Jump to content

Dewalt Toughsystem Low Van Racking Review


Recommended Posts

First a little on my organization philosophy. As a kid I was the one where nobody ever knew that I had carpet. My brother and I just dumped everything on the floor. Mom would always yell at us about cleaning up. I see a LOT of contractors like that. They love bigger vans and trucks, even panel trucks because that means the pile of crap can be even larger! There is organization there, believe me. I knew where almost everything in my room was at and just which pile to dig in to get it.


But now the thing is I’m in and out of the vehicle every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Multiple trips to the vehicle, whether neatly organized or using the “pile” system quickly take a toll on my feet, my back, and on my professional appearance. I can’t possibly carry all the tools I need let alone finding the one I need without an organization system. So I’ve been accused of being overly organized but it works much better. I hate it when I have a week straight of jobs that go so late that faced with spending an hour repacking back where it goes or spending 5 minutes throwing everything onto the truck and getting an hour with my kids I end up throwing it on the truck until eventually I’m approaching the pile system again.


The thing with a van is it LOOKS like a huge space, I mean width is about the same but a “full size” nonextended van has about 9 feet of length and about the same width as a pickup. A standard long bed pickup is about the same. You get a little more cab for clean and dry space with a short box crew cab but overall about the same square footage. The magic in the van though is it’s dry AND you need to think vertical. A standard height van is about 4 feet and extended heights can be more where on the truck you get maybe 12” side boxes and 24” of bed height so the van has more in theory if you can use it. But normally unless you block the side door (and access) and somehow add shelves, you fit more in a pickup. There I said it.


There are other issues with trucks. Security for one in overnight stays and weather for another but Toughsystem boxes help with both. But like it or not for the most part they don’t fit well into most side boxes or bed boxes. I can’t see a practical way to adopt the racking system so the Toughsystem in a truck becomes pile system 2.0. You can organize each box by task, materials, etc., but in the end that’s where the organization stops. The bed of the truck is still the pile system. It’s just a pile of boxes. This works extremely well both on the job site working with a table and a pile of TS boxes but it’s a small pile compared to the vehicle. At most I might have to move 3 boxes to get to the bottom one.


So I looked at van storage systems. There are a ton of what amounts to a shop shelving system with metal shelving units running $300-500 each or all kinds of home made versions of the same idea. The trouble is it’s a mobile shop. If I was truly working out of the vehicle where I have the van parked right next to the work, a mobile shop would be awesome. As soon as the job site is on the second floor, 100 yards away, I am stuck pulling tools and loading up carts. May whole organization system collapses unless I can bin/box/bag everything and just carry the kitted tools and materials. I mean just because you have a drawer that holds your hammers, are you a carpenter and you just load your tool belt/saddle bags with the hammer of the day and go? I’m a field engineer so I have thousands of dollars in tools. I basically have the entire tool aisle on my vehicle and then some. If I went this route I’d spend all day just unloading and loading, and I’d be sorting through the big unorganized tool cart every time. No thanks!


On top of that is the mobile safety issue. Lots of guys try to adopt shop shelving which is a fraction of the cost of mobile it’s cheap because it only has to hold a vertical load, barring an earthquake or two. But all it takes is one idiot on the road and half your stuff is back into a pile system, and the shelving unit is maybe a pile of scrap too. Hopefully you spent money on the cargo wall so it didn’t all shoot into the cab and hit you.


So far it looks like I’m sold on the tool box systems. I like Toughsystem as they’re king if the hill for ruggedness because my customers are heavy industrial plants, utilities, wood plants, mines, the kinds of places that chintzy Sortimo has no place. Many of my 1/2” and larger sockets won’t fit into little T-Stak drawers so I’m Toughsystem all the way.


So van racking is a natural. You just grab a box by the side handles and slide it onto the rack. As the handles drop the hole in the handle where your hand goes locks around a bump on the rail and locks the box in. Just bump the box back a little and grab it by the side handles to remove. Very simple and obviously hugely supports my organization ideas.


It goes even further. Each rail (one on each side of a box) holds to a 1x2” square tubing rack with two bolts and they are hinged. The square tubing is actually more like a full C channel and there are two pieces with one nested in the other and a set of 3 short pieces of the larger channels included. There are also enough straps to attach to both top and midpoint of each rack plus feet to attach to the floor. The straps are Sortimo “Ecofix” straps.


If you measure the boxes they are 22” long (wide) so with space to grab on at best they can be maybe spaced 26-28” apart. This is important because nowhere does Dewalt tell you that you won’t get anywhere close to this and a lot of their photos and YouTube video makes it look that good. On the box it says 39” minimum horizontally and this is the one and only place I’ve seen this number that I can find. Not sold in stores of course so you won’t get this number until you buy one.So in a 9 foot van cargo area or 108” it seems like 4 racks would easily fit on one side. Or using Dewalts crazy 39” number with no overlap of the Evofixx brackets, 2 units at most. But I can tell you this is all lies and so is all the photos and YouTube video. Because if you follow the instructions Dewalt states none of the feet can be on the wheel well “jump” or on the gas tank and they have to go against a wall, not floating. So that means zero racks on the right side of a standard van and exactly one on the left. If Dewalt is listening this doesn’t bode well for sales. Sortimo has the same restriction but they sell a full length racking system with feet at the ends and offset from the center so it just goes right over the wheel well. To be fair I have experience from my wild days four wheeling with big tires and cutting out or reinforcing or extending fenders so I did some reinforcing and some reshaping of two feet. This gave me 3 racks with about 8-10” between each rack, I mounted hooks and filled the slots with ropes, cords, chain, and a small scaffold at the front. So nothing lost horizontally except I really wanted 4+ rows like the Internet photos.


Also there is a huge (4-6”) space behind each rack where you can stash some flat stock and underneath where some tool bags can be stashed. I put hose reel hooks over it to hold long tools like levels.


Second space issue is theoretically there are holes drilled about every 3/4” and you can hang a box “anywhere”. It comes with 3 rails for boxes. So they show pictures of a huge “wall of boxes” and you can buy spare rails. Again not true! Depending on how flat you can get the Ecofix brackets they may or may not block boxes from sliding in. But the worst is that there are two cross bars that also take up 4 holes worth of space, and they can’t just go on the top and bottom. So boxes need to be above or below them. But you can still stack boxes as long as you pay attention to weight limits on the rails. So without stacking and contending with a wheel well hump realistically you can fit two medium and one small box and squeeze in another small box with stacking. The one full rack can fit a large (carrier) box, medium box, small box, and maybe stack one more small box.


I’ve seen some YouTube stuff where guys supplied their own square tubing. Each pair of rails costs $24 right now and you get 3 so that’s $72. The whole kit is around $96 so you are paying $24 for hardware, the 1x2 predrilled box tubing, the mid and top clips. You could supply all that and maybe fix space issues too just buying rails but at $24 per kit it’s a bargain. I just suggest buying one at a time to fit them in the van. But still at $400 invested I’m still way ahead of the off the shelf racks that charge that much for one section of rack. If I did it again though I’d have to think long and hard about the Sortimo design. I’d just run two struts horizontally spaced near the van top and bottom bolted to the top and bottom with strut ends. Then bolt 1x2 box tubing to my strut frame everywhere I want a rack. This would solve the hump issue. Dewalt the check’s in the mail, right?


As far as safety on the first day out I was on a state highway out in the country and some idiot “tested” my new racks. I heard a big “slide” from a box and the step ladder on the floor and a predictable clinking and thuds from tools slamming into each other. But other than a box of gloves that fell on the floor from the wood shelf on the opposite wall the Toughsystem boxes and shelves never moved.


So all in all I love it. I was disappointed in the overall layout. It’s nothing like the Youtube propaganda. I feel this can and should be greatly improved especially wheel wells. If Dewalt stays with the current design at least ditch the Ecofix brackets for something more space conscious and maybe work out a scheme to make the cross bars either deeper or moved to the ends. But I’d definitely recommend it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Member Statistics

    Total Members
    Most Online
    Newest Member
  • Create New...