There aren’t many tool bags that are specifically made for HVAC work. There are a number of bags that do just fine in this environment, but as we all know, specialized gear is always preferred, when possible. After comparing nearly 30 specialty bags and belts with the help of a 20-year vet in the field, we can honestly say that the Veto Pro Pac TECH-LC is one bag that is truly tailor-made to accommodate HVAC services. Offering massive storage space (53 total pockets) and specialized compartmentalization for specific tools like your multimeter, manometer, temperature gauges, and more, this is without a doubt the best HVAC tool bag you can buy. Article Summary
Installing and maintaining heating and air conditioning systems on a daily basis is not easy, and it requires a lot of equipment. HVAC technicians need to be able to open, close, tighten, loosen, measure, secure and do many, many other things with ventilation systems, and each one of these tasks requires its own specific set of tools. As nice as it would be to take your time and go back and forth to your truck to get each tool individually, that number of billable hours probably isn’t going to fly.
If you’re an HVAC tech, a solid tool bag is a necessity. A good bag has to have a ton of storage, be built to last, and have specific compartmentalization to accommodate your HVAC tools. Not only that, but it needs to be relatively comfortable to wear or carry! Having a bag that’s lacking any of these traits can be frustrating for several reasons. First, if it falls apart on the job, you’ll have to carry your tools in and out by hand, which is a huge pain. Next, if you don’t have enough storage, you won’t be able to carry all of your tools inside of it, which will either necessitate a second bag or you carrying some on your belt.
Picking the best HVAC tool bag can be a little tricky, especially when the ease and efficiency of your job are riding on such a seemingly simple piece of gear. As part of our series on specialty tool belts and bags, we took a look at those models that would be ideal for work in the HVAC field. What started out as a list of nearly 30 bags and belts was quickly narrowed down as we scored models based on their material quality, storage space, and comfort. To really fine-tune our results, we also spoke to our own HVAC technician to get his professional recommendations on belts. As a 20-year vet in the field, his expertise was spot on in helping us choose the following three tool bags.
(L x W x H)
(H=13" with handle folded)
The best HVAC tool bag overall
The Veto Pro Pac TECH-LC is one of the only tool bags on the market built specifically with the HVAC field in mind, and to say they’ve done a great job would be an understatement. Not only does it offer 53 pockets of storage space, but each compartment has been specially designed for the fitment of common HVAC tools such as multimeters, temperature gauges, and more. It is made with incredibly durable construction to last the test of time and closes up into a nice, compact carrier for easy transportation.
Veto Pro Pac is a company running off the slogan, “built by tradesman, for tradesmen.” Their founder, Roger Brouard, spent 30 years in the construction field before founding the company, which has seen massive success due to their focus on providing true quality and value in their gear. This is perfectly shown in the HVAC-specific TECH-LC, especially when you learn how this bag came to be. Veto Pro Pac originally only offered construction-oriented gear, but when Roger found out that HVAC technicians were using his gear, he got in touch with a local HVAC company and spent nine months working with them to design the perfect tool bag for their environment.
So let’s get into what makes this carrier such a great choice for HVAC technicians. First, it’s incredibly well-built in terms of construction. The TECH-LC is made of a heavy-duty denier nylon, which makes it as durable as possible for any type of work conditions. In addition, it features a thick plastic flat-bottomed base, which is not only great for durability and stability, but also for tool access. Along with the padded shoulder strap, there is a hinged handle on top that you can use to carry it by hand. The handle is covered in a thick rubber that’s ergonomically designed to curvature of your palms, making this pretty comfortable to carry around by hand.
The main reason we chose this as the best HVAC tool bag wasn’t just because of its materials, though. The TECH-LC’s greatest benefits comes in its storage space, and not just in sheer size (which is does have seeing as it boasts 53 total pockets), but in how the storage is designed. As mentioned above, this carrier was built specifically for HVAC work, so it has special pockets and compartments for specific tools like multimeters, manometers, temperature and humidity gauges, and more. Having these specialized compartments makes tool storage easier and more efficient, plus it ensures that they fit snugly in your bag with proper protection. This bag also has additional storage spaces for a cordless drill, as well as a tape holder and several pockets for pens, pencils, and utility knives (these extra spots were heavily requested from customers, says Roger).
The only thing that can be a drawback to the TECH-LC is the price. At nearly double the cost of other options, it can be quick to turn away for those who don’t want to fork out the extra cash. However, if you’ve been in the field for a decent amount of time, you know that tool bags are a long-term buy, not a short-term one. Forget the fact that its design alone with save you countless headaches on the job, when you consider the fact that this bag will easily outlast others by probably two or three times as long, it’s easy to see how much value it offers in the long run. Overall, if you want the best HVAC tool bag, the Veto Pro Pac TECH-LC is the perfect balance of durability, storage, mobility, and value.
A great bang for your buck
If the Veto Pro Pac wasn’t such a textbook-definition perfect HVAC-specific tool bag, the Custom LeatherCraft 1529 Tool Carrier probably would have been our top pick. Custom Leathercraft is one of the most trusted industrial brands out there – especially commended for their sturdy tool belts and utility bags. The 1539 Tool Carrier is one of these trusted products, and customers love its versatility and large amounts of storage on the job site, plus its zippered construction keeps everything tucked neatly away while you’re heading to and from work.
Just like our top pick, the Custom LeatherCraft carrier is perfect when it comes to sheer storage space. This bag features two side compartments that zip down to reveal vertical storage on both sides of a combined 50 pockets. In addition to the side pockets, it also boasts a large center compartment for drills and other large tools that can’t fit inside the side compartments. The construction is a relatively durable denier nylon with canvas, and there’s a cushioned shoulder strap to make getting it around the worksite more comfortable.
Although Custom Leathercraft is trusted as a brand for products that are extremely durable, this bag isn’t as sturdily built as our top pick, which is the main reason it landed in second place. Overall, it is more softly constructed, and it’s missing the sturdy bottom and handles that we liked so much about our top pick. Also, this bag is missing the compartments that are specially designed for common HVAC tools, meaning that you’ll have to stuff your meters in other pockets. This isn’t the end of the world, though, you just have to make sure you find pockets that fit and then remember where things go in the future.
While our top pick was on the higher end of the price spectrum, this tool carrier is extremely well-priced, coming in over $100 less than the TECH-LC. As we mentioned above, though, pricing is relative to long-term usability, so we still think the TECH-LC has the upper hand in terms of value for your dollar. With that said, if you don’t have the money to spend on an expensive bag right now, the Custom LeatherCraft 1539 Tool Carrier is an incredible bargain given all of the storage space it offers.
A solid backpack-style tool bag to try
If you’re looking for something that’s a little easier to carry than standard shoulder-strap or hand-carry tool bags, the Dewalt GDL523 Tool Backpack is a different style that works great in the HVAC field. As you probably know, Dewalt is one of the most trusted brands out there for anything tool related. They manufacture power tools, industrial machines, tool belts and bags – pretty much anything used to make things or carry things that make things. This backpack-style bag follows their legacy of being a durable, well-built and extremely useful product, providing multiple storage options and simple mobility.
There are many, many good things about this tool backpack. One of the most interesting and useful features is its built-in LED strip. This strip not only illuminates the work space, but it will help you find your tools in the backpack if you’re working in a tight spot without a lot of light. Another great aspect of the Dewalt carrier is its mobility and load distribution. When you have a bag with a shoulder strap supporting it, all of the weight of your tools is pressing down onto one shoulder, which can lead to long-term postural disorders if you don’t switch sides enough. Having a tool carrier with two shoulder straps will help to distribute the load and help alleviate some of the physical stress of carrying around your gear. The backpack-style design also helps you get in and out of tight spaces without having a loose bag swinging around.
The main gripe with this bag is the fact that it doesn’t lay flat while you’re working; so, instead of being able to grab tools and put them back with ease, it can be a little bit trickier. Horizontal pockets make it harder to see what you’re looking for (even with its cool LED strip), which will also require a bit of extra effort. This bag also lacks a durable, hard bottom like our top pick has, which means the bottom will wear quicker. Since this is a backpack style carrier, it as a narrower bottom, which means there is less surface for it to sit on, wearing the bottom even more quickly.
In terms of pricing, the Dewalt DGL523 Tool Backpack is a bit more expensive than the Custom LeatherCraft carrier, but still far less than the Veto Pro Pac. With its unique style and convenience, this is a great deal for those looking for a bit more mobility than a standard shoulder bag.
Things to consider before buying
As with many pieces of trade equipment, there are a lot of aspects to a tool carrier. Backpack-style or pouch-style? Lightweight or tough-as-nails? Choosing the best HVAC tool bag is a little harder as well because you’ve got a few specialty tools to plan for in addition to standard work tools. We know that certain considerations will come down to personal preference, but here are a few generalized aspects to keep in mind before you buy.
One of the most important aspects of a tool bag is the design. The shape and style of your bag are going to determine a lot of how you go through your workday. The two main styles are pouch and backpack, and each style presents their own advantages and disadvantages.
Pouch-style tool bags hold the advantage of having an open top that you can reach into at any moment to grab your tools and get the job done. Pouch-style bags also generally have more storage and compartments for tools and meters than other styles do. However, to combat that point, pouch-style bags can be a little bit bulky and tough to get around in tight spaces.
Backpack-style bags are the opposite. Their design makes them a blessing to get around the job location, but once you’re actually working they’re not as easy to grab tools from as the pouch-style bags. This means that if you have a light job that you won’t need many tools for, and it’s in a place that isn’t easily accessible through a series of wide doorways, a backpack-style carrier is going to serve you much better. If this style intrigues you, check out this discussion on tool backpacks to get some more input from fellow contractors.
Considering the conditions you’ll commonly be working in will help you choose the right style for your job. Are you primarily commercial, or do you do a lot of residential work? Are you in open areas, or tight rooms with little movement?
While you’ll have to reach a compromise between mobility and tool accessibility with the design that you choose, you’ll have to reach a compromise between weight and durability with the material. There are several bags out there made of durable, ballistic-style nylon with tough plastic bottoms and handles. These bags have great durability and can last you a long time. The downside of these materials, though, is that they can be pretty heavy to tote around on a daily basis. On the flip side, lighter materials like nylon are very popular for tool bags due to their light weight, but they don’t last as long as other materials, even with rigorous stitching.
Here’s the thing: with a tool bag, it may seem like more storage is better. However, think of it like this: if you’re single and living alone, why would you need a 6-bedroom house? Carrying around something with 8 large storage compartments that you aren’t using is just going to weigh you down and add extra bulk on your person that will get in the way during your job. On the flip side, if you have a bag that doesn’t have enough storage, you’re going to end up with torn up pants from carrying around tools in your pockets. In our opinion, we’d say it’s always better to have a little more storage than a little less, but don’t go overboard. You always want a few extra spots to store unexpected tools for unique jobs, but you don’t want mass amounts of space going unused.
Other gear you may need on the job
The modern HVAC technician has equipment out the wazoo, and many accessories to help work more efficiently and quickly. Some of these accessories are storage related, and many are simply bits of tech that help accomplish tasks a bit quicker than they have traditionally. If you’re new to the field, here are a few accessories that you might be interested in to make your job a little smoother.
A tablet computer
There are many tablets out there, and most are pretty similar. As long as you pick one with a decently sturdy construction and pick up a beefy case for it, you can’t go wrong with any middle-of-the-road or top-tier tablet. Tablets help you communicate with your company, send estimates, order parts, visualize any of your measured metrics and many, many other things. Having a tablet onsite is a great aide and organizational tool that helps many modern HVAC techs get to the top of their game.
A magnetic bolt holder
Whether they are installed on your bag (a little magnetic strip covered in nylon) or you wear one on a bracelet, magnetic strips are extremely convenient, especially when there are small screws, nuts and bolts involved. Instead of tossing all of your bolts in a small cup or container in your bag, simply stick it on the magnet where you can grab it any time. This eliminates the frustration of parts rolling under large appliances and fixtures where you’ll to have to kneel down and snag them back from the dusty depths.
You may not place footwear at the top of your list as a tech, but when you’re dealing with metal fixtures that may end up falling, you’ll want your feet protected. A steel toe isn’t always necessary, but sturdy boots are essential in keeping you safe and comfortable on the job.
Wrapping it up
HVAC is a very demanding job – you are tasked with both physical and technical aspects of the job that can take a toll on you and your equipment. This demand is precisely why you need appropriate equipment, including a tool bag that can measure up to your needs. Finding the happy medium between durability and lightness, mobility and easy access, and figuring out the ideal amount of storage are the three key steps to picking the best HVAC tool bag. We think the Veto Pro Pac TECH-LC is the perfect middle-ground in these aspects, but as always, choose the style that fits your personal work conditions.