Pickup Truck Tool Boxes: Everything You Need to Know
A truck toolbox is a necessity for everyone who works outside the home. Whether you're in construction or a volunteer landscaper, you'll need to move your tools no matter what type of job you're doing.
Because tools are expensive, keeping them guarded against theft and the elements is critical. And as a general rule of thumb, you don't want to put them on the floor of your cab or the bed of your truck.
But you also want to make sure they're stored properly and protected. If not, chances are good they'll be lost, stolen, or damaged. And they can be pretty costly to replace.
That's where a pickup truck tool box comes in. A long-lasting tool box is made of high-quality materials, and it saves you from wasting your time hunting for a tool when you could have been making money instead. So, think of it this way: the upfront investment in your tool box ultimately saves you time, which in turn, saves you money.
But before you go out and buy just any old tool box, there are a few things to consider. Size, design, fabric, and cost including, just to name a few. Here, we'll do our best to help you make the best choice for your particular need.
What's a pickup truck tool box anyway?
A pickup truck tool box, as it sounds, is a tool box that is built specifically for your pickup truck.
Typically, they attach to the truck's bed for easy access and increased security. Because of this, most pickup truck tool boxes are custom-fitted to your truck's make and model. (Pro tip: be sure to check that the tool box you're looking at is compatible before you buy.)
And most of the time, people use these tool boxes to store tools. But used by farmers, construction workers, avid campers, and more, pickup truck tool boxes are super versatile. And there's really no limit to what you can store in them.
What are the benefits of a truck tool box?
There are a few really great benefits of having a pickup truck tool box. These include improved organization, enhanced appearance, and more security for anything you need to store in your truck.
A truck tool box, first and foremost, organizes your tools. This makes them much easier to find. And, as a result, it will save you time (and you know how valuable time is).
Let's be real--you didn't just buy a truck because it's practical. You bought it because it looks damn good, too. And a pickup truck tool box keeps it that way because it keeps tools and gear from piling up in your truck bed.
Safety and security
Tools are expensive. So, why leave them in the truck bed, vulnerable to the elements, and worse, sticky fingers?
If your tools are just left in your truck bed, rain, sunlight, and severe temperatures may wreak havoc on them. Not to mention anyone walking by can walk off with it.
What are pickup truck tool boxes made of?
Truck tool boxes are typically constructed of four different materials: aluminum, steel, stainless steel, and heavy-duty plastic. Let's quickly walk through the pros and cons of each one.
Most truck tool boxes are made from aluminum and feature a diamond plate design on the surface. This material is robust, resistant to rust, and has a non-slip surface.
Plus, aluminum is more lightweight than steel and has a higher strength-to-weight ratio. As a result, it is an ideal material for your truck tool box.
Steel truck tool boxes are less common than aluminum and more dent-resistant when you find one. They are typically powder coated to avoid rust. However, if a scratch occurs, that area becomes unprotected and can rust.
On top of that, steel pickup truck tool boxes are also heavier, which means it's more difficult to steal one. But it also means your gas mileage could suffer a bit (nothing too noticeable from one fill-up to the next, but enough that it will add up over time).
Stainless steel truck tool boxes are also less prevalent than aluminum truck tool boxes, although for different reasons than steel truck tool boxes. Stainless steel tool boxes are stronger than aluminum ones and less prone to rust than steel ones.
And while they tend to be more expensive than the other two options, they also last longer. This makes stainless steel, in our opinion, the best pickup truck tool box material on the market.
Plastic tool boxes are typically the cheapest option. However, you get what you pay for.
They're also the lightest option and the easiest to break (literally) into. As a result, they also tend not to be as durable when it comes to harsh weather conditions, so you'll likely have to replace your tool box a lot sooner if this is the route you go.
Why you should get a pickup truck tool box
One of the most compelling reasons to buy a truck tool box is to improve your organization. Most truck tool boxes come with shelves, rolling drawers, or snack trays to keep your things organized.
For example, the DECKED Tool Box comes with a portable D-Box that tucks inside it. Plus, snack trays can store smaller nuts and bolts, so everything has a permanent home.
As a result, you won't have to go looking for a specific tool all over the place because it'll always be in the same place. And you save a lot of otherwise wasted time.
Not to mention your most expensive tools will stay out of Mother Nature's reach, prolonging their lives.
Pickup truck tool boxes are also more secure than just tossing things in the truck bed. With one, you can lock your most expensive tools away. That way, no one can take it as they walk by.
Features of a good truck tool box
Not all pickup truck tool boxes are created equal. And there are a few characteristics that distinguish a good one from a bad one. We've listed what makes a good one (and what you should look for) below.
If the dimensions of a tool box match your truck bed width and up to your truck bed length, it'll fit snugly. Meaning, it won't be slipping and sliding, causing a stir as you drive. And it will bring the maximum possible storage capacity.
A water-resistant tool box will survive rain and safeguard the objects it houses from any external water sources. As such, water-resistance is an essential feature of a good tool box. That's because if your tools get damp, they'll likely start to rust (leaving you paying hefty sums to replace them).
Compatible with popular truck models
Some tool boxes are designed specifically for specific truck models. So, make sure the tool box you choose is compatible with your truck before you buy it. After all, you can't use a tool box if it isn't compatible with your pickup.
If the product page doesn't specify what models the box is compatible with, compare the tool box's dimensions to the truck bed's to determine this yourself.
Styles of pickup truck tool boxes
The next thing to think about is the shape you want your tool box to take. This choice will be influenced by how you want to use your tool box, and how much stuff you want to shove in it.
Crossover tool box
Also known as a cross bed or saddle box, crossovers are perhaps the most common pickup truck tool boxes.
This type mounts to your bed rails, and it's located closest to the cab at the front of the truck bed.
But they typically don't actually sit on the truck bed. This frees up space beneath the box for extra storage when moving timber or other long products.
Typically, crossovers have a single long lid that lifts towards the truck's back window. But some have two covers that pull up in a similar method, called "double-lids." The best double lids divide your tool box into two parts, where each lid locks individually.
Similar to the double lid, there is also what's called a "gull-wing." A gull-wing crossover tool box has two doors that open from a center axil. That way, you don't have to climb into your truck bed every time you want to get something out.
Last but not least, there's the low-profile crossover truck toolbox. This one has a narrower lid and isn't as deep as a full-size tool box. As a result, this one doesn't store as much but provides better visibility into what's inside.
Side-mount pickup truck tool boxes
Side-mount truck tool boxes (also known as inner side tool boxes) mount on the side bed rail of your truck bed and face outwards, as the name implies. And they are ideal for keeping larger tools and any other taller equipment.
Because of this, they eliminate the need to climb into your truck bed to get things.
Most models can also be used in tandem with crossover tool boxes.
When picking out a side-mount truck tool box, the length should be less than that of the truck's bed (less if you're utilizing it in tandem with a crossover tool box). The greater the height of these tool boxes, the more they can store.
This may be the ideal option if you spend the entire day at the job site going back and forth to your truck. That's because it will be less taxing on the body to avoid getting in and out of the truck bed multiple times throughout the day.
Under-bed truck tool boxes
This is a tool box to consider if you have a heavy-duty vehicle or semi with a lot of ground clearance. As you may have imagined, an under-bed truck tool box is mounted under the truck bed of a flatbed, platform, or dump truck. These are not compatible with most makes or models.
Rather than being fixed on the truck bed rails, this sort of truck tool box sits directly on the bottom of the truck bed. They have a huge capacity, allowing them to cover larger power instruments.
Another benefit is utilizing a truck chest with a tonneau cover or canopy because they don't sit over your bed rails. One disadvantage is that they reduce the truck bed length because they sit on it. And they tend to only work with pickups with longer truck beds.
Truck fenders are also known as pork chops or wheel well tool boxes. And they’re made to fit in your truck bed, with the thinner half going over the fender hump in the wheel well. The wheel well tool box provides storage space while also increasing the space available to haul additional cargo.
What can you store in a truck tool box?
Tool boxes are handy because they can store just about anything and, consequently, free up additional bed space. Not sure what you would keep in your tool box? Here's a complete checklist that will make sure you're ready for anything life throws at you.
(Please note: This list is by no means extensive, and you'll likely need to add a few, depending on your line of work.)
You'll definitely want to keep a few basic everyday supplies in your truck tool box, like:
- Paper towels. Paper towels are great for cleaning yourself up after lunch or taking care of anything that spills on the job site.
- Cable ties. These are useful for tying wires and cables together, so they easily fit in your truck tool box.
- Duct tape. I've heard that duct tape can fix just about anything. So, have it on hand. You'll be glad you do if you ever need to hold a broken headlight together or patch a leaking hose.
This is a tool box, after all. So, you'll want to keep the essentials on hand, including:
- Wrenches. We know there are a ton of sizes to choose from. So, consider packing the two or three that you use most.
- Pliers. These don't have to be anything crazy. Just a standard set of pliers will do.
- Screwdrivers. Like wrenches, there are a ton of shapes and sizes to choose from. So, consider packing the four to six that you use most.
- A hammer. Just your standard hammer will do.
- Mechanic's tool set. These are often stocked with ratchets, drive sockets, Allen wrenches, and so on that are handy whenever you need to pull to the side of the road.
Emergency items are the things you never expect to need but likely will at some point or another. So, it's best to have a few on hand just in case (you can thank us later). We suggest carrying:
- Emergency flares. Say you find yourself in a ditch or the middle of nowhere. In that case, an emergency flare is an effective means to attract the attention of someone who can help.
- First aid kit. It's always best to be prepared for minor and major injuries alike, making a first aid kit is an absolute necessity.
- Jumper cables. Your truck likely already has jumper cables stored away somewhere. So, why not give them a more permanent home? That way, you know where they are when you (or someone else) need a jump.
- Flashlight. Whether repairing a flat tire or jump-starting a car, a flashlight is always helpful.
Winter weather equipment
Some things you don't need to keep in your truck all year. However, when it comes to those snowy winter months, you'll definitely want to make sure these make it in your truck tool box:
- Ice scraper. Unless you live in Phoenix, every car should have an ice scraper for clearing ice and snow from the windows and windshield.
- Emergency shovel. Just a tiny travel shovel will do.
- Tire chains. Tire chains can prevent your vehicle from sliding on snowy or icy terrain.
- Tow strap. With a tow strap, you can help get another vehicle out of a ditch or tow them to a garage when needed.
Not sure how to organize all this stuff into your truck tool box? We got you covered! Learn the basics for packing your pickup truck tool box.
Why the DECKED Tool Box is the best option
We spent several years building the DECKED Tool Box. And we believe it's the best all-around pickup truck tool box. Here's why:
- Accessibility. The DECKED Tool Box comes with an optional built-in ladder that nestles beneath the lid. With it, you can reach more than half of your storage space from the side of the truck without jumping into the bed.
- Durability. The box is made of injection-molded polymer ASA and HDPE resins for absolute resistance to dents and punctures. Additionally, anti-corrosion steel hardware and aluminum are used to ensure long-term endurance.
- Weatherproof. Completely impervious to the elements. It is constructed with a seamless waterproof design to withstand harsh circumstances, including water and dust.
- Latches. Latches with an easy-locking mechanism. One latch secures several lock points for increased security.
- Locks. The robust locking system protects your most valuable tools and equipment. It's so tough it could make a crowbar cry.
- Lid support. The hinge is supported by a torsion spring (making it easy to open and close with one hand).
- Organization options. It also includes a DECKED D-Box and snack trays to organize smaller tools and gear within the larger system.
- Compatibility. The Tool Box fits any full-sized truck (2001-present) or older truck with bed rails between 61.375" and 70.5" in width.
- Affordable. The DECKED Tool Box costs $675 without the ladder and $825 with it. Sure - you can get a cheaper tool box. But you get what you pay for. So, if you want something that will last at a digestible price point, here it is.
Other DECKED drawer system storage options
Not quite ready to commit to the DECKED Tool Box? We get it. We gathered a few other favorite pickup truck storage solutions for you to mull over as well.
These full-bed length drawers provide segmented organization. Custom-fit to your truck, the Drawer System carries up to 2,000 lbs of cargo. And keep everything you store in it out of sight, so you can have peace of mind.
A hybrid hard shell, soft-sided bag explicitly created for DECKED drawers. Each D-Bag has a detachable DECKED Tool Roll and a detachable Duffel Bag to take your tools on the go.
The D-Box, which measures 20.5′′ W x 17.5′′ L x 8′′ H, is a sturdy tool box with a 50 lb payload capacity. It's available in blue or desert tan and fits neatly into any DECKED drawer system.
The Drawerganizer, measuring 17.625′′ W x 10.125′′ L x 8′′ H, is Prop 65 compliant. And it rests behind the locking mechanism on the DECKED drawer system to keep all your most-used tools easy to access.
The Dividers are sturdy enough to keep your tools and other objects in their proper position. And they suit all DECKED drawer systems to keep things from sliding around in the truck bed.
No matter what kind of pickup truck tool box you're looking for, DECKED is here to help you get organized.