Several companies have now come out with backpacks designed for the tough environment of the jobsite while keeping in mind that more and more professionals are having to carry a laptop or tablet with them. Milwaukee has been a little bit late to the party, but as usual it’s because they don’t want to simply produce their version of what everyone else has. Enter the Milwaukee Jobsite Backpack. I wasn’t entirely sure how Milwaukee was going to bring the Nothing But Heavy Duty mindset to the Jobsite Backpack, but they found a way. Let’s dig deeper and see what the Milwaukee Jobsite Backpack has to offer.
Milwaukee Jobsite Backpack First Impressions
Right off the bat, the Milwaukee Jobsite Backpack actually looks good. I mean good enough that I immediately wanted to figure out of I could carry my laptop and camera in and ditch my normal tech backpack and camera case that I fly with. Okay, slapping myself back into reality, that’s not the design intent of this storage bag. This bag is designed for professionals that carry a lot of hand tools. Don’t expect to fit your power tool kits in here. That’s what the Milwaukee Work Box is for.
The backpack is heavier than you might expect when you first look at it. The molded base and ballistic fabric help to increase the weight. If you’ve used any of the other storage backpacks on the market, you’re probably already prepared for the increased weight. Everywhere you look, you’ll find pockets and storage areas. It all seems to be well built with durability in mind for the materials. I did notice that the majority of the pieces are put together using single stitching. While it certainly isn’t a problem right now, I have to wonder if that will be an issue down the road.
Internal and External Organization
The Milwaukee jobsite backpack has 35 pockets. That should take care of just about everything, right? I like my tools organized… “OCD kind” of organized. I don’t want locking pliers mixed with linesman’s pliers or my tape measure hanging out with the drill. I want to be able to see where everything is without having to dig. That’s where having so many pockets helps people like me.
If you’re carrying a lot of hand tools in the screwdriver/nut driver class, the organization structure is going to be a huge benefit. For me though, a lot of my tools that take up just one small pocket are multi-bit drivers, so I don’t need as many of them. Some of the larger hand tools like my cable cutters and linesman pliers either have to sit loosely in the larger interior pockets or take up two of the smaller ones. I’m not crazy about that, but as long as I have space for everything else, I’m good.
So what’s actually on the inside of this jobsite backpack? You have one large pocket in the center, 2 medium to either side, 10 small around the sides, and 5-1/2 elastic straps. Yeah, you read that right. Why 5-1/2? Well, you’ve got 5 that will hold most single-handled tools easily, but there’s a really small one in the left corner. I’m thinking that I can probably get an Inkzall in there, but not much else. There are also three zippered storage pockets that are useful in several ways. Mine are housing impact bits, laser distance measure charging cord, and multi-bit driver accessories.
Exterior Pockets and More
On the sides of the exterior, you’ll find two large pockets. One will stretch and is designed to hold a water bottle. The other has a pair of small pockets next to it that should hold single handle hand tools easily, or perhaps writing instruments. Moving around to the back, there are 4 more non-stretching straps that may be more useful for tools that have a clip than those that don’t. The lack of stretching doesn’t lend itself to as secure a fit as the interior straps. There is also a zipping storage pocket here. This is where I decided to keep my gloves.
Those straps sit just above a very large storage pocket. This can be used for fish tapes, extension cords, or a hard hat. Milwaukee says that this is the place to store your drill, but I’m looking to store mine more securely. Even though they will fit easily in there, I prefer to keep my 12V drill/impact driver kit in the medium interior pockets. I store my charger and spare batteries in that large pocket, which works out well for me.
The tech storage pocket is one area I’d like to see improved. Not a ton, just a bit. Since I have a dedicated tech backpack, I’ve seen what the high end of laptop protection can bring, and I’d like to see Milwaukee get a bit closer to it. I’d like to see the ballistic fabric here get covered with a soft fabric that isn’t going to be as rough as well as a little more padding on both sides.
Feel and Durability
That’s not to say that what’s there isn’t adequate, but when I carry arguably my greatest asset to my work in a backpack, I need to feel like it will survive some abuse to the bag. The area is split into two sides, which is fine by me. I can store my laptop in the area closer to my back and a notebook or two closer to the tools. If you reach to the bottom of the bag in the section closer to the tools, you’ll notice that you can get your hand underneath the tool storage area pretty easily. I don’t know if this was intentionally designed for it, but that’s where my charging cable for my laptop is being stored.
What It’s Like to Carry and Wear
When it comes to comfort, designers did a nice job with the Milwaukee Jobsite Backpack. The straps and padding are adequate considering the weight you’ll likely be carrying. The chest buckle does seem to help redistribute weight noticeably. This should reduce some of the stress on your back by allowing your chest to bear some of the burden. It would be nice to see the two carry handles on the top of the backpack receive a rubber molded grip of some sort in the future. The strap that allows you to secure the backpack onto the telescoping handle of your rolling luggage is likely to take care of that issue when I’m traveling.
I’ve gone back and forth about the Milwaukee Jobsite Backpack just in the way that I want to store my tools and tech. Heck, I’ve even had to sit back and wonder what my packing list will be for a backpack compared to a toolbox. The reality is that each of us will have to make the same choice. Go with what has the best pocket designs for my needs? Stay loyal to a brand? Make the one with the highest durability work for me? In the end, we each have to decide for ourselves, and my decision is to go with the durability of the Milwaukee Jobsite Backpack.
Even though it could use a slight tweak to the laptop storage area to add some padding and softer fabric, the $69 Milwaukee Jobsite Backpack is a fantastic product. I highly recommend it to any professional that is looking for a backpack solution as an option for hand tools and maybe a 12V tool or two. It’s really going to be suited well for those that need to store a balance of single-handle tools and double-handled tools. Since durability really shouldn’t be an issue, the decision simply boils down to if it will fit everything you need in a backpack kit.
Milwaukee Jobsite Backpack Specifications and Features
- Model 48-22-8200
- 35 Storage Pockets
- Impact and Water Resistant Molded Base
- 1680 Ballistic Material Soft Fabric
- Padded and Breathable Straps/Harness
- Separated Laptop/Tablet Sleeve
- Exterior Bulk Pocket
- Attachment Strap
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime
- Price: $69