Despite its modest appearance, DeWalt’s ToughSystem tool case is more aptly described as a portable “tool bunker” than a mere tool box. An impenetrable tool bunker, one that’s impervious to earthly destructive forces. Okay, so maybe it is just a toolbox and I’m getting a little carried away, but the Tough System tool cases are still among the most rugged I have ever seen.
This review will focus on the large case, shown above, which can hold an ample assortment of hand tools, power tools, and supplies within its 21″ L x 13″ W x 12″ H walls. If you’re interested in a smaller form-factor, be sure to check out my separate review of DeWalt’s small ToughSystem case on my website. A taller and slightly wider extra large case is also available.
To start off, these tool cases are built with 4mm-thick structural foam walls, making them far more durable and sturdier than ordinary plastic tool boxes. They are designed to endure rough construction environments and job sites, so they pretty much have to be tough. In an attempt to see just how tough this toolbox is, I threw everything I had at it, literally in some cases. A framing hammer left a small mark, a dumbbell bounced right off, and I swear that the box chortled as I introduced it to my 3 lb drilling hammer. This was a real eye-opener – I’m going to need a sledge hammer.
I am not a contractor, tradesman, or professional tool user, but I sometimes travel with tools and delicate equipment. Toolbox durability and strength is important to me, and I also highly value ergonomics and user-friendly features. Fully loaded (as you’ll see down the page), these boxes can get quite heavy.
This particular size is rated for 88 lbs, and I’ve loaded it to at least 60-65lbs comfortably. I can’t handle this weight without breaking a sweat, but the tool box sure can.
The large cases have a comfortable handle on top, and also spring-action handles at both ends. The side-handles may not be quite as comfortable to grip as the top handle, but they’re still greatly appreciated when lugging around a fully-loaded box.
The cases are designed to stack neatly and securely atop each other, and can be physically coupled together using yellow latches built into opposite sides of the lid. Connecting multiple boxes together is optional, and so I typically opt to stack a few cases with the yellow latches folded in and unused.
What good is a tough toolbox without strong latches? Each case sports two oversized metal latches which seem to be weather/rust resistant. If I had to grade the tool boxes, this is where I would take off a few points. The latches are wonderfully designed for jobsite use, and can be easily toggled with gloved hands, but closing them is not exactly effortless and requires a little leverage. Maybe I just need to strengthen my grip.
Speaking of weather-resistance, check out that water seal! The case is rated to IP65 standards, meaning that it is completely dust-proof and can withstand water jets. A relief valve is built into the lid in case a pressure differential makes the lid difficult to open.
I can definitely see myself using these cases to transport non-tool-related equipment in the future, and they might even make great weather-proof outdoor project enclosures.
Photographing an empty case proved to be problematic, so here’s what they look like fully loaded. Here you can also see the decent tool trays that are included with each large case.
In terms of power tools, these cases can hold drills, impact drivers, jig saws, reciprocating saws, and other like-sized tools without issue. Circular saws may be a bit too bulky to fit, but can be easily accommodated by the extra-large cases.
The tool case is lockable via two padlock holes, as shown in the first photo, but there’s also a rear-mounted metal bracket that locks the case to DeWalt’s cart carrier.
What would make this toolbox even better? An optional “pick-n-pluck foam” drop-in insert would definitely increase its versatility. DeWalt’s large Tough System case is a great all-around tool box. It’s very well-built, comfortably sized, and at about $60 it’s a bargain for what it offers.
Stuart Deutsch is a tool enthusiast, critic, and collector, and writes his passion at ToolGuyd.