Author Topic: Festool/Tanos Systainers vs Milwaukee Packout comparison  (Read 4808 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Vladiator

  • Posts: 21
Ever since Milwaukee released their Packout modular tool storage solution I wanted to check it out and see how it compares to Festool Systainers. After a quick trip to Home Depot to measuring the Packout, here are my thoughts regarding which system is better.

A data table comparing interior and exterior volume of both systems is attached to this post.

Systainers offer much better interior volume utilization when compared to the Packout system. Systainer interior volume utilization compared to their exterior dimension is ranging from 63.72% for T-LOC I to 79.17% for T-LOC V. Combined average for T-LOC I through V is 75.62%. The Packout system on the other hand has very poor interior volume utilization. It's bottom unit offers only 32.96% of useable interior storage, and it's top smallest box offers 46.9%. When we look at all 3 tool boxes stacked up and consider the wheeled footprint, the interior volume utilization is only 32.5%. Disregarding the wheels and the dolly it is at 51.67%.

Wheeled footprint of the Packout system is about 2 times larger than the systainers. The height is 36.8 inches. If we stack 12 systainers (2 sets of T-LOC 1,2,3,4,5,1) to the approximate height of 35.14" we'll end up with 140 liters of interior storage space compared to Packout's 111, which is 26% better.

Milwaukee's Packout system is designed that you carry pretty much all your tools at once just dumped in each of the 3 boxes. The thing that I like about the Packout is that it is probably the most durable system out there and it's water-proof. It's nice the dolly is built in, although i heard reports that dolly wheels can develop flat spots when sitting for extending periods fully loaded. Systainers on the other hand can get easily damaged by impacts on construction sites and the plastic seems to be easy to crack in cold weather. They are also smaller and it makes storing bigger tools a problem. For example I have a caulking gun with a 20 oz barrel and a reciprocating saw that won't fit into a decently sized systainer. Systainers are not water proof either. Sure they sell the Maxi systainer which is longer, but it kills the whole footprint. And their dolly options are not attractive. Sys-Roll is not collapsible and has plastic wheels.

System lifespan is also an issue. This is where I feel that Systainers are a better buy. It's not the first time Milwaukee comes out with a storage solution. When new version is released, old offerings are not compatible with new ones and old system components can never be found on the market. Their product commitment is usually less than 5 years, and then it's on to the next thing. Tanos existed for 25 years and original systainers were produced for 19 years and that shows commitment. Will Packout be still on the market in 15 years? I'm not so sure. But i know that Tanos systainers will be still produced in 15 years.

In conclusion, I think I'll stick with Systainers because I like how i can surgically divide and organize everything depending on task and I like the small form factor. I want to minimize the amount of storage tools require and I want to make sure I only have the tools I need. Even though I have 14 systainers, I might get a Packout for rough construction work like rough framing, demolition, and when I have to work in cold climate exterior conditions. It will store large tools that don't fit into Systainers efficiently such as M18 Fuel reciprocating and circular saws, demolition hammers, crow bars, etc.


« Last Edit: June 05, 2018, 02:41 AM by Vladiator »

Offline ggc

  • Posts: 32
Re: Festool/Tanos Systainers vs Milwaukee Packout comparison
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2018, 03:58 AM »
Have you considered the Tanos Midi Systainer for the longer tools?  Internal width is 483mm, which should cover most reciprocating saws.

Offline Vladiator

  • Posts: 21
Re: Festool/Tanos Systainers vs Milwaukee Packout comparison
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2018, 05:00 AM »
I'm tempted to buy the midi systainer, but seeing how it's 100 mm (4 inches) wider, it would stick out 2" on each side and it'll ruin the footprint and leave wasted space above and below in a stack.

Offline rst

  • Posts: 1951
Re: Festool/Tanos Systainers vs Milwaukee Packout comparison
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2018, 07:17 AM »
I probably have 100 systainers, and at least nine midis.  I've switched all my tools into the systainer system.  That being said, I also have been buying packouts to store my screws and such.  The fact that I can see what is contained and that the containers lock together is what sold me.  I agree about the fact that the new ones do not connect with the older ones being a nuisance.  I have a couple of the smaller 1/2 size ones for dedicated jobs and six or so of the larger for my hardware collection.  I often travel two hours to jobs that I have no idea what I'm going to need for repairs.  My mantra is... "if I can't fix it out of my van...it probably wasn't made on earth."

Offline live4ever

  • Posts: 783
Re: Festool/Tanos Systainers vs Milwaukee Packout comparison
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2018, 07:21 AM »
Thanks for putting together such a detailed comparison of dimensions.  IMO the two systems are intended for different applications.  The Packout is perfect for tossing around a construction site while systainers excel in a shop or interior jobsite.  Packout will tolerate far more abuse while systainers present an aesthetically cleaner and more efficient storage solution.  Just depends what you need and what you're putting inside. 

In my case, my systainer stacks are on homemade Sys-carts using the Tanos Sys-base (same as the Festool version, just using my own casters).  While the MIDI systainer does stick out two inches on each side, this is the same as the Sys-cart base itself and thus the actual footprint of a stack with one or more MIDI's in it doesn't change.
Current systainer to productivity ratio:  very high

Offline Peter_C

  • Posts: 661
Re: Festool/Tanos Systainers vs Milwaukee Packout comparison
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2018, 01:14 PM »
Having purchased over 14+ of the Ridgid tool boxes and now owning one stack of the Packout's I have a completely different opinion. Many construction tools DO NOT fit into Systainer's. Okay so you can buy the Maxi Systainer...how is the cart? I could not fit my MLT Tiling System into a single Systainer, but it does fit into a Milwaukee tool box or a Ridgid tool box for that matter. The majority of my M12 tools fit into a single tool box and are accessible with a shelf inside to hold accessories. Not going to happen in a Systainer. I can't imagine trying to stuff my Makita 7 1/4" 36 volt saw into a Systainer, but it fits in Ridgid tool box.

For a cost effective alternative the Ridgid tool box system can't be beat, as they are water resistant, and tough as needed. Black Friday Home Depot offers the large, medium, and small tool box stack for $100. (The Milwaukee 3 stack should be $200 again on Black Friday. Right now Acme has the stack for $249.) The roller boxes are BIG and functional, although I don't like the Ridgid handle compared to the Milwaukee's as it pinches your hand, when over stacked, and I always move over stacks it seems. Want to put your reciprocating saw, 6 1/2" saw, drill, impact, another impact, all the batteries, a charger, and the list goes on into what can fit in the big box. Tools are mostly pretty hardy and stand up to ladder drops, as I have tested that feature, so piling them into a tool box is very space efficient. Bang for the buck Ridgid tool boxes are unbeatable.

This stone grinder/polisher does get it's own tool box though. It wouldn't fit very well in a Systainer.


I slightly modified a small Ridgid tool box to hold more bins which I still use for all the GRK/Simpson screws. (Milwaukee Packout bin case is superior though, with the clear top and already crammed full of bins. I currently own one.)


Cost in reality is secondary, as function is primary. Not everyone would buy a Snap-on tool box for $4,000-$20,000 dollars but to a professional technician, with $80,000+ in tools, it IS the best solution. A cardboard box is a solution for some people. I have over 70 of the clear bins from Costco, that only cost $6.95 each, which are sold in lots of stores. The bins work awesome for organizing a household and storing supplies, while being cost effective. With a dolly they move easily too. The benefit of having a stack locked together may only matter to someone working at a jobsite vs someone taking one tool box off a shelf in their home hobby shop. Stability doesn't matter to someone always working on a concrete slab, but to someone trying to bring in 250lbs of tools up a stair case the wider stance of Milwaukee's Packout or the Ridgid's comes into play.

So for me the Systainer's have their place carefully toting my expensive Festool's that I want to protect. I treat them differently than my other more robust tools. I don't want my saw accuracy thrown off, nor my sanders pads developing a lumpy issue, nor my routers taking a hit. The Sys-Roll works nicely, and although it has a small foot print a collapsible dolly does about the same thing, yet folds to be very compact at 1/10th the price.

At this point I am pretty sure this coming Black Friday I will be purchasing at least 4-5 more stacks of the Milwaukee tool boxes and selling off my Ridgid's. Only because I do need to standardize (Three tool box systems now, plus bins) and going forward as Milwaukee continues to lead with innovations in the mobile tool box industry that is where I want to be. A Packout compressor for a reasonable price would be a hot seller!

For a home hobby shop I would build cabinets with drawers and store all of my routers in one drawer with a slimmer drawer holding all their bits. Drawers are superior in every way, open, grab tool, close drawer. Than again I prefer kitchens with all drawers on the lower cabinets, except the sink area of course.

Offline Vladiator

  • Posts: 21
Re: Festool/Tanos Systainers vs Milwaukee Packout comparison
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2018, 05:45 AM »
Just a small update...

Picked up a Packout system consisting of wheeled dolly, large tool box and small toolbox.

The actual reason why I bought it is because I'm moving 5000km across the country and need to transport all my tools which did not fit into systainers. I sold my 5 drawer metal rolling chest that I used for automotive tools, and all my car tools fit into a large Packout toolbox. Toolbox with wheels is used for storing construction tools like a reciprocating saw (which would have only fit into a T-Loc 3 systainer), demolition sledge hammer, masonry chisels, corded makita circular saw, hammer, 20oz barrel and push rod for Milwaukee cordless caulking gun (although the actual caulking gun with regular barrel is stored in a T-LOC 1 systainer), lots of vice grips, clamps, Milwaukee hammer drill (would have needed to buy a T-LOC 1 systainer), hole saws, etc. The upper smallest tool box stores my drill bits in the organizer with closing lid that comes with it, and a bunch of other smaller hand tools like staplers, laser distance finder, stud finder, etc.

In terms of durability and cost, the Packout beats systainers. No need to buy another dolly is a major plus, although I find the wheels on the packout had too much wobble and are prone to develop soft spots if loaded to the extreme. To solve that problem I park the Packout on a piece of plywood that's narrower than the wheelbase so that the wheels aren't touching the ground.

Since the Packout has the same footprint as 2 systainers side by side, I might make a systainer mont plate for the Packout in the future so that 2 systems could interface.

So in conclusion, I'm glad I got the Packout because it provided me with tons of mobile storage space which would have cost 2-3 times more with Systainers. Systainers will be used mostly in shop environment and places not subject to shocks, freezing temperature, rain, and harsh job sites. The Packout will be partially used for long term storage of tools I don't frequently use, and out in the field where durability and tons of space are required.

As I use the Packout and Systainers I will sure be going back and forth between them before I finally decide which tools belong where. Don't get me wrong, I still love systainers but it's more like a love and hate relationship. While they are perfectly sized for Festool task specific tools, they cannot be adapted to larger construction tools in a space efficient manner. Let me illustrate:

- Typical cordless 7 1/4" circular saw requires a T-LOC 3 systainer
- Milwaukee M18 Fuel reciprocating saw requires a T-LOC 3 systainer and the saw must sit diagonally.
- Paslode or Hitachi Nailer would require a T-LOC 5 systainer.

Being task specific and storing those tools in 3 different systainers will require a height of 33.08" but they can all be housed in a single Packout Middle box which is 11.3" in height.

And maybe this realization is the turning point, at least for me. Systainers are perfect for hand tools and more compact tools with task separation, extreme focus and job specialization as the core objective. Packout and other larger stacking tool boxes are not designed for task separation and job specialization, and are more designed to offer more space so that bigger power tools can be stored in a shared space, reducing overall space used and giving the end-user the ability to accomplish a wide range of tasks with tools at hand.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 05:53 AM by Vladiator »

Offline Sanderxpander

  • Posts: 160
Re: Festool/Tanos Systainers vs Milwaukee Packout comparison
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2018, 08:52 AM »
I'm sure there is an obvious reason, but why did you not simply consider a midi or maxi systainer? The key issue seems to be size and you definitely don't need to buy a sys3 and store tools diagonally when you can just get a midi or maxi and put a few tools together.

Offline rst

  • Posts: 1951
Re: Festool/Tanos Systainers vs Milwaukee Packout comparison
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2018, 10:02 AM »
Just like tools, there is no "perfect" storage solution.  I have at least 100 systainers but I also use Milwaukee's packouts, especially for parts storage.