Makpac boxes 🙁
What do the boxes weigh? It would seem that they added a lot of mass to help keep them tough, but I would be concerned that they would be harder to move around.
Im surprised its taken them this long bring this system out. Seems like some good options. I cant say id replace my Ridgid ones mostly because of cost and not being a construction pro. The Ridgid ones work well for diy stuff. The milwaukee organizers are really nice thou.
I cant say how much i like the intergation and modularity of this system.
The ONLY thing they need now is two coolers. 1 thats full width and depth for drinks and a 2nd thats full width but 2/3 will be for drinks+ice and the other 1/3 will be dry but able to keep cool being in close proximity to the ice for your food without it your food having to be in a waterproof container.
And…. another idea… a truck tool box that is built specifically for these to lock into and secure with one lock. Like a deep crossover toolbox or something.
Looks like it’s got a lot of potential. Surprised there’s no wall rack on intro, or radio/charger. NOT a fan of the color. DeWalt got it right by doing their’s in black.
Unfortunately, I doubt that a Porta-band will fit into ’em…
Agree with others that the pricing is high, BUT… Milwaukee is also notorious for setting their MSRP’s way out of sync (+50-100%) with street pricing, so the actual prices may be much more reasonable.
Lastly, no mention of where it’s made, which pretty much guarantees China. 🙁
In yesterday’s post, Stuart mentioned Israel, so most likely Keter makes them.
Israel, at least the hard plastic boxes.
At 21″ (wide), I wonder if that’s measured across, or on the diagonal? When I looked at my rolling TS case, the width measurement is actually the inside diagonal measurement. You might be able to fit the Deep Cut portaband in the rolling case.
I wish these companies would start making their boxes with a 24″ internal width so I can put my 2′ level in there without having to “double diagonal” it across the box making it awkward to put anything else in it. Is that too weird to ask for? A 2′ level?
Bit off topic but try to find a portable mechanics box for a 24 inch breaker bar, girrrrrrfrr
Those tool bags sure have some similar features to the OT Veto Pro Pacs.
It’ll be interesting to see how Veto take that, from a trademark point of view.
Keep in mind that Milwaukee always asks for crazy high prices at first and then drops them down after about a year. They still have the non-packout organizers if you’re just looking for small parts organizers and not actual tool storage.
Nice and well thought out. 2 notes
I stand on my tough boxes all the time @ 6’1 and 250 lbs.
I welded 1 inch bar stock on my van to hang tough boxes to keep organized. Stacks of anything tend to jump around and fall over in transit. No worries with the dewalt latch system.
That’s interesting about the Dewalt latches. I’ve had several of the latches break on my tstaks. They are the same latch I believe.
If Milwaukee does a packout vacuum – let’s hope they “pack” it better than the Festool CT SYS (584174). I’ve had a chance to work with the Festool, and the hose and cord make it like the proverbial Fibber Mcgeee’s closet – so tightly packed in there that they are bound to fall out.
I can easily see that middle slot in the big tote being used to hold a divider or possibly a tool board.
Somebody mentioned cutting a piece of plywood to fit for a divider.
Maybe someone else also?
i see nothing to make me wish i had spent more or waited . i have well over twice as much storage and and not much more invested. i am confident in my yellow purchase.
if you absolutely need a heavier duty box with all of the “premium” features then maybe these are for you but i think dewalt beats them on value hands down. in all fairness, my buddy has the ridgid setup and i thought the higher price of the dewalt was worth it. while i am not sorry for the dewalt i think the ridgid would have met all of my needs as well. the only downfall to the ridgid line is the lack of tool storage variety.
My sense with this is they will really be relying on having a wider diversity of modules that they will be rolling out in the upcoming years (which aren’t abailable in competing systems) to give them the competitive edge. Given what the product manager was hinting at about new stuff already in development, im betting they will treat this like they do m18 and m12: widerange of tools nobody else is making to build up a massive lineup.
Do you know if they plan to discontinue the current standalone organizer ?
There was no mention of it. I would assume that product will continue to be offered.
I’d like to see an adapter plate. you could snap on the top and then use the older Milwaukee organizers.
Or an adapter plate in general!
There is now both: an adapter plate & conversion system (for the older organizers)
Overall I like it. Two thing that I am waiting for that are still missing are waterproof drawer and a way to access the bottom box without removing the top box.
I went with the tstak for my office tool storage. The drawer do sag a little. I wanted something more heavier duty that can take with me on the go. I did look at the Tough system but I didn’t see an advantage there either as far as drawers go. They are heavier without the duty.
One of the thing that I like about the Tough System is the rail system that allow the bottom box to be access without removing the top box. However that’s only possible in a few configuration. I am hoping to something similar with the Packout.
Thinking out of the box, what I am looking for is a tough, water proof side access mobile storage whether via a drawer system or rail configuration or however they do it. From what I can see the Packout system delivered a tough and waterproof mobile storage… If they can add something that help with the side accessibility I will jump on that bandwagon.
As far as pricing, I do think and hope that the price will drop some. However as long as they delivered on the durability and everything else about the build quality is as consistent as what Stuart have observed on the demo. I don’t mind paying a premium price as long as I am getting a premium product.
Oh and a subtle color such as black or grey would be nice.
I know some people are balking at the price but the more I look at this stuff, the more I’m starting to wonder how they have these this cheap. If you compare the prices to what’s on the market to the latches, the corner guards and rubber molding seem to be really reasonable. The bags might be a little pricey for what you’re getting, it looks comparable to the newer Husky bags but with a nice bottom and nicer handles on the two larger totes.
Obviously lots of these toolbox systems sell – but it got me to wondering how most folks (if there is a common denominator) transport and use them. Stuart said “But aside from a few isolated issues discovered at the moment of delivery, my Dewalt ToughSystem tool boxes had never let me down.” – but is that for use as storage, transport, rolling onto a jobsite – or working out of them once on-site or some combination of tasks? This also gets to the point about how should the ToolGuyd “staff” test them (or compare them to Dewalt) once they are released – so that they may inform buying decisions?
Just got started with the ridgid, which looks like a precursor of these. (sigh) I quite like the extra options with interlocking storage or totes on top, compared to what ridgid and other brands have released, but am hoping for more … and at a lower cost.
Note. I am not impressed that the outer little wear bars on the bottom of the cart are almost gone already on the unit you sampled, and look to have been shallower than their provided stock photo?
I got the dewalt system last BF.. the handle pulls out all the time and one of the side handles broke … all on the big box… other then that I loved the things when they worked
I’d love to get the dimensions when you find out. I’m designing some storage drawers and would like to make sure the organizer can fit in a drawer.
Stuart. That’s a very comprehensive review. Loads of detail and excellent photographs. Top work.
To the products: I’ll be very interested to see them. I wonder a little at the value engineering. While the trend in travel luggage for example is moving towards light weight these days, here we seem to have the opposite – these boxes look like they add a fair bit of extra weight, volume and price to the task which is basically to get (say) 120lbs of tools into the vehicle, up a flight of stairs and back again.
I wonder if Dewalt patented their pull out racking system for the tough boxes ? A strong feature of their range that is conspicuously missing from this launch.
Good to see a Red option on the market. Wonder if they are going to come out with something more light duty like the Lbox or Dewalt TSTAK too. I have a fewTSTAK for use around the house and they are nice.
Probably not at first. Besides, what can be done better at lower price points? It’s going to be a lot harder.
I guess the small organizer is “expensive” because its part of the new system. Its $5 more than their current non packout organizer and has half the space. Like was said, its a minor concern regarding how the interior containers can be arranged, but I appreciate the flaw was pointed out regardless of how Milwaukee felt about it.
Do you think the current organizer will go on clearance or will they continue to manufacture it alongside Packout?
I think they’ll continue to sell both products.
As for the price of the small organizer, its design is just as complex, and so its price doesn’t really surprise me. There’s some money saved on materials and production, but a lot of the production processes are going to be the same.
A small difference in costs can balloon by the time retail prices are determined.
Whoah, this article got a lot of attention! ?
I’m swimming in Systainers, piled to the ceiling.
Thus, you can rightfully conclude that I’m not involved in any
seriously heavy duty trades.
However, if I was, I’d be all over this system.
Milwuakee really knocked it out of the park with this one.
They should also add a lunch box that clicks in just like the tool boxes, complete with ice packs.
The point of these is to get organized in order to be more efficient and thus, more profitable. In home remodeling I’ll have several tools set up at once as well as fastener caddies which means continually unstackling and re-stacking boxes to access accessories. Not very efficient. Also, the larger the box, the higher the likelihood of ending up with a pile of tools in a box. Again, not very efficient. The solution for me was T-Stak drawers. I put the bulk of my tools in them with Kaizen foam and stack what I need on the rolling cart. They work marvelously and keep the job moving and the job site organized, quite similar to a mechanic’s rolling tool chest. Unfortunately, the latching mechanism of the boxes and cart are lacking in durability. It would also be a big improvement if the were more resistant to water.
I, too, have been eagerly awaiting Milwaukee ‘s foray into the tool organization market. This looks to be a brilliant start. I can’t wait to see them expand the line. If and when they come out with waterproof drawers my T-Staks will be cleaned out faster than you can say Craig’s List.
I understand that people balk at the pric, but, as others have mentioned, Milwaukee has a habit of starting high. Besides, as a Festool user, everything everywhere seems more reasonably priced.
Yes! Drawer units are the answer. I too use tstak because of the drawers. You can access anything in the whole stack with drawers regardless of what’s stacked on top. Also only takes up the floorspace of just one box, these Milwaukee boxes will end up unstacked all across the job site.
No van/workshop rack, no standalone cart. Disappointed.
Not my idea of practical storage. I need large, somewhat lockable (not critical but keeps the “borrowing neighbor/family” from taking my tools), and inexpensive but stacking if needed.
I need storage for paint tools, for spackling, for tile work tools, for …
I tried some Husky stacking and they just took too long to open.
Post some of DeWalts new stacking storage. They have the large bin now with a handle. If they were cheaper, I would have my shop so I could slide them into bays. Some tools need to have cases…from moisture and other critters in the basement shop.
I bought one of these a month ago, keep my circle saws and nail guns/hoses/ cords in, plus nails–not as durable as the smaller boxes, but man, it’s still strong enough. Nice thing is, it fits perfectly on my Hitch Haul, and you can strap other stuff to the rails on top.
These things are available at Walmart, price shown is for 2-They don’t have seals, but are great for chucking stuff like drywall tools, tape, grubby stuff in and running.
The lack of units with drawers is a funny thing to me.
If they build one, hopefully it isn’t as underdesigned as the Dewalt product.
That might be something they’re working on.
But there’s a big potential problem when it comes to drawer units – sagging.
Does anyone know if these will be available in the UK?
I’m definitely gonna invest in them if they are.
I would love to see a hard level case, 4′ long, mountable to one of the arms of the cart. My levels are constantly getting pounded.
Love the looks of the bags, but I bought a prototype Dr.Woods 3000 from Occidental leather about 5 years ago, and am biased.
My Dewalt ToughSystem cases have been serving me well, but I do like the organization feature of the smaller unit.
It doesn’t matter how well it is built or how how pricey it is. Milwaukee distribution in Canada is the joke. They come out with all these innovative products and no one can buy them. I use only Milwaukee and have an extensive collection of tools. Trying to purchase a product for storage is next to impossible. Then when you can get it here the price is always $100 more then the USA.
You do not give me any hope for Germany…
I’d like to buy such a system in Germany. Does anyone know if Milwaukee sell their products here?
Does anybody know when they are gonna be available in the UK I have £3000 set aside for new tools and storage. Will the M18 M12 tools come with packout boxes as standard? Bit anal whrn ot comea to things matching.
Well I just picked up the 15″ tote and the small organizer. So far it feels good. The 15″ tote felt like a good size as I fond the 21″ tote too tempting to overload ( like husky ones I already own) and the small one well just to small. Really wish that the bins in the organizer weren’t so big as I use lots of small fasteners in small quantities ( picture hooks, finishing nails, command hooks etc ) but I’m sure that I can work it out. Didn’t get a chance to see the Rolling toolbox as apparently none have made it to Canada. But they all seem to be well-made. And I’m pretty sure you can get a full-sized porta band in the small toolbox minus the black storage boxes.
Ps there are 2 straps for a level on the outside of the 15″ and i think 21″ totes
I’ve been considering going with something more portable and elegant than last year’s Black Friday special $4 totes from HD for my tool storage, and as their are a lot of red tools, i’ve also been thinking about the Packout since reading this article… but there’s something that has me hesitating (beyond the premium price Packout comes with): I’m wondering if there’s any tool storage system that can protect it better from humidity. I live in Miami and the heat, salt air and humidity is brutal on tools not stored in climate-controlled rooms. I have a little self-regenerating plug-in hygroscopic pack i bought of Amazon that sits in the tote with my tools and gets pulled out and regenerated occasionally, but it’s pretty clear the tote isn’t doing much to keep out the humidity. What are people in hot, humid climates doing with their tools? Are any of these tool boxes designed to keep out not just rain but humidity?
Let’s say you have a tool box that’s left in a 0% humidity clean room for a month. It’s closed up and then brought to a 80% humidity room and left there for a month. What will be the humidity level inside the box?
Some cases are so well sealed that they need a vent to break pressure differentials. I’d say that the lack of air movement would also include humidity.
But as soon as you open a box in a humid environment, the air mixes.
There are some plastic boxes with corrosion inhibitors .
But honestly, if humidity is a major problem for you, you might not be able to escape the need for rejuvenating or replaceable desiccant packs.
Yeah i know that the humidity inside is a problem but i don’t have a problem using desiccators like the one i have. What i would like is a box that seals well so that, once closed, there’s not more influx of humidity. Besides overbuilt things like ammo boxes, what kinds of cases are you referring to that need a vent?
ToughSystem cases also have them, except for the newest small case which I’m told has a different type of mechanism.
Thanks. I guess i missed that difference between the ToughSystem cases and the other then-existing modular storage systems my first read-through. In the comments to one of your ToughSystem cases is a discussion of how they’re not really airtight (ie IP65 is not submersion-proof, but spray-proof), so in the end i wonder how much the seal would impede the tendency of humidity to infiltrate. It’s a step up from no seal, and i guess beyond that you gotta go up significantly in magnitude of cost for pelican cases.
You do mention a rubber gasket to give IP65-level protection to these packout boxes, which would be the same as a ToughSystem on the IP scale. Do you remember any discussion by Milwaukee discuss about the merits of their boxes compared to the ToughSystem boxes when it comes to environmental protection?
It’s something I can inquire about, but they might be reluctant to make any guarantees.
Sounds to me like you really need to do some controlled testing. Try one box – the cheapest ToughSystem or smallest Packout, and see how well it protects a couple of tools.
Or you can put something else in there.
I had a humidity problem until I replaced my small dehumidifer with a larger one. I checked something in a box within a box. It had been wrapped in corrosion-inhibiting paper, and was damp to the touch.
Maybe get a small clear-lidded Packout and place a humidity sensor in it, one which you can read easily through the lid. Granted this might not be a highly reliable test, but it might be enough to allay or confirm your concerns.
These cases are more meant for day to day use than long-term storage.
That said, I have a bunch of my older hand tools in long-term storage that’s not environmentally controlled. Some equipment that’s open to the air has some surface rust. I have never seen any such rust on the contents within my ToughSystem cases. There are a few tools that are more highly susceptible to rusting, but the last time I had to retrieve something from that stack, I searched through a couple of boxes and nothing looked out of line.
What else would be good to try? A can of “DampRid,” rice, or something else that can be left in a tool box outside, to be weighed before and after a certain amount of time?
Thanks, it does call for an experiment… i was just hoping it had already been performed. 🙂
I think the best way to do it would be to pick up more wireless temp/humidity sensors (i already have one) and do a side-by-side with similar sized Packout, ToughSystem, and control container like a tote. I would also need to buy two more of the nifty little self-regenerating moisture adsorption packs and put one in each. If you don’t put those in to remove the initial humidity left when you close the cases, it’s kind of pointless. Then it would be a matter of seeing if they maintain different humidities and how long the desiccant packs last. I’m not overly confident about the consistent capacity of the packs and the accuracy of the humidity sensors, but that seems like the most useful test scenario.
If i get around to that i’ll report my results. Thanks for your comments and please do share anything you hear on the matter.
ONE PROBLEM: YOU CAN ONLY LOCK ONE BOX AT A TIME, AND NOTHING TO STOP SOMEONE FROM JUST TAKING EACH BOX OFF OF THE CART. THE LOCKING FEATURES ARE TERRIBLE, SHOULD BE ONE LOCK INCLUDED THAT CAN LOCK ALL BOXES AND ALSO LOCK THEM TO SOMETHING LIKE A GANGBOX.
The shrunken text isn’t because of what you said, but as a standard response to all-caps comments.
Re reading this old thread and taking up the points about weather sealing. I once forgot to unscrew the pressure seal valve on a dewalt toughbox before it went in the aircraft hold. The pressure change in flight blew the valve insert out of the box. That says to me they are airtight for all practical purposes. Fortunately the brass threaded insert pressed back in OK !
I’m a window fitter from the UK, I do alot of site work, being on sites you get to see people’s and companies solutions to lugging their tools around. I’m impressed plus I think a trolley with these bigger wheels would be good as sites here in the UK are wet, very muddy, sandy, uneven basically s**t ground as 9 times out of 10 the ground works are being done as other trades are on site. I would like to see how they hold up being lugged across site get soaked and muddy for weeks. But I still think I would buy these as I am going to invest heavily in Milwaukee now as after 5 years my makita kit is slowly dying. And Milwaukee have impressed me with there other tools being in my eyes better than what the competitors are putting out
Your so right about our building sites. In the U.S they tend to put the roads and services in first and build off a concrete slab. Most contractors can park next to or on the property where they are working so these wheeled toolboxes are great. I’m working in the shop fitting industry at the moment so I’m used to tarmac car parks and smooth tiled floors but dragging one of these full of tools over a distance can still be a pain. A lot of us now make our own dollies really easy to push around, Dewault actually do a box that can be tilted and wheeled or pushed around upright like it’s on a dolly but all my gear is now Milwaukee so I can’t put it in a Dewault box. ? If I ever go back on to a building site I will invest in a fishing barrow like a wheelbarrow but it folds down easy.
I am looking at buying a bunch of these types of boxes and am looking at the Ridgid, Dewalt and now Milwaukee. Unfortunately, the price on the M doesn’t make sense. My biggest peeve with all these are space. I suspect they’re all the same but for 4″ iniside height I need to give up 7″ of exterior space. Whats with that? Thick lids, thick walls, crazy metal corners. I need a storage of tools, not space eaters. Just trying to get past this. I would suspect without doing the math that the tool space is nearly 1/2 of what the exterior box space takes up. Kinda crazy in my mind.
Great review! I picked up the 3-pack last Black Friday from Home Depot for $199, and I can honestly say I’m very happy I ponied up for this system. Guys I work with have the Ridgid and Dewalt systems, and they all agree that the Packout is superior in both quality and ease of use. So, for what it’s worth to anyone debating on spending the extra money – you will NOT be disappointed!
I can’t help but think that Milwaukee’s design which incorporates the aluminum corner grabs was more about constructing a stronger box than about giving the users a grab spot. One of the weakest parts of these are the corners, look at how they were constructed and you can see a lot of effort went into “beefing” up the corners, by rounding them, adding the corner “stiffener” which forms the back of the exterior grab channel in the corners. There’s just a massive amount of material in these corners used in various ways all aiding in, no doubt, strengthening these boxes for the long term use of industry professionals, gotta love it! No I am convinced that the grab handles IMHO were added after they settled on an extremely durable corner design and I think it was brilliant.
I just purchased the rolling case. I’ve seen an internal storage bin in online ads. Also an internal organizer (fabric) and a zippered pouch that could be attached to the lid.
Where can I purchase these items?