Choosing the Right Truck Tool Box for Your Truck Bed - Your Complete Guide
If you use your truck for work, you know the importance of maintaining your vehicle so it can perform consistently. After all, your vehicle is where you keep everything that matters for your job, from work tools to truck maintenance equipment, such as spare bulbs, fuses, lubricants, or a can of Durabak.
Before you can make a purchase, you need to understand what to look for in a truck tool box, why they are worth investing in, the different types, and how to protect your tools and equipment from loss, theft, or breakage.
Are Truck Tool Boxes Worth the Investment?
A truck tool box is a storage device that functions as a large storage box and a protective safe. Truck tool boxes are heavy, resistant to tampering, and designed to fit in the bed of your truck. While that design exposes them to the elements, such as rain, mud, or snow, it also means they can keep everything inside dry, safe, and rust-free.
Keeping your gear stored inside a truck tool box is much safer than leaving it in the open on your truck bed, and with truck tool box locks, it’s even safer than the inside of your truck’s cabin. A potential thief may break a car window, but they won’t be able to lift a truck tool box out of your vehicle.
While they are not inexpensive, they are a sound investment for three reasons:
Waterproof and Durable - Few things are more durable and solid than a tool box for trucks. Not only does it protect everything inside from exposure to the elements, but it’s also fully waterproof and highly resistant to impacts or heavy loads placed on top of it.
High Security - Truck tool boxes are extremely safe for storing valuable items that you would otherwise be unable to leave unattended in your truck bed. A truck tool box is the best way of keeping gear in your truck without fear of theft.
- Saves Space - Storing your most essential tools in a truck tool box saves you more truck bed space, letting you transport more things with your vehicle.
Truck Tool Box Materials
While you might wonder why truck tool boxes are so expensive, the reality is that you get what you pay for. Most truck bed tool boxes employ an all-metal construction, lending it durability. Although some less expensive models may use plastic materials instead, they are not recommended for professional use, as they trade durability and resistance to tampering in exchange for a negligible amount of weight reduction.
Metal truck tool boxes primarily use aluminum, coated steel, or stainless steel.
Aluminum offers an ideal compromise between durability and weight. Although lighter than steel, it is also less expensive, has a higher strength-to-weight ratio, and cannot rust. Typically, aluminum boxes feature a diamond plate pattern, granting it the same anti-slip properties as a Durabak-coated truck bed.
Coated Steel - The primary advantage of coated steel over aluminum is extreme heavy-duty durability; steel can resist impacts that would dent or bend aluminum boxes. Unfortunately, the protective coating can be scratched off, leaving the steel exposed to rust.
- Stainless Steel offers similar benefits as coated steel but with additional resistance against rust. This makes stainless steel tool boxes more expensive than other types.
Sizes and Form Factors: Measuring Your Truck Bed
Are truck tool box sizes universal? The tool box you need for your truck will be specific to your needs and vehicle size. Truck tool boxes do not necessarily fit all trucks. You should choose the type and form factor that makes it the most convenient for you to retrieve your tools and equipment.
Regardless of the form factor you choose, most truck bed tool boxes fall into two categories: Mid-size or full-size. Although not fully universal, a truck tool box should fit most trucks within its corresponding category.
For example, toolboxes designed to fit mid-size trucks are best suited for small and medium pick-up trucks (e.g., Tacoma, 4Runner, Colorado, Ridgeline, and Ranger)
In contrast, models designed to fit full-size trucks are ideal on larger vehicles (e.g., F-150, F-250, Ram, Titan, and Tundra).
If you want to ensure the model you want will fit your particular truck bed, you can measure your truck bed dimensions with a measuring tape. Measure the distance from the bulkhead to the tailgate: the result is the length of your truck bed.
The Best Truck Tool Boxes of 2021
The best truck tool boxes you can buy in 2021 are crossover boxes, side-mount boxes, truck chests, and pork chops.
A crossover toolbox, also known as a cross-bed or a saddle box, is one of the most common truck bed tool boxes.
Crossover boxes sit in the front of the truck bed, closest to the cab, and are typically designed for mounting on your truck’s bed rails. This design allows them to avoid touching the truck bed, leaving additional space for stowing items under it.
Crossover boxes may either be single-lidded, with a single, large storage compartment, or possess a double-lid design with separate locks and storage cases. Specific dual-lid designs use a gull-wing configuration, opening from the sides instead of the front, making it more convenient if you need to reach the contents without climbing on the truck bed.
For maximum weight saving, you can also buy low-profile truck tool boxes. These models are similar to standard crossover boxes but feature reduced dimensions. Although they have less storage capacity, low-profile tool boxes are smaller, lighter, and have a smaller impact on gas mileage, saving you money in the long run.
If you enjoy the convenience of reaching your tools from the side of the truck but wish gull-wing crossover boxes had more capacity, then the side-mount toolbox is for you.
You can use a side-mount box either as a replacement for a crossover box or use both in conjunction. One box mounts to one side of the truck, allowing you to install two or more (depending on size and form factor).
Depending on their height and configuration, side-mount boxes may either open on the inside or the outside. Inside-opening lids require you to climb into the truck bed to access the contents. Outside-opening models are typically found on taller boxes, ideal for storing canisters or upright objects.
A truck chest mounts directly to your truck bed. Most truck chests are single-lid, offering the highest storage capacity out of all tool boxes for trucks.
However, installing a truck chest reduces the total amount of space in your truck bed, which may leave you at a disadvantage if your vehicle model has a short bed.
Pork Chop Toolbox
A pork chop toolbox, also known as a wheel well box or a truck fender box, is a uniquely shaped toolbox designed to fit over the hump formed by your truck’s rear wheel wells.
Although the capacity of a pork chop is limited, it is an ideal choice if you don’t need to carry many tools or when you need to preserve as much space as possible in your truck bed. It is also an excellent choice for a Durabak-lined truck bed, as the pork chops don’t get in the way when cleaning your truck and sweeping dirt and debris off the bed.
Do You Need a Truck Tool Box?
Regardless of your truck’s make and model, choosing the best truck tool box for your job and applications is as essential as selecting the best truck bed liner. A good toolbox keeps your tools and gear secure, and a quality truck bed liner protects your truck, your toolboxes, and your cargo from wear, tear, and damage.
Durabak offers a wide selection of roll-on and spray-on bed liners for your truck, car, boat, trailer, RV, marine vehicles, and other equipment. Discover our product line and find out more about Durabak products on our online store.