We love our tools. They come in all shapes and sizes… and prices. At the end of the day, we’ve got to decide how we’re going to store them for organization, protection, and security. While a box is just a box, these storage solutions think outside the box and offer much more than just the basics. Along with the latest storage innovations, you’ll also find the latest in workwear, lighting and more. Here are our picks and winners for the 2015 PTIA Safety and Storage category.
2015 Pro Tool Innovation Awards: Safety and Storage
Winner – Work Boots: Waterproof
What they said: With the Overman, Wolverine introduces Wolverine CarbonMAX, one of the first safety toe that uses nanotechnology to create the most advanced combination of protection and lightweight comfort. The result of years of scientific research, it’s so comfortable you’ll forget you’re wearing a safety toe. Wolverine CarbonMAX safety toes are lighter to reduce strain on legs and feet, made with thinner walls to provide more room for toes and added comfort overall, and are designed to meet ASTM standards. The Overman also features Contour Welt construction, combining the durability of a work boot and the flexibility of an athletic shoe, along with Wolverine MultiShox individual compression pads in the heel and forefoot to absorb shock and return energy for all day comfort.
What we say: Wolverine’s CarbonMax safety toe uses a honeycomb pattern that allows space in the material, making it lighter. This is the same geometry used to make extremely light flats boats for fishing in ultra-skinny water for all you fishermen out there. With one of the top complaints about safety toes being the weight, Wolverine is make strides to make them less noticeable.
Winner – Jackets: Heated
What they said: The new M12 Heated 3in1 Ripstop Jacket is the first 3in1 Jacket system that pairs a Heated Hoodie with a jobsite-tough Ripstop Shell for ultimate warmth, versatility and durability in extreme working conditions. The Heated Hoodie integrates (3) carbon fiber heating elements between a water repellant, durable shell and insulating liner to distribute and maintain heat across core body areas. The Ripstop Shell is insulated, wind and water resistant, and features premium 900 Denier Ripstop fabric, high-wear zone reinforcement, and heavy duty construction to protect from abuse on the jobsite. Now sold with an M12 REDLITHIUM 2.0 Battery, Heated Jacket kits can now provide up to 8 hours of heat for a full day of work on a single battery charge. Heated Jackets will also feature an upgraded 2.1A USB Battery Controller fully compatible with the latest generation of popular mobile devices.
What we say: We loved last season’s 3 in 1 Real Tree Camo Heated Jacket from Milwaukee. This year, they’re taking up another step in two significant ways. First, the new 3 in 1 features an outer shell with Ripstop 900 Denier Fabric. We tried ripping this material and simply couldn’t. The M12 battery is now in its 2.0 version, extending heating time to 8 hours. In addtion, the battery controller now has a USB 2.1 charging port to match the fast charging needs of new devices.
Winner – Tool Organization
What they said: The new Jobsite Organizer was meticulously designed for increased productivity and has up to 20% more capacity than the competition. The new unit includes (8) small and (2) large removable bins that can be mounted on common jobsite materials by utilizing the integrated screw slots. A seal around the perimeter of each bin prevents small items from migrating from one bin to the other, and the convenient 4”x4” size of the small bins allows them to be easily swapped out with a common electrical box. To allow users the option of carrying multiple organizers at once, the Milwaukee Jobsite Organizer contains innovative side clips, that not only allow the units to be attached together, but provide full access to each when they are stacked on top of one another. For added durability, the new unit features a reinforced rib for strength and an integrated weather seal gasket to prevent water intrusion.
What we say: The Milwaukee Jobsite Organizer really works as advertised. The weather seal is a must have on any organizer like this, but the no-travel seals set it ahead of the competition. Washers and small screws will stay in place. We also like the rib that adds rigidity and allows us to remove bins to carry hand tools or longer fasteners.
Winner – Tool Chests
What they said: The new storage solution was designed with the function, durability and organization options that professional users need every day. With 16 drawers that include 100lb soft close slides, and 2 that include a second set of slides to support 200lbs, the 46” Steel Storage Chest and Cabinet can support a weight capacity of 1,800 lbs. Every inch of the space is maximized with features such as a built-in power center for instant access to power and a pull-out work surface for using and storing a laptop or documents. A power tool organizer keep tools upright, and an independent locking drawer keeps valuables and personal goods secured while working. Users can also store tools on the integrated metal peg wall, or upright directly on the work surface which has 10.5” of clearance from the lid.
What we say: There was a bit of discussion about who exactly the Milwaukee 46″ Steel Chest and Cabinet was for when it arrived. We’re not saying who came out on top, but there’s a need for one or two more. We love the integrated power strips and metal peg wall. The pull-out work surface has been more useful than we initially anticipated. Milwaukee really defined “soft close” with the drawers on this set up.
Winner – Tool Mobility
What they said: PortaMate is again leading the pack with the PM-3500 1500lb universal mobile base. It’s an industrial strength, fully-adjustable rolling platform, with a capacity that exceeds the competition by hundreds of pounds. Like our other mobile bases, this one increases and decreases size in one-inch increments, from 18.25 x 23.5 to 28 x 33.5. Optional 36″ extension rails make it even bigger if necessary The all steel construction, solid corner brackets and “smooth as silk” casters and wheels (with foot control locking levers) ensure the strength and stability you are looking for. The PM-3500 is ideal for virtually all larger machines and anything else you need to make “mobile”.
What we say: This is a life saver for small shops. The Portamate PM-3500 allows users to make their large machines portable. They can create a “parking lot” in one part of the shop while wheeling out the machine(s) they need for the day or the project. When space is at a premium, or even if you’re just reorganizing the set up of your shop, the Heavy Duty Adjustable Base makes mobility much easier.
Winner – Ladders: Extension
What they said: With the SumoStance, the world’s only wide-stance extension ladder, professionals can prevent many of the most severe ladder accidents caused by over-reaching on uneven surfaces. SumoStance prevents injuries and potentially saves lives in several ways. Automatically adjusting the outriggers eliminates human error. Side-to-side and front-to-back angle indicators help operators ensure a safe, stable set-up every time. The outriggers extend to more than twice the base width of any other extension ladder, increasing side-tip stability by over 600% over ordinary extension ladders. The SumoStance features nonconductive LiteWave fiberglass technology, which is up to 15% lighter than ordinary narrow-base fiberglass extension ladders composites without any decrease in strength or stability.
What we say: We love the SumoStance from Little Giant on several levels. The outriggers – outstanding innovation to stabilize the ladder. The levels help ensure that you’re set up to OSHA standards without getting a tape measure out. There’s more OSHA help with red rungs at the top reminding users where they’re not supposed to climb. It’s simply the most innovative and best extension ladder we’ve seen.
Winner – Work Lights: 12V
What they said: The New TRUEVIEW M12 LED Spot Light gives professionals the most portable, high performance spotlight to illuminate, identify, and diagnose on and off the jobsite. The 2353-20 has a beam distance of 700 Yards, offering the ability to spot objects and areas a long distance away. It has high and a low output modes of operation for long distances, more clarity in closer situations, as well as a strobe mode for safety situations. The M12 LED Spot Light can run for up to 4 hours in its high mode with an M12 REDLITHIUM XC 4.0 Battery Pack, and up to 8 hours in low and strobe modes. The 2353-20 is impact and water resistant to survive professional use, and it features an impact-resistant lens cover. Its high quality LED never needs to be replaced, and is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
What we say: With so many products out there focused on flood lighting for work spaces, it’s easy to forget that we need spot lights as well. 700 yards of beam throw for 4 hours is outstanding on its own. Pairing it with the quality of light that Milwaukee’s TrueView technology brings to LED lighting puts this one on my Christmas list.
Winner – Work Lights: Portable Flood, 18V
Milwaukee TrueView M18 LED HP Flood Light 2360-20
What they said: The TRUEVIEW M18 LED HP Flood Light is designed to give professionals a portable area lighting solution that replaces 500W Halogen Flood Lights and adapts, performs, and survives industrial use. The 2360-20 is the industry’s brightest 18V LED flood light, and it is up to 20% brighter than 500W Halogen Flood Lights. In addition to running off of M18 batteries, it can run off of an AC cord. It uses high quality LEDs with a neutral white color and a high color rendering index paired with a Milwaukee designed reflector to produce an even beam pattern. Its head rotates 240° to direct light where it is needed, and there are 3 keyholes in its base for hanging in multiple orientations. Its compact footprint and integrated carry handles allow for easy transport or storage. This light stands up to the toughest working conditions, through its durable roll cage design and impact-resistant lens and bezel.
What we say: In case you haven’t heard, Milwaukee killed halogen. Any lingering doubt that LED would be replacing halogen lighting have been extinguished with the TrueView M18 Flood Light. Milwaukee’s TrueView technology provides high quality light while outperforming 500W halogen lighting. Run time is impressive, but can limit some users, so this model easily connects to an extension cord for all day power when it’s needed.
Winner – Work Lights: Under 500 Lumens
What they said: The RIDGID GEN5X 18-Volt Flexible Dual-Mode LED Work Light provides multiple lighting options for the workplace. The flexible neck secures the light on a variety of surfaces to provide optimal lighting. This light also features a dual mode setting to switch from spot lighting to area lighting depending on need and provide 170 Lumens. With the new lifetime LED there is no need to change the light bulb for the lifetime of the tool. Includes: R8692 LED WorkLight, Operator’s Manual. Battery and charger sold separately. Built durable this tool is backed by RIDGID Lifetime Service Agreement, Free Parts Free Service, Free Batteries, For Life.
What we say: Ever bounce a 1000 lumen LED off the ceiling? It will light up a room. Do the same thing inside a cabinet and you’ll bling yourself. When we’re working in small spaces, we love the versatility of Ridgid’s Gen5X Flexible Dual-Mode LED Work Light. The ability to switch between spot and area modes is helpful. The flexible neck allows us to twist and turn it in a way to get light exactly where we need it.
Winner – Work Lights: Telescoping, 18V
What they said: The New TRUEVIEW M18 LED Stand Light is designed to give professionals an area lighting solution that adapts, performs, and survives industrial use unlike any other portable work light. The 2130-20 can be setup in seconds with its max extension 7’ high, and it collapses down to 40” for easy transport and storage. The light head can be extended from 4-7’ to light overhead work or minimize shadows when casting light downward. It uses high quality LEDs with a neutral white color and a high color rendering index paired with a Milwaukee designed reflector to produce an even beam pattern. Its reinforced legs are impact resistant, and its low center of gravity provides a stable base. The light head is protected by an impact-resistant lens and bezel, and it nests into a protective shroud for secure transport and storage.
What we say: Telescoping LED work lights aren’t a completely new category, but Milwaukee is taking ahead with their battery powered TrueView M18 LED Stand Light. Reaching a maximum height of 7′, you can bounce its 2000 lumens off the ceiling to fill the room or point it down while minimizing shadows. Like the other TrueView work lights, light quality is outstanding. With a 5.0 hour battery, you’ll get 4 hours on high (2000 lumens), 6 hours on medium (1500 lumens), and 8 hours on low (1000 lumens).
Winner – Dust Extraction Accessories
What they said: Rockler Woodworking and Hardware has developed a single dust hose kit that fits the vast majority of handheld power tools on the market. The Dust Right Universal Small Port Hose Kit solves that problem. It features two sizes of swiveling hose ports equipped with innovative rubber ends that stretch to provide an airtight fit on a range of tool ports. The 1″ and 1-1/2″ inside-diameter ports are compatible across many popular brands. They’re also angled to provide hose clearance above the work surface. The other end of the hose attaches a 2-1/4″ outside-diameter swiveling port to fit most shop vacuums. All ports thread securely into the included premium ”stretch” hose, which is a remarkable engineering feat in itself. This supple, agile hose expands from a mere 3′ to nearly 15′ long.
What we say: How many times have you used a tool with no dust extraction or only the dust bag because you didn’t have the right size connection? For most tools, Rockler solves this with the Dust Right Universal Small Port Hose Kit. The 1″ and 1-1/2″ ports will cover the vast majority of small tools out there. We really like the 15′ expandable hose – or more appropriately, like storing it when it’s only 3″.