Pickup trucks are designed to be very practical, but there's nothing pleasant about tools rattling in a truck bed while you’re driving. Nor are there any benefits to leaving equipment and other items out in the open where they’re vulnerable to weather and theft.
A truck bed tool box eliminates these woes by providing organized storage space for gear that can be securely locked up. Even better, there are many types of truck bed tool boxes which are custom designed for pickup models and specific purposes. Primarily, size as well as mounting style of a box helps determine how much open space remains in the truck bed.
In this article, we’ll look at how truck tool boxes vary when it comes to where they’re designed to be installed, how they open, materials, finishes, and trays/shelves that may be inside.
Mounting style refers to where and how a tool box is installed. Naturally, this should be considered first and foremost because it will directly influence how the rest of the truck bed will be utilized.
Along the left hand side of the screen, you’ll see check boxes under the TOOL BOX TYPE heading. Selecting any of these will narrow your search accordingly. The most popular types of in-bed tool boxes are listed below:
Crossover boxes install behind the cab, span across the vehicle's entire width, and rest on the bed's sides without extending all the way down to the floor. Some boxes of this type may even be set up to slide along tracks which mount atop the bed rails.
Side mount tool boxes attach along the left and/or right side bedrails in the cargo box area and extend down into the bed without reaching the floor. These are extremely easy to access when standing next to the truck.
Chest tool boxes install behind the cab on the truck bed's floor and do not rise above the bed sides. This allows them to fit under a standard tonneau cover (if there is one). These offer the advantage of zero rear view obstruction – however, they do limit useable floor space.
Top Mount Boxes
Top mount boxes sit on top of the side bed rails and extend upward rather than into the bed area. While these don’t take up any space in the bed and are extremely easy to access, they can create blind spots for the driver.
Storage drawers fill the floor of your pickup bed completely, with a flat horizontal roof section essentially serving as your new loading floor. Typically, sliding drawers are sandwiched between the bottom and top areas of a storage drawer assembly. While these reduce the ability to fit bulky items in your bed area, they are convenient to access and provide no hindrance to visibility.
Wheel Well Boxes
Narrow and tall, Wheel well storage boxes mount on the floor of the pickup bed and take up the space behind rear wheel well humps. Some are even designed to swing on hinges for easy access from behind.
Fifth Wheel Boxes
Fifth wheel tool boxes are designed to sit flat on your pickup bed floor, with a shape that can accommodate a typical fifth wheel towing setup where a trailer hitch is mounted in the pickup bed. While this type of tool box can take many different shapes, none will get in the way of a fifth wheel hitch post.
Hitch cargo carriers attach to a trailer hitch opening, and take up no space in the bed. Since these usually aren’t made of metal, they may not have the same cargo carrying capacity as other bed type boxes.
Materials, Finishes, and Colors
Most truck bed tool boxes are constructed of aluminum since it's lightweight, durable, and resists corrosion. Older designs, however, use steel that features a durable, corrosion-resistant finish as well. Steel boxes are stronger than aluminum ones, but if the paint is scratched, corrosion can set in. Some tool boxes are stainless steel, combining excellent corrosion resistance of aluminum and impeccable strength of steel. Generally, stainless steel tool boxes are rather expensive.
Also, some tool boxes are manufactured from hard plastic or polyethylene: though they're not as durable as the ones made of steel or aluminum, these accessories are still popular among truck owners. Use the checkboxes under the MATERIALS heading along the left side of the screen to narrow your search.
Finish and Colors
For the most part, tool boxes come with a polished metallic finish or a neutral color such as black, gray, or white. Powder coated color finishes are extremely durable, and do an extremely effective job of protecting steel boxes from premature corrosion. Check boxes under the FINISH heading can be used to narrow your search accordingly.
Lids and Other Features Of Tool Boxes
Tool boxes feature either a single, double, or gull-wing lid. The first type simply opens along the side, just like a door in a house. Double lids are almost the same, except divided like a cabinet, so that one half of the tool box is open while the other one is closed. The last type, gull-wing lids, come divided as well, but they usually open at a hinge inside the box rather than along the side. Under the OPENING STYLE heading along the left hand side of the screen, you’ll see check boxes for door, drawer, gullwing, and lid categories of tool boxes.
Other features that should be taken into consideration are whether a tool box installs without modifications to a vehicle (e.g., drilling bolt holes), how secure its lock is, and whether lid opening is manual or pneumatic. There are tool boxes that come with dividers, shelves, and trays inside, while others use an open plan. Opt for boxes with a single-piece bottom, since these are more robust, and heavy-duty gaskets, as they keep rain and moisture out. As a rule, pneumatic lids feature dual gas cylinders to ease opening.
Tool Boxes For Specific Purposes
Other types of tool box designs are also very popular. For example, underbed boxes designed primarily for commercial chassis pickups and flatbed utility trucks create desperately needed storage space where there is none, without getting in the way of cargo.
Those who need to transport dogs safely and in comfort for long distances should check out our specially designed pet carriers, which provide safety in minor accidents and prevent dogs from leaping out of a truck bed.
If you’re planning on installing a tonneau cover on your pickup, or you already have one, check out our related article on Tool Box Tonneau Covers that are designed to accommodate tool boxes. And if you pull a trailer, we’ve also got trailer tool boxes designed to mount along various points of a trailer frame being towed behind your vehicle (see our related article Trailer Tool Boxes Provide Extra Lockable Space Where You Need It for more info).
We’re confident that after looking through our truck bed tool boxes section, you’ll find the right box that meets your storage needs, keeps you organized, and boosts productivity. And even if you don’t need to carry tools for work, a tool box is still useful for stowing gear such as jumper cables, tie-downs, cargo nets, gloves, etc. And if you have trouble choosing a favorite style, the good news is you don’t have to – just outfit multiple ones in your bed!