What good is a disorganized mess of tools that you can’t easily carry from one job to another? The short answer: no good. Most of us are guilty of failure to keep our tools tidy, even though we know the consequences: frustration, wasted time, and lost income. Even more to the point: if I can’t look at my toolbox or toolbag and see everything in its place, then I can’t know quickly if I misplaced my tool, or if someone “borrowed” that tool that I need and just can’t find. So, even if I’m in a hurry, or just weary after a long day, it actually pays to make the effort to stay organized. To do that, I need a tool for my tools. A new model for your consideration is the Klein Tradesman Pro Tool Backpack.
If you’ve been a regular reader for the last year or so, you’ll recall Ben Parker’s review of Klein’s Tradesman Pro Camo Backpack. Today’s backpack is similar, although a little less expensive, and less likely to blend into the woods. That’s ok since we’ll be on the jobsite, and not hunting or camping. But, be aware that you’ll inevitably run into the one-strap or two-strap coolness dilemma!
The Klein Tradesman Pro Tool Backpack is made of 1680D (D for denier) ballistic weave nylon. Denier is a thread’s mass (in grams) per 9,000 meters. Makes total sense, right? The higher the denier, the thicker and heavier the fiber.
By way of comparison, windbreakers are roughly 70 deniers. Many people mistakenly think that a fiber’s denier will tell you how strong or resistant to abrasion it is – but it’s really just the weight. Also, the fabric’s weave is important to the overall weight. So a heavier denier might be woven in such a way as to make the fabric lighter than a fabric with a lighter denier. And that’s just what a ballistic weave is – the use of a heavy denier woven into a light fabric. But, it doesn’t mean it’s bulletproof! Confused yet? Don’t worry, it gets easier from here!
In any event, 1680D is a very common material choice for bags, backpacks, and luggage. There are certainly much less – and much more – durable (higher tenacity) fabrics, but 1680D seems to balance durability with price well.
Pockets, Pockets, Pockets
A toolbag without pockets wouldn’t allow you to organize anything – you’d just transfer the mess from one place to another. With a total of 35 pockets – 32 interior and 3 exterior – there’s plenty of space for your stuff. Several of the interior pockets are tall, in order to accommodate long-handled tools like screwdrivers and pliers. The interior nylon’s bright orange interior color and pocket highlights provide enough contrast to make tools easy to see. The large, upper exterior pocket is a good place for a phone, keys, or a wallet. But, bear in mind that it’s not a hardshell case like the Camo version, so you’ll have to be more careful, trying not to sling it around too much.
Reinforced Bottom and Padded Straps
Jobsites are tough and dirty environments, so the Klein Tradesman Pro Tool Backpack’s PVC-coated, diamond-textured bottom is a welcome feature. It helps the backpack stand up, keeping the fabric and straps off the floor and clean. It stabilizes the bag when it’s open so you have visibility and access to its contents.
Taking it to Work
Up to the Task
I loaded up the 35 pockets with all my tools and headed off to the job. Right out of the gate, the Klein Tradesman Pro Tool Backpack was a big upgrade for me. Like a lot of tradesmen, I often use any old toolbags, and often the bags that come with new tools. Those bags will transport your tools for a while, but there are no pockets for organization and no shoulder straps for transport. The Klein backpack might seem like an indulgence that you don’t want to spring for, but, for me, it started to feel like more of a necessity.
But the “necessity” part needs a little qualification. I specialize in rough-in and trim-out electrical work, so I must have a bunch of tools – hand and power versions – at the ready. One of my co-workers, a guy who does mostly service work, thought that the backpack was simply more toolbag than he needed. And, he had a point: service electricians can get by with a small tool pouch clipped to their belts. In fact, his everyday tool pouch could easily fit inside the Klein backpack! On the other hand, I need a drill, impact driver, testers, and all manner of hand tools. So, the necessity of a toolbag like this certainly depends on the tasks you typically perform.
There’s rarely a job where I don’t have to climb up a ladder or hustle up a flight of stairs. At the very least, I usually have to walk a ways from the truck to the where the work is. Being able to sling all my tools onto my back is great. I can safely ascend a ladder using both hands, set the Klein Tradesman Pro Tool Backpack on the ladder’s shelf, and avoid the annoying up-and-down, “oh, I need the tool that’s on the floor” shenanigans. With everything at hand, I can focus on the work without distraction.
For bonus points, Klein heavily pads the straps. Lugging all my tools around in my backpack doesn’t actually wreck my shoulders, which is pretty nice.
Organized and Hi-Vis
I’ve said before that work often breaks down like this: fifty percent of my time is spent working, and I spend the other fifty percent looking for the tool I was literally just using. It’s a bit of hyperbole, sure, but not too far from the truth.
After a short time, I found that dedicating a tool to a specific pocket allowed me to work quickly, as well as allowing me to see if anything is missing at a glance. The bright orange interior, coupled with the orange stripes across the black tops of the pockets, assist greatly with that. We often lose screwdrivers because we think they’re in our normal toolbag when we leave a job – but, often, they’re not. With just a little discipline, the Klein Tradesman Pro Tool Backpack remedies this problem, allowing me to spend a larger percentage of my work day actually working!
For all of the backpack’s strengths, I do wish Klein designed the outer pocket with a bit more space. It’s most convenient for me to keep my 18V drill and impact driver in it, but this makes the zipper closure pretty tight. I’m a little concerned about the stress on the zipper and its surrounding material over time if I cinched it all the way. I could keep them in the main compartment, but there’s really no pocket or strap for them. If you’re working with 12V or compact tools, you’ll have no problem. But, a little more room for 18V tools would make this bag just as well-suited to power tools as it is for hand tools.
The Bottom Line
It can be difficult for a veteran Pro to justify a $79.97 tool bag like the Klein Tradesman Pro Tool Backpack, to say nothing of an apprentice. But lost productivity can cost you, too. And, of course, I’m sure we’ve all lost or left behind far more than $75 in tools. You can avoid this with a better organization.
The Klein Backpack is probably a rough-in or trim-out electrical Pro’s best bet for improved workflow and tool replacement savings. All hand tools, testers, tapes, and power tools are quickly at hand and transportable. If Klein made the outside pocket a bit bigger, the backpack would be just right. However, our Service Electrician friends will likely find that there’s more space than they need.
Klein Tradesman Pro Tool Backpack Features
- 35 pockets of different sizes for easy organization
- Tall interior pockets for long screwdrivers
- Orange interior to find tools easily
- Upper pocket holds cell phones, keys, etc.
- Front zipper pocket has space for pencils and small items
- 1680d ballistic weave material for durability
- Bottom is constructed of a tough, diamond-textured coated material
Klein Tradesman Pro Tool Backpack Specifications
- Item Number: 55475
- Length: 7-3/8 inches
- Height: 17-1/2 inches
- Width: 14-1/2 inches
- Material: 1680D Ballistic Weave Body; PVC Coated Diamond-Textured Bottom
- Color: Black with Orange/Gray
- Capacity: 1344 cubic inches
- Interior Pockets: 32
- Exterior Pockets: 3
- Number of Pockets: 35
- Closure Type: Zipper
- Handle: Double Handle, Shoulder Strap
- Weight: 4.4 pounds
- Price: $79.97