Turning a Tool Bag into a Bug Out Bag: Pros, Cons, How To Pack

Last year, while cleaning out the basement, I came across something I had forgotten. It was a backpack for tools. I used it every day, but I stopped using it, and it’s been sitting on the shelf gathering dust for a few years now.

I almost thought about getting rid of them, but I’m always looking for sturdy and durable bags and carts. Then I realized, why not use it for parts storage or as a carrying case?

But would a tool bag make a good bug bag?

That’s what I wanted to know. I put it down and decided to give it a try.

What I like in the bag.

After cleaning, I inspected the bag and was surprised to find many interesting features that I had forgotten about. The bag is a DeWalt DGL523 lighted tool bag, and here are some of the features I like about the bag.

Shoulder straps

It has two adjustable straps with reinforced padding. When I carried this bag, it contained a lot of heavy tools. The padding made carrying this heavy bag extremely comfortable and the straps never bothered me.

The adjustable and padded straps of the Bug Out Bag are incredibly important. The PDO usually weighs between twenty-five and fifty pounds. Carrying such a weight for an unknown amount of time is tiring, and you don’t want to be faced with sore shoulders because you don’t have enough straps.

Soft carry handle

On the top of the bag is a small padded handle that can be used when the bag is not carried on the back.

I’m usually disappointed with these pens because they don’t stay on well and fall out of the bag. But the handle of this bag held up very well, with no sign of tearing at the seams.

Part of the reason the handle held up so well is that there are actually two handles, one on the back of the bag and one on the front. When the handles are used together, the load is better distributed over the handles.


On the outer bottom of the bag are the feet of the floor pad. This makes it easy to lift the bag off the ground during installation and reduces wear on the bottom of the bag.

These feet help to hold the bag up slightly and should also help to keep the ground dry when placed in slightly damp conditions.

The height of the legs is not so great that if I put the bag in a puddle, the bottom will get wet.

  • Footrest

  • Tonnages of dwellings

Tons of apartments

The bag has approximately 50 separate compartments, pockets and straps. This allows him to have a high degree of organization.

Most people fill their bags as full as possible with personal belongings and supplies to be prepared for anything.

An organized first aid bag provides quick and efficient access to equipment. With so many compartments in this bag, it should be pretty easy to get everything in order.

Integrated light

I had completely forgotten that this bag has a built-in light on the front. It is a 39 lumen LED that runs on two AAA batteries. The fixture is encased in a rigid plastic frame that can be rotated up and down. There is a button on the side to turn it on and off.

I didn’t use this lamp often, but when I did use it, it lit up the front pockets of my bag when I was looking for tools.

Since the lamp is adjustable, it also illuminates the work area on the floor in front of the bag.

The light on the bag worked well for several years, but eventually broke down. It would be great if it still worked, because the light built into the PDO would be great.

  • Integrated light

  • Heavy duty zippers

Durable zippers

Like the handle above, I’ve had a few bags with poor quality zippers. They’re either really stuck or they’re coming off.

I can’t stand a poor quality zipper on a bug-out bag, or any bag for that matter.

I remember one particular moment when the zipper was broken and I couldn’t get into the bag. I ended up making a hole in the side of the bag with my pocket knife.

In an emergency, I want to get in and out of the bag as quickly as possible to grab what I need to handle the situation.

I think the zippers on this DeWalt bag are very sturdy. After years of use, the zippers have never cracked, snagged or broken.

What I don’t like about the bag.

Now that I’ve discussed the features of the bag I like, it’s time to discuss the features I don’t like.

Rigid frame

Tool bag frames are generally quite sturdy and rigid. This is partly due to the durability of the material the bag is made of.

Remember, these bags are designed to carry heavy tools.

My toolbox has a fixed, non-removable bottom. I like this story, but I also don’t like it. It supports heavy objects and prevents the gears from breaking on the ground.

But sometimes, when I carry this bag, I feel the side of this bottom on my back, which is a little uncomfortable.


This tool bag does not have a storage area for equipment like outdoor bags. I think even regular backpacks have more room than this bag.

Storage space is not the most important feature of a toolbox like this, it’s a matter of organization. That’s why the bag has so many compartments, pockets and straps.

I may have to give up some things or trade them in for others if I want to fit in with what I want.


Depending on the make and model, each tool bag looks different.

Mine seemed to be mostly black with a few bright yellow spots on the front.

Depending on the situation, bright colors can be good or bad. I’m usually a fan of bright colors because they prevent devices from getting lost outside and can also serve as an alarm.

But in situations where there is threat, bright colors are a big no-no. In this scenario, I could easily hide the bright colors with paint or even gorilla tape. In the meantime, I leave the colors alone.

The last thing I don’t like about the look of the toolbox is that it’s tactless. Tool bags have a high-quality and robust appearance, which makes them stand out from other bags. Mine is yellow and it is addressed directly to the front of DeWalt. And that can attract unwanted attention.


Since I’ve had this bag for years, I bought and paid for it a long time ago. But tool bags of the same quality as the ones I use don’t come cheap.

Currently, the DeWalt bag costs almost three figures, while other tool bags are even more expensive. It can be said that any quality bag, be it a tool bag, a military bag or an outdoor bag, will have a higher price.

Packaging bags

As I mentioned earlier, this bag offers less storage space than other commonly used bags like the BOB.

I may have to change gears because of that, but there are certain areas that I don’t want to go into, namely that of rule three. Shelter, water and food.

And of course, I always add first aid and navigation supplies.


To protect myself, I opted for a simple tarp and an emergency bivouac. But to use the tarp, I need a rope, so I threw a 550-foot paracord rope.

Maintaining body temperature is an important part of the Protection category, so a lighter and matches are included.


For the water, I brought a metal water bottle and a mini Sawyer filter. With these things, I can filter the water and boil it in a metal bottle.


Food can be a little tricky, as everyone packs a little differently for this category. I’m more likely to grab the tools to get the food than the food itself.

That’s why I brought a fishing tackle, which mainly consists of fishing lines, hooks and some bait. I also brought extra rope for traps and snares.

But it included some granola bars and some hardtack.

First aid

Then I chose the Stormproof first aid kit from MyMedic. It’s small enough to fit in my pocket, while providing me with basic necessities and some modern medical instruments.


At the very least, I always carry a compass and a map of the area I’m in. In fact, a good road atlas is also part of it. I probably won’t use most of the cards, but you never know.

Optional power supply

After packing my minimal provisions, I had quite a bit of space and bags left.

Here’s a list of what I was able to put in the rest of the toolbox.

  • A fire kit with a lighter, matches, ferrocerium rod, firewood and jute rope.
  • Wood saw
  • SOG PowerLock Multitool
  • Flashlight
  • Garbage bags
  • Several resealable plastic bags
  • The Condor Wilderness Tool
  • Knife sharpener
  • Mora utility knife

I didn’t want to pack the bag all or too full before I had time to wear it and try it out. If I’m enjoying myself and can do it at my own pace, I’ll be back to update this article.

Pros and cons of using the toolbox as a– toolbox


  • Incredibly resistant
  • Many pockets to organize
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Durable seams are less likely to tear.


  • Tool bags can be expensive
  • Limited storage space compared to the outer carton
  • Not discreet
  • A rigid frame can make it difficult to pack certain materials.
  • No belt


The above article was not meant to be a product review, but I felt it important to mention the specific bag I used. Many backpack-type tool bags have similar features to the ones I mentioned, but I can only speak about the one I used.

If you are looking for a bag that can be well organized, a tool bag is a good choice. They also offer a high degree of durability as they are manufactured with quality fabrics and materials.

Aside from price, the biggest drawback of a tool bag is the storage space it provides. You may not be able to get everything that fits in the outer package. I will keep you posted on the progress of this article after I test the bag.

I hope you liked how I turned the tool bag into a bug bag. Thanks for reading and be ready!

Have you ever used a tool bag as a first aid bag? Write and share your experiences with us in the comments.

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