A Warning About Portable Tool Boxes with Drawers

Milwaukee Packout 3-Drawer Tool Box in SUV

I have tried quite a few portable tool boxes with drawers over the years, and Milwaukee’s Packout is the best so far.

I’ve used Dewalt ToughSystem, Bosch L-Boxx, Dewalt Tstak, Festool Sortainer, and Milwaukee Packout. I have also handled other systems, such as Husky’s.

Shown above is a photo of my new Milwaukee Packout 3-drawer tool box, as the start of its journey home.

Even with a $20 off $200 coupon – thank you Home Depot Pro Xtra program! – it was pricey. $164. That’s… a lot.

But, this is the right tool box for my growing needs.

Milwaukee has a 2- and 3-drawer Packout tool boxes. I have one each at home that I’ve been testing out (thank you to Milwaukee for the review samples!), and they’ve been good, maybe even great.

But, they’re not perfect.

Tool boxes made from plastic, polymer blends, composites or similar materials, are prone to deflection, deformation, sagging, or binding under heavier loads.

Load up the drawers, place some more loaded-up tool boxes on top, and the drawers will be harder to open.

Plastic bends, and drawers can rub.

Milwaukee’s Packout tool box isn’t immune to this issue, but it seems to minimize it quite well.

So, I’m calling it – the Milwaukee Packout drawer tool boxes are the best. They’re not perfect, but they seem to be the least impacted when loaded down.

To emphasize it, Milwaukee Packout drawered tool boxes are the BEST on the market right now.

The issue is inevitable, and so it’s not a question of will there be flex, but how much flex and binding will there be?

I bring this up partly to express my sentiment that the Milwaukee Packout 2- and 3-drawer tool boxes are good, at least in my opinion so far, but also because I’ve seen a lot of readers asking for drawered tool boxes from other makers.

I tried so many different tool box drawer systems because the concept is extremely convenient. It’s great to be able to access tools without having to disassemble a stack of tool boxes. It’s great to be able to have some parts and tools mixed in a drawer, with the other drawers used for related or unrelated purposes.

It’s a great idea, and I can and do benefit from a portable, durable, customizable, and versatile set of drawers I can move around if needed.

But with most drawers, there’s a disconnect between theory and practice.

If you have a tool box with drawers below a stack of heavy tools, those drawers are not going to open as smoothly as when the tool box is empty and by itself.

The Packout tool box handles things well. Honestly, I was skeptical, given how my experiences went with other brands. I was prepared for an acceptable user experience at best, and am glad to have been wrong.

Whether with Packout or another system, be reasonable with your expectations.

Just because I was disappointed by other systems, such as Tstak drawer boxes, that doesn’t mean they’re not good products, it means I wasn’t prepared for how much they would bind when placed in a tall stack of loaded tool boxes.

If Milwaukee Packout isn’t for you, keep all this in mind. You can take measures to help reduce binding, such as by keeping drawered tool boxes towards the top of a stack. Or maybe keep things separate if (or when) binding or sagging becomes a problem.

You might look at all of the new modular tool box systems on the market today and think gee, they really need drawers. That’s fine, but you need to know that there are compromises, and that loaded drawers never open and close as smoothly as when the tool box is empty and by itself with nothing on top.