Tool backpacks have become must-have gear for on-the-go DIYers and industry professionals because of their flexibility, durability, and portability. Instead of struggling with a bulky tool box that’s difficult to carry or pack into a vehicle, a tool backpack lets you carry the load over your shoulders or down by your side. The material lets you easily shape it to fit into a packed car or truck.
The best tool backpack for you depends on your profession, the tools you use regularly, and any features that you want in your tool backpack, such as waterproof material or heavy-duty construction. The products below represent the best tool backpacks in their respective categories based on reputation, quality, and overall value.
- BEST OVERALL: DEWALT USB Charging Tool Backpack
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ToolEra Heavy Duty Tool Backpack
- BEST HEAVYWEIGHT: Klein Tools Heavy Duty Tool Backpack
- BEST FOR CARPENTERS: Custom LeatherCraft Carpenter’s Tool Backpack
- BEST FOR ELECTRICIANS: Custom LeatherCraft 75-Pocket Tool Backpack
- BEST FOR HVAC TECHNICIANS: Veto Pro Pac Tech-Mct Tool Backpack
- BEST FOR MASONS: Revco Industries Tool Backpack With Helmetcatch
- BEST FOR PLUMBERS: DEWALT Lighted Tool Backpack
- BEST FOR WHITESMITHS: STEALHEAD Padded and Reinforced Tool Backpack
- BEST FOR DECORATORS: Klein Tools Tool Backpack With Molded Base
Tool backpacks come in many different types, including backpacks for carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and specialty trades, which is a larger category composed of several smaller backpack sub-classes.
Carpenter’s tool backpacks are designed for the type of work and environment typical to the average carpenter. This means they usually aren’t constructed with waterproof materials or are they reinforced on the bottom of the bag. However, these tool backpacks have comfortable padded shoulder straps, padded backing, and a chest strap that securely holds the backpack in place while you’re on a ladder.
Electricians use a lot of hand tools, such as various types and sizes of screwdrivers, to do their work. Like the best electrician tool belt, an electrician’s tool backpack normally contains many small pockets on the inside and on the outside of the bag, so you can quickly and easily reach your tools when you need them. The outside pockets have elastic bands to hold your tools securely in place while you move around the job site or when you’re climbing a ladder.
Plumbers frequently deal with dark basements, water, and the usual wear and tear of carrying tools around a work site. To ensure that a tool backpack survives these conditions, plumber’s tool backpacks usually have zippered openings that are easy to use in dim lighting. They also may feature built-in lighting to illuminate the workspace to eliminate the need to carry a flashlight. However, the most important aspect of a plumber’s tool backpack is its ability to be waterproof and water-resistant, and they’re often constructed with heavy-duty vinyl and have a rubber-reinforced base.
Specialty tool backpacks are an assortment of specialized products that have one or more features designed for a certain profession or hobby, such as backpacks for HVAC techs, masons, whitesmiths (tinsmiths), or decorators.
- HVAC tech tool backpacks are similar to electrician’s tool backpacks except they have fewer pockets and loops on the outside of the bag to hold small hand tools. Instead, they often have space for a cordless drill and a medium assortment of screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches.
- Mason tool backpacks may come with a helmet holder because of the necessity to wear a helmet on the masonry work site. They also should be heavy duty and durable to ensure they aren’t damaged by the sharp edges of masonry trowels.
- Whitesmith tool backpacks don’t need as many small pockets as backpacks for other trades, but they should be composed of strong material, heavy enough to hold the large tools required by those who work in the whitesmith trade, including hammers, hand scissors, and metal shears.
- Decorator tool backpacks are tall and easy to carry on a ladder. They don’t need a lot of loops; instead, they typically have a large number of small pockets to hold smaller tools. These backpacks also usually have a rigid base, so you can sit them on the ladder or on the ground.
Before buying a new tool backpack, consider these important product features to find the best tool backpack for your line of work.
Standard vs. Heavyweight
Tool backpacks are made in two primary weight classes: a standard-size tool backpack and a heavyweight or heavy-duty tool backpack.
- Standard tool backpacks are smaller and made of thinner material than a heavyweight tool backpack. They are designed to carry a large variety of small tools with interior pockets and loops for basic screwdrivers, wrenches, and, possibly, a hammer. Because of their general design, they are often referred to as “utility” backpacks.
- Heavyweight tool backpacks are typically larger and made of a more durable material that can carry sharp metal tools without getting cut or pierced. This style of tool backpack is more expensive than a standard tool backpack, but it will last much longer. If you are a professional or an avid DIYer, then you can benefit from a tool backpack that carries a medium to large assortment of tools for many jobs.
When you’re trying to find a tool backpack, consider the size and number of tools that you typically carry when you’re working. Estimate the largest backpack you would need to carry all the possible tools that you might need.
Also consider the amount of weight that the tool backpack will carry. After all, the whole point of a tool backpack is to remain portable and easy to carry as you go about your work, so you don’t want a bag so large that you can’t manage it for long periods of time.
Heavy or sharp tools in a backpack can quickly wear on its material. If you know you’ll be hard on your tool backpack, choose a durable material like canvas or nylon. These strong materials not only hold the weight of your tools as you move, but they’re also excellent options for carrying piercing tools or any equipment with sharp blades.
In addition, a rubber or plastic base on your tool backpack gives it the ability to stand up vertically on its own bottom for easy access from the top. This type of base is typically constructed of waterproof or water-resistant materials, which allow you to work in a variety of environments without worrying about your tools getting damaged.
Since you might be carrying your tool backpack around all day, comfort is another top priority. If the demands of your job involve climbing ladders or crawling under houses, then you’ll need a tool backpack with an additional chest strap to ensure it remains secure while you move. For added comfort, tool backpacks have padded shoulders straps or backing to help reduce pressure and strain on your body.
Pockets and Organization
Before you purchase a new tool backpack, determine the number of pockets you need, the size of those pockets, how you want the backpack to open, and if you need a certain type of loops, pockets, or storage areas for specific tools.
Also decide if you prefer the bulk of your everyday tools to be easily accessible in pockets and loops on the exterior of the backpack or if you want the security of knowing that all your tools are neatly packed into an enclosed backpack. If you’re a professional tradesperson but you purchase a tool backpack designed for a trade different from yours, it could be a hindrance, so be sure to find the backpack suitable for your type of work.
The weight distribution of your tools in your backpack and how it affects your shoulders, back, chest, and body is an important factor to consider. Your long-term comfort impacts the size of the backpack and whether the backpack is suitable for heavy-duty applications. If you know you’ll be carrying a lot of tools in your backpack, look for a heavy-duty tool backpack with adjustable shoulder straps, lumbar support, an adjustable chest strap, and additional padding to help offset the weight of those tools.
The opening on a tool backpack can make a big difference in how easy it is to use. You’ll want to choose the backpack best for your working environment and your profession. For example, a plumber who frequently works in dimly lit basements and crawl spaces will likely find that a zipper mechanism or velcro straps is easier than fighting with buttons or buckles. Velcro straps are more durable than zippers, and they don’t get jammed. However, velcro is not strong enough to hold very heavy loads securely, so it’s best for smaller tool backpacks.
Unlike a waterproof tool box made of hard plastic, waterproof tool backpacks are constructed with waterproof or water-resistant materials that enable them to retain their flexible design. They also may have a rigid base made of rubber or plastic to prevent water from seeping into the backpack from the ground.
While waterproof tool backpacks cost more than non-waterproof models, keep them in mind if you work in an environment around water. To ensure the safety of your tools, the higher price may be worth it.
Our Top Picks
In the following list, we describe some of the best tool backpacks on the market in various categories, based on all these considerations as well as on quality and price.
The DEWALT USB Charging Tool Backpack lets you take advantage of your spare DEWALT 20V Max Lithium ion battery with the customized internal battery dock design that can provide power to charge two USB ports simultaneously. It has 23 pockets—20 inside and 3 outside—with pockets for a phone, tablet, and camera for safe storage while charging.
Most of the openings on the backpack are zippered, with one plastic buckle and several velcro openings. The heavy-duty nylon construction and rubber feet protect the backpack from piercing tools, cutting blades, and impact damage. This tool backpack also comes with padded handles and adjustable straps, so you can customize the fit of the backpack for exceptional comfort.
With the ToolEra Heavy Duty Tool Backpack, you get a heavy-duty 1680D nylon construction for an inexpensive price. This sturdy nylon protects against piercing and cutting tools, while giving the backpack additional support to help carry heavier loads. The backpack has three main compartments and 50 pockets, sleeves, and loops for individual tools. It also has enough space inside the backpack for bulky items like hard hats, power tools, and extension cords.
The interior lining of this backpack is bright orange, so you can easily locate tools, fasteners, and accessories in the bottom of the pack. You’ll also find a specific location for tablet storage and a compartment designed to fit up to a 15-inch laptop. For comfort throughout the day, you can adjust the padded backpack straps to the length that’s ideal to support and adequately distribute the weight of the tools.
If you’ll be carrying a variety of tools with cutting edges, piercing angles, or a heavier-than-average weight, then you can benefit from a heavyweight backpack capable of withstanding ongoing wear and tear. The Klein Tools Heavy Duty Tool Backpack is an excellent option that meets these expectations in a water-resistant 1680D ballistic weave construction.
The backpack also has two padded front straps at the chest and waist to keep it securely fastened and to help distribute the weight of your tools. This backpack has 21 pockets and a zippered large interior storage compartment that folds out to become an extended workstation with a bright orange backing, so you can easily find your tools and fasteners.
If you’re looking for a new carpenter tool backpack that’s capable of withstanding regular use, check out the Custom LeatherCraft Carpenter’s Tool Backpack. Its ballistic polyester construction prevents piercing and cutting damage, while the adjustable chest and shoulder straps provide superior comfort and optimal weight distribution.
Store a large number of tools in this backpack in its 44 pockets, including 36 interior and eight exterior pockets. It also has a dedicated compartment for larger tools like a cordless drill, battery, extension cord, or other bulky items. On the front of the backpack, you’ll find an adjustable compression pocket to store tools or fasteners for easy access.
Electricians not only spend a lot of time on ladders fishing wire behind walls but also running wires under houses and through crawl spaces. The Custom LeatherCraft 75-Pocket Tool Backpack comes with an adjustable chest strap to keep the backpack securely fastened while you climb up and down the ladder. It also has padded, adjustable shoulder straps to get the fit just right.
This electrician’s tool backpack is made of durable ballistic polyester fabric and boasts an impressive 75 pockets, sleeves, and loops for tool storage. The backpack also comes with six zippered compartments and a 7-inch-by-5.5-inch plastic tray to help organize your small parts and fasteners.
HVAC techs are always on the go, performing a variety of tasks, from working on a ladder to crawling under a house to access air conditioning ductwork. To keep up with the varied duties of the job, the Veto Pro Pac Tech Tool Backpack is made of durable ballistic polyester fabric, and it has an injection-molded waterproof polypropylene base. The rigid base also provides a stable structure for the bag to stand on when placed in the vertical position, so you won’t have to worry about it falling over in the middle of a job.
This tool backpack has a total of 44 pockets, including exterior pen, tape, and utility knife holders. You can carry it on your back using its adjustable extra-wide padded shoulder straps. Alternatively, carry it beside you (or behind you if you’re crawling) by using the overmolded ergonomic handle at the top of the backpack.
Masonry work sites, like many other construction areas, are dangerous territories, so you must take precautions to protect yourself while working. A hard hat is a standard piece of safety gear, but it can be annoying to carry it around all day when you don’t need it. The Revco Industries Tool Backpack With Helmetcatch solves this issue by providing an area to store your helmet when it’s not in use.
In this backpack, you also get a thick water-resistant nylon construction and a strong, protective base, so you can be confident that your trowels, chisels, hammers, and other tools of the trade will not pierce the material. The backpack has nine pockets, with two on the exterior and seven in the interior compartment in the middle of the bag, which is also large enough to hold bulkier items like a cordless drill.
Working in tightly packed basements or dimly lit utility rooms can be difficult, especially when one small mistake can lead to a flooded workspace. That’s why the DEWALT Lighted Tool Backpack features water-resistant nylon construction and protective base feet. It also has a built-in LED light that has three light modes with a maximum output level of 39 lumens, so you won’t have to worry about finding your flashlight. Just aim the backpack and turn it on to illuminate your work area.
The backpack has 57 pockets, including 48 on the interior and nine on the exterior, and a main compartment that’s large enough to hold your bulkier tools, such as a cordless drill, extension cord, or wrench set. For additional comfort, the back is padded, and you can adjust the shoulder straps to fit your body and height.
Whitesmiths (or tinsmiths, as they are more commonly known) don’t need a large assortment of tools, but they do need heavyweight support for their tools of the trade and smaller pockets for fasteners and hand tools. The STEELHEAD Padded and Reinforced Tool Backpack is a great option for this profession because of its heavy-duty design, including double-reinforced handles, thick nylon construction, and double pull zippers that won’t split.
The backpack has 48 pockets, including 41 internal and seven external pockets, and it makes use of both zippers and plastic buckles to securely close the compartments and pockets. The bottom of the backpack has durable rubber feet and a reinforced bottom to protect your tools from impact damage. The straps are padded and adjustable, but the real comfort area on this backpack is the added lumbar support in the padded backing.
Interior and exterior decorating requires multiple small tools, fasteners, and other accessories to complete the job. With this in mind, the Klein Tools Tool Backpack With Molded Base comes with 39 zippered pockets—37 interior and two exterior—for storage and easy access to a variety of small tools, such as screwdrivers, trowels, or brushes.
The backpack has padded adjustable straps, so you can fit them to the correct length for your body. It has a top handle for lifting or carrying the backpack with one hand. The 1680D ballistic weave construction stands up to blades, piercing tips, and daily wear and tear, while the molded plastic base provides a sturdy support for the bag to stand vertically on its own, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.
Before investing in a new tool backpack, take a look at these frequently asked questions and their answers.
Q. How do you choose the right-size tool backpack?
When you’re trying to decide how large or small your tool backpack should be, take into account the size of the tools you will be carrying and the number of tools you use regularly. From these factors, you can estimate the approximate size for the tool backpack that you’ll need to carry your tools.
Q. Are backpacks available that can carry a cordless drill?
Yes, many tool backpacks are designed with enough space to hold a cordless drill. In fact, some backpacks have an individual storage space for your drill.
Q. Are tool backpacks waterproof?
Yes, some tool backpacks are waterproof. Water-resistant materials are used in their construction, such as heavy nylon with a rubber base for the backpack to sit on. However, not all tool backpacks are waterproof or even water-resistant.
Q. How do you wash a tool backpack?
You can wash most tool backpacks in your washing machine on a “light” wash setting—of course, after you remove all the tools, fasteners, or debris from the bag! If you prefer to hand-wash it, then use a cloth, soapy water, and stain remover.
Q. Can a tool backpack hold a laptop?
It depends on the tool backpack, but yes, most tool backpacks are large enough to carry a laptop. Some tool backpacks have a specialized compartment for a laptop or a built-in charging system, so you always have power for your devices.